Tuesday, April 22, 2014

View of Pinchas the Clothier

To the north of the Nikanor Gate was the Chamber of Pinchas the Clothier where the priestly vestments would be stored and distributed. As Kohanim arrived in the Temple over the course of the day to perform the sacrificial service they would report to this chamber where they would change out of their regular clothes and be dressed in the priestly vestments by the clothier's assistants. Upon completing their service they would return the vestments to this chamber and change back into their regular clothes. The individual Kohanim did not own private uniforms but rather were issued garments of the appropriate size from the Temple’s general supply. This practice ensured that the priestly vestments remained in the Temple where they could be supervised by the clothier who saw to it that they were used and cared for with the utmost sanctity and respect. As for the chamber’s name, the very first Temple clothier was a man named Pinchas and all subsequent officers to hold this post were given the title “Pinchas the Clothier.”


Each of the 24 watches [mishmaros] of Kohanim was assigned a set of four storage closets within the Chamber of Pinchas the Clothier to store and organize their priestly vestments. The closets were set into the walls of the chamber and were labelled with the type of garment they contained: pants, turbans, belts, and robes. Storing the uniforms of an entire tribe, in addition to the room needed to change in and out of them, requires a large amount of space. For this reason the Chamber of Pinchas the Clothier was built partially within the wall of the Courtyard so as to minimize its footprint within the Courtyard itself.

In the picture below I opted to move the actual storage closets to a second level (accessed by a ladder, not shown) simply because I could not fit (all of) them onto the ground floor. The size of this chamber is not specified in the sources and I have designed it around a footprint of 8 amos (east to west) by 12 amos (north to south), the same size I used for the corresponding Chamber of the Makers of the Chavitin to the south of the Nikanor Gate. This chamber could not have been much larger since even at its current size it is already up against the Chamber of Hewn Stone which took up the majority of the northeast corner of the Courtyard. Using the size of 8x12 gives you 40 amos of perimeter around the walls, and dividing this space into 24 units makes the storage closets for each watch about 1.5 amos wide. I am not sure just how many sets of clothing they stored for each watch, but in the picture I set the height of the "robes" closet at 3 amos and the height of the other three closets at 1 amah each.

In the scheme I used here, Pinchas would size up the Kohanim entering the chamber (shown below in purple) and then call up to his assistants standing on the balcony for the appropriate vestments from the storage closet. [Now, Kohanim are zerizim and perhaps would argue that throwing the holy vestments down to Pinchas was the fastest way to get their brethren dressed and out into the Courtyard. If this was not an option, then I suppose they would hand the vestments down on a pole.] The assistants would then dress the Kohanim, which included winding the very long belt around their waist, and store their weekday clothes in cubbies in the wall. One of the requirements of the sacrificial service is that the Kohanim be dressed in vestments which fit them perfectly, and no doubt it was often necessary to make alterations to the robe, so I have allowed an area for that as well.

The Chamber of Pinchas the Clothier,
seen from the northeast.

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