Bais HaChalifos – House of Knives

 

Bais Hachalifos tall sky 2

Bais HaChalifos

The rooms on either side of the Ulam were called the Bais HaChalifos.  “it was called the Bais HaChalifos for that is where they kept the knives.”[1] Mishna Middos 4:7

 

 

  1. The height is 24.8 cubits (20 2/3 bricks) high.

The Ezras Kohanim (Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef Beis HaChalifos 2) sites Tosfos in Rosh HaShona 24a D’H to support that the height of the Bais HaChalifos was not the same height as the Ulam, which we know was 100 cubits. However, he cites an alternative view in Tosefta on Menachos that suggests that the Beis HaChalifos was also 100 cubits high.[2]

 

Ezras Kohanim (Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef 2 D’”H V’HaUlam) says, “It seems to me that the height of 100 cubits suggested for the Ulam is only for the Ulam proper but the additional area of the Ulam, referred to as the Bais HaChalifos, was not as high………for only corresponding to the Heichal would be 100 cubits but the areas corresponding with the cells was only as high as the cells, which was either 24 or 21 cubits high, so it would seem to me…. “[3]

 

  1. The length of each wing is 34 cubits.

The length of the whole front is 100 cubits. Since the Ulam was 32 cubits that leaves 34 cubits for each wing of the Bais HaChalifos.

 

Yechezkel – Ezekiel 41:14

וְרֹחַב פְּנֵי הַבַּיִת וְהַגִּזְרָה לַקָּדִים מֵאָה אַמָּה:

“And the width of the front of the House and the fortress to the east was one hundred cubits.” This refers to the whole front of the building based on Rashi’s statement that the house and the fortress refer to the same building.” (Rashi on Ezekiel 41:14)[4]

 

  1. These are the alcoves where each watch of priest kept their knives. We are using a height 3 3/5 cubits (3 bricks).[5]

Rashi on Yoma 36a

ואותו עודף קרוי בית החליפות שהיו בהן עשרים וארבע חלונות חלון לכל משמר ששם גונזים סכינים של קודש וסכין קרוי חילוף בלשון ערבי ואויר שאחורי אותו עודף למערב ואויר שבין צפון כותל העודף לבין כותל העזרה קרוי לפנים מן החליפות:

 

“That extension is called the Bais HaCalifos because it contained 24 alcoves[6], an alcove for each watch of priests, where they would store the knives of the sanctuary. A knife is referred to as a “chiluf” in Arabic. The space behind that extension to the west and the space between the north of the wall of the extension and the wall of the courtyard is referred to as “from the chalifos inward”.[7] [8] [9]

 

We made the alcoves accessible from the outside based on Rashi on Zevachim 55b “And in the western wall of that extension there were windows to store the knives from the outside. Therefore the corresponding courtyard all the way to the western wall of the Azarah was called the Bais HaChalifos.”

 

 

 

  1. We are using a width of 11 cubits.

In the book, The Third Beis HaMidash (Steinberg, pg 106) it says that the Bais HaChalifos in the 2nd Temple was only 10 cubits from east to west “including the walls”.  They site Rash Bava Metzia 33a, Tosafos Rosh HaShanah 24a and Ezras Kohaim 3:7, 4:7. However, none of these sites seem to support this conclusion.

 

Rashi on Zevachim 55b gives its length from east to west as 11 cubits, but does not specify if the walls are included.  Rashi on Yoma 36a suggests that it was 10 cubits.  “But from the Chalifos inward the width of the Ulam extended beyond the width of the Heichal 15 cubits to the north and correspondingly to the south,[10] but the extent of that extension is only 10 cubits from east to west. That extension is called the Bais HaChalifos…”

 

However, the Rashash on Yoma 36a Suggests that Rashi in Yoma was talking about the first temple when he said it was 10.  The Mishna in Middos 4:7 clearly states that in the 2nd Temple it was 11 cubits. The Rashash suggests that saying it was 10 was a clerical error in the Rashi. Further support for a width of 11 cubits comes from the Rashi on Yoma which seems to contradict the Rashi on Zevachim 55b. “There were two apertures in the Bais HaChalifos. For the Ulam extended beyond the width of the Heichal to the north and to the south 15 cubits in each direction.[11] But its length from east to west was only 11 cubits.”

 

  1. We made this wall 2 cubits wide. [12]

 

  1. We made this wall 2 cubits wide. [13]

The Mishna had said that the walls of the Ulam were 5 cubits thick. Ezras Kohanim suggests that since the Bais HaChalifos was much shorter than the Ulam therefore the walls of Bais HaChalifos could be much less than 5 cubits thick. Ezras Kohanim (Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef 2 D’H V’HaUlam)

 

 

 

  1. The Pishpeshim are 8 cubits (6 2/3 bricks) high. We have used an opening in the corner of 4 cubits by 4 cubits.[14]

Zevachim 55b

“There were two Pishpeshim in the Bais HaChalifos and their elevation was eight cubits, in order that the whole of the Temple court might be made fit for the consumption of sacrifices of higher sanctity and the slaughtering of sacrifices of lower sanctity. [Asks the Gemara], does this not mean that eight [cubits] stood before them [i.e. that the bottom of the doorway was 8 cubits off the ground]? No, it means that they were eight cubits high. [i.e. the height of the doorway was 8 cubits] An objection is raised: [the Gemara asks,] all the gates there were twenty cubits high and ten cubits wide? [The Gemara answers,] the Pishpeshim were different. [the Gemara asks,] but there were the sides? [The Gemara answers,] they were built at the corners.”[15]

 

Rashi on Zevachim 55b

“There were two apertures in the Bais HaChalifos. For the Ulam extended beyond the width of the Heichal to the north and to the south 15 cubits in each direction.[16] But its length from east to west was only 11 cubits. And in the western wall of that extension there were windows to store the knives from the outside. Therefore the corresponding courtyard all the way to the western wall of the Azarah was called the Bais HaChalifos. Within those two walls there were two small doorways and this is as we have learned in the Tosefta that Rabbi Yossi the son of Reb Yehudah said there were two apertures in the Bais HaChalifos open to the west.”[17]

 

Tiferes Yisroel Middos 4:7 Yachin 72 “Each mishmar (a family of Cohanim assigned to a watch at the Temple) had a locker in the wall to store their knives…and to each of the two Bais HaChalifos of the Ulam there were two doors, one leading into the Ulam and one in the corner, meaning that the Bais HaChalifos to the north of the Ulam had a second door in the northwest corner while the Bais HaChalifos to the south of the Ulam had a door in the southwest corner. Each of these doors was 8 cubits tall and would allow that whole area to be used for slaughtering.”[18]

 

 

  1. Gap between the Bais HaChalifos and the cells.

In The Third Beis HaMidash (Steinberg, pg 106) It says that there was a gap of 5 cubits between the cells and the Bais HaChalifos citing Ezekiel 41:11 “the width of the empty space was 5 cubits all around (the cells)”.  “The width of the wall which is to the cell towards the outside is 5 cubits and an empty space for the cells of the house” (Ezekiel 41:9) “The empty space was on the northern and southern ends towards the east, for the cells did not surround the entire house and into that empty space opened the doors of the cells on the eastern side, as the verse will state ‘the door of the cell was toward the empty space’, for there were no doors to the cells towards the courtyard nor towards the Heichal. Rather, to the northeastern ends there was a door in the width of the wall open to the empty space and in that door one would enter to the cells.” (Rashi on Ezekiel 41:9)[19]

 

  1. Door from the Bais HaChalifos to the Ulam. 20 cubits high (16 2/3 bricks high)

Ezras Kohanim Middos 3:7 Bnai Yosef D’H Govho…V’Das explains that the all the commentaries seem to assume that there was a wall between the Ulam and the Bais HaChalifos through which one would enter through a door.

 

All the doors and the gates of the 2nd Temple were 20 cubits high and 10 wide with the exception of the front door of the Ulam. (Mishnah Middos 2:3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] 2nd Temple

[2] 2nd Temple

[3] 2nd Temple

[4] 3rd Temple

[5] no source

[6] Ezras Kohanim Middos 4:7 B’nai Yosef 4 Bais HaChalifos 4 D”H V’Raisi cites the Kuntras HaBais 28 that the 24 alcoves were 12 on the north BaChalifos and 12  on the south. We are following that opinion.

 

[7] 2nd Temple

[8] Ezras Kohanim (Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef Bais HaChalifos 4 D’H V’gam) cites the Tavnis Heichal who gives an alternative view that in the Bais HaChalifos there were 24 alcoves in which the Cohamin would place their knives and also the knives which broke or became blemished. The 24 alcoves of the north side were for the knives that could be used to slaughter and the 24 alcoves on the south were for the broken knives.

 

[9] The Ezras Kohanim Middos 5:4 B’nai Yosef D”H B”Maseches Tamid and D”H V’Zeh cites an opinion that the clothing of the Kohamim was also kept in the Bais HaChalifos.

[10] The 3rd Temple is 100 cubits wide, so in the 3rd Temple the Bais HaChalifos will be longer from North to South.

[11] This is 2nd temple.  The 3rd  Temple will be longer.

[12] no source

[13] We found no source specifying 2 cubits.

[14] no source

[15] 2nd Temple

[16] This is 2nd temple.  The 3rd will be longer.

[17] 2nd Temple

[18] 2nd Temple

[19] 3rd Temple

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