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DUKHAN (Heb. דּוּכָן; "platform"), an elevated platform. According to talmudic literature, the word was used in four instances.

(1) The place in the Temple where the levites sang while the sacrifice was being offered (Ar. 11b). According to the Mishnah (Mid. 2:6), this dukhan was placed upon a step one cubit high, which was situated between the court of the Israelites and the court of the priests. It had three steps, each half a cubit high. Hence the height of the dukhan was one and a half cubits, or, together with the step, two and a half cubits.

(2) The place where the priests stood while reciting the *Priestly Blessing. The Talmud quotes R. Tarfon as saying "I once ascended the dukhan [for the Priestly Blessing]" (Kid. 71a). The Mishnah (Tam. 7:2) implies, however, that the priests stood on the 12 steps between the porch and the altar when blessing the people and not on the dukhan (cf. Tosef. Sot. 7:7). The explanation, apparently, is that the steps of the porch were the main site for the Priestly Blessing, but when there were too many priests to fit on the steps, the others took up this position on the dukhan (cf. Tiferet Israel on Middot 2:6).

(3) After the destruction of the Temple, the meaning of the word was extended to apply to the place in the synagogue where the Priestly Blessing was recited (Shab. 118b; Sot. 38b; et al.), and still later, to the Priestly Blessing itself. Hence the familiar phrase "to dukhan" was used for "to recite the Priestly Blessing."

(4) The platform where teachers sat while teaching children (bb 21a).


S. Krauss, Synagogale Altertuemer (1922), 393.

[Jehonatan Etz-Chaim]