The Temple as Described in the Temple Scroll

The Temple Proper
The description in the scroll is very short and fragmentary. It mentions, but does not describe in detail, the objects which stood inside, including: The Golden Veil (in front of the Holy Ark); the Table for the Bread of Presence (Showbread); the Menorah (Seven-branched Lampstand), and the cherubim (above the Ark).

The Courtyards
The courtyards are described in detail: Inner (with several structures), Middle, Outer courtyards. They are arranged in a concentric manner, each provided with gates. the gates are not just openings in the wall but are complex buildings whose plan is based on Ezekial's description of the Temple.

The Structures
Most of all details concerning this Temple are devoted to the structures (other than the Temple itself) which are located in the Inner courtyard. The Alter of Sacrifice (Great Altar of Burnt Offerings) was crowned with four horns, one on each corner. No information survived as to the means of accessing it's top.

The House of Utensils
The House of Utensils was planned to contain cupboards along its walls to house the utensils used in the daily cult ceremonies. The priests could cleanse themselves in the big laver (or basin) contained in another small building. As the ritual rites of purifications were carried out in the nude, special niches in the upper side of the House of Laver were planned.

The Slaughterhouse
Facing the Altar, a construction made of 12 columns carrying a flat roof was planned. It was provided with som ekind of rings which were attached to the pillars. It seems that this device whould be used to chain animals for sacrifice and that the structure was to serve as a slaughterhouse.

A similar construction, for another specific group of sacrificial animals, was built just to the west of the Temple.

The Stairhouse
A stairhouse (in the shape of a stairwell) was planned to sit at the northwest corner of the Temple. Its purpose was to let the priests reach the upper and inner parts of the Temple indirectly (that is, not through the main gate) for the Temple's maintenance.

The Collanades
In the surrounding collanades there were plans for the priests to eat from the sacrifices without mixing (or mingling) with the rest of the people. the kitchens were arranged in the corners near the gates.

The Gates
The middle and outer gates were named after the 12 children of Israel (the tribes, sons of Jacob). The northern three gates were named Dan, Naphtali, and Asher; the eastern three gates were named Simeon, Levi, and Judah; the southern three gates were named Reuben, Joseph and Benjamin; and the western three gates were named Issachar, Zebulum and Gad.

The Outer Courtyard
The dimensions of the outer courtyard were vast, 1590 x 1590 cubits (one cubit equals 800 square meters). For the sake of comparison the measurements of the Herodian Temple Mount was 280 x 480 meters and was, in its day, one of the largest holy precincts in the world.

On top of the Temple's roof was a scarecrow in the shape of rows of spikes all over. These were designed to prevent birds of prey from landing on the roof and defiling it.

Translation by Y. Yadin

Part of COL 15 (XV)

13 an offering by fire, a pleasing odour before the Lord. [And they shall burn everything on the alter over]
14 the burnt offering, to complete their own ordination, (throughout) the seven days of [ordination. {
15 And if the high priest will be about [to serve the Lord, (the priest) who] has been or-
16 dained to w[ea]r the garments in place of his father, he shall offer [one bull]
17 [fo]r all the peo[ple] and one for the priests; he shall offer the one of the
18 [prie]sts first. And the elders of the priest[s] shall lay [their hands]

COL 41 (XLI)

04 [of Reuben to the gate of Joseph, the same measure, sixty and three]
05 [hundred cubits; and from the gate of Joseph to the gate of Benjamin, three

1 [hundred and sixty cubits; and from the gate of benjamin to the we]st[ern(?) corner,]
2 [three hundred and sixty cubits; and thus from] this (?) [corner] 3 to the ga[te of Issachar, three hundred and sixty] cubits; and from the gate of
4 Issachar [to the gate of Zebulun, sixty and three] hundred cubits; 5 and from the gate of Ze'bulun to the gate of Gad, six[ty and] three hundred
6 cubits; and from th ega[te of] "Gad" [to the north corner,] three hundred
7 and sixty cubits{[}and] from (?) this corner to 8 the gate of Dan, three hundred and sixty cubits, and thus from the gate of Dan to
9 the gate of Naphtali, sixty and three hundred cubits; and from the gate of Naphtali
10 to the gate of Asher, three hundred and sixty cubits; and from the gate of
11 Asher to the east {of (?)} corner, three hundred and sixty cubits. 12 And the gates (shall) protude from the wall of the court outwards seven cubits
13 and (shall) penetrate from the wall of the court inwards six and thirty cubits
14 And the width of the gates' entrances (shall be) fourteen cubits; and their height
15 eight and twenty cubits up to the lintel. And they shall be roofed
16 by beams of cedar wood and overlaid with gold. And their doors (shall be) overlaid with gold. And their doors (shall be) overlaid
17 with pure gold. And between one {x} gate and another, inward you shall make chambers

Return to Scroll Index Page

Return to Resources Page

Return to Moellerhaus Home Page