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Article Info:
published: 10/8/13

Holy Place

What was the Holy Place?

The Holy Place was one of the sacred rooms within the tabernacle. The tabernacle consisted of two divisions to which a graduated scale of holiness is attached: "The veil shall separate unto you between the holy place and the holy of holies (Exodus 26:33). This distinction was never abrogated. In the Epistle to the Hebrews these divisions are called the "first" and "second" tabernacles (Hebrews 9:6 f).

The term "holy place" is not indeed confined to the outer chamber of the sanctuary; in Leviticus 6:16 , it is applied to "the court of the tent of meeting." But the other is its technical use. In Solomon's temple we have a different usage. The word hēkhāl , "temple," is not at first applied, as after, to the whole building, but is the designation specifically of the holy place, in distinction from the debhı̄r , or "oracle" (compare 1 Kings 6:3 , 1 Kings 6:5 , 1 Kings 6:16 , 1 Kings 6:17 , 1 Kings 6:33 , etc.; so in Ezekiel 41:1 , Ezekiel 41:2 , Ezekiel 41:4 , etc.). The wider usage is later (compare 2 Kings 11:10 , 2 Kings 11:11 , 2 Kings 11:13 , etc.).

Size of the Holy Place

The size of the holy place differed at different times. The holy place of the tabernacle was 20 cubits long by 10 broad and 10 high (30 10 15 10 15 ft.); that of Solomon's temple was twice this in length and breadth - 40 by 20 cubits; but it is contended by many (Bähr, etc.) that in height it was the full internal height of the building - 30 cubits; the Herodian temple has the same dimensions of length and breadth, but Josephus and Middōth give largely increased, though differing, numbers for the height.

Contents of Holy Place

The contents of the holy place were from the beginning ordered to be these (Exodus 25:23 ; Exodus 30:1-10 ): the altar of incense, a golden candlestick (in Solomon's temple increased to ten, 1 Kings 7:49 ), and a table of showbread (likewise increased to ten, 2 Chronicles 4:8 ). For the construction, position, history and uses of these objects and articles under the several headings. This, as shown by Josephus and by the sculptures on the Arch of Titus, continued to be the furniture of the holy place till the end.


As the outer division of the sanctuary, into which, as yet, not the people, but only their representatives in the priesthood, were admitted while yet the symbols of the people's consecrated life (prayer, light, thanksgiving) were found in it, the holy place may be said to represent the people's relation to God in the earthly life, as the holy of holies represented God's relation to the people in a perfected communion.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the holy place is not largely dwelt on as compared with the court in which the perfect sacrifice was offered, and the holiest of all into which Jesus Christ has now entered (Christ passes "through" the tabernacle into the holiest, Hebrews 9:11 ). It pertains, however, evidently to the earthly sphere of Christ's manifestation, even as earth is the present scene of the church's fellowship. Through earth, by the way which Christ has opened up, the believer, already in spirit, finally in fact, passes with Him into the holiest (Hebrews 10:19 ; compare Hebrews 9:8 ; see Westcott, Hebrews , 233ff).

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).

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