How Large was the Veil in the Temple?

I found this article decribing the curtain;

Is there any other information confirming it’s size?

Can’t you cut & paste the article instead of sending us to that wierd site?

The Temple curtain situated between the holy and the holy of holies was 10 meters by 20. Its thickness was approximately 8 centimeters. That would make the weight approximately between **4 to 6 tons **depending on the materiel used. In fact the Talmud teaches us that it took some 300 priest to carry it to its place.

Read more:

Can you imagine the sound 4 to 6 tons of curtain made, when it came down on Good Friday? And the blast of air that would have escaped out of the Holy of Holies?

My field of interest is also this curtain.
I was thinking a lot of that,and always in my mind is picture in film Passion.

The only veracious record is in Josephus.

And it is big. About eighty feet high and twenty or so feet wide. But just for practical reasons it was probably made of the lightest stuff around. Probably more on the lines of a large flag than a thick woolen tapestry.

I found this online; I had always understood it was enormous and thick, not just a thin gauzy thing. These seem to confirm that.

Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

The Veils before the Most Holy Place were 40 cubits (60 feet) long, and 20 (30 feet) wide, of the thickness of the palm of the hand, and wrought in 72 squares, which were joined together; and these Veils were so heavy, that, in the exaggerated language of the time, it needed 300 priests to manipulate each. If the Veil was at all such as is described in the Talmud, it could not have been rent in twain by a mere earthquake or the fall of the lintel, although its composition in squares fastened together might explain, how the rent might be as described in the Gospel. (online reference)

Maurice Henry Harris, Hebraic Literature: Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala (M. Walter Dunne, 1901):

Three hundred priests were told off to draw the veil (of the Temple) aside; for it is taught that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel declared in the name of Rabbi Shimon the Sagan (or high priest’s substitute), that the thickness of the veil was a handbreadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, and each cord consisted of twenty-four strands. It was forty cubits long and twenty wide. Eighty-two myriads of damsels worked at it, and two such veils were made every year. When it became soiled, it took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it. Chullin (Harris, pp. 195-95)

We construct negative air chambers for mold remediation (to contain mold spores) with heavy mil - plastic sheeting. It’s surprising how much air pressure exists between outer and inner chambers.

From what I’ve read, the veil was around 4’’ thick.

This website has two statements from ancient Jewish literature that describe the veil:

It was woven of seventy-two cords, and each cord consisted of twenty-four strands.

Just on a practical standpoint, looking at the Temple structure, when the outer doors were opened - wind would blow into that structure with great force. If the curtain was thin in structure it would in effect become a sail, fill with wind, and expose the Holy of Holies.

Which is counter to the protective worship prescribed by God:

(The veil) barred all but the High Priest from the presence of God, but when it was torn in two at the death of Jesus of Nazareth (see Mark 15:38), access to God was made available to all who come through him.”

Only the High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies and then only once a year on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement to apply blood to the Ark. A rope was even attached to his body so that he could be pulled out from behind the veil should he die or collapse while in the Holy of Holies.

An interesting side point - I have to wonder what the High Priest was doing during the 2nd Temple Period - on the Day of Atonement. From what I’ve read, the Ark of the Covenant was not in the Temple. It has been hidden around the time of the Maccabees.

The prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain where Moses went up and saw the inheritance of God.

And when Jeremias came thither he found a hollow cave and he carried in thither the tabernacle and the ark and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place; but they could not find it. And when Jeremias perceived it, he blamed them saying:

“The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people and receive them to mercy. And then the Lord will shew these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also shewed to Moses, and he shewed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God.”

(2 Maccabees 2:4-8)

A prophecy of the coming fulfillment of the Messiah; baby Jesus in the womb of Mary.

FWIW, I would not trust the Talmud at all relating to Second Temple specifics in Jesus’ time. Josephus and Philo are our only real sources.

Apart from the NT, of course.

Actually, despite common knowledge purporting that the Temple veil was rather thick, references to such is found originally (and only) in later rabbinic literature, and even then, the context is clearly speaking about examples of hyperbolic language used in rabbinic commentary.

There are no explicit contemporary sources describing how thick the curtain in Herod’s Temple was. Josephus, who does describe the various specifics of the Temple as it was in his day, only describes its size and material, but never the thickness.

(B)efore these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.

Wars of the Jews 5.211b-214 (5.5.4)

In Exodus, the veil that divided the Holy from the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle is described as being of “blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen” with images of ‘cherubim’ (perhaps here depicted akin to the winged human-animal hybrid creatures, i.e. either sphinxes or griffins or winged humans common in Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern art instead of the almost-effeminate Renaissance angels or the cute baby-heads we often see today passed as cherubim!) woven into it.

The description in Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kings 6 do not speak of any veil but of a door (31-32), but the brief reference to a veil in 2 Chronicles 3:14 imply that it was made of similar materials: “And he made the veil of blue and purple and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and he worked cherubim on it.” And as we have seen, the veil in Herod’s Temple are also made of these.

Actually, that’s just an urban legend, and a widely-repeated one. We have no contemporary and later sources (not even Josephus or rabbinic literature!) which state something to such effect. The first mention we have of a rope being tied around the high priest’s body or ankle is from the Kabbalistic work Zohar (13th century AD).

Of course, we need not necessarily think the veil was so thick as the other legend purports, or even that it was so filmy thin. I imagine it being perhaps as thick as a modern-day thick rug, if not slightly more. Not as bulky as is often said, but at least still sturdy to some degree.

An interesting side point - I have to wonder what the High Priest was doing during the 2nd Temple Period - on the Day of Atonement. From what I’ve read, the Ark of the Covenant was not in the Temple. It has been hidden around the time of the Maccabees.

We don’t know about that. The Ark, along with other important items, are not listed among the cultic vessels looted by the Babylonians (1 Kings 24-25); so what naturally follows is it could have disappeared at that point or earlier. What became of it? We don’t know.

For the record, the reference to Jeremiah hiding the Ark and other stuff occurs in the context of a private letter (1:10b-2:18), where it is attributed ambiguously to “the records”. Personally, I have doubts as to its historical veracity - the story appears a few centuries after Jeremiah lived, and it openly addresses a point which so concerned people at the time the letter was penned: that the new Temple is somehow less holy or probably even illegitimate in the absence of the Ark, the Tabernacle, and the Altar.

As for what the High Priest did in the Ark-less Temple during Yom ha-Kippurim, the simple answer is that he may have performed the usual ceremonies as if the Ark still rested inside. For example, where the blood is sprinkled before the Ark then, he now sprinkled the place where it would have stood.