בַּאֲבוּקוֹת שֶׁל אוֹר שֶׁבִּידֵיהֶן וְאוֹמְרִים לִפְנֵיהֶם דִּבְרֵי שִׁירוֹת וְתוּשְׁבָּחוֹת וְהַלְוִיִּם בְּכִנּוֹרוֹת וּבִנְבָלִים וּבִמְצִלְתַּיִם וּבַחֲצוֹצְרוֹת וּבִכְלֵי שִׁיר בְּלֹא מִסְפָּר עַל חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה מַעֲלוֹת הַיּוֹרְדוֹת מֵעֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְעֶזְרַת נָשִׁים כְּנֶגֶד חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה (מַעֲלוֹת) שֶׁבַּתְּהִלִּים שֶׁעֲלֵיהֶן לְוִיִּם עוֹמְדִין בִּכְלֵי שִׁיר וְאוֹמְרִים שִׁירָה with flaming torches that they would juggle in their hands, and they would say before them passages of song and praise to God. And the Levites would play on lyres, harps, cymbals, and trumpets, and countless other musical instruments. The musicians would stand on the fifteen stairs that descend from the Israelites’ courtyard to the Women’s Courtyard, corresponding to the fifteen Songs of the Ascents in Psalms, i.e., chapters 120–134, and upon which the Levites stand with musical instruments and recite their song.
וְעָמְדוּ שְׁנֵי כֹהֲנִים בְּשַׁעַר הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁיּוֹרֵד מֵעֶזְרַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְעֶזְרַת נָשִׁים וּשְׁתֵּי חֲצוֹצְרוֹת בִּידֵיהֶן קָרָא הַגֶּבֶר תָּקְעוּ וְהֵרִיעוּ וְתָקְעוּ הִגִּיעוּ לְמַעֲלָה עֲשִׂירִית תָּקְעוּ וְהֵרִיעוּ וְתָקְעוּ הִגִּיעוּ לָעֲזָרָה תָּקְעוּ וְהֵרִיעוּ וְתָקְעוּ And this was the ceremony of the Water Libation: Two priests stood at the Upper Gate that descends from the Israelites’ courtyard to the Women’s Courtyard, with two trumpets in their hands. When the rooster crowed at dawn, they sounded a tekia, and sounded a terua, and sounded a tekia. When they who would draw the water reached the tenth stair the trumpeters sounded a tekia, and sounded a terua, and sounded a tekia, to indicate that the time to draw water from the Siloam pool had arrived. When they reached the Women’s Courtyard with the basins of water in their hands, the trumpeters sounded a tekia, and sounded a terua, and sounded a tekia.
(הִגִּיעוּ לַקַּרְקַע תָּקְעוּ וְהֵרִיעוּ וְתָקְעוּ) הָיוּ תּוֹקְעִין וְהוֹלְכִין עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעִין לְשַׁעַר הַיּוֹצֵא מִמִּזְרָח הִגִּיעוּ לְשַׁעַר הַיּוֹצֵא מִמִּזְרָח הָפְכוּ פְּנֵיהֶן מִמִּזְרָח לְמַעֲרָב וְאָמְרוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה אֲחוֹרֵיהֶם אֶל הַהֵיכָל וּפְנֵיהֶם קֵדְמָה וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים קֵדְמָה לַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְאָנוּ לְיָהּ עֵינֵינוּ רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר הָיוּ שׁוֹנִין וְאוֹמְרִין אָנוּ לְיָהּ וּלְיָהּ עֵינֵינוּ: When they reached the ground of the Women’s Courtyard, the trumpeters sounded a tekia, and sounded a terua, and sounded a tekia. They continued sounding the trumpets until they reached the gate through which one exits to the east, from the Women’s Courtyard to the eastern slope of the Temple Mount. When they reached the gate through which one exits to the east, they turned from facing east to facing west, toward the Holy of Holies, and said: Our ancestors who were in this place during the First Temple period who did not conduct themselves appropriately, stood “with their backs toward the Sanctuary of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east” (Ezekiel 8:16), and we, our eyes are to God. Rabbi Yehuda says that they would repeat and say: We are to God, and our eyes are to God.
גְּמָ׳ תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה שִׂמְחַת בֵּית הַשּׁוֹאֵבָה לֹא רָאָה שִׂמְחָה מִיָּמָיו מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם בְּתִפְאַרְתָּהּ לֹא רָאָה כְּרַךְ נֶחְמָד מֵעוֹלָם מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בְּבִנְיָנוֹ לֹא רָאָה בִּנְיָן מְפוֹאָר מֵעוֹלָם מַאי הִיא אָמַר אַבָּיֵי וְאִיתֵּימָא רַב חִסְדָּא זֶה בִּנְיַן הוֹרְדוֹס GEMARA: The Sages taught: One who did not see the Celebration of the Place of the Drawing of the Water, never saw celebration in his life. One who did not see Jerusalem in its glory, never saw a beautiful city. One who did not see the Temple in its constructed state, never saw a magnificent structure. The Gemara asks: What is the Temple building to which the Sages refer? Abaye said, and some say that it was Rav Ḥisda who said: This is referring to the magnificent building of Herod, who renovated the Second Temple.
בְּמַאי בַּנְיֵהּ אָמַר (רָבָא) בְּאַבְנֵי שֵׁישָׁא וּמַרְמְרָא אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי בְּאַבְנֵי שֵׁישָׁא כּוּחְלָא וּמַרְמְרָא אַפֵּיק שָׂפָה וְעַיֵּיל שָׂפָה כִּי הֵיכִי דִּלְקַבֵּל סִידָא סְבַר לְמִשְׁעֲיֵיהּ בְּדַהֲבָא אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן שִׁבְקֵיהּ דְּהָכִי שַׁפִּיר טְפֵי דְּמִיתְחֲזֵי כְּאִדְוָתָא דְיַמָּא The Gemara asks: With what materials did he construct it? Rava said: It was with stones of green-gray marble and white marble [marmara]. Some say: It was with stones of blue marble and white marble. The rows of stones were set with one row slightly protruded and one row slightly indented, so that the plaster would take better. He thought to plate the Temple with gold, but the Sages said to him: Leave it as is, and do not plate it, as it is better this way, as with the different colors and the staggered arrangement of the rows of stones, it has the appearance of waves of the sea.
תַּנְיָא רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה דְּיוֹפְּלוּסְטוֹן שֶׁל אֲלֶכְּסַנְדְּרִיָּא שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם לֹא רָאָה בִּכְבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל אָמְרוּ כְּמִין בָּסִילְקֵי גְּדוֹלָה הָיְתָה סְטָיו לְפָנִים מִסְּטָיו פְּעָמִים שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהּ (שִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא עַל שִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא) כִּפְלַיִם כְּיוֹצְאֵי מִצְרַיִם וְהָיוּ בָּהּ שִׁבְעִים וְאַחַת קָתֶדְרָאוֹת שֶׁל זָהָב כְּנֶגֶד שִׁבְעִים וְאַחַת שֶׁל סַנְהֶדְרִי גְּדוֹלָה כׇּל אַחַת וְאַחַת אֵינָהּ פְּחוּתָה מֵעֶשְׂרִים וְאֶחָד רִבּוֹא כִּכְּרֵי זָהָב וּבִימָה שֶׁל עֵץ בְּאֶמְצָעִיתָהּ וְחַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת עוֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ וְהַסּוּדָרִין בְּיָדוֹ וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן הַלָּה מֵנִיף בַּסּוּדָר וְכׇל הָעָם עוֹנִין אָמֵן It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda says: One who did not see the great synagogue [deyofloston] of Alexandria of Egypt never saw the glory of Israel. They said that its structure was like a large basilica [basileki], with a colonnade within a colonnade. At times there were six hundred thousand men and another six hundred thousand men in it, twice the number of those who left Egypt. In it there were seventy-one golden chairs [katedraot], corresponding to the seventy-one members of the Great Sanhedrin, each of which consisted of no less than twenty-one thousand talents of gold. And there was a wooden platform at the center. The sexton of the synagogue would stand on it, with the scarves in his hand. And because the synagogue was so large and the people could not hear the communal prayer, when the prayer leader reached the conclusion of a blessing requiring the people to answer amen, the sexton waved the scarf and all the people would answer amen.
וְלֹא הָיוּ יוֹשְׁבִין מְעוֹרָבִין אֶלָּא זֶהָבִין בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן וְכַסָּפִין בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן וְנַפָּחִין בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן וְטַרְסִיִּים בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן וְגַרְדִיִּים בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָן וּכְשֶׁעָנִי נִכְנָס שָׁם הָיָה מַכִּיר בַּעֲלֵי אוּמָּנֻתוֹ וְנִפְנֶה שָׁם וּמִשָּׁם פַּרְנָסָתוֹ וּפַרְנָסַת אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ And the members of the various crafts would not sit mingled. Rather, the goldsmiths would sit among themselves, and the silversmiths among themselves, and the blacksmiths among themselves, and the coppersmiths among themselves, and the weavers among themselves. And when a poor stranger entered there, he would recognize people who plied his craft, and he would turn to join them there. And from there he would secure his livelihood as well as the livelihood of the members of his household, as his colleagues would find him work in that craft.
אָמַר אַבָּיֵי וְכוּלְּהוּ קַטְלִינְהוּ אָלֶכְּסַנְדְּרוֹס מוֹקְדֹּן מַאי טַעְמָא אִיעֲנוּשׁ מִשּׁוּם דְּעָבְרִי אַהַאי קְרָא לָא תוֹסִיפוּן לָשׁוּב בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה עוֹד וְאִינְהוּ הֲדוּר אֲתוֹ After depicting the glory of the synagogue, the Gemara relates that Abaye said: All of the people who congregated in that synagogue were killed by Alexander the Great of Macedonia. The Gemara asks: What is the reason that they were punished and killed? It is due to the fact that they violated the prohibition with regard to Egypt in this verse: “You shall henceforth return no more that way” (Deuteronomy 17:16), and they returned. Since they established their permanent place of residence in Egypt, they were punished.
כִּי אֲתָא אַשְׁכְּחִינְהוּ דַּהֲווֹ קָרוּ בְּסִיפְרָא יִשָּׂא ה׳ עָלֶיךָ גּוֹי מֵרָחוֹק אֲמַר מִכְּדֵי הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בָּעֵי לְמֵיתֵי סְפִינְתָּא בְּעַשְׂרָה יוֹמֵי דַּלְיַהּ זִיקָא וְאָתֵי סְפִינְתָּא בְּחַמְשָׁא יוֹמֵי נְפַל עֲלַיְיהוּ וְקַטְלִינְהוּ: When Alexander arrived, he found them, and saw that they were reading the verse in the Torah scroll: “The Lord will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the vulture swoops down; a nation whose tongue you shall not understand” (Deuteronomy 28:49). He said, referring to himself: Now, since that man sought to come by ship in ten days, and a wind carried it and the ship arrived in only five days, apparently the verse referring a vulture swooping down is referring to me and heavenly forces are assisting me. Immediately, he set upon them and slaughtered them.
בְּמוֹצָאֵי יוֹם טוֹב כּוּ׳ מַאי תִּיקּוּן גָּדוֹל אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר כְּאוֹתָהּ שֶׁשָּׁנִינוּ חֲלָקָה הָיְתָה בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה וְהִקִּיפוּהָ גְּזוּזְטְרָא וְהִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ נָשִׁים יוֹשְׁבוֹת מִלְמַעְלָה וַאֲנָשִׁים מִלְּמַטָּה § The mishna continues: At the conclusion of the first Festival day, etc., the priests and the Levites descended from the Israelites’ courtyard to the Women’s Courtyard, where they would introduce a significant repair. The Gemara asks: What is this significant repair? Rabbi Elazar said that it is like that which we learned: The walls of the Women’s Courtyard were smooth, without protrusions, initially. Subsequently, they affixed protrusions to the wall surrounding the Women’s Courtyard. Each year thereafter, for the Celebration of the Place of the Drawing of the Water, they placed wooden planks on these projections and surrounded the courtyard with a balcony [gezuztra]. And they instituted that the women should sit above and the men below.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיוּ נָשִׁים מִבִּפְנִים וַאֲנָשִׁים מִבַּחוּץ וְהָיוּ בָּאִים לִידֵי קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ נָשִׁים יוֹשְׁבוֹת מִבַּחוּץ וַאֲנָשִׁים מִבִּפְנִים וַעֲדַיִין הָיוּ בָּאִין לִידֵי קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ נָשִׁים יוֹשְׁבוֹת מִלְּמַעְלָה וַאֲנָשִׁים מִלְּמַטָּה The Sages taught in the Tosefta: Initially, women would stand on the inside of the Women’s Courtyard, closer to the Sanctuary to the west, and the men were on the outside in the courtyard and on the rampart. And they would come to conduct themselves with inappropriate levity in each other’s company, as the men needed to enter closer to the altar when the offerings were being sacrificed and as a result they would mingle with the women. Therefore, the Sages instituted that the women should sit on the outside and the men on the inside, and still they would come to conduct themselves with inappropriate levity. Therefore, they instituted in the interest of complete separation that the women would sit above and the men below.
הֵיכִי עֲבֻיד הָכִי וְהָכְתִיב הַכֹּל בִּכְתָב מִיַּד ה׳ עָלַי הִשְׂכִּיל The Gemara asks: How could one do so, i.e., alter the structure of the Temple? But isn’t it written with regard to the Temple: “All this I give you in writing, as the Lord has made me wise by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern” (I Chronicles 28:19), meaning that all the structural plans of the Temple were divinely inspired; how could the Sages institute changes?
אָמַר רַב קְרָא אַשְׁכַּחוּ וּדְרוּשׁ Rav said: They found a verse, and interpreted it homiletically and acted accordingly: