The Court of the Gentiles compassed the Temple and the courts on every side. The same also did Chel, or the Ante-murale. |That space was ten cubits broad, divided from the Court of the Gentiles by a fence, ten hand-breadths high; in which were thirteen breaches, which the kings of Greece had made: but the Jews had again repaired them, and had appointed thirteen adorations answering to them.|
Maimonides writes: |Inwards| (from the Court of the Gentiles) |was a fence, that encompassed on every side, ten hand-breadths in height, and within the fence Chel, or the Ante-murale: of which it is said, in the Lamentations, 'And he caused Chel and the Wall to lament,'| Lamentations 2:8.
Josephus writes, |The second circuit was gone up to by a few steps: which the partition of a stone wall surrounded: where was an inscription, forbidding any of another nation to enter, upon pain of death.| Hence happened that danger to Paul because of Trophimus the Ephesian, Acts 21:29.
|The Chel or Ante-murale| (or second enclosure about the Temple), |was more sacred than the Court of the Gentiles: for hither no heathen, nor any unclean by that which died of itself, nor who lay with a menstruous woman, might come.|
|From hence they ascended into the Court of the Women by twelve steps.|
On the east it had only one gate, called in the Holy Scripture, 'Beautiful,' Acts 3:2. In Josephus, the 'Corinthian' gate: saith he; |Of the gates, nine of them were every where overlaid with gold and silver, likewise the posts, and the lintels. But one, without the Temple, made of Corinthian brass, did much exceed, in glory, those, that were overlaid with silver and gold. And two gates of every court were each thirty cubits high, and fifteen broad.|
On the south was only one gate also, and one on the north: and galleries; or court-walks within, joining to the wall, in the same manner as in the outer court, but not double. Before which were the treasuries placed, or thirteen chests, called by the Talmudists, Shopharoth; in which was put the money offered for the various services of the Temple; and, according to that variety, the chests had various titles written on them: whence the offerer might know into which to put his offering, according to his quality.
Upon one was inscribed, |The new shekels|; into which were cast the shekels of that year. Upon another, |The old shekels|; into which were gathered the shekels owing the last year. Upon another, |pigeons and turtles.| Upon another, |The burnt sacrifice.| Upon another, |The wood.| Upon another, |Frankincense.| Upon another, |Gold for the propitiation.| And six chests had written on them, |Voluntary sacrifice.|
|The length of the Women's Court was a hundred thirty-five cubits, and the breadth a hundred thirty-five cubits. And there were four chambers in the four corners of it, each forty cubits, but not roofed.| See Ezekiel 46:21,22.
|At the south-east was the court of the Nazarites: because there the Nazarites boiled their thank-offerings, and cut their hair, and put it under the pot.|
|At the north-east was the chamber of wood: where the priests, defiled with any spot, searched the wood, whether it was unclean by worms. And all wood in which a worm was found was not fit for the altar.|
|At the north-west was the chamber of the Leprous.|
|At the south-west was the chamber of wine and oil.|
|On the highest sides| (we follow the version of the famous Constantine L'Empereur), |was the smooth and plain Court of the Women; but they bounded it round about with an inward gallery, that the women might see from above, and the men from below, that they might not be mingled.|
In this Court of the Women was celebrated the sacred and festival dance, in the feast of Tabernacles, called the |Pouring out of Water|: the ritual of which you have in the place cited in the margin.
|The Court of the Women was more sacred than the Chel; because any, who had contracted such an unclearness that was to be cleansed the same day, might not enter into it.|