« PreviousContinue »
disposed of afterwards; the lepers' chamber, and manner of their purifica. tion ; the oil chamber, the cloisters, or piazzas round the Court; the treasury chest, their number, uses, and places; the widow's mite explained ; the Pharisee and publican. Several other particulars.
This Court is never called by that name in Scripture; but it is its general appellation in the Jewish writings. Its common name in Scripture is either the New Court, because it was made at a later period than the others, probably by Asa or Jehoshaphat; or the Outer Court, in reference to the Court of Israel, which lay farther in, towards the Temple; or the Treasury,' for a reason which will be noticed in a subsequent page. The name by which it was commonly known among the Jews, viz. the Court of the Women (O'winny,) was given it, because it was their appointed place of worship, and beyond which they might not go, unless when they brought a sacrifice; at which times they went forward to the Court of Israel.—But let us enter it at the east gate, which, as we formerly said, was the principal gate of the temple, and notice the objects that present themselves as we advance. Rising then from the Court of the Gentiles into the Hil, or Sacred Fence, by the twelve steps, by which it was elevated above the Court of the Gentiles, we cross the width of the Fence, which was a level space of ten cubits, and ascend by five steps to the east door of the Court of the Women. Thus, allowing half a cubit to each step, which was actually the case, we find that the floor of the Court of the Women was eight cubits and a-half. or fifteen feet five inches higher than the Court of tne Gentiles. But this east gate, which introduces us into the Court of the Women, ought not to be passed by unnoticed: for it was the Beautiful Gate of the temple which is mentioned in Acts iii. 2, at which the lame man lay asking alms when Peter restored him to the use of his feet. And the reason of the name, as Josephus tells us, was because the folding doors, lintel, and side posts, were all overlaid with Corinthian brass, or a mixture of gold, silver, and copper; which was formed from the immense quantities of these metals that abounded in Corinth, when it was burnt by Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, in the year before Christ 146, and when the violence of the conflagration melted them down into one general mass. It is no wonder, then, that it obtained the denomination of Beautiful; for, while all the rest of the gates, which we have examined, together with the north and south gates of this Court, were only gilded, this was overlaid with massy plates of this precious metal. We are not informed by Lightfoot of the height of the wall which divided the Sacred Fence from the Court of the Women, nor consequently of the gate we are now examining: but we may, perhaps, approximate to it from the following words of Josephus: for speaking of the covered walks or piazzas, in the Court of the Women, which shall be attended to in their proper place, he says, that “ except their being only a single row, they wanted nothing of the exceeding greatness of those that were below," meaning evidently the Court of the Gentiles. Now, if that was the case, the wall round the Court of the Women must have been of the same height as the outer wall we first examined, namely, twenty-five cubits; and the Beautiful Gate would be like the east gate, in that wall, or twenty cubits high and ten wide, besides the ornaments on the side-posts and lintel, which together, according to Josephus, were forty cubits wide, and fifty cubits high. But having examined the gate which led into the Court of the Women, let us next examine the Court itself.
* 2 Chron, x. 5.
6 Ezek. xlvi, 21.
John viii, 20.
And here the first thing we have to remark is, its size. It was one hundred and thirty-five cubits square, or one English acre; one rood, twenty-two poles, twenty-one yards, and three feet; its floor was beautifully paved with marble ; and it had four gates, viz. the gate called Beautiful, on the east; the gate Nicanor, on the west, which led into the Court of Israel; and two others on the north and south, which passed through the Sacred Fence into the Court of the Gentiles, but the names of which are not known.
Omitting the gate Nicanor for the present, we may notice, that the north and south gates were gilded, and that each of them stood in the middle of their respective walls, so as to give the Court a very regular appearance. In each of the corners of the Court of the Women was a smaller court, forty cubits long from east to west, by thirty broad from north to south; which smaller courts had covered buildings round them of ten cubits at the ends, by eight at the sides ; and an open space in the middle of twenty cubits by fourteen. The open spaces in the middle were for boiling places, where the priests boiled the sacrifices of the people; and the covered buildings were allotted to the following uses :-Those in the south-east corner were for the Nazarites, whose vows were expired, that they might boil their peace-offerings, cut their hair, and put it under the pot to burn, according to Numbers vi. 18.
The Nazarites evidently obtained their name from 773, Netzer, " to separate :" because they separated themselves from three things, viz. from wine, and all things produced from the vine; from the razor, because they suffered none to come upon their head, but allowed their hair to grow all the time of the separation ; and from pollution by a dead body." Nazaritism was most
• Numb, vi. 1-8.
ordinarily for thirty days, which the Jewish doctors founded on the words in Numbers vi. 5.
66 Unto the Lord he shall be holy;" for the Hebrew numerals for thirty are to be found in the word 7797, he shall be, and they may be explained thus—«« Unto the Lord thirty days holy.” But sometimes it was for years, and even for life. When, therefore, the vows of Nazaritism, which had been made for a limited time, expired, Nazarites might cut their hair either at Jerusalem, or in the places where they happened to be, as Paul did when at Cenchrea :* but in every case, the hair was kept and brought to these chambers, where, after offering up the sin-offerings, and burnt-offerings, they boiled their peace-offerings, putting the hair under the vessel; and the priest, taking the shoulder as it boiled, and a cake and wafer of the meat-offering, put them on the hands of the Nazarite, to wave before the Lord, and thus released him from his vow." Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews, mentions Bernice, the sister of Agrippa, as attending the temple on account of such a vow. Such then was the use of the chambers on the south-east corner. Those on the north-east were employed as places for holding the wood destined for the altar, where the priests, whose genealogy was acknowledged, but who had some bodily blemish so as to unfit them for attending the altar, received their portion of the holy things, and were employed in searching for any worms that might be in the wood; for they held it as a maxim, that the wood which had worms was unfit for the altar.
Josephus speaks of the Xylophoria, or certain stated and solemn times said to be founded on Neh. x. 34. xiii. 30, 31. on which the people brought up wood for this purpose :* and the Talmudic treatise entitled Taanith, reckons up nine special days in the year for this employment, and allots the work to nine of those families which returned from captivity. “The wood-carrying times," it says, “ for the priests and the people were nine. On the first of Nisan (21st March,) the sons of Arah, a son of Judah. On the 20th of Tammuz (9th July,) the sons of David, a son of Judah. On the 5th of Ab (23d July,) the sons of Parosh, a son of Judah. On the 7th of Ab (25th of July,) the sons of Jonadab, the son of Recab. On the 10th of Ab (28th of July,) the sons of Senaah, a son of Benjamin. On the 15th of Ab (2d of August,) the sons of Zattu, a son of Judah, and with them the priests and Levites, and whoever knew not their own tribe. On the 20th of Ab (7th August,) the sons of Patrath-Moab, a son of Judah. On the 20th of Elul (6th of September,) the sons of Addin, a son of Judah. And on the 1st of Thebet (24th of December,) the sons of Parosh a second time.” None of these correspond with the 14th of Ab in Josephus.
b Numb, vi, 14-20.
1 Acts xviii. 18.
Levit, xxi. 21-23.
« War, ï. 15,
The wood that was free of worms was reserved for the altar; and that which had worms or blemishes was employed either for boiling, baking, or frying what pertained to the sacrifices, or for warming the guard-rooms of the priests and Levites.
The chambers in the north-west corner were for the lepers, who, after observing the rites for cleansing allowed them in the country, had come to Jerusalem on the eighth day, with their three lambs for a sin-offering, trespass-offering, and burnt-offering, and had gone into these rooms; and, having bathed themselves, had been brought thence by the priest who presided on that station, to the gate of Nicanor, which led into the Court of
a War, ii, 17.
b Per iv.
c Levit. xv, 1.