Thief in the Night

Thief in the Night
Each night, the supervisor of all the watches patrols the Temple
Mount, inspecting each and every watch. Burning torches
are borne before him (in order for the guards to recognize that
it is he), and if perchance he encounters a watchman who does
not rise up before him, the supervisor cries out to him, “Peace
be unto you!” But if the supervisor receives no reply, it is
obvious that the guard has been caught asleep. He would then
rap the sleeping Levite with his stick; the supervisor was then
empowered to set his covering on fire (as a punishment for
not carrying out his duty properly).

Everyone within earshot who heard the cries of the unfortunate
sleeperwould say, “What is that noise in the court? Oh, it is the
sound of a Levite who has been rapped, and his covering set
alight, for he has fallen asleep on his watch.”
Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, a contemporary of that era (and
the author of Tractate Midot), related that “Once, my mother’s
brother was found sleeping and his covering was singed.”
“Thief : The figurative use of thief ‘as one coming without warning’ (Mt 24:43, etc.)
needs no explanation. – Burton Scott Easton” from the International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia
The above explanation on ‘the overseer of the house, the captain of the guards or the Man of
the Mountain of a House’ is from The Temple Institute website from Jerusalem, Israel. The
Institute’s work touches upon the history of the Holy Temple’s past, an understanding of the
present day, and the Divine promise of Israel’s future. The
Institute’s activities include education, research, and
development.

Another similar resource is “Antiquities of the Jews” by
William Brown DD, 1823.

And for further explanation on the Night Watches in the Temple, by Alfred Edersheim
(1825-1889), see: http://philologos.org/__eb-ttms/temple07.htm#watches

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