- The Temple Mount & Courtyard

The Temple Mount & Courtyard

Home Education Beis Hamikdosh

The Temple Mount & Courtyard

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by Esther Livingstone

The Gates Of:   הַר הַבַּיִת /  The Temple Mount  and of the עֲזָרָה /Temple Courtyard

(HBH-Hilchos Beis HaBechirah)

1 cubit is:  Rav C. Noeh- 18.9”-48 cm/Rav M. Feinstein-21.25”-53.98 cm/               

Chazon Ish -24”-60.96cm

 About- or a little longer than- the length from the elbow to the top of the middle finger


  1. What were the measurements of הַר הַבַּיִת/The Temple Mount?

  2. How many gates led to the הַר הַבַּיִת; and on which sides were they located?

  3. Which gates were the ones most frequently used to enter   הַר הַבַּיִת/The Temple Mount; and who were they named after?

  4. Why was the gate on the E side, the Shushan Gate, so called?

  5. Why was the gate on the N side, the Tadi Gate so called?

  6. Why was the gate on the W side, the Kiphonus Gate, so called?

  7. According to Mishna Sofrim (19:12) there were 2 additional gates on the eastern side; who entered through these gates?

  8. The walls and gates leading to Har HaBayis were very high, except for the eastern one, which was lower.  How high were the gates?

  9. What were the dimensions of the עֲזָרָה /Temple Courtyard?

  10.  How many gates led to the Azara?

  11.   How high were the gates leading to the Azara?

  12.  What was the name of the gate on the eastern side of the Azara; and why was it so called?

  13.  What else do we know about the appearance of this special gate on the E side?

  14.  When other gates to the Azara were replaced, was Nicanor’s  Gate replaced as well?

  15.  What were the names of the 3 gates on the northern side of the Azara; and why were they so called?

  16.  What were the names of the 3 gates on the southern side of the Azara, and why were they so called?


  1. Its measurement was 500 cubits by 500 cubits - 250,000 square cubits. (HBH-5:1)

  2.  Five gates led to the Temple Mount; 1 from the west , 1 from the east, 1 from the north ,and 2 from the south. (HBH-5:2).  King Herod extended the Temple Mount area and added 3 more gates on the W side.

  3. The southern gates; and they were named after the prophetess Chulda -who sat by these gates during the final years of the First Beis HaMikdash and urged the people to do teshuva. One gate was used as the entrance, while the other served as an exit. (Moznaim p.75 & (Most people in Yerushalayim lived on the S side, and the S side of Har Habayit also had the largest area, so people congregated there more so than on the other sides.) (Structure of the B.H.)

  4. It was called the Gate of Shushan because the image of Shushan was engraved on it. King Cyrus of Persia, who gave permission for the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt, insisted on this. (Moznaim notes on HBH 5:2. (This  bricked-up gate, and one of the original bricked-up Sha’arei Chulda can still be seen today!)

  5. Tadi means hiddeness. This gate was used when someone was forced to leave the Beis HaMikdash, but did not wish to publicize the circumstances. (Middos 1:9, 2:2)  Its construction differed from the other gates- rather than having an ordinary lintel, and being rectangular in shape, it had 2 stones leaning against each other on it’s top, thus having a unique triangular shape. It was also a bit higher than the other gates.  (Moznaim p.75 and

  6. Kiphonus means rose garden in Greek. Outside this gateway was a beautiful garden with many types of roses, as well as spices that were used to make the Ketores.  Rashi specifically says that the kipat hayarden was grown there, but that other ketores spices were grown there as well. (Bava Kama 82:- see Rashi). Some say fruit trees grew there too. (Ma’asrot 2:5)  It seems it was situated specifically there, in the East, in honour of the Kodesh Kodoshim , as it was right behind it. (Ohr HaMikdash). The Kiphonus Gate took the visitor through a tunnel which led to the top of the Har HaBayis.   ( Har Habayit)

  7. These gates were for mourners and grooms. People would sit there to be able to comfort mourners and to celebrate with grooms. (Moznaim p 75- on HBH 5:2)

  8.  The gates leading to the Har HaBayis were 20 cubits high, and 10 cubits wide, with the walls even higher than this. (HBH 5:2 -Moznaim- p 74) That is over 5 times the height of an average person, and about as wide as 9 people!

  9.  The עֲזָרָה was 187 cubits long x 135 cubits wide. (HBH 5:4)

  10.  Seven gates led to the עֲזָרָה: 3 on the north side; 3 on the south side; and 1 gate on the east side, directly opposite the Kodesh HaKodashim. (HBH 5:4)

  11.   Each of these gates was also 20 cubits high and 10 cubits wide! (HBH 5:5)

  12.   The Upper Gate or Gate of Nicanor, in honour of the noble benefactor who donated its brass gates.  Nicanor journeyed to Alexandria in Egypt  to commission and bring back these gates. Each door was 20 x 5 cubits. (see Yoma 38a for the story and its associated miracle).

  13.   The brass was carved with intricate designs, and its finish was exceedingly bright.  As these doors were exceedingly heavy- requiring 20 men to open them- they were only opened on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, Chagim, and if the king was present.  On all other days smaller gateways -to the L and R of this gate- were used. (HBH 5:5;  notes in Moznaim;

  14.  When the financial situation of the Jewish people improved, they replaced all the brass gates with gold covered gates. Nevertheless, our Sages allowed Nicanor’s Gates to remain in memory of the miracles which had occurred!  Also, the Sages said that “their brass shined like gold”. (Yoma 38a- Moznaim p 78).

  15.  a. The Gate of the Spark/ שׁער הניצוץ – which opened into The Chamber of the Spark.  A fire was kept burning constantly here, and it would be used to relight the fire on the mizbeach, should it ever be extinguished.  

b. The Gate to the Chamber of the Hearth/ בֵּית הַמוֹקֵד שׁער. The room was so called because the Kohanim kindled a permanent fire there to keep warm. Each morning, the Kohanim who slept in this chamber entered the azara through this gate to prepare it for the korbanos.  

 c. The Gate of the Offerings/ שׁער הקרבּן. Sacrifices of the highest level of kedusha were brought in via this northern gate, and were then slaughtered on the N side of the azara. (HBH 5:4 and notes in Moznaim)

16.   The Gate of Firewood( Hadelek)/שׁער הדלק – so called because through it were brought in the logs used for the pyres on the mizbei’ach. The Gate of the Firstborn/  שׁער הבּכוֹרוֹת- through this gate would be brought in kodashim kalim sacrifices, such as first born animals (בּכוֹרוֹת). The Gate of Water/  שׁער המיִם-This gate was only used on Succos, when water drawn from the Shiloach Brook was brought in through it for the spectacular Simchat  Beit HaShoeva celebration. (Ohr HaMikdash)


  1.  Avodas Hakorbanos- by Rav Aharon HaKohen (Kagan) Translation- Rabbi Moshe Weiss- Pub:Artscroll 2020

  2. Sefer Ha’Avodah- Rambam- With commentary by Rav Eliyahu  

Touger- Pub-Moznaim -2007

  1. Animated Tour of the Beis HaMikdash- Rabbi Chaim S Friedman

  2. What is in The Beis HaMikdash? -Article with 13 sections.

  3. Structure of the Beis HaMikdash- video by Chananya Hoffinger.

  4. אוֹר המקדשׁ- Rabbi Yechiel Michel Stern-Pub- Meor Beis Hashem-Pub (approx) 2005.

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