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Study Resources :: Dictionaries :: Tabernacle

Dictionaries :: Tabernacle

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


(1.) A house or dwelling-place (Job 5:24; 18:6, etc.).

(2.) A portable shrine (Act 19:24) containing the image of Moloch (Amo 5:26; marg. and R.V., "Siccuth").

(3.) The human body (2Cr 5:1,4); a tent, as opposed to a permanent dwelling.

(4.) The sacred tent (Heb. mishkan, "the dwelling-place"); the movable tent-temple which Moses erected for the service of God, according to the "pattern" which God himself showed to him on the mount (Exd 25:9; Hbr 8:5). It is called "the tabernacle of the congregation," rather "of meeting", i.e., where God promised to meet with Israel (Exd 29:42); the "tabernacle of the testimony" (Exd 38:21; Num 1:50), which does not, however, designate the whole structure, but only the enclosure which contained the "ark of the testimony" (Exd 25:16,22; Num 9:15); the "tabernacle of witness" (Num 17:8); the "house of the Lord" (Deu 23:18); the "temple of the Lord" (Jos 6:24); a "sanctuary" (Exd 25:8).

A particular account of the materials which the people provided for the erection and of the building itself is recorded in Ex. 25-40. The execution of the plan mysteriously given to Moses was intrusted to Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were specially endowed with wisdom and artistic skill, probably gained in Egypt, for this purpose (Exd 35:30-35). The people provided materials for the tabernacle so abundantly that Moses was under the necessity of restraining them (36:6). These stores, from which they so liberally contributed for this purpose, must have consisted in a great part of the gifts which the Egyptians so readily bestowed on them on the eve of the Exodus (Exd 12:35,36).

The tabernacle was a rectangular enclosure, in length about 45 feet (i.e., reckoning a cubit at 18 inches) and in breadth and height about 15. Its two sides and its western end were made of boards of acacia wood, placed on end, resting in sockets of brass, the eastern end being left open (Exd 26:22). This framework was covered with four coverings, the first of linen, in which figures of the symbolic cherubim were wrought with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet threads, and probably also with threads of gold (Exd 26:1-6; 36:8-13). Above this was a second covering of twelve curtains of black goats'-hair cloth, reaching down on the outside almost to the ground (Exd 26:7-11). The third covering was of rams' skins dyed red, and the fourth was of badgers' skins (Heb. tahash, i.e., the dugong, a species of seal), Exd 25:5; 26:14; 35:7, 23; 36:19; 39:34.

Internally it was divided by a veil into two chambers, the exterior of which was called the holy place, also "the sanctuary" (Hbr 9:2) and the "first tabernacle" (Hbr 9:6); and the interior, the holy of holies, "the holy place," "the Holiest," the "second tabernacle" (Exd 28:29; Hbr 9:3,7). The veil separating these two chambers was a double curtain of the finest workmanship, which was never passed except by the high priest once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. The holy place was separated from the outer court which enclosed the tabernacle by a curtain, which hung over the six pillars which stood at the east end of the tabernacle, and by which it was entered.

The order as well as the typical character of the services of the tabernacle are recorded in Heb. 9; 10:19-22.

The holy of holies, a cube of 10 cubits, contained the "ark of the testimony", i.e., the oblong chest containing the two tables of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded.

The holy place was the western and larger chamber of the tabernacle. Here were placed the table for the shewbread, the golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense.

Round about the tabernacle was a court, enclosed by curtains hung upon sixty pillars (Exd 27:9-18). This court was 150 feet long and 75 feet broad. Within it were placed the altar of burnt offering, which measured 7 1/2 feet in length and breadth and 4 1/2 feet high, with horns at the four corners, and the laver of brass (Exd 30:18), which stood between the altar and the tabernacle.

The whole tabernacle was completed in seven months. On the first day of the first month of the second year after the Exodus, it was formally set up, and the cloud of the divine presence descended on it (Exd 39:22-43; 40:1-38). It cost 29 talents 730 shekels of gold, 100 talents 1,775 shekels of silver, 70 talents 2,400 shekels of brass (Exd 38:24-31).

The tabernacle was so constructed that it could easily be taken down and conveyed from place to place during the wanderings in the wilderness. The first encampment of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan was at Gilgal, and there the tabernacle remained for seven years (Jos 4:19). It was afterwards removed to Shiloh (Jos 18:1), where it remained during the time of the Judges, till the days of Eli, when the ark, having been carried out into the camp when the Israelites were at war with the Philistines, was taken by the enemy (1Sa 4), and was never afterwards restored to its place in the tabernacle. The old tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness was transferred to Nob (1Sa 21:1), and after the destruction of that city by Saul (1Sa 22:9; 1Ch 16:39,40), to Gibeon. It is mentioned for the last time in 1Ch 21:29. A new tabernacle was erected by David at Jerusalem (2Sa 6:17; 1Ch 16:1), and the ark was brought from Perez-uzzah and deposited in it (2Sa 6:8-17; 2Ch 1:4).

The word thus rendered ('ohel) in Exd 33:7 denotes simply a tent, probably Moses' own tent, for the tabernacle was not yet erected.

King James Dictionary

Tabernacle: A Tent, Booth or Dwelling.

Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his TABERNACLE, and his candle shall be put out with him. (Job 18:5-6)

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Tabernacle: Moses was commanded to make after a divine pattern

Exd 25:9; 26:30; Hbr 8:5

Tabernacle: Made of the Free-Will Offerings of the People

Exd 25:1-8; 35:4,5,21-29

Tabernacle: Divine Wisdom Given to Bezaleel to Make

Exd 31:2-7; 35:30-35; 36:1

Tabernacle: Called The

Tabernacle of the Lord

Jos 22:19; 1Ki 2:28; 1Ch 16:39

Tabernacle of testimony or witness

Exd 38:21; Num 1:50; 17:7,8; 2Ch 24:6; Act 7:44

Tabernacle of the congregation

Exd 27:21; 33:7; 40:26

Tabernacle of Shiloh

Psa 78:60

Tabernacle of Joseph

Psa 78:67

Temple of the Lord

1Sa 1:9; 3:3

House of the Lord

Jos 6:24; 1Sa 1:7,24

Tabernacle: Was a moveable tent suited to the unsettled condition of

2Sa 7:6,7

Tabernacle: Designed for manifestation of God's presence and for his

Exd 25:8; 29:42,43

Tabernacle: The Boards Of

Made of shittim wood

Exd 26:15; 36:20

Ten cubits high by one and a half broad

Exd 26:16; 36:21

Had each two tenons fitted into sockets of silver

Exd 26:17,19; 36:22-24

Twenty on south side

Exd 26:18; 36:23

Twenty on north side

Exd 26:20; 36:25

Six, and two corner boards for west side

Exd 26:22-25; 36:27-30

Supported by bars of shittim wood resting in rings of gold

Exd 26:26-29; 36:31-33

With the bars, covered with gold

Exd 26:26-29; 36:34

Tabernacle: The door of, a curtain of blue and purple suspended by gold

Exd 26:36,37; 36:37,38

Tabernacle: Coverings Of

The first or inner, ten curtains of blue, purple, &c joined with loops and golden taches

Exd 26:1-6; 36:8-13

The second, eleven curtains of goats' hair

Exd 26:7-13; 36:14-18

The third of rams' skins dyed red

Exd 26:14; 36:19

The fourth or outward of badgers' skins

Exd 26:14; 36:19

Tabernacle: Divided by a Vail of Blue, Purple, Suspended From

Exd 26:31-33; 36:35,36; 40:21

Tabernacle: Divided Into

The holy place

Exd 26:33; Hbr 9:2-6

The most holy place

Exd 26:34; Hbr 9:3,7

Tabernacle: Had a Court round About

Exd 40:8

Tabernacle: The table of show-bread, the golden candlestick, and the

Exd 26:35; 40:22,24,26; Hbr 9:2

Tabernacle: The Ark and Mercy-Seat Put in the Most Holy Place

Exd 26:33,34; 40:20,21; Hbr 9:4

Tabernacle: Court Of

One hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide

Exd 27:18

Surrounded by curtains of fine line suspended from pillars in sockets of brass

Exd 27:9-15; 38:9-16

The gate of, a hanging of blue, purple, &c twenty cubits wide, suspended from four pillars, &c

Exd 27:16; 38:18

Contained the brazen altar and laver of brass

Exd 40:29,30

All the pillars of, filleted with silver, &c

Exd 27:17; 38:17

All the vessels of, made of brass

Exd 27:19

Tabernacle: First Reared, on the First Day of the Second Year

Exd 40:2,17

Tabernacle: Was Set Up

By Moses at Mount Sinai

Exd 40:18,19; Num 10:11,12

At Gilgal

Jos 5:10,11

In Shiloh

Jos 18:1; 19:51

In Nob

1Sa 21:1-6

Finally at Gibeon

1Ch 16:39; 21:29

Tabernacle: Anointed and Consecrated with Oil

Exd 40:9; Lev 8:10; Num 7:1

Tabernacle: Sprinkled and Purified with Blood

Hbr 9:21

Tabernacle: Sanctified by the Glory of the Lord

Exd 29:43; 40:34; Num 9:15

Tabernacle: The Lord Appeared In, over the Mercy-Seat

Exd 25:22; Lev 16:2; Num 7:89

Tabernacle: The cloud of glory rested on, by night and day during its

Exd 40:38; Num 9:15,16

Tabernacle: The Journeys of Israel Regulated by the Cloud On

Exd 40:36,37

Tabernacle: The Priests

Alone could enter

Num 18:3,5

Performed all services in

Num 3:10; 18:1,2; Hbr 9:6

Were the ministers of

Hbr 8:2

Tabernacle: The Levites

Appointed over, and had charge of

Num 1:50; 8:24; 18:2-4

Did the inferior service of

Num 3:6-8

Took down, and put up

Num 1:51


Num 4:15,25,31

Pitched their tents around

Num 1:53; 3:23,29,35

Tabernacle: Free-Will Offerings Made at the First Rearing Of

Num 7:1-9

Tabernacle: Free-Will Offerings Made at the Dedication of The

Num 7:10-87

Tabernacle: All Offerings to Be Made At

Lev 17:4; Deu 12:5,6,11,13,14

Tabernacle: Punishment for Defiling

Lev 15:31; Num 19:13

Tabernacle: A permanent house substituted for, when the kingdom was

2Sa 7:5-13

Tabernacle: Illustrative

Of Christ

Isa 4:6; Jhn 1:14; Hbr 9:8,9,11

Of the Church

Psa 15:1; Isa 16:5; 54:2; Hbr 8:2; Rev 21:2,3

Of the body

2Cr 5:1; 2Pe 1:13

(The holy of holies,) of heaven

Hbr 6:19,20; 9:12,24; 10:19

(The vail,) of Christ's body

Hbr 10:20

(The vail,) of the obscurity of the Mosaic age

Hbr 9:8,10; Rom 16:25,26; Rev 11:19

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g4633 Greek: skene


"a tent, booth, tabernacle," is used of

(a) tents as dwellings, Mat 17:4; Mar 9:5; Luk 9:33; Hbr 11:9, AV, "tabernacles" (RV, "tents");

(b) the Mosaic tabernacle, Act 7:44; Hbr 8:5; 9:1 (in some mss.); 9:8, 21, termed "the tent of meeting," RV (i.e., where the people were called to meet God), a preferable description to "the tabernacle of the congregation," as in the AV in the OT; the outer part, Hbr 9:2,6; the inner sanctuary, Hbr 9:3;

(c) the heavenly prototype, Hbr 8:2; 9:11; Rev 13:6; 15:5; 21:3 (of its future descent);

(d) the eternal abodes of the saints, Luk 16:9, RV, "tabernacles" (AV, "habitations");

(e) the Temple in Jerusalem, as continuing the service of the tabernacle, Hbr 13:10;

(f) the house of David, i.e., metaphorically of his people, Act 15:16;

(g) the portable shrine of the god Moloch, Act 7:43.

2 Strong's Number: g4636 Greek: skenos


the equivalent of No. 1, is used metaphorically of the body as the "tabernacle" of the soul, 2Cr 5:1, 4.

3 Strong's Number: g4638 Greek: skenoma


occurs in Act 7:46; 2Pe 1:13, 14; see HABITATION, No. 6.

4 Strong's Number: g4634 Greek: skenopegia


properly "the setting up of tents or dwellings" (No. 1, and pegnumi, "to fix"), represents the word "tabernacles" in "the feast of tabernacles," Jhn 7:2. This feast, one of the three Pilgrimage Feasts in Israel, is called "the feast of ingathering" in Exd 23:16; 34:22; it took place at the end of the year, and all males were to attend at the "tabernacle" with their offerings. In Lev 23:34; Deu 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2Ch 8:13; Ezr 3:4 (cp. Neh 8:14-18), it is called "the feast of tabernacles" (or "booths," sukkoth), and was appointed for seven days at Jerusalem from the 15th to the 22nd Tishri (approximately October), to remind the people that their fathers dwelt in these in the wilderness journeys. Cp. Num 29:15-38, especially Num 29:35-38, for the regulations of the eighth or "last day, the great day of the feast" (Jhn 7:37).

Note: For skenoo, "to spread a tabernacle over," Rev 7:15, RV, see DWELL, No. 9.

Smith's Bible Dictionary


The tabernacle was the tent of Jehovah, called by the same name as the tents of the people in the midst of which it stood. It was also called the sanctuary and the tabernacle of the congregation. The first ordinance given to Moses, after the proclamation of the outline of the law from Sinai, related to the ordering of the tabernacle, its furniture and its service as the type which was to be followed when the people came to their own home and "found a place" for the abode of God. During the forty days of Moses' first retirement with God in Sinai, an exact pattern of the whole was shown him, and all was made according to it (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30; 39:32, 42, 43; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5). The description of this plan is preceded by an account of the freewill offerings which the children of Israel were to be asked to make for its execution.


(1.) Its name.-It was first called a tent or dwelling (Exodus 25:8) because Jehovah as it were, abode there. It was often called tent or tabernacle from its external appearance.

(2.) Its materials.-The materials were-

(a). Metals: gold, silver and brass.

(b). Textile fabrics: blue, purple, scarlet and fine (white) linen, for the production of which Egypt was celebrated; also a fabric of goat's hair, the produce of their own flocks.

(c). Skins: of the ram, dyed red, and of the badger.

(d). Wood, the Shittim wood, the timber of the wild acacia of the desert itself, the tree of the "burning bush."

(e). Oil, spices and incense for anointing the priests and burning in the tabernacle.

(f). Gems: onyx stones and the precious stones for the breastplate of the high priest.

The people gave Jewels, and plates of gold and silver and brass; wood, skins, hair and linen; the women wove; the rulers offered precious stones, oil, spices and incense; and the artists soon had more than they needed (Exodus 25:1-8; 35:4-29; 36:5-7). The superintendence of the work was entrusted to Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, and to Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, who were skilled in "all manner of workmanship." (Exodus 31:2, 6; 35:30, 34).

(3.) Its structure.-The tabernacle was to comprise three main parts,-the tabernacle more strictly so called, its tent and its covering (Exodus 35:11; 39:33-34; 40:19; 40:34; Numbers 3:25 etc.). These parts are very clearly distinguished in the Hebrew, but they are confounded in many places of the English version. The tabernacle itself was to consist of curtains of fine linen woven with colored figures of cherubim, and a structure of boards which was to contain the holy place and the most holy place; the tent was to be a true tent of goat's hair cloth, to contain and shelter the tabernacle; the covering was to be of red ram‐skins and seal‐skins (Exodus 25:5) and was spread over the goat's hair tent as an additional protection against the weather. It was an oblong rectangular structure, 30 cubits in length by 10 in width (45 feet by 15) and 10 in height; the interior being divided into two chambers, the first or outer, of 20 cubits in length, the inner, of 10 cubits, and consequently and exact cube. The former was the holy place, or first tabernacle (Hebrews 9:2) containing the golden candlestick on one side, the table of shew‐bread opposite, and between them in the centre the altar of incense. The latter was the most holy place, or the holy of holies, containing the ark, surmounted by the cherubim, with the two tables inside. The two sides and the farther or west end were enclosed by boards of Shittim wood overlaid with gold, twenty on the north and twenty on the south side, six on the west side, and the corner‐boards doubled. They stood upright, edge to edge, their lower ends being made with tenons, which dropped into sockets of silver, and the corner‐boards being coupled at the tope with rings. They were furnished with golden rings, through which passed bars of Shittim wood, overlaid with gold, five to each side, and the middle bar passing from end to end, so as to brace the whole together. Four successive coverings of curtains looped together were placed over the open top and fell down over the sides. The first or inmost was a splendid fabric of linen, embroidered with figures of cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet, and looped together by golden fastenings. It seems probable that the ends of this set of curtains hung down within the tabernacle, forming a sumptuous tapestry. The second was a covering of goats' hair; the third, of ram‐skins dyed red and the outermost, of badger‐skins (so called in our version; but the Hebrew word probably signifies seal‐skins.) It has been commonly supposed that these coverings were thrown over the wall, as a pall is thrown over a coffin; but this would have allowed every drop of rain that fell on the tabernacle to fall through; for, however tightly the curtains might be stretched, the water could never run over the edge, and the sheep‐skins would only make the matter worse as when wetted their weight would depress the centre and probably tear any curtain that could be made. There can be no reasonable doubt that the tent had a ridge, as all tents have had from the days of Moses down to the present time. The front of the sanctuary was closed by a hanging of fine linen, embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet, and supported by golden hooks on five pillars of Shittim wood overlaid with gold and standing in brass sockets; and the covering of goat's hair was so made as to fall down over this when required. A more sumptuous curtain of the same kind, embroidered with cherubim hung on four such pillars, with silver sockets, divided the holy from the most holy place. It was called the veil, (Sometimes the second veil, either is reference to the first, at the entrance of the holy place, or as below the vail of the second sanctuary;). (Hebrews 9:3) as it hid from the eyes of all but the high priest the inmost sanctuary, where Jehovah dwells on his mercy‐seat, between the cherubim above the ark. Hence "to enter within the veil" is to have the closest access to God. It was only passed by the high priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement in token of the mediation of Christ, who with his own blood hath entered for us within the veil which separates God's own abode from earth (Hebrews 6:19). In the temple, the solemn barrier was at length profaned by a Roman conqueror, to warn the Jews that the privileges they had forfeited were "ready to vanish away;" and the veil was at last rent by the hand of God himself, at the same moment that the body of Christ was rent upon the cross, to indicate that the entrance into the holiest of all is now laid open to all believers by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." (Hebrews 10:19-20). The holy place was only entered by the priests daily, to offer incense at the time of morning and evening prayer, and to renew the lights on the golden candlesticks; and on the sabbath, to remove the old shew‐bread, and to place the new upon the table.

II. THE SACRED FURNITURE AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE TABERNACLE.-These are described in separate articles, and therefore it is only necessary to give a list of them here.

(4.) In the outer court. The altar of burnt offering and the brazen laver. SEE [ALTAR], [LAVER].

(5.) In the holy place. The furniture of the court was connected with sacrifice; that of the sanctuary itself with the deeper mysteries of mediation and access to God. The first sanctuary contained three objects: the altar of incense in the centre, so as to be directly in front of the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 6:22) the table of shew‐bread on its right or north side, and the golden candlestick on the left or south side. These objects were all considered as being placed before the presence of Jehovah, who dwelt in the holiest of all, though with the veil between. SEE [ALTAR], [SHEWBREAD], [CANDLESTICK].

(6.) In the holy of holies, within the veil, and shrouded in darkness, there was but one object, the ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of stone, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. SEE [ARK OF THE COVENANT].

III. THE COURT OF THE TABERNACLE, in which the tabernacle itself stood, was an oblong space, 100 cubits by 50 (i.e. 150 feet by 75) having its longer axis east and west, with its front to the east. It was surrounded by canvas screens- in the East called kannauts-5 cubits in height, and supported by pillars of brass 5 cubits apart, to which the curtains were attached by hooks and filets of silver (Exodus 27:9 etc.). This enclosure was broken only on the east side by the entrance, which was 20 cubits wide, and closed by curtains of fine twined linen wrought with needlework and of the most gorgeous colors. In the outer or east half of the court was placed the altar of burnt offering, and between it and the tabernacle itself; the laver at which the priests washed their hands and feet on entering the temple. The tabernacle itself was placed toward the west end of this enclosure.

IV. HISTORY.-"The tabernacle, as the place in which Jehovah dwelt, was pitched in the centre of the camp (Numbers 2:2) as the tent of a leader always is in the East; for Jehovah was the Captain of Israel (Joshua 5:14-15). During the marches of Israel, the tabernacle was still in the centre (Numbers 2:1). … The tribes camped and marched around it in the order of a hollow square. In certain great emergencies led the march (Joshua 3:11-16). Upon the tabernacle, abode always the cloud, dark by day and fiery red by night (Exodus 13:21) giving the signal for the march (Exodus 40:36-37; Numbers 9:17) and the halt (Numbers 9:15-23). It was always the special meeting‐place of Jehovah and his people (Numbers 11:24, 25; 12:4; 14:10; 16:19, 42; 20:6; 27:2; 31:14). "During the conquest of Canaan the tabernacle at first moved from place to place (Joshua 4:19; 8:30-35; 9:6; 10:15) was finally located at Shiloh (Joshua 9:27; 18:1). Here it remained during the time of the judges, till it was captured by the Philistines, who carried off the sacred ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:22). From this time forward the glory of the tabernacle was gone. When the ark was recovered, it was removed to Jerusalem, and placed in a new tabernacle (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1) but the old structure still had its hold on the veneration of the community and the old altar still received their offerings (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29). It was not till the temple was built, and a fitting house thus prepared for the Lord, that the ancient tabernacle was allowed to perish and be forgotten.

V. SIGNIFICANCE.-(The great underlying principles of true religion are the same in all ages and for all men; because man's nature and needs are the same, and the same God ever rules over all. But different ages require different methods of teaching these truths, and can understand them in different degrees. As we are taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the tabernacle was part of a great system of teaching by object‐lessons, and of training the world to understand and receive the great truths which were to be revealed in Jesus Christ and thus really to save the Jews from sin by Jesus dimly seen in the future, as we clearly see him in the past.

(1). The tabernacle and its services enabled the Jews, who had no visible representation of God, to feel the reality of God and of religion.

(2). The tabernacle as the most beautiful and costly object in the nation and ever in the centre of the camp, set forth the truth that religion was the central fact and the most important, in a persons life.

(3). The pillar of cloud and of fire was the best possible symbol of the living God,-a cloud, bright, glowing like the sunset clouds, glorious, beautiful, mysterious, self‐poised, heavenly; fire, immaterial, the source of life and light and comfort and cheer, but yet unapproachable, terrible, a consuming fire to the wicked.

(4). The altar of burnt offering, standing before the tabernacle was a perpetual symbol of the atonement,-the greatness of sin, deserving death, hard to be removed and yet forgiveness possible, and offered freely, but only through blood.

(5). The offerings, as brought by the people were a type of consecration to God, of conversion and new life, through the atonement.

(6). This altar stood outside of the tabernacle, and must be passed before we come to the tabernacle itself; a type of the true religious life.

(7). Before the tabernacle was also the laver, signifying the same thing that baptism does with us, the cleansing of the heart and life.

(8). Having entered the holy place, we find the three great means and helps to true living,-the candlestick, the light of God's truth; the shew‐bread, teaching that the soul must have its spiritual food and live in communion with God; and the altar of incense, the symbol of prayer. The holy of holies, beyond, taught that there was progress in the religious life, and that progress was toward God, and toward the perfect keeping of the law till it was as natural to obey the law as it is to breathe; and thus the holy of holies was the type of heaven.-ED.)

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