The gemara in Shabbat 21 that serves as the main Rabbinic source for the story of Chanukah states that the Syrian-Greeks defiled all of the oil that was in the "heichal" (the main room of the Beit HaMikdash). The gemara goes on to relate that when the Chashmonaim entered the Temple complex they found only one flask of oil that was sealed with the seal of the kohein gadol.

Various commentators raise two issues concerning this gemara. First, there is no place where we find evidence that the kohein gadol had a special seal that was used for the oil for the menorah. Second, based on the mishna in Middot 2:5 and a comment by the Shiltei HaGibborim we know that that there was a special chamber on the Temple Mount in which oil was stored. This being the case, why does the gemara in Shabbat say that they were looking for oil in the Temple itself?

The Sefer Ezrat Kohanim tries to solve the second issue by claiming that "heichal" here means the entire Temple Mount area. However, there are other approaches that aim to answer these questions on their own terms. The Orchot Chaim suggests that there was a "lockbox" fixed on the wall in the Beit HaMikdash, and it was in that box that the oil was stored, and it was that box (and not the flasks) which was sealed with the official seal of the kohein gadol. The Sefer Tavnit Heichal claims that there was a certain flask that was used specifically for measuring out the amount of oil to be used each day, and it was that measuring instrument that had the official seal on it.

A more interesting idea comes from Megillat Ta'anit (Grossberg ed.), which claims that the flask found by the Chashmonaim was a flask of the "shemen ha-mishchah," the oil used for anointing kings and high priests, which had been made by Moshe and was used throughout Jewish history. This would solve the problem of having oil in the Beit HaMikdash itself, since we know from various sources that the shemen ha-mishchah was kept in the Holy of Holies, next to the Ark of the Covenant. It also makes sense that such a special flask of oil would be sealed in some fashion.

However, there are at least two problems with this answer. The first problem comes from Yoma 52b, which notes that during the Second Beit HaMikdash there was no Ark, and thus there was also no shemen ha-mishchah, as the two disappeared together. Second, it is not clear that the shemen ha-mishchah could be used for the menorah, since its manner of preparation involved some degree of cooking, which may be invalid for oil used for the menorah (see Rambam Klei HaMikdash 6:2).

There may yet be a source for the seal of the kohein gadol. There is a medrash that that states that when Moshe made the oil for the menorah (see Shemot 27:20) he was instructed to seal it with his seal, or with the seal of the kohein gadol. As such, there is at least one fairly indisputable source that even the oil used for the menorah had to be properly sealed and stored.

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