Second Temple: The Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies in Herod's Temple was located at the western end of the Holy Place between a thick veil. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, once per year on the Day of Atonement
The Hekhal and the Debhir of Herod's Temple ISBE
Internally, the temple was divided, as before, into a holy place (hekhal) and a most holy (debhir)--the former measuring, as in Solomon's Temple, 40 cubits (60 ft.) in length, and 20 cubits (30 ft.) in breadth; the height, however, was double that of the older Temple--60 cubits (90 ft.; thus Keil, etc., following Josephus, BJ, V, v, 5). Mid., iv.6, makes the height only 40 cubits; A. R. S. Kennedy and G. A. Smith make the debhir a cube--20 cubits in height only. In the space that remained above the holy places, upper rooms (40 cubits) were erected. The holy place was separated from the holiest by a partition one cubit in thickness, before which hung an embroidered curtain or "veil"--that which was rent at the death of Jesus (Mt 27:51 and parallel's; Mid., iv.7, makes two veils, with a space of a cubit between them). The Holy of Holies was empty; only a stone stood, as in the temple of Zerubbabel, on which the high priest placed his censer on the Day of Atonement (Mishna, Yoma', v.2). In the holy place were the altar of incense, the table of shewbread (North), and the seven-branched golden candlestick (South). Representations of the two latter are seen in the carvings on the Arch of Titus (see SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF; CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN). The spacious entrance to the holy place had folding doors, before which hung a richly variegated Babylonian curtain. Above the entrance was a golden vine with clusters as large as a man (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, 4).
The Holy of Holies in Herod's Temple
A double veil separated the Hall from the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could access, once per year on the Day of Atonement. There was no furniture at all in the Holy of Holies. The High Priest entered on the Day of Atonement in the autumn, when he presented sacrificial blood to expiate his own sins and those of the nation, which he represented (Leviticus 16:1-34). The Holy Place was the first part of the Temple that was reconstructed. The white "mezzah" stone was used, it was finely cut and polished. The former building was removed all the way to the bedrock and new foundation stones were laid. 150 feet long, 150 feet wide at the porch, 90 feet back of the porch for the Holy Place (Jos 5.5.4)
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