holy of holies

a sacred place that inspires awe
—While many people have seen the kitchen at the restaurant, only I was invited to visit the holy of holies, the special area where the chef creates his secret recipes.

Besides the Ten Commandments, God also gave Moses hundreds more commands and instructions. These included directions on how to build a portable tabernacle for worshipping God. Later, the Israelites built a temple in the capital city of Jerusalem, which became their place of worship. Both the tabernacle and temple included an inner room, called the “Most Holy Place,” the “Most Holy,” and the “Holy of Holies.” This room contained the ark of the Testimony, a box that held, among other things, the tablets with the Ten Commandments:

You are to hang this curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there behind the curtain. The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place [the most holy—KJV]. (Exodus 26:33).

The name Holy of Holies in the Old Testament is a literal translation of a Hebrew phrase. In the Latin translation of the Bible, Holy of Holies is sanctum sanctorum. In modern English, sanctum sanctorum, inner sanctum, and simply sanctum are used to refer to a place where a person can go without fear of being bothered by others.

No one except the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and he could do so only once a year, on the “Day of Atonement.” On this holy day, he offered the blood of animals sacrificed for his own sins and for the sins of the nation.

Moses’ older brother Aaron was the first high priest, and all priests after him were his descendants. When God told Moses the duties of those in the priesthood, he called the priests “sons of Aaron” (Leviticus 21:1), and described the high priest as

The high priest—who is greater than his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured, who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments. (Leviticus 21:10)

The high priest served a special role as mediator between God and man. Today, to say that someone is the “high priest of” something—such as a movement or idea—is to say that he is its leader or chief advocate, as in “the high priest of environmentalism.”

Next Post
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Don’t Just Missionary On [—at A Life Overseas]

    Onward, Christian soldiers. Soldier on, Christians. These don’t mean the same thing, at least not to me. Paul uses the word soldier to describe someone faithfully acting in obedience to God when he exhorts Timothy, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3 NIV). It’s a good thing to be […]

    Sing Along with Me: How Long? [—at A Life Overseas]

    Returning to the States after serving overseas was a hard time for my wife and me. We were grieving our losses and were struggling with the difficulties we’d already faced and those we saw ahead. We prayed and prayed but didn’t receive clear direction from God. In our spiritual malaise it was hard to slide […]