Contact Us

Kodesh - The Inner Sanctuary

Kodesh - The Inner Sanctuary

 Email

The Kodesh - Inner Sanctuary

The doorway of the Kodesh was 10 cubits wide and 20 cubits high. Over the doorway was a carving of a golden menorah donated by Queen Helena, a convert to Judaism.

The morning service could not begin before sunrise. The Temple was surrounded by high walls, and it was not possible to see the rising sun, so a priest had to be sent outside to see if it was time for the service to begin.

After Queen Helena donated the Menorah, it was no longer necessary to send a priest outside the Temple. As the sun rose in the east it shone against the menorah and the reflected light was cast into the Azarah. The priests then knew that the morning service could begin.

The Doorway

The doorway was 6 cubits thick and had four doors. The doors were made of olive wood overlaid with gold. Carved in the gold were angels, palm trees, and flowers. The front walls of the Heichal and the doorposts were 6 cubits thick.

Two doors were set at the front of the 6-cubit doorway, and two doors were set at the rear. The front two doors opened inward, and folded against the inner wall of the doorway. The rear doors also opened inward, and folded against the wall. (R. Yehudah has a different opinion concerning the doors).

In front of the doors was a curtain that could be raised and lowered. When the High Priest was in the Kodesh, the curtain was lowered to afford him privacy.

The Windows

The windows of the Kodesh were 20 cubits high, and consisted of long narrow openings in the walls. The openings were wider on the outside than on the inside. In a private dwelling, window openings were narrow on the outside and wide on the inside to cause the light to spread inside. The rabbis viewed the Heichal as the "light source" of the world, so the windows were constructed thus to spread the light outward.

The Kodesh was 40 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 40 cubits high. The walls were paneled with wood and overlaid with gold, except for the places the doors covered when they were open. Engraved in the gold were palm trees, vines, flowers, and angels.

The Holy Vessels

Near the northern wall of the Kodesh was the Shulchan (Golden Table). It was placed in an east-west orientation. On the Table were the twelve showbreads and two spoons filled with frankincense. There were the other golden tables in the Kodesh; five north of the Golden Table, and five to the south. These were to enhance the beauty of the Golden Table.

The Menorah was placed with a north-south orientation near the southern wall of the Kodesh, though some say it was placed with an east-west orientation. There were ten other menorahs in the Kodesh. Five were placed north of the Menorah, and five were placed to the south. These, too, were from ornamental purposes.

In the center of the Kodesh was the golden Altar. The Menorah, Altar, and Table were placed within the inner half of the Kodesh. The Altar was slightly off to the east.

In the First Temple, a wall 1 cubit thick separated the Kodesh from the Holy of Holies. In that Temple the ceiling was only 30 cubits, the Second Temple had a height of 40 cubits between floor and ceiling. A wall 1 cubit thick could not be erected to the 40 cubit height. They did not want to make a wider wall so as not to diminish any area of the Kodesh or the Holy of Holies.

It was decided to build the Kodesh a full 40 cubits long and the Holy of Holies a full 20 cubits. A neutral space of 1 cubit would be place between them, and marked off by two curtains.

One curtain was placed between the end of the Kodesh and the beginning of the cubit space. The other curtain was placed between the end of the cubit space and the beginning of the holy of Holies. The outer curtain was folded back on its southern side and the inner curtain folded back on its northern side.

The curtains were never opened except during festivals, when they were rolled back so that the people could see the carvings of the angels on the wall. The angels in the carvings were embracing, which represented the love of G‑d to the children of Israel.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
4 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Baruch Davidson Brooklyn July 5, 2013

Re:10 Menorahs The source for this is Chronicles II 4:7-8, where it is described that King Solomon made 10 Shulchanot (show bread tables) and 10 Menorot and put them in the Kodesh, understandably for ornamental purposes. It is debatable, however, if these were in the Second Temple as well. Reply

Anonymous Huntington Beach July 2, 2013

What is the source for the 10 additional menorahs and 10 tables in the kodesh? Reply

Brock Davis Lincoln, NB March 12, 2011

Queen Helena "Queen Helena, a convert to Judaism." Where can I get a source for this? Reply

Yaakov Ny ny July 17, 2017
in response to Brock Davis:

Midrash and Talmudic Queen Helena. Reply

Related Topics