Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Wow! The Significant Tiny Golden Bell


by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The City of David project has been excavating the ancient city of Jerusalem underneath the more recently built area nowadays called Silwan (for those familiar with Jerusalem, this is the area which you would enter if you continued out the Dung Gate of the Old City and head straight).

Underneath, far underneath the modern ramshackle structures it turns out the ancient city of the kings of Israel rests.  A dedicated privately financed team has spent many years carefully excavating and doing a full set of archeological research.  Along the way they’ve found ancient structures, possibly a palace, the water channel of Chizkiyahu, and more.

Recently they’ve been doing their most ambitious project.  As part of their excavations, they found the primary paved road that provided the path to the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount (today where the Dome of the Rock sits).  They’ve been carefully excavating the road (deep underground) back up to (not in, not under) the Temple Mount.  Along the road also runs an ancient drainage channel, basically an old sewer drain.

During their excavations they found a variety of artifacts under the road and in the channel, many apparently from where Jews tried to hide during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and leaving behind some artifacts after they were found and slaughtered by the Romans. 

A few days ago their most significant find EVER was announced.  They found a small golden bell with a loop for being tied to a piece of clothing near the wall of the Temple Mount (deep under the current above ground level).  If religious Jews reading this recognize that description, it’s because…

Exodus 28:31-34:  And you shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue…. And upon the skirts of it you shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: a golden bell and a (cloth) pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the skirts of the robe round about.

That’s the description of the blue robe of the Kohein Gadol, the high priest of the Holy Jewish Temple.  The Kohein Gadol was the ONLY one of the priestly class to wear such a garment with bells.

The press and the archeologists are trying to hem and haw around the find.  Maybe it is from the high priest, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s from some other rich person who liked to wander about with gold bells.  But let’s engage in a bit of informed speculation…

1. Only the Kohein Gadol wore a garment with golden bells among the kohanim.

2. No one, rich or otherwise, is going to go to the Beis HaMikdash wearing a garment that imitated the Kohein Gadol with golden bells.  L’havdil, it would be equivalent to going to a papal mass in the Vatican carrying a large gold cross on a 5 foot staff and wearing a big red pointy papal style hat.

3. The Kohein Gadol only wore the ephod, the garment with bells for certain special services such as for Yom Kippur.  These services took place near the mizbayach (the altar) and in the heichal – meaning the Kohein Gadol only wore the ephod when doing services some distance away from where the bell was found.

4. There’s only 1 service where the Kohein Gadol wore the ephod (with the golden bells) and physically left the Beis HaMikdash.  That service was the sacrifice of the Par Adumah, the sacrifice and preparation of the ashes of the red heifer. 

The Par Adumah was slaughtered and burned (to ash) by the Kohein Gadol on Har HaZaytim, the Mount of Olives.  The Kohein Gadol would proceed out of the Beis HaMikdash down the entrance street (to which everyone coming to the Beis HaMikdash had already ritually prepared, so there were no issues of tumah – ritual impurity).  From the City of David area, a wooden pathway would be built across the valley and up the Mt. of Olives, to prevent the Kohein Gadol from encountering tumah.

This is the path the City of David team has been excavating.  Which means, in my informed speculation…

This is a bell from the Kohein Gadol on his way (or returning) from performing the ritual of the Red Heifer.

This is the first and only artifact from the Beis HaMikdash known to exist and in Jewish hands.  (Rumors of such artifacts in the hands of the Vatican are strong but have never been proven.)

And it was found (or verified or announced) during the 3 weeks (mourning the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash)!

…I am astounded!


  1. Reb Nati, Thanks for laying this out the way you did.

    I assumed it was from azazel on yom kippur.
    What about the pach shemen and the ketores thas was found? Is that not also from the bayis?


  2. Thank you so much, reb Nati. I am sitting with chills after having read this. It is so incredably beautiful to see even over the internet a most holy beautiful item that could only be from the Beit Hamikdash and The Kohen Gadol. I often wonder if Hashem is sending us signals to get ready.....

  3. Sorry we didn't specify, this article was by Reb Akiva.

    Levi - The Kohein Gadol did not lead the azazel out, that was given over to another kohein, inside the gate of the inner section (the kohein only section).

    The pach shemen and ketoros are also from the Beis HaMikdash, but they are not kelim (temple vessels/equipment) but temple supplies - at least in my way of thinking.

    Leah - May it be so!

  4. Why only one found when clearly the bells and pomegranates go around the hem? There should be many more - unless this was somehow torn from the garment as the priest was fleeing in haste from the Roman soldiers during the siege.......or any other scenario for that matter. The bell places the garment at the site - does not tell us more unless more is revealed.

  5. Peace - of course we're only speculating. My best guess would be, as the Kohein Gadol was walking out to go to the Par Adumah, a bell fell off into the drainage/sewage channel. Even if someone saw it happen, they couldn't go get it because of the likelihood of tumah in such a channel.

    But yes, it could also have fallen off the garment as it was being plundered from the temple.

  6. This is certainly a message for klal yisroel, for whom the bell tolls.

    I take it with great nechama and great optimism during this very sad period of time. May we be zocheh to see the geulah shelama speedily, in our days.

  7. great piece. but, please remove the non-jewish reference. it is jarring and serves no kiddush Hashem for this. contrary, it taints an otherwise strong article.


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