If you are a reader of the Bible, you might come across the word, “Holy of holies.” This is a special part inside the temple where they house the Ark of the Covenant. But, we will understand more of this sacred place if we look at this from the original Hebrew perspective.
Holy of Holies
The heavenly place is first mentioned in Exodus 26:33, “You shall hang the curtain under the clasps, and bring the ark of the covenant in there, within the curtain; and the curtain shall separate for you the holy place from the Holy of Holies. You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies.”
The chapter is full of God’s instructions in building a tabernacle or temple during Moses’ time. Its floor plan consists of a courtyard, main hall, and the holy of holies.
The holy of holies is also called the inner sanctuary. This innermost room is only entered once a year by a high priest on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.
According to the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, the more accurate translation of the divine room is “speech shrine” because of its Hebrew word, “d’vir.”
D’vir comes from the Hebrew root word, “ledaber,” which means “to speak.” It tells us that the holy of holies is where God delivers His sacred messages to the high priest for the people of Israel.
But, more than that, the inner sanctuary also serves as the room for atonement.
The high priest not only listens to God for His instructions, but he will also sprinkle some blood of the bull in the mercy seat (the golden cover on top of the ark of the covenant) for atonement. (Leviticus 16:16)
The definition of the “mercy seat” is often lost in the English translation. They interpret it as the base of God’s heavenly throne. But its Hebrew word, “kaporet,” comes from the Hebrew word, “kapara,” which means to atone. The mercy seat’s original purpose is, therefore, “atonement.”
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