There was also a chamber in which whatsoever money was collected in these chests, of which we have spoken, was emptied out into three other chests; which is called by the Talmudists, emphatically the chamber.
"There were three chests, each containing three seahs, into which they empty the Corban, and on them were written Aleph, Beth, Gimel. And why, saith R. Jose, was Aleph, Beth, Gimel, written upon them? namely, that it might be known which of them was filled first, that it might first be emptied. R. Ishmael saith, The inscription was in Greek, Alpha, Beta, Gamma."
The chests which are here spoken of were those into which the three greater were emptied, which always stood unmovable in the chamber. The manner of the emptying of which take from the words of the Gloss in the place alleged: "Those chests in which the money was laid-up did contain twenty seven seahs (each nine); and they were covered with a linen cloth. He who was to empty entered with three chests containing nine seahs. He first filled the chest marked Aleph, out of the first of the three great chests; and then covered it with the linen cloth. Then he uncovered the second of the great chests; and out of it he filled the second chest, marked with Beth; and covered it again. Then he uncovered the third of the great chests, and filled the third chest, marked Gimel but covered not the other again," &c.
Moreover, of the manner and time of this emptying, thus the masters speak: "Thrice in a year they take care about the chamber" (for let me render it thus in this place); that is, as the Gloss writers [out of the thirteen chests they transferred whatsoever had been collected in them into these three great ones, which were in this chamber, and in like manner they emptied them into three less, of which before], "About the space of half a month before Passover, before Pentecost, and before the Feast of Tabernacles: or, in the beginning of the month Nisan, and of the month Tisri, and fifteen days before Pentecost."
And here I cannot but transcribe the words of the Glosser in that place of the Talmud, which we are now upon, as not a little illustrating the place in the Evangelists.
"They published (saith he) and made known that they should bring the oblation of the Lord (the half-shekel), they that were near (to Jerusalem), at the Passover; and they that were further off, at Pentecost; and they that were most remote, at the Feast of Tabernacles." These words serve for a light to the story in St. Matthew, chapter 17, of the collectors of the Didrachm, or half-shekel, requiring it of Christ at Capernaum, when the feast of the Passover was now past a great while ago. But we go on.
"He who went into the chamber to empty the chest, went not in with a folded garment, nor with shoes, nor with sandals, nor with phylacteries, nor with charms," &c. And the reason was, that there might be no opportunity, and all suspicion might be removed, of stealing and hiding any of the money under them.
The money taken thence served to buy the daily sacrifice, and the drink-offerings, salt, wood, frankincense, the showbread, the garments of the priests, and, in a word, whatsoever was needful for the worship and service of the Temple.
Yea, "Rabh Asa saith, the judges of things stolen, who were at Jerusalem, received as their stipend ninety-nine manas out of the rent of the chamber."