בִּשְׁלשָׁה מְקוֹמוֹת הַכֹּהֲנִים שׁוֹמְרִים בְּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. בְּבֵית אַבְטִינָס, בְּבֵית הַנִּיצוֹץ וּבְבֵית הַמּוֹקֵד. בֵּית אַבְטִינָס וּבֵית הַנִּיצוֹץ הָיוּ עֲלִיּוֹת, וְהָרוֹבִים שׁוֹמְרִים שָׁם. בֵּית הַמּוֹקֵד, כִּפָּה, וּבַיִת גָּדוֹל הָיָה, מֻקָּף רוֹבָדִים שֶׁל אֶבֶן, וְזִקְנֵי בֵית אָב יְשֵׁנִים שָׁם, וּמַפְתְּחוֹת הָעֲזָרָה בְּיָדָם. וּפִרְחֵי כְהֻנָּה אִישׁ כִּסְתּוֹ בָאָרֶץ. לֹא הָיוּ יְשֵׁנִים בְּבִגְדֵי קֹדֶשׁ, אֶלָּא פוֹשְׁטִין וּמְקַפְּלִין וּמַנִּיחִים אוֹתָן תַּחַת רָאשֵׁיהֶן, וּמִתְכַּסִּין בִּכְסוּת עַצְמָן. אֵרַע קֶרִי לְאַחַד מֵהֶן, יוֹצֵא וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ בַּמְּסִבָּה הַהוֹלֶכֶת תַּחַת הַבִּירָה, וְהַנֵּרוֹת דּוֹלְקִין מִכָּאן וּמִכָּאן, עַד שֶׁהוּא מַגִּיעַ לְבֵית הַטְּבִילָה. וּמְדוּרָה הָיְתָה שָׁם, וּבֵית כִּסֵּא שֶׁל כָּבוֹד. וְזֶה הָיָה כְבוֹדוֹ, מְצָאוֹ נָעוּל, יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיֶּשׁ שָׁם אָדָם. פָּתוּחַ, יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אָדָם. יָרַד וְטָבַל, עָלָה וְנִסְתַּפֵּג וְנִתְחַמֵּם כְּנֶגֶד הַמְּדוּרָה. בָּא וְיָשַׁב לוֹ אֵצֶל אֶחָיו הַכֹּהֲנִים עַד שֶׁהַשְּׁעָרִים נִפְתָּחִים, יוֹצֵא וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ: The priests would keep watch in three places in the Temple courtyard, in honor of the Temple, like guards in royal courtyards: In the Chamber of Avtinas, which is the Chamber where the incense was prepared, and on the two sides of the northern section of the courtyard: In the Chamber of the Spark, where there was a small, perpetual fire, from which the fire of the altar would be lit if it went out; and in the Chamber of the Hearth, where there was also a fire, by which the priests would warm themselves when it was cold. In the Chamber of Avtinas and in the Chamber of the Spark there were upper stories, and the young priests, who were not yet eligible to serve in the Temple, would keep watch there. In the Chamber of the Hearth, there was no upper story, as its ceiling was round like a cupola. And it was a large hall, surrounded by rows of stone that protruded from the walls and that served as benches. The elders of the patrilineal priestly family that would serve in the Temple the following day would sleep there, and the keys to the Temple courtyard were in their possession. The young men of the priesthood, who were old enough to serve in the Temple, would also sleep in the Chamber of the Hearth. They would not sleep on benches, but instead each of the priests would sleep with his garment on the ground. Furthermore, they would not sleep dressed in the sacred vestments; rather, they would remove them and fold them up. And then they would place their vestments on the floor beneath their heads, and cover themselves with their own non-sacred garments. If a seminal emission befell one of the priests, rendering him ritually impure and unfit for service, he would leave the Chamber of the Hearth, and he would walk through the circuitous passage that extended beneath the Temple, as he could not pass through the Temple courtyard, due to his impurity. And there were lamps burning on this side and on that side of the passage. He would walk through the passage until he reached the Chamber of Immersion. And there was a fire burning there to warm the priests after they had immersed, and also a bathroom of honor, so that the priests could urinate before immersion. This was the manifestation of its honor: If one found the door closed, he would know that there was a person there, and he would wait for him to exit before entering. If one found the door open, it was known that there was no person there, and he could enter. In this manner, the one using it was afforded privacy. After the priest descended and immersed in the ritual bath, he ascended and dried himself with a towel, and warmed himself opposite the fire. He then came back to the Chamber of the Hearth and sat with his brethren the priests until dawn, when the gates of the Temple courtyard would be opened. He would then leave the Temple and go on his way. Since the purification process of one who immerses is not complete until sunset, by rabbinic law he could not remain in the Temple during the daytime.
מִי שֶׁהוּא רוֹצֶה לִתְרֹם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, מַשְׁכִּים וְטוֹבֵל עַד שֶׁלֹּא יָבֹא הַמְמֻנֶּה. וְכִי בְאֵיזוֹ שָׁעָה הַמְמֻנֶּה בָא. לֹא כָל הָעִתִּים שָׁווֹת, פְּעָמִים שֶׁהוּא בָא מִקְרִיאַת הַגֶּבֶר, אוֹ סָמוּךְ לוֹ מִלְּפָנָיו אוֹ מִלְּאַחֲרָיו. הַמְמֻנֶּה בָא וְדוֹפֵק עֲלֵיהֶם, וְהֵם פָּתְחוּ לוֹ. אָמַר לָהֶן, מִי שֶׁטָּבַל יָבֹא וְיָפִיס. הֵפִיסוּ, זָכָה מִי שֶׁזָּכָה: The mishna describes the commencement of the daily service in the Temple: Among the members of the priestly family who are to serve in the Temple that day, whoever wants to remove the ashes from the altar rises early and immerses himself in a ritual bath, as required of anyone who enters the Temple courtyard. He must immerse before the appointed priest arrives, as the appointed priest oversees the lottery that determines which priests perform the various rites of the Temple service, and the first of those lotteries determines who will be charged with the removal of the ashes. And at what time does the appointed priest arrive? The times of his arrival are not all the same. There are times that he comes at the call of the rooster [hagever], or he might come at an adjacent time, either before the call of the rooster or after it. The appointed priest arrived at the Chamber of the Hearth, where the priests of the patrilineal family were assembled, and he knocked on the gate to alert them to open the gate for him. And when they opened the gate for him, he said to them: Whoever immersed in the ritual bath may come and participate in the lottery. They then conducted the lottery, and whoever won that lottery won the privilege to perform the rite of the removal of the ashes.
נָטַל אֶת הַמַּפְתֵּחַ וּפָתַח אֶת הַפִּשְׁפָּשׁ, וְנִכְנַס מִבֵּית הַמּוֹקֵד לָעֲזָרָה, וְנִכְנְסוּ אַחֲרָיו וּשְׁתֵּי אֲבוּקוֹת שֶׁל אוּר בְּיָדָם. וְנֶחְלְקוּ לִשְׁתֵּי כִתּוֹת, אֵלּוּ הוֹלְכִים בָּאַכְסַדְרָא דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּזְרָח, וְאֵלּוּ הוֹלְכִים בָּאַכְסַדְרָא דֶּרֶךְ הַמַּעֲרָב. הָיוּ בוֹדְקִין וְהוֹלְכִין עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעִין לִמְקוֹם בֵּית עוֹשֵׂי חֲבִתִּים. הִגִּיעוּ אֵלּוּ וָאֵלּוּ, אָמְרוּ שָׁלוֹם, הַכֹּל שָׁלוֹם. הֶעֱמִידוּ עוֹשֵׂי חֲבִתִּים לַעֲשׂוֹת חֲבִתִּים: At some time near dawn the appointed priest took the key that was kept beneath a marble tablet set in the floor of the Chamber of the Hearth and opened with it the wicket [hapishpesh] in the gate of the Chamber of the Hearth. And he entered through the wicket from the Chamber of the Hearth to the Temple courtyard; and the priests of the patrilineal family entered after him, and two torches of fire were in their hands, to light the way. The priests divided into two groups; these priests would walk along the portico that surrounded the Temple courtyard, starting in the direction of east, and those priests would walk along the portico starting in the direction of west.The priests would ensure that all the service vessels were in place, ready for use in the daily service. Both groups would continue inspecting the vessels until they reached the place where the Chamber of the Preparer of the High Priest’s daily Griddle-Cake Offering was located. When they reached that place, these priests and those priests said to each other: It is well; all is well, and all the vessels are in place. They then set the preparer of the griddle-cake offering to prepare the griddle-cake offering.
מִי שֶׁזָּכָה לִתְרֹם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, הוּא יִתְרֹם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וְהֵם אוֹמְרִים לוֹ, הִזָּהֵר שֶׁמָּא תִגַּע בַּכְּלִי, עַד שֶׁתְּקַדֵּשׁ יָדֶיךָ וְרַגְלֶיךָ מִן הַכִּיּוֹר, וַהֲרֵי הַמַּחְתָּה נְתוּנָה בַמִּקְצוֹעַ בֵּין הַכֶּבֶשׁ לַמִּזְבֵּחַ, בְּמַעֲרָבוֹ שֶׁל כָּבֶשׁ. אֵין אָדָם נִכְנָס עִמּוֹ, וְלֹא נֵר בְּיָדוֹ, אֶלָּא מְהַלֵּךְ לְאוֹר הַמַּעֲרָכָה. לֹא הָיוּ רוֹאִין אוֹתוֹ וְלֹא שׁוֹמְעִין אֶת קוֹלוֹ, עַד שֶׁשּׁוֹמְעִין קוֹל הָעֵץ שֶׁעָשָׂה בֶן קָטִין מוּכְנִי לַכִּיּוֹר, וְהֵן אוֹמְרִים הִגִּיעַ עֵת. קִדֵּשׁ יָדָיו וְרַגְלָיו מִן הַכִּיּוֹר, נָטַל מַחְתַּת הַכֶּסֶף וְעָלָה לְרֹאשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וּפִנָּה אֶת הַגֶּחָלִים הֵילָךְ וְהֵילָךְ, חָתָה מִן הַמְאֻכָּלוֹת הַפְּנִימִיּוֹת, וְיָרַד. הִגִּיעַ לָרִצְפָה, הָפַךְ פָּנָיו לַצָּפוֹן, הָלַךְ לְמִזְרָחוֹ שֶׁל כֶּבֶשׁ כְּעֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת. צָבַר אֶת הַגֶּחָלִים עַל גַּבֵּי הָרִצְפָה רָחוֹק מִן הַכֶּבֶשׁ שְׁלשָׁה טְפָחִים, מְקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין מֻרְאוֹת הָעוֹף וְדִּשּׁוּן מִזְבֵּחַ הַפְּנִימִי וְהַמְּנוֹרָה: The priest who won the lottery to remove the ashes from the altar shall then remove the ashes. And the other priests say to him: Be careful that you do not touch the vessel with which you perform the rite until you sanctify your hands and your feet from the Basin, as a priest may not perform any service in the Temple before sanctifying his hands and feet. The priests would continue their reminders: The coal pan with which the ashes are removed is placed in the corner between the ramp and the altar, on the western side of the ramp. No person would enter with the priest who was removing the ashes, as it was permitted to enter the area between the Entrance Hall of the Sanctuary and the altar only when performing the Temple service. And there was no lamp in his hand when he went to fetch the coal pan. Rather, he would walk by the light of the arrangement of wood on the altar, upon which the portions of the offerings sacrificed the previous day were burned during the night. The other priests would not see him, as the altar hid him from their sight, nor could they hear the sound of his steps. They were therefore unaware of his progress until they heard the sound of the wood that ben Katin crafted into a mechanism [mukhani] of pulleys that was used to sink the Basin into flowing water during the night, so that its water would not be disqualified by remaining overnight. When the priests heard the sound of the pulleys raising the Basin from the water, they said to each other: The time for sanctifying hands and feet has come. The priest sanctified his hands and his feet with water from the Basin after he raised it. He then took the silver coal pan from the corner between the ramp and the altar, and ascended to the top of the altar. The priest cleared the upper layer of coals to this side and to that side and scooped into the coal pan the inner coals that were completely consumed. He then descended the ramp. When he reached the floor, in the southeast of the Temple courtyard, he turned his face toward the north. He would walk along the east side of the ramp toward the south side of the altar, walking a distance of about ten cubits from the bottom of the ramp, which was twenty cubits from the altar. He then heaped the coals upon the floor in a location three handbreadths distant from the ramp, in the place where the priests would place the crop of the bird burnt offering, the ashes removed from the inner, golden altar, and the ashes removed from the Candelabrum.