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sinto the Court, twenty-one cubits, or to within a cubit of the altar. This great inequality in their breadth makes us easily understand a passage in the treatise entitled Joma, which would otherwise have been inexplicable; where its author, relating how, when the high priest, on the day of expiation, had slain his own bullock, he gave the blood to one to stir it, in order to keep it from congealing, saith, “ that he stirred it about on the fourth landing-place of the Temple,” or on the top of the steps.
. Maimonides, however, mentions a circumstance concerning these steps, which I am ready to own I do not understand ; for he says, that they were not only opposite to the great entrance into the Temple, but extended along the whole front, and even round the ends of the Porch. Now this appears to me to be a mistake: for, not to mention the space that was requisite for the laver, which every writer places between the altar and the Porch, and the hindrance it would give the service, by coming within a foot of the ascent, altar, and rings, there would not have been half the space for these steps at the ends of the Porch which was requisite. For the whole width of the Court of the Priests, as we have seen, was one hundred and nineteen cubits, of which the Porch took one hundred, leaving only nineteen for the steps, or nine and a-half at each end ; whereas they ought to have had, according to the above account of them, forty-two cubits, or twenty-one at each end. We are, therefore, obliged to correct the account of this otherwise intelligent writer, and to confine the steps to a certain space on each side of the entrance.
Having thus reached the top of the steps, we come to the threshold of the Porch, and when there, we are six cubits above the Court of the Priests; and, according to former accounts, eight and a half above the Court of Israel, sixteen above the Court of the Women, eighteen and a-half above the Hil, or Sacred Fepce, and twenty-four and a-half above the Court of the Gentiles. Consequently, as the outer wall of the Court of the Gentiles was twenty-five cubits high, a person standing on the threshold of the Porch would find his feet within half a cubit of the height of the outer wall, were he not prevented from seeing it by the intervening walls which stood at the east and west ends of the Court of the Women. It is easy to perceive the effect which these different degrees of elevation would have on the beholder. The man of taste would be struck with the ideas of grandeur which they excited ; and the pious soul would perhaps be reminded of the necessity of rising from one degree of grace unto another, until he reached his Father's house.
Having come to the door of the Porch, let us next take notice of the Porch itself. Our habits of thinking are apt to make us imagine, that a porch to a building is only a small appendage in comparison, serving as a vestibule to direct our approach. It will therefore surprise us when we understand, that the Porch to the Temple was a large structure of one hundred cubits in length, from north to south on the outside, twenty-two cubits broad from east to west on the outside, and one , hundred and twenty cubits high: that it was flat in the roof, as the eastern houses generally are," but surrounded with battlements of ten hand-breadths, or two feet and a-half high, to prevent persons from falling over. It was to the top of this that the devil carried our Saviour, when he is said, in Matt. iv. 5, 6 to have set him on a pinnacle of the Temple.” The original words (ETU TO
(επι το ATEPUYLOV TOV Lepov) literally signify “ on the wings of the Temple :” and such the Porch was with respect to
* Josh, ij. 6; 2 Sam. xvi. 22; Acts 1. 9.
b Deut. xxi 8; 1 Sam. ix. 25,
the rest of that sacred edifice; for it stood before it like the head of the letter T, and by extending beyond it on either side, was, with great propriety, called the wings.
On the particular mention of this temptation, one cannot help being struck at the wisdom with which it was adapted to Christ's public character. He was about to appear as the Messiah, concerning whom so much had been prophesied, and so much expected. “ Here then," says Satan, “is a favourable opportunity of convincing all of your Divine mission. Behold in the Courts of the Priests and of Israel a number of persons in the act of sacrificing, and thereby expressing their belief in the efficacy of the Messiah's obedience and death. A little beyond them, in the Court of the Women, are many pious individuals pouring out their souls to God, and hoping in Him who shall redeem Israel. And in the Court of the Gentiles are multitudes more walking and conversing perhaps on the same subject. Call to them aloud! Proclaim yourself immediately as the promised Messiah! Tell them that, as a proof of your heavenly original, you will now descend from this enormous height: and you will astonish and convert them. Nor need you be afraid of any dangerous consequences; for the promise of God is expressly in your favour. It is written in Psal. xci. 11, 12, “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'” Where we may remark, that he left out a very important part of the passage quoted; for the words of the Psalmist run thus : “ He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways:" intimating thereby, that the Divine protection is only to be found in the path of duty. But the enemy of souls can either suppress, add to, or wrest the meaning of the words of Scripture, as it suits his
Having noticed thus much concerning the general appearance of the outside of the Porch, let us next attend to the gate which was in the middle of it. It was an opening of forty cubits high, by twenty broad, which were the same dimensions as those that Ezekiel saw in his vision :-* but, on each side of it, and above it, was ornamental work that extended it to seventy cubits high and twenty-five broad."
The account which Josephus and the Talmud give of this ornamental work on the outside of the opening is as follows:-There were above the gate five beams of choice wood, which Buxtorf translates quercina, or oaken, and Ezekiel xli. 25, calls “ thick planks,” laid at different heights, thus :—The first was on the head of the gate, and was a cubit longer than it on each end; consequently, as the gate was twenty-cubits, the first beam would be twenty-two cubits. Above that was a row of stone, and the second beam of twenty-four cubits : above that, was another row of stone, and then the third beam of twenty-six cubits : above that, another row of stone, and then the fourth beam of twenty-eight cubits : and, above that, another row of stone, and then the fifth beam of thirty cubits : so that these beams were always longer as they rose. We are not informed of their distance from each other: but, as the ornamental work extended thirty cubits above the gate, it is probable that they were divided into five portions, of six cubits each. The use of these beams was for the knobs and flowers which were carved on them, and because they retained the gilding better than if it had been upɔn stone: for they were all carved and gilt, and the ends of them joined together by an elegantly descending border of the same materials ; which, at the top of the gate, met
b Joseph. War, v, 5.
· Chap. xli. 2. VOL. I.
into the pre
the carved and gilded work of two cubits and a-half ou each side; and thus was continued till it reached the ground.
It is worthy of remark, that the gate of the Porch had no doors, but stood always open, that it might thus be, as Josephus says, “ an emblem of heaven;" through which, as it were, prayers
pass sence of God: and yet from which we are excluded by the various impediments which are incident to the
Hitherto we have had no account of the thickness of any of the walls of the several Courts : they were, therefore, when alluded to, only taken from conjecture, as compared with the known thickness of those of the Temple. But Dr. Lightfoot has given us from the Talmud, and other sources, a distinct account of the thickness of the walls which surrounded the Temple; and, therefore, from him we are enabled to state, that the front and end walls of the Porch we are now describing, were five cubits, or nine feet and an inch thick, and that the back wall was six cubits, or ten feet eleven inches thick, probably because it joined to, and made a part of the Temple wall; which, like that in the vision of Ezekiel, was all of that thickness. Now, if we deduct ten cubits as the width of the two end walls, we have ninety cubits as the length of the open space within : and as for the width, , we are distinctly told that it was eleven cubits within. Consequently, the space within the walls of the Porch was ninety cubits from north to south, eleven cubits from east to west, and about one hundred and fourteen cubits high, allowing the other six for the joisting, roof, battlements, and scare-crow cubit, and in the same proportions as were formerly stated of the body of the Tem
· War, v. 5.
Chap. xli. 5.