The Gates of the Court

THE GATES OF THE COURT

The Gates of the Northern Court: The Yechoniah Gate

In the northern part of the Court were four gates (from west to east): The Yechoniah Gate, also called the Gate of the Spark; The Gate of the Offering (through which the offerings of the highest level of sanctity were brought); The Gate of the Women (through which women entered to offer their sacrifices); and the Gate of Song (through which the Levites and musicians entered to reach the platform of the Levitical Choir).

All the gates of the Mikdash measured twenty cubits high and ten cubits wide (10 meters high by 5 meters wide). Their doors were overlaid in gold.

The Yechoniah Gate

The Yechoniah Gate was the most western gate of the four northern gates of the Court. It was called thusly because King Yechoniah exited through this gate, en route to the Babylonian exile at the end of the First Temple period. This gate was also called the Gate of the Spark. Some say that the origin of this name is because above this gate, there was a loft where a small fire was kept burning, from which the woodpile could be lit, in case its fire had been extinguished. This loft was one of the three places guarded by the priests. (Source : Midot 2:6).

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the level of sanctity of the Court, with the exception of the Nikanor Gate. The Nikanor Gate was not deemed holy since the metzorayim (people afflicted with a leprosy-like skin ailment) would stand there to receive the blood of their offerings on their thumbs and big toes. This was a part of their purification process. (Source: Pesachim 85).

The Gates of the Northern Court: The Gate of the Offering

The Gate of the Offering was the second gate from the west of the four northern gates of the Court. Through this gate, offerings of the highest level of sanctity were brought to the slaughtering area, since the slaughter and the retrieval of their blood was performed in the northern section of the Court. (Source: Midot 2:6).

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits high and ten cubits wide, and their doors were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3).

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The bottom right picture shows the gates of the Azara being closed to those coming to bring their Passover offerings in order to allow 3 separate groups to bring their offerings.

The Gates of the Northern Court: The Gate of the Song

The Gate of the Song was one of the four northern gates of the Court. Through this gate, the Levites and musicians approached the platform in the Court of Israel to sing the "Daily Song."

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits high and ten cubits wide, and their doors were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3).

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside of the gate) held the same holiness level as that of the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The Levites would enter the Azara (inner courtyard) through the Gate of the Song, pick up their instruments at the Chamber of Musical Instruments located in the Women's Court, and then take their positions on the Duchan (raised platform) in the Azara, where they would perform the "Daily Song" during the bringing of the offerings.

The Gates of the Northern Court: The Gate of Women

The Gate of Women, the eastern-most gate of the four northern gates. Through this gate the women entered to offer their sacrifices and to lay their hands upon the offering. (This according to the opinion that women as well as men lay their hands upon offerings.)

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits high and ten cubits wide, and their doors were overlaid in gold.

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside of the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The top left picture provides a view of the gate through which women would enter the Temple to pray, give thanks, or bring an offering. Located on the north side of the Azara, the women would enter through this gate to watch as the kohanim bring their offerings to the altar – as is required. Women are even obligated to slaughter the Passover offering, unless a family member does it instead. The women would accompany their offerings with prayer, confession, repentance, prostration and thanking to G-d for His kindnesses.

The middle right picture shows a woman laying her hands upon the animal she is bringing for an offering, an integral aspect of making an offering. This takes place before the steps of the Women’s Court, at the Gate of Nikanor.

The bottom right and bottom middle pictures show a woman bringing her bikurim - first fruits offering on the holiday of Shavuot.

The bottom left picture shows a woman bringing an offering required following the birth of a child.

The center picture again shows a woman bringing hr offering via the Gate of Women.

The Gate of the Southern Court

In the southern section of the Court there were four gates (from west to east): the Upper Gate; the Gate of Kindling (through which the wood for the woodpile was brought in); the Gate of the Firstborn (through which the firstborn offerings were brought); and the Gate of Water, through which a flask of water for the libation performed during the Sukkot holiday was brought. (Source: Midot 1:4).

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits high and ten cubits wide, and their doors were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3).

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The Gate of the Southern Court: The Gate of Water

The Gate of Water was the eastern-most gate of the four southern gates of the Court. Through this gate a flask of water from the Shiloach Spring was brought up to the Temple, to be used for the water libation which took place on the mizbeach during the Sukkot holiday. A different opinion claims that the name "Water Gate" is derived from the prophecy which states that in the future, a river will flow from under the Holy of Holies, and the water will flow, through this gate and out of the Temple. (Zechariah 14,8) Above this gate was a ritual bath in which the High Priest would immerse himself for the first of his immersions on Yom Kippur.

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits in height and ten cubits in width and they had doors that were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3.)

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The Gate of the Southern Court: The Gate of the Firstborn

The Gate of the Firstborn was one of the four southern gates of the Court. Through this gate, the firstborn offerings were brought in to the Court. It should be noted that the firstborn offerings were attributed a lower level of sanctity and therefore their slaughter is permitted anywhere in the Court. Therefore, they were brought in on the southern side.

This as opposed to the Gate of the Offering in the north, through which offerings of the higher level of sanctity were brought in, for these could be slaughtered only in the north. It is possible that through this gate, the other offerings with a lower level of sanctity were also brought, such as peace offerings, tithes and the Passover Offering.

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits in height and ten cubits in width and they had doors that were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3.)

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The Gate of the Southern Court: The Gate of Kindling

The Gate of Kindling was one of the four southern gates of the Court. Through this gate, wood was brought in for the mizbeach wood piles. (Source: Midot 1:3).

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits in height and ten cubits in width and they had doors that were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3.)

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.

The Gates of the Southern Court: The Upper Gate

The Upper Gate was the most western of the four southern gates of the Court. Some say it was called this because it was situated on the ascent of the mountain. Some call the Nikanor Gate the "Upper Gate" (See Talmud Yerushalmi: Eruvin 5:1 and the Rambam, Beit Habechira 5:5). In this case, the word "upper" would signify "above the Women's Court."

All the gates of the Temple were 20 cubits in height and ten cubits in width and they had doors that were overlaid in gold. (Source: Midot 2:3.)

The gates of the Court (including the open space inside the gate) had the same level of sanctity as the Court, with the exception of Nikanor Gate.