An annual conversation with God
The Temple in Jerusalem was organized according to a three-part floor plan: a courtyard, a main hall, and the Holy of Holies. This innermost room contained the Ark of the Covenant, a golden coffer that held the two stone tablets of the Law. The Hebrew word used by the Torah to refer to the Holy of Holies is dvir. This word comes from the root דבר DBR which means “to speak”. It is here that the high priest spoke directly to God. This happened once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. What exactly did this conversation involve?
The power of the Hebrew word
The golden cover over the Ark of the Covenant was called in Hebrew כפרת kaporet (Ex. 25:17) which comes from the same root KPR, which gives us the word kippur, meaning “atonement.” Once the high priest was inside the Holy of Holies, he would light incense to create a cloud that blocked his view of God’s divine presence. Then he would speak words of prayer before the kaporet and sprinkle sacrificial blood upon it (Lev. 16:11-14).
Pure biblical meaning
By purging the inner sanctum of any impurity once a year, the high priest ensured that the people of Israel had received atonement. This had to be done by speaking the words of God at the closest and most sacred place – the place that kept the Torah. Reading the Bible in the original Hebrew is a guaranteed way to deepen your relationship with God. Enroll in our Biblical Hebrew course and free yourself from the barriers of translation!