The Holy Place at Herod's Temple

The Holy Place

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At its west side stood the sanctuary proper, comprising (from east to west) the porch, the holy place, and the cubical holy of holies. Into the holy place the priests entered to discharge various duties, in particular to offer incense on the golden-incense altar, as Zechariah did on the occasion when an angel appeared to him and announced the forth coming birth of his son John the Baptist (Luke 1:8-23). No ordinary priest could hope that the lot for offering the incense would fall to him on more than one day in his lifetime (if that); the day when Zechariah received the angelic announcement was in any case the red-letter day of his whole priestly career.

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The above image is a photo of a model of the Second Temple based on the reconstruction made by Professor Avi-Yonah, and is now in Jerusalem.

Inside the Holy Place there was the Porch, the Hall and the Holy of Holies, just as in Solomonís Temple. The back wall of the porch was overlaid with gold and a golden lamp was hung on it. In the center of the facade (face) was the main entrance, over the top was hung a golden bunch of grapes.

The Porch

The only two pieces of furniture in the porch were the two tables, one of gold and the other of marble, on which the showbread was placed. This entrance was covered by a veil.

The Hall

In the Hall stood the Golden Altar, the Golden Table for the showbread, on which were two frankincense cups and the Golden Lampstand.

The Veil

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.   

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