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Is there any connection between the Sotah, the Mizbeiach, and the Beis HaMikdash keychain?

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In exactly three contexts, the Mishnah notes that there was an amah square marble slab with a ring, using exactly the same language each time.

The first is in Sotah 2:2, regarding the Sotah procedure:

נִכְנַס לַהֵיכָל וּפָנָה לִימִינוֹ, וּמָקוֹם הָיָה שָׁם אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה, וְטַבְלָא שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ, וְטַבַּעַת הָיְתָה קְבוּעָה בָהּ. וּכְשֶׁהוּא מַגְבִּיהָהּ, נוֹטֵל עָפָר מִתַּחְתֶּיהָ וְנוֹתֵן כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה עַל הַמַּיִם

He entered the Heichal and turned to his right. There was a place there, one amah by one amah, with a slab of marble, and a ring was fixed on it. When he would lift it, he would take dirt from underneath it and place enough that it can be seen on the water.

The second is in Middos 1:9, regarding the procedure to lock up the Beis HaMikdash; the previous Mishnah identifies this place as the Fire Chamber:

וּמָקוֹם הָיָה שָׁם, אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה, וְטַבְלָא שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ וְטַבַּעַת הָיְתָה קְבוּעָה בָהּ, וְשַׁלְשֶׁלֶת שֶׁהַמַּפְתְּחוֹת הָיוּ תְלוּיוֹת בָּהּ. הִגִּיעַ זְמַן הַנְּעִילָה, הִגְבִּיהַּ אֶת הַטַּבְלָא בַּטַּבַּעַת וְנָטַל אֶת הַמַּפְתְּחוֹת מִן הַשַּׁלְשֶׁלֶת, וְנָעַל הַכֹּהֵן מִבִּפְנִים

There was a place there, one amah by one amah, with a slab of marble, and a ring was fixed on it, and a chain on which the keys would hang. When the closing time came, he would lift the slab by the ring and take the keys from the chain, and the Kohen would lock from the inside.

The third is in Middos 3:3, regarding the pit under the Mizbeiach where the bloods would flow into the Kidron:

לְמַטָּה בָרִצְפָה בְּאוֹתָהּ הַקֶּרֶן, מָקוֹם הָיָה שָׁם אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה, וְטַבְלָא שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ, וְטַבַּעַת הָיְתָה קְבוּעָה בָהּ, שֶׁבּוֹ יוֹרְדִין לַשִּׁית וּמְנַקִּין אוֹתוֹ.

Under the floor in that corner, there was a place there, one amah by one amah, with a slab of marble, and a ring was fixed on it, through which they would descend into the pit and clean it.

Is it just that these three things require access to underneath, and this was an elegant way to provide access without looking ugly? Or is there something deeper (so to speak) which connects these three things?


This question is copied from the author's unanswered question at Mi Yodeya under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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5 comments

I had no idea the Mikdash had a lock! (I'm a little confused from your quoted description by how the keychain worked, but I can ask a separate question about that.) ‭Monica Cellio‭ about 2 months ago

@Monica https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/33788/ might help some of your confusion. ‭DonielF‭ about 2 months ago

I don't think you need the license to copy your own content. (Unless maybe you're worried someone will claim you're not the same user there as here and use that as a reason to delete this.) But IANAL. ‭msh210‭ about 2 months ago

Well this looks pretty cool. Seems that they were a standard architectural feature. I'll leave it to someone who can deal with the Hebrew more fluidly than I can to write an answer. ‭Isaac Moses‭ about 2 months ago

@msh210 I certainly know that I don't need the license to use my own content. But I figured I'd include it anyway for posterity's sake. ‭DonielF‭ about 2 months ago

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