The Biblical understanding of holy places and things

The Biblical understanding of holy places and things

By Dave Armstrong/

“Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem.” (CCC 583)
Dave Armstrong

The “holy place” is a thoroughly biblical notion. Jerusalem was and is a holy city:

Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, (cf. Neh 11:1, 18; Is 48:2)

Matthew 27:53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

The temple in Jerusalem (destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70) was a particularly holy place:

1 Chronicles 29:3 Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God:

Psalm 5:7 But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee. (cf. 138:2)

Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (cf. Mt 21:13; Mk 11:17; Lk 19:46)

The inner sanctum of the temple, called the Holy of Holies (Lev 16), was the ultimate holy place in the world, and in Judaism. Originally the wooden, treasure chest-like ark of the covenant was in the Holy of Holies, and God was thought to be present there in a very special way, on what was called the mercy seat, in between two carved cherubim:

Exodus 25:21-22 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. [22] There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

It was so holy it could not be touched, and hence it was transported with poles that ran through rings on its side (Ex 25:13-15). In fact, on one occasion, when it was about to fall over while being moved, after the oxen stumbled, one Uzziah merely reached out to steady it and was immediately struck dead:

2 Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 09:21
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