Middot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two

Introduction

Our mishnah explains the structures that took up the space going from north to south in the courtyard.

Mishnah Two

From north to south was a hundred and thirty-five cubits.

1)      The ascent and the altar took up sixty-two;

2)      From the altar to the rings was eight cubits.

3)      The rings took up twenty-four cubits.

4)      From the rings to the tables was four cubits,

5)      From the tables to the dwarf pillars four,

6)      And from the dwarf pillars to the wall of the courtyard eight cubits,

7)      And the remainder was between the ascent and the wall  and the space occupied by the dwarf pillars.

Explanation

Section one: Although the ascent was 32 cubits long and the altar was also thirty-two cubits long, together they took up only 62 cubits of floor space. There are some complicated equations to work this out, which I do not want to get into here. Suffice it to say, that Albeck concludes that the ascent did not reach the altar itself, but stopped about a cubit away and that the top of the ascent did not go all the way up to the altar.

Section two: The rings were described in 3:5. They were eight cubits north of the altar (total 70).

Section three: The rings took up twenty-four cubits (total: 94).

Section five: See also 3:5. These pillars were used to hang the sacrifices and strip their hides. The mishnah does not tell us how much space the tables took up. The Rambam writes that the tables took up eight cubits. Based on this, other commentators claim that the tables took up the space between the rings and the dwarf pillars.

Section six: From the dwarf pillars to the outer wall was another 8 cubits, bringing the total to 110.

Section seven: The remaining 25 cubits was taken up by the space on the southern side between the ascent and the southern wall and the space of the dwarf pillars themselves. According to the Rambam, each took up 12 1/2 cubits.