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TitleHoly of Holies
Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsCahoon, Lyle
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsHoly of Holies; Temple Worship
Citation Key9441

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Holy of Holies

Author: Cahoon, Lyle

In ancient times, through divine instruction to Moses, the Holy of Holies was made the center of the tabernacle (Ex. 25-27). It was a fifteen-foot cube formed by hanging veils made of goat hair, ram skins, and other dyed skins. Some were embroidered with figures of cherubim in blue, purple, and scarlet. The Holy of Holies was designated as the repository for a chest called the ark of the covenant. This chest, constructed of gold-plated acacia wood, was the place of the stone tablets inscribed by the hand of God, and the resting place for the mercy seat. Fashioned in one piece of fine gold, this seat, with cherubim engraven above it, formed the visible throne for the presence of God. Once a year, on the day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled sacrificial blood over the mercy seat as expiation for Israel's sins. Though the ark has disappeared, this ritual was continued in the temples of Zerubbabel and Herod.

A latter-day Holy of Holies has been dedicated in the great temple in Salt Lake City. It is a central chamber adjoining the celestial room. Beyond its sliding doors are six steps to similar doors, symbolic of the veil that guarded the Holy of Holies in ancient times. The sanctuary is of circular design with a domed ceiling. The appointments include inlaid wood, gold leaf, stained glass, and unique lighting. The presiding high priest, the President of the Church, controls access to this sanctuary.


Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 15, cols. 681-82, 748-49. Jerusalem, 1971.

Talmage, James E. House of the Lord, pp. 162-63. Salt Lake City, 1974.