What is the Holy of Holies?

by Matt Slick

The Holy of Holies, also known as the Most Holy Place, is the inner room of the Tabernacle (and also the Temple) in which was kept the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat (Exodus 26:34), Cherubim (Exodus 25:18-22), manna (Exodus 16:33), Aaron's rod (Numbers 17:10), and a copy of the 10 Commandments (Deuteronomy 31:26).  It was the place where blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat (the lid on top of the Ark) as an atonement for the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:15-33). The only people allowed to enter the Holy of Holies was the high priest.  There was only one high priest at a time, and he could enter only once a year.  The Holy of Holies measured 20 cubits by 20 cubits by 20 cubits.  Therefore, it was a cube.  It was the final room the high priest would enter after he passed the veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.  The Holy of Holies is mentioned many times in the Bible.

  • Exodus 26:34, "You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies."
  • Leviticus 16:2, "The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat."
  • 2 Chronicles 3:8, "Now he made the room of the holy of holies: its length across the width of the house was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits; and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to 600 talents."
  • 2 Chronicles 3:10, "Then he made two sculptured cherubim in the room of the holy of holies and overlaid them with gold."
  • Hebrews 9:3, "Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies."

The Holy of Holies was also called the Sanctuary (Leviticus 4:6), the Holy Sanctuary (Leviticus 16:33), the Holy Place (Exodus 28:29), and the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26: 31-33).
 
 

tabernacle layout

 

 

 

 
 
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