Middot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six

Introduction

The Mishnah continues to move in its description from the less holy places to the direction of the Sanctuary and the holiest places. Today we move from the outer altar to the Sanctuary.

Mishnah Six

1)      The laver was between the porch and the altar, a little to the south.

2)      Between the porch and the altar there were twenty-two cubits.

3)      There were twelve steps there, each step being half a cubit high and a cubit broad.

a)      There was a cubit, a cubit and a level space of three cubits, then a cubit, a cubit and a level space of three cubits, then at the top a cubit, a cubit and a level space of four cubits.

4)      Rabbi Judah says that at the top there was a cubit, a cubit and a level space of five cubits.

Explanation

Section one: The laver where the priests would wash their hands and feet was found between the porch and the altar (to the west of the altar), and a little bit south.

Section two: Between the altar and the porch there were twenty-two cubits, which were taken up by steps. Each step was half a cubit above the previous step. The breadth of each step was a cubit, but some steps had some extra floor space in between them.

Section three: The first two steps were a cubit broad, and then there was a level space of three cubits before the next step began. This set-up occurred three times for a total of nine steps, and fifteen cubits. The final set had a level space of four cubits, bringing the total to twenty-one cubits. In addition there was another cubit between the altar and the first step, for a total of 22 cubits between the altar and the Sanctuary.

Section four: Rabbi Judah holds that the extra cubit was in the level space after the last step. There was no space of a cubit between the altar and the first step.