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It will be admitted by all bible students, that a correct understanding of terms used, is necessary, in order to a clear comprehension of any subject. Now that the tabernacle of the wilderness is unfolding so grandly, as a type, or shadow of the true tabernacle, and giving us a better knowledge of God and Christ, and the way to God, it becomes important to understand the terms used in connection with it.
For various reasons, it seems especially important to know the scripture names of the three places in the tabernacle. It is evident that in some passages, the term holy is used for most holy, or referring to both, so that it is necessary to determine the place referred to by the connections; but we think it can be clearly shown that the names are not all used interchangeably.
It seems that there has been a general misunderstanding in regard to the term holy place. It needs only to be stated that words in italics in the scriptures, have been supplied by the translators, and were not in the original. If that is invariably the case, then we think that it can be shown that wherever place is not in italics, the term “holy place” has reference to the court of the tabernacle; and consequently the other two places are called the holy and most holy, or holiest of all; place being in italics, in both old and new testament. So we have “the holy place;” (the court) “the holy,” (beyond the first vail) and “the most holy,” or holiest of all (beyond the second vail). Notice in Exodus, Lev. and Heb. As has been shown, the alter of burnt offering; and the laver for washing, were in the court or holy place. The animals for sacrifice were killed there. And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering in the holy place. Lev. 14:13. And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat; with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it. Lev. 6:16-26.
It will be noticed that place is in the original in these passages, not being in italics; and that the holy place and court are identical. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Thou shalt make a laver of brass, and his foot of brass to wash; and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the alter, and thou shalt put water therein, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat; when they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash, that they die not; or when they come near to the alter to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord. Ex. 30:17-20. Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy; and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled, in the holy place (the court). Lev. 6:27.
These passages make it certain that whoever or whatever was washed in connection with the tabernacle, was washed at the laver, in the holy place; and we have seen that the holy place is the court of the tabernacle; and we found also, in Ex. 30:20, that whoever would enter the holy, must first wash at the laver, that he die not. Now coming to Lev. 16 which gives us a picture of the day of atonement, we find that if the high priest would enter holy or most holy, he must first wash his flesh in water and put on the holy linen garments; then kill the bullock to make atonement for himself and his house; and take his blood in and sprinkle upon and before the mercy seat; then come out and kill the goat, which was to make atonement for the people, and do with his blood as he did with the blood of the bullock; then after making atonement for the holy, and the tabernacle, and the alter; and sending away the scapegoat; Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, (evidently in this passage as in some others—the court) and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy, and leave them there, and shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place (the court). Lev. 16:23-24.
In the face of all these facts, it is persistently claimed by some that Aaron killed the bullock, then stopped on his way to the most holy, and washed his flesh in the holy, and put on the holy garments, and also stopped on his way out to wash etc., in the holy; claiming that the beauty of the type consisted in the washing where no place was provided for that purpose; and notwithstanding it was death to enter the holy before washing. We think the beauty of any explanation of God’s word should consist in adhering to the general teaching of the word. B. W. K.
— January, 1881 —