The Ezrat Nashim - The Women's Courtyard

This courtyard contained a balcony reserved for women - hence its name - the women's courtyard. Chambers were built in the four corners of this courtyard for various temple needs:

Lishkat Hanezirim - Chamber of the Nazarites; Lishkat Ha'eitzim - Chamber of the Wood; Lishkat Hametzora'im - Chamber of the Metzorah's; Lishkat Hashemanim - Chamber of Oils


Women's Balcony
A gallery was reserved here for women who came to view the Simchat Bet Hasho'eva (Rejoicing of the Water Drawing Ceremony) which was held in this courtyard during the festival of Succot.

To the North and South of the Ezrat Nashim (women's courtyard) were stairways leading to the Women's Balcony.

Originally, the women assembled in the courtyard and the men danced and sang outside, beyond the Cheil.

Since the women were unable to have a good view from inside the Women's Courtyard, they would pass beyond the doors into the area. The mingling of men and women during a sacred celebration is not permitted. To remedy the situation, balconies were erected to provide a viewing area for the women.

Lishkat Hanezirim - Chamber of the Nazarites

A Nazarite is one who takes an oath that he will not cut his hair or drink wine (or any grape product) for a specified amount of time. The Torah requires a Nazarite to bring 3 Karbanot (sacrifices) to the Bet Hamikdash after fulfilling his pledge. One of these sacrifices, the "Shelamim" offering was cooked in this chamber. The Nazarites then had their hair clippings tossed into the fire over which the "Shelamim" offering was cooking.

Lishkat Ha'eitzim - Chamber of the Wood

The Lumber used for the service of the Bet Hamikdash (i.e. for the altar and the "Beis Hamoked") was stored in this room.

In addition, elderly priest (or priests otherwise unfit for the temple service) would examine the wood for worms here. If any were found, the wood would be deemed unfit for temple use. [Rotting wood would also be disposed of.]

The Talmud records the following incident: It once happened that priests were sitting and sorting wood in this Chamber, when one of them noticed that a floor tile was loose. He realized that this led to the secret tunnel in which the Holy Ark was hidden.

[The Ark had been hidden during the time of Yoshiyahu (Josiah) towards the end of the First Temple era. When the Jews returned from the seventy-year exile, the Ark could not be found. Tradition says that there was to be no Ark during the Second Temple era.]

The priest, who had discovered the hidden place of the Ark, sought to crack open the tile with his hatchet, when suddenly fire issued forth and consumed him. This was taken as an omen that the Ark should remain hidden.

Lishkat Hashemanim - Chamber of the Oils

In this chamber the oil, wine, and flour needed for sacrificial purposes were stored. When one wanted to offer a sacrifice that required these ingredients, he was required to buy them here.

The purchaser would first go to the Chamber of Receipts. He would tell the attendant the type of meal offering he needed. After paying for it, the attendant would hand over a receipt listing his purchases.

The receipt would be taken to this chamber and the attendant here would dispense the required amounts of oil, wine, and flour.

Lishkat HaMetzora'im - Chamber of Metzorah's

A Metzorah is someone who suffers from Tzara'at (similar to the modern day leprosy) - an illness inflicted by G‑d as a punishment for certain misdeeds.

After the Metzorah was cured, he was required to come to the Bet Hamikdash and immerse himself in a ritual bath situated in this room. Afterwards he would bring sacrifices that would complete the purification process.