Exterior of the Sanctuary Building as viewed from the
Outside the walls of the Sanctuary were three levels of small storage
chambers called tau'im (sing., tau) which held the treasures
of the Temple. In the north and south each level was divided into five rooms
while in the west there were three rooms on each of the first two levels and
two rooms on the top level, for a total of 38 tau'im.
North of the 5-cubit (7˝-foot) thick wall around the tau'im was a
gap, 3 cubits (4˝ feet) wide, which housed the winding ramp. A ramp began
here at the floor of the Courtyard in front of the bottom, northeast
tau and rose due west to the roof of the top, northwest tau.
To the north of the ramp was another 5-cubit wall, equal in height to the
top of the tau'im, which acted as a protective fence for those
walking on the ramp.
Upon reaching the top of the winding ramp one would find himself on the roof
of the top, northwest tau. Like all accessible roofs, those of the
tau'im had a fence around their perimeter for safety. From here one
would walk south along the roofs of the western tau'im to the
southwest corner of the Sanctuary Building. In the south, corresponding to
the winding ramp in the north, was a 3-cubit space called the Place of
Drainage Water. Rainwater which drained off the roofs of the Sanctuary and
tau'im was directed to a pool of water here. To the south of the
Place of Drainage Water was a 5-cubit wall like that of the winding ramp,
added both for symmetry and support.
Starting at the southwest corner of the Sanctuary Building was a ramp which
rose due east from the roof of the top, southwest tau up to the door
of the second story of the Sanctuary. All the dimensions of the second
story — height, width, and length — matched those of the first level. The
interior was similarly decorated with gold plating and carvings. Opinions
vary as to what may have been stored there, from vessels of the Tabernacle
to sacred writings.
Above the Holy of Holies were openings in the floor of the second story
spaced an arm’s reach apart. When repair work had to be done in the Holy of
Holies, workers would be lowered down through these openings in three-sided
boxes so that they would not be able to see any more of the Holy of Holies
than absolutely necessary for their work.
Immediately inside the door to the second story were two very thick vertical
beams, 40 cubits (60 feet) tall, which were connected by rungs to form a
sturdy ladder up to the roof of the Sanctuary Building. This roof was
covered with iron tiles, 1 cubit (1˝ feet) square, and protruding from these
tiles were sharp iron spikes, 1 cubit tall, designed to keep birds from
landing on the Sanctuary Building and soiling it.
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