To help you understand the Temple from both the inside and out, three different types of drawings appear in this sidebar: a cutaway three dimensional view (above), a plan (below) of the Temple’s lower story, and a vertical section (below) through the center of the Temple.
In the three-dimensional view, artist Leen Ritmeyer has peeled away the outer walls of one half of the structure. In this drawing, climb the steps on the eastern side of the Temple, pass through the outer facade, and enter the Portico. Walk through the Portico, in the direction of the Sanctuary (heikhal) entrance, flanked by columns and draped with the golden grapevine.
To the right of the Sanctuary entrance, a small, low doorway, or wicket, leads into the first of a series of cells that enclose the building on three sides. From the cell entered through the wicket, doorways lead, left, to the Sanctuary, forward, to the adjacent cell, and right, to the stepped passageway that gives access to the roof of the cells.
The cutaway exposes the three stories of cells along the northern wall of the Sanctuary. However, we see only a few of the five cells that actually occupied each level. And, of course, we see none of the cells that wrapped around the western and southern sides of the Temple. Ladders allowed vertical communication between the cells.
The drawing permits us to look within the Upper Chamber, above the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies (kodesh ha-kodashim). On the back (western end) of the Upper Chamber, the floor is broken by openings, called “chimneys” (lulin), through which cages were lowered to the Holy of Holies below. From the cages, open only on the side facing the wall, workmen cleaned the gilded walls, but were prevented from seeing the Holy of Holies, a sight allowed only to the high priest once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The plan (above) is a schematic view of the Temple, looking down at the level of the second story of the cells. We see the entrance steps, the Portico, the Sanctuary and Holy of Holies. We see also the cells—five on the north and south sides and three on the west. Note that there were only two cells on the uppermost level of cells on the west. Other elements clearly seen in this plan are the water channel on the south that drained water from the roof above the cells, the stepped passageway on the north, and the double curtain between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies—staggered so as to prevent accidental viewing of the Holy of Holies.
The section drawing (below) is a view of the Temple, looking south, as if the artist had made a vertical cut through it from east to west. Again we see the steps, the Portico, the columns in front of the entrance to the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, and (behind it) the cells on the back of the building. Above the Sanctuary is the Upper Chamber. In this view we also see structural beams within the roofs and decorative beams forming the lintel within the wall of the outer facade. Cedar beams provide support between the high-standing outer facade wall and the Sanctuary wall. Cells in the three stories on the west are shown with graduated widths, reflecting the stepped outer wall of the Holy of Holies adjacent to them. A stepped wall may also be seen next to the cells in the Temple drawing.