Bais HaChalifos – House of Knives

The Ulam and the Batei Chalifos

The Ulam and the Batei Chalifos on each side with an average-sized person for perspective.

 

אוטם

(Otem / Foundation)

The Mishna in Middos 4:6 says that the height of the 2nd Bais HaMikdash included a 6 cubit Otem upon which the Ulam, the Heichal and the Kodesh HaKodashim were built.[1] The Otem extended into the Ulam. That is why there were 12 steps, each 1/2 cubit high, leading from ground level up to the Ulam.[2]

The Otem אוטם

There is a debate if the Otem extended under the Ta’aim as well or if the floor of the Ta’aim was at ground level.[3] The Ezras Kohanim says,”The Otem was the Otem of the Heichal and the Kodesh HaKodashim and the Ulam which was 6 cubits high. Upon the height of this Otem began the walls of these structures. However, regarding the Ta’aim there is a disagreement if their walls also began on top of the Otem just like the Heichal or if they stood on the ground and thus the Otem would only be in the place of the Heichal, the Kodesh HaKodashim and the Ulam. According to this opinion the height of the lowest level of the Ta’aim would have corresponded with the Otem and only from the 2nd level of the Ta’aim would it correspond with the walls of the Heichal.”

This description does not specially say that the Otem extended under the Bais HaChalifos, however we are assuming it does for two reasons:

  1. When the Ezras Kohanim talks about parts of structure where the Otem does not extend. He only discusses the Ta’aim and does not mention the Bais HaChalifos as a place where it does not extend. We did not find any source suggesting that the Bais HaChalifos were on a lower level than the Ulam.
  2. It clearly extended under the Ulam and in the Mishna there are places where the Bais HaChalifos are referred to as if they were part of the Ulam.[4]

LEGO INFORMATION:        The Otem is 5 full bricks high which is the equivalent of 6 cubits.

 

בית החליפות

(Bais HaChalifos / House of Knives)

The rooms on either side of the Ulam were called the Bais HaChalifos. These rooms were lined with lockers where the Kohaim would keep the ritual knives used for slaughtering the animal offerings. “It was called the Bais HaChalifos for that is where they kept the knives.”[5]

Both of the Batei Chalifos, one on each side of the Ulam

Both of the Batei Chalifos (plural of “Beis Chalifos”) — one on each side of the Ulam.

 

  1. The height of the room is 24 cubits. The height of the Bais HaChalifos with the Otem is 30 cubits.

The height of the Ulam in The 2nd Bais HaMikdash was 100 cubits.[6] Some representations of the The 3rd Bais HaMikdash show the Bais HaChalifos to be the same height as the Ulam. However, we are using the opinion of the Ezras Kohanim who 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 Ta’aim was only as high as the Ta’aim, which was either 24 or 21 cubits high, so it would seem to me….”[7] Given the choice of 21 or 24 cubits high we are using 24 cubits high in our model based on visual aesthetics.

There is a question if the height given for the Bais HaChalifos mentioned in Ezras Kohanim (24 cubits or 21 cubits) includes the height of the Otem. If the height includes the Otem then it would create a problem with the door between the Bais HaChalifos and the Ulam. There is a presumption that all doors in the 2nd Bais HaMikdash were 20 cubits high.[8] If the 24 cubit height included the 6 cubits of the Otem that would only allow for an 18 foot door. If there was a 20 cubit door from the Ulam to the Bais HaChalifos then the top of the door would be above the height of the Bais HaChalifos. Therefore, we are presuming that the the 24 cubit height of the Bais HaChalifos is the height above the Otem.[9]

Beis Chalifos - view from inside

One of the Batei Chalifos from the inside [view from within the Ulam]

LEGO INFORMATION:        The Bais HaChalifos is 25 full bricks high which is the equivalent of 30 cubits.

 

  1. The length of each wing of the Bais HaChalifos 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.

Measurements of the Ulam and the Batei Chalifos

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) [10]

LEGO INFORMATION:        The length of the Bais HaChalifos is 34 Lego studs long. Each stud is one cubit.

 

  1. The alcoves where each watch of Kohanim kept their knives are 3 3/5 cubits high (in our model).

There are alcoves where the Kohanim kept their knives. “That extension is called the Bais HaChalifos because it contained 24 alcoves[11], an alcove for each watch of priests, where they would store the knives of the sanctuary. [12] 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”.[13]

ALCOVES simple

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

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.” [14] We made them 3 3/5 cubits high for purely aesthetic reasons. We found no source for the size or shape of the alcoves.

LEGO INFORMATION:        The height of each of the alcove is 3 full bricks high and one brick wide.

 

  1. The width of the Bais HaChalifos is 11 cubits.

In the book, The Third Beis HaMikdash it says that the Bais HaChalifos in the 2nd Temple was only 10 cubits from east to west “including the walls”.[15] They site Rash Bava Metzia 33a, Tosafos Rosh HaShanah 24a and Ezras Kohanim 3:7, 4:7. However, upon investigation, these sites do not seem to support this conclusion.

Rashi on Zevachim 55b gives its extent 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 but the extent of that extension is only 10 cubits from east to west. That extension is called the Bais HaChalifos…”[16]

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 Bais HaMikdash was the width of 11 cubits. The Rashash suggests that the measurement of 10 cubits 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.[17] But its extent from east to west was only 11 cubits.”

beis chalifos - view from inside (WIDTH) 2

LEGO INFORMATION:        The width of the Bais HaChalifos is 11 Lego studs long. Each stud is one cubit.

 

  1. The walls of the Bais HaChalifos are 2 cubits wide.[18] 

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 thus the walls of Bais HaChalifos could be much less than 5 cubits thick.[19] We found no source to say how much thinner the walls would be, so we made them 2 cubits thick.

Beis HaChalifos - width of the walls

LEGO INFORMATION:        The walls of the Bais HaChalifos are 2 studs wide. Each stud is one cubit.

 

  1. Each פִּשׁפֵּשׁ (Pishpesh, Access Door) is 8 cubits high. [20] The opening in the corner is 4 cubits by 4 cubits. [21]

Mishnah Zevachim states, “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. [The Gemara asks], “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.”[22]

Rashi explained, “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.[23] 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.”[24]

Tiferes Yisroel tells us that, “each mishmar (a family of Kohanim assigned to a watch at the Temple) had an alcove 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 these doors was 8 cubits tall and would allow that whole area to be used for slaughtering.”[25]

Pishpesh

LEGO INFORMATION:        The Pishpeshim 6 and 2/3 bricks high. This is equal to 8 cubits. The openings in the corners are 4 studs wide off of the east-west wall and 4 studs long off of the north-south wall.

 

  1. Door from the Bais HaChalifos to the Ulam is 20 cubits high (16 2/3 bricks high) [26] We have made the entry 7 cubits wide. [27]

Ezras Kohanim 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. [28] All the doors and the gates of the 2nd Temple were 20 cubits high with the exception of the front door of the Ulam. [29]

HEIGHT OF B'CH - SIDE

HEIGHT OF B'CH - FRONT

LEGO INFORMATION: Door from the Bais HaChalifos to the Ulam is 16 2/3 bricks high. This is equal to 20 cubits. The width of the door is 7 studs.

 

הָאֻלָם

(Ha’Ulam / The Hall)

     1.     Inside of the Hall is 20 cubits by 11 cubits.[30]

Yechezkel – Ezekiel 40:49

אֹרֶךְ הָאֻלָם עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה וְרֹחַב עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה וּבַמַּעֲלוֹת אֲשֶׁר יַעֲלוּ אֵלָיו וְעַמֻּדִים אֶל הָאֵילִים אֶחָד מִפֹּה וְאֶחָד מִפֹּה

The length of the Hall was twenty cubits and the width was eleven cubits, and with the steps upon which they would ascend to it, and pillars to the posts, one from here and one from here.

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 2.45.52 PM

     2.     Pillars: the space between the doorway and the walls are 5 cubits and 3 cubits.[31]

Yechezkel – Ezekiel 40:48

וַיְבִאֵנִי אֶל אֻלָם הַבַּיִת וַיָּמָד אֵל אֻלָם חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפֹּה וְחָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפֹּה וְרֹחַב הַשַּׁעַר שָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפּוֹ וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפּוֹ

And he brought me to the Hall of the Temple, and he measured the pillars of the Hall, five cubits from here and five cubits from here, and the width of the gate, three cubits from here and three cubits from there.

Beis Hamikdash - The Pillars

3.     Entry from the Ulam to the Heichal is 10 cubits wide. The width of the doorpost is 5 cubits wide.[32] We are using a height of 20 cubits.[33]

Yechezkel – Ezekiel 41:2

וְרֹחַב הַפֶּתַח עֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת וְכִתְפוֹת הַפֶּתַח חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפּוֹ וְחָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת מִפּוֹ וַיָּמָד אָרְכּוֹ אַרְבָּעִים אַמָּה וְרֹחַב עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה

And the width of the entrance was ten cubits, and the walls forming the doorway were five cubits from here and five cubits from here, and he measured its length forty cubits and its width twenty cubits.

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

Ulam Back View - Entry Ulam to Heichal

4.     Entrance to the Hall is 14 cubits wide.[34]

The width of the entrance can be derived from the subtracting the length space between the door and the walls (3 cubits on each side) from the width of the room of (20 cubits).

Ulam Front View - Entryway

5.     Doorpost to Heichal is 6 cubits wide.[35]

Yechezkel – Ezekiel 41:1

וַיְבִיאֵנִי אֶל הַהֵיכָל וַיָּמָד אֶת הָאֵילִים שֵׁשׁ אַמּוֹת רֹחַב מִפּוֹ וְשֵׁשׁ אַמּוֹת רֹחַב מִפּוֹ רֹחַב הָאֹהֶל

And he brought me to the Temple, and he measured the pillars, six cubits wide from here and six cubits wide from there, the width of the tent.

Ulam Top Down - PILLARS TO HEICHAL edited

6.     Length of the Hall is 22 cubits.[36]

The width of the room plus (11 cubits) the width of the walls on either side (5 and 6 cubits each) for a total of 22 cubits.

Ulam Top Down LENGTH OF HALL FIXED

7.     We are using 6 cubits for the width of the walls.[37]

The northern and southern walls will be 6 cubits thick like the Heichal[38]

 

8.     Width of the Hall with walls is 32 cubits.[39]

Width of the room (20 cubits) plus the widths of two walls (6 cubits each).

9.     Height of the Hall is 100 cubits.[40]

The height is not specified in Ezekiel’s vision. In Tractate Middos (4:6) Rashi says that the height of the Heichal in 2nd Beit HaMikdash was 100 cubits. (Rashi on Ezekiel 41:8). We are following the presumption in THE THIRD TEMPLE that the height of the Heichal is the same as the Hall.[41]

10.     Height of the entrance to the Hall is 40 cubits.[42]

The height of the entrance to the Ulam is not specified in Ezekiel’s vision. In Mishnah Middos it says the height of the entrance to the Ulam in the 2nd Temple was 40 cubits high. We are using that measurement. (Mishnah Middos 3:7) All the doors and the gates of the 2nd Temple were 20 cubits high with the exception of the front door of the Ulam. (Mishnah Middos 2:3)

11.     Awnings are as follows:

22 cubits wide and 1 cubit protruding from the wall.

24 cubits wide and 2 cubits protruding from the wall.

26 cubits wide and 3 cubits protruding from the wall.

28 cubits wide and 4 cubits protruding from the wall.

30 cubits wide and 5 cubits protruding from the wall.

Over the entrance there were decorative awnings (maltera’os, מלתראות). The bottom one was laid on directly on top of the lintel of the entrance and was 22 cubits wide. Then on top of it was a row of bricks. On it laid another beam that was on cubit longer on each side. Then next ones were 24, 26, 28 and 30 as they went up. (Commentary of the Bartenura on Mishnah Middos 3:7)[43]

We do not have a source for the height of each or the space between them. We have made the height of each 0.4 cubits and made them 1.2 cubits apart.[44]

12.     The Pishpeshim are 8 cubits (6 2/3 bricks) high.[45] We have used an opening 3 cubits wide.[46]

There were two small doors (pishpeish, פּשׁפּשׁ) on either side of door of the Heichal. The north door was used as an entry to the Heichal so the main gate could be opened from the inside. (Mishnah Middos 4:2)   The south door was always closed.[47]

Yechezkel – Ezekiel (41:44)

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי יְהֹוָה הַשַּׁעַר הַזֶּה סָגוּר יִהְיֶה לֹא יִפָּתֵחַ וְאִישׁ לֹא יָבֹא בוֹ כִּי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּא בוֹ וְהָיָה סָגוּר:

And the Lord said to me; this gate shall be closed, it shall not be opened, and no man shall come through it, for the Lord God of Israel comes through it, and it shall be closed.

We have made these 3 cubits wide to match the size of a regular household door.[48]

In the 2nd Temple the pishpeishim led from the Ulam to the Ta’aim (ta’aim). (Mishnah Middos 4:2) Since the Ulam in the 3rd Temple will not be as wide as the Ulam in the 2nd Temple this is not possible. In our version we have made the pishpeishim lead directly into the Heichal.

13.     We are using Yellow, Blue and White for the colors on the front of the Ulam.

“It used to be said: He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building. Of what did he build it? Rabbah said: Of yellow and white marble. Some say, of blue, yellow and white marble. Alternate rows [of the stones] projected, so as to leave a place for cement. He originally intended to cover it with gold, but the Rabbis advised him not to, since it was more beautiful as it was, looking like the waves of the sea.”[49] (Bava Basra 4a)

14.     Gap between the Bais HaChalifos and the Ta’aim.

In The Third Beis HaMidash[50] it says that there was a gap of 5 cubits between the Ta’aim and the Bais HaChalifos citing Ezekiel 41:11 “the width of the empty space was 5 cubits all around (the Ta’aim)”. “The width of the wall which is to the cell towards the outside is 5 cubits and an empty space for the Ta’aim of the house” (Ezekiel 41:9) “The empty space was on the northern and southern ends towards the east, for the Ta’aim did not surround the entire house and into that empty space opened the doors of the Ta’aim 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 Ta’aim 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 Ta’aim.” (Rashi on Ezekiel 41:9)[51]

 

[1] The Otem refers to the part of the foundation above the ground. “Six cubits is not enough for the Otem of such a tall building so it seems to me that we are only counting the Otem that rises above the ground” (Rosh on Mishna Middos 4:6)

[2] Tosfos Yom Tom on Mishna 4:6

[3] Ezras Kohanim Middos 4:6 Nachlas Yehoshuah 3

[4] “The Ulam was wider than The Beis HaMikdash itself, 15 cubits to the north and 15 cubits to the south and that area was called the Bais HaChalifos ” (Mishna Middos 4:7)

[5] Mishna Middos 4:7

[6] The height of the Ulam in The 3rd Bais HaMikdash is not specified in Ezekiel’s vision. Rashi says that the height of the Heichal in 3rd Bais HaMikdash will be 100 cubits. (Rashi on Ezekiel 41:8). We are following the presumption in Rabbi Shalom D. Steinberg, The Third Beis Hamikdash: The Third Temple (Moznaim Pub Corp, 1993) that the height of the Ulam is the same as the Heichal.

[7] Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef 2 D’”H V’HaUlam Here he also mentions an alternative view in The Tosefta on Menachos that suggests that the Bais HaChalifos was the same height as the Ulam.

[8] All the doors and the gates of The 2nd Bais HaMikdash were 20 cubits high with the exception of the front door of the Ulam. (Mishnah Middos 2:3)

[9] This is much like the height of the Cells themselves which were 24 above the base they were on. (see section on Cells)

[10] Based on Yechezkel’s vision of the 3rd Temple.

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

[12] 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 Kohanim 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.

[13] 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 Kohanim was also kept in the Bais HaChalifos.

[14] Based on the 2nd Temple.

[15] Rabbi Shalom D. Steinberg, The Third Beis Hamikdash: The Third Temple (Moznaim Pub Corp, 1993), p 106.

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

[17] This is in the 2nd Temple. The 3rd Temple will be longer as mentioned above.

[18] No source

[19] Ezras Kohanim (Middos 4:7 Bnei Yosef 2 D’H V’HaUlam)

[20] This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[21] No source

[22] Zevachim 55b.This is based on the 2nd Temple.

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

[24] Rashi on Zevachim 55b. This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[25] Tiferes Yisroel Middos 4:7 Yachin 72. This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[26] This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[27] No Source

[28] Ezras Kohanim Middos 3:7 Bnai Yosef D’H Govho. This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[29] Mishnah Middos 2:3. Also, see the discussion in the section above on the Bais HaChalifos regarding the possibility that this door would be shorter.

[30] Based on Yechezkel’s vision of the 3rd Temple.

[31] Based on Yechezkel’s vision of the 3rd Temple.

[32] Based on Yechezkel’s vision of the 3rd Temple.

[33] This is based on the 2nd Temple.

[34] 3rd Temple

[35] 3rd Temple

[36] 3rd Temple

[37] 3rd Temple

[38] Binayn HaBayis paragraph 27 as cited in Rabbi Shalom D. Steinberg, The Third Beis Hamikdash: The Third Temple (Moznaim Pub Corp, 1993), p 104.

[39] 3rd Temple

[40] 2nd Temple

[41] Rabbi Shalom D. Steinberg, The Third Beis Hamikdash: The Third Temple (Moznaim Pub Corp, 1993).

[42] 2nd Temple

[43] 2nd Temple

[44] No source

[45] 2nd Temple

[46] No source

[47] 3rd Temple

[48] No source

[49] 2nd Temple

[50] Rabbi Shalom D. Steinberg, The Third Beis Hamikdash: The Third Temple (Moznaim Pub Corp, 1993), p 106.

[51] 3rd Temple

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