Veil of the Tabernacle

What was the Veil of the Tabernacle?

The veil of the tabernacle hung between the two holy chambers of the tabernacle, as recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. In several places it is termed "the veil of the screen" and it is distinguished from "the screen for the door of the tabernacle" (Exodus 35:12 , Exodus 35:15 ; Exodus 39:34 , Exodus 39:38 ).

By the latter is meant the curtain that hung outside the holy place, i.e. at the tabernacle entrance. Exodus 26:31 informs us that the veil was made of fine-twined linen, and that its colors were blue and purple and scarlet. It was embroidered with cherubim. At each removal of the tabernacle the veil was used to enwrap the ark of the testimony (Numbers 4:5).

From its proximity to this central object of the Hebrew ceremonial system, the veil is termed "the veil of the testimony" (Leviticus 24:3 ), "the veil which is before the testimony" (Exodus 27:21 ), etc. In Solomon's Temple the veil is mentioned but once (2 Chronicles 3:14 ). It was protected by doors of olive wood (1 Kings 6:31 ).

In the later temple it is alluded to in 1 Macc 1:22. Its presence in Herod's temple is attested by the statement in each of the Synoptists that at the time of Christ's death the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, or in the midst (Matt. 27:51 ; Mark 15:38 ; Luke 23:45 ; compare in Mishna, Mid. ii. 1; iv. 7).

This fact is the basis of the profound truth expressed by the writer to the Hebrews that Jesus, by His sacrificial death, opened for all believers a way into the holiest "through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" ( Hebrews 10:20 ).


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