Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Timeline of the Tamid

I am preparing a new presentation for this summer called Timeline of the Tamid which will be a walkthrough of the entire morning Tamid service. One of the things I hope to clarify is the schedule of when all these events took place — the time of day and how long they took. I think most people will be surprised to learn just how early in the morning the Tamid was offered each day!

There are only a handful of places in the Mishnah where actual times are referenced, and so the entire timeline is based upon establishing those times and then filling in the others as realistically as possible. These will be discussed in more detail below, but the two which become the most important are the first and last. We know that the day started when the Memuneh (a Temple official) arrived to conduct the first lottery, and the Mishnah says that he arrived around dawn (72 minutes before sunrise). We also know that the Kohanim recited Shema (one of the later steps in the Tamid service) earlier than the proper time, and the proper time is just before sunrise. This means that the bulk of the Tamid service — including the lamb's slaughter and blood applications — was completed in about an hour and took place before sunrise.


The times given here are for a day on which sunrise is at 6:00 am. The Mishnah references in parentheses are for Tractate Tamid. If no reference is given for an event, it appears in the same Mishnah as the previous one.

One more note is that the order of the Tamid service follows Tiferes Yisrael's explanation of the Mishnah, based on Rambam. This differs in certain places from the order listed in our siddurim in the paragraph which begins אביי הוה מסדר. The places where these differ are highlighted by Tiferes Yisrael in his commentary to Tamid 3:1 §5.

4:30 Kohanim arise (Tamid 1:2)
The Kohanim in the Hall of the Fire must wake up before the Memuneh arrives, immerse in the mikveh, and dress in the priestly vestments.

4:45 Memuneh arrives at the Hall of the Fire
The Mishnah states that he would arrive around the time of "the rooster's crow" which Tiferes Yisrael (1:2 §32, based on Yoma 20b with Rashi) defines as עלות השחר, dawn [72 minutes before sunrise].

4:46 Lottery for the terumas hadeshen [separating some ashes from the Outer Altar]

The Memuneh takes the key from its secure location in the floor of the Hall and opens a small door into the Courtyard. He then leads the Kohanim into the Courtyard and they split into two groups, one going east and one going west. They check that all of the utensils are in place for the start of the sacrificial service. The Mishnah says that the Kohanim carried torches with them as they made their way around the Courtyard, indicating that it was still quite dark outside.

4:54 The makers of the chavitin offering begin heating up the water for their work. 
Over the next forty-five minutes these Kohanim would continue the work of making the chavitin in the Chamber of the Chavitin Makers while the other Kohanim performed the tasks listed below. The next time in the Mishnah that chavitin are mentioned is when the completed chavitin are handed to the Kohen who would bring them up onto the Altar (at 5:43 am).

4:55 Kiyor is raised (1:4)
The Kohen who was chosen to carry out the terumas hadeshen walks to the Kiyor and raises it from the ground via the Muchni and then washes his hands and feet.

4:57 Terumas Hadeshen
The Kohen takes the shovel which was kept next to the Altar and separates some ashes from the top of of the Altar, and places these ashes in the place of the ashes on the eastern side of the Altar's Ramp.

4:58 Altar is cleared (2:1-2)
The other Kohanim wash from the Kiyor, walk up to the top of the Altar and move the unburned sacrificial parts to the side, and sweep the remains of the fires into the middle of the Altar.

5:01 Fires are rebuilt (2:3-5)
The Kohanim bring up new wood for the fires, the one who did terumas hadeshen arranges the main fire and places the two gizrei eitzim (ceremonial boards) upon it, and the other Kohanim arrange the incense fire and maintenance fire.
-The firewood was brought into the Courtyard through the Kindling Gate in the southern wall (Middos 1:4), and this wood came from the the Chamber of the Wood, the northeastern chamber of the Women's Courtyard. If they had to go and get the wood from there at this point, it would take about 10 minutes round trip, and probably at least two trips, depending on how many Kohanim were helping. Due to time constraints, I would suggest that either the Kohanim started the process of gathering this wood while some of the above tasks were being carried out, or that the wood was brought into the Courtyard the day before and left just inside the Kindling Gate so that in the morning the Kohanim could retrieve it from that relatively close location.

5:10 Fires are relit
The unburned parts are placed back on the wood of the main fire and the fires are lit (although the maintenance fire is not lit until after the Tamid is slaughtered). The Kohanim go to the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

5:15 Lottery for the Tamid service is held (3:1)
This lottery assigned jobs for the slaughter, catching of the blood, and bringing up of the limbs.

5:18 A Kohen is sent up to a high place to see if dawn has arrived (3:2)
The Tamid may only be slaughtered after dawn (Tiferes Yisrael 3:2 §14). Since the Memuneh could sometimes arrive before dawn, it was necessary to check that the dawn had, in fact, risen before the lamb could be slaughtered.

5:19 The lamb is brought from the Chamber of the Lambs into the Courtyard (3:3)

5:21 Setting out the utensils  (3:4)
The 93 daily utensils are taken out of the Chamber of Utensils and arranged on the silver table next to the Altar.

5:25 The Tamid lamb is given a drink of water and examined one final time by torchlight. 
Tiferes Yisrael writes that even though dawn has risen, it was still dark in the Courtyard and they needed torches to do this final inspection.

5:27 The Tamid lamb is brought to the slaughtering ring north of the Altar (3:5) and then bound and placed into the slaughtering ring (4:1)

5:27 The two Kohanim who are to clean the Inner Altar and the Menorah collect their utensils and two keys (3:6)
-I think this can be done simultaneous with the binding of the Tamid.

5:28 Opening the Sanctuary doors (3:7)
The two Kohanim and a Levi gatekeeper walked into the Antechamber. The Levi unlocked the small door leading into the tau, and the small door leading into the Sanctuary, and then opened the main Sanctuary doors.
-As soon as the other Levi gatekeepers heard the Sanctuary doors open, which was accompanied by the sounding of the shofar, they opened the Courtyard gates (Tiferes Yisrael §58).

5:33 The ashes are cleared from the Inner Altar (3:9)
The Kohen enters the Sanctuary, places the jug on the floor, and fills it (by hand) with the ashes of the Inner Altar. He then exits the Sanctuary.

5:33 The lamb is slaughtered and its blood is collected and dashed onto the northeast and southwest corners of the Altar (4:1)
The slaughter of the lamb and the clearing of the Inner Altar were simultaneous (Tiferes Yisrael 3:1 §5, 3:6 §41). The leftover blood is poured onto the SW corner of the Altar's base.

5:35 Menorah clearing part 1 (3:9)
The Kohen removes the burnt wicks from the five western lamps of the Menorah with tweezers and pours out any remaining oil into a jug. He scrapes the inside of the lamps of any residue and then refills them and puts in new wicks. He also relights the two eastern lamps, either from one of the other lamps which is still lit or from a burning piece of wood taken from the Altar which he brings in with him.
-The clearing of the Menorah did not take place until after the blood of the Tamid has been applied to the Altar (Tiferes Yisrael 3:1 §5). 

5:35 Skinning and Cutting (4:2 and 4:3)
The lamb is hung on one of the short columns north of the rings, skinned and cut into pieces, and its innards are washed (stomach in the Rinsers Chamber and other innards in the Courtyard upon the marble tables).
-I think that the Kohanim can start this process as soon as the Tamid is slaughtered and do not need to wait for the Menorah to be cleared.

5:43 The pieces are distributed to the Kohanim and brought onto the Ramp
1-head and right hindleg
2-two front legs
3-back portion and left hindleg
4-breast and neck
5-two flanks
6-intestines (in a bowl) and four feet
7-flour for minchah offering
8-chavitin of Kohen Gadol
9-wine for libation
The Kohanim carry the pieces to the Altar ramp and set them down halfway up the ramp and then salt them. The Kohanim then enter the Chamber of Hewn Stone to daven.

5:45 The Kohanim daven (5:1)
They recite Ahavah Rabbah (one of the blessings before Krias Shema), the Ten Commandments, Shema, the blessing after Shema, one blessing of Shemoneh Esrei, and the verses of Birkas Kohanim along with the final brachah of Sim Shalom.
-Yoma 37b says that the Kohanim would recite Shema early (i.e., well before sunrise). See also Rambam, Hil. Krias Shema 1:11-12. Shema is supposed to be recited right before sunrise, like at 5:57, but the Kohanim must have said it earlier, at around 5:45.

5:52 The lottery for the incense service is held (5:2)

5:55 The lottery for the bringing up of the sacrificial parts from the ramp to the Altar is held (5:2)
A single Kohen is selected to bring all of the parts to the Altar (see Tiferes Yisrael to Tamid 7:3 §24).
After the lottery, the Memuneh brings the Kohanim who were not chosen to be part of the service [to the Chamber of Pinchas the Clothier] to change out of their priestly vestments (5:3 with Tiferes Yisrael §14).

5:58 The incense is collected in its spoon to be brought into the Sanctuary (5:4)

5:58 Coals from the Altar were collected in a silver shovel and then transferred to a gold shovel (5:5)
- The shovel man can begin this job while the incense man does his.

6:00 The magrepha was thrown onto the ground between the Altar and the Antechamber (5:6)
This sound called the Kohanim into the Courtyard to be ready to enter the Sanctuary and bow down after the incense was offered
It also called the Leviim into the Courtyard to prepare themselves to sing during the wine libation
It also called the tamei Kohanim to gather at the Nikanor Gate

6:01 The Kohen entered the Sanctuary and removed the jug of ashes from the Inner Altar (6:1)

6:02 Incense service (6:2-3)
The shovel man takes the coals for the incense into the Sanctuary and transfers them from the gold shovel onto the Inner Altar and then leaves. The incense man and his assistant enter the Sanctuary with the incense. The assistant helps pour all of the incense into the hands of the incense man, and then the assistant leaves the Sanctuary (Tiferes Yisrael 6:3 §13). The incense is placed onto the coals and the Kohen leaves the Sanctuary.
6:12 The two eastern lamps of the Menorah were cleared and the ashes were removed from the Sanctuary (6:1)

6:15 The Kohen Gadol enters the Sanctuary, bows down, and leaves. The other Kohanim then do the same (7:1)

6:20 The Kohanim gather on the steps of the Sanctuary (7:2)
Five Kohanim stand on the steps, on the southern side:
1) The one who cleared the Inner Altar
2) The one who cleared the Menorah
3) The one who brought in the incense coals
4) The one who brought in the incense
5) The one who assisted with the incense
The Kohanim who had helped carry the limbs of the Tamid stand to the north of these five (Tiferes Yisrael 7:2 §8).

6:20 The parts of the Tamid lamb are thrown onto the fire (7:3)
The Kohen who had been selected to offer the parts on the fire goes up the Ramp and brings the parts to the top of the Altar. The parts are then thrown onto the fire.

6:25 Birkas Kohanim (7:2)
The Kohanim who had helped with the parts gather on the steps to the north of the five who are already there, and together they recite Birkas Kohanim (Tiferes Yisrael 7:2 §13).

6:30 Wine libation (7:3)
The Kohen takes the wine for the libation up the Ramp and turns to his left to the southwestern corner of the Altar's top and stands next to the horn of the Altar. 
Two Kohanim standing on the Table of the Fats sound their trumpets and then go stand next to Ben Arza the choirmaster (on the duchan).
As the Kohen begins to pour the wine into the eastern receptacle another Kohen who is standing on the horn waves the flags.
The cymbal is sounded and the Leviim sing their song.


"This is the order of the Tamid offering in the Temple.
May it be rebuilt speedily in our days."
                                    — (Tamid 7:3)

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