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Subject: Size of the Temple Veil
What were the dimensions of the Temple Veil that was torn when Jesus died on the cross?
Mark 15:37-39 says, “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.”
It is said that Herod’s Temple was built to the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple (http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14304-temple-of-herod). If that is true, then the following are the dimensions of the Temple that Herod built.
1 Kings 6:19-20 says, “And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD. And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.”
The word “oracle” is defined as “the innermost part of the sanctuary” (Strong’s Concordance, H-1687). That is referring to the Holy of Holies.
A cubit is 18 inches or a foot and a half. So the Holy of Holies was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high. This means that the veil was 30 feet long.
Now, as to the height of the veil, it would have to have been 30 feet high to totally block off the view of the Holy of Holies. It seems like that would have been the case, because no one but the High Priest was allowed to go in there, and then, just once a year. Hebrews 9:2-8 says, “For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”
That statement says, “the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest...” The word “manifest” means, “to render apparent, to appear, to shew” (Strong’s Concordance, G-5319). That would certainly fit in with the Holy of Holies being totally blocked from anyone’s view, except that of the High Priest.
Secondly, the veil would have had to have been very high just to block the view of the cherubim inside, because each of the two cherubim in there stood 15 feet tall. 1 Kings 6:23 says, “And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.” Ten cubits equals 15 feet. Then, together, their wings stretched out 30 feet—each touching one another with one of their wings, and each touching the side walls with their other wing. So a veil would have to have been over 15 feet high to block the view of the cherubims inside the Holy of Holies. 1 Kings 6:23-27 says, “And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high. And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size. The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.” Each cherub was huge, standing 15 feet high, and spreading out with a 15 foot wingspan.
Thirdly, the veil had to be high, because the glory of the Lord abode above the mercy seat in a cloud. Leviticus 16:2 says, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” So the veil was probably the full 30 feet high.
What about the thickness? The Bible does not tell us how thick it was. Many people have written saying that the veil was an handbreadth thick (4 inches)—others have speculated that two horses could not have pulled it in two. All of that is pure speculation—supposedly to make the miracle of it being ripped in two at Jesus’ death more spectacular. Mark 15:37-39 says, “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.”
The veil was obviously thick enough to obstruct anyone from seeing into the Holy of Holies, so it would have been hard to rip, whatever thickness it was. But rather than emphasizing the miracle of it being rent because of its “thickness,” the Bible draws our attention to the “height” of the veil. “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” That was a long ways up there (30’), and then all the way down to the bottom (floor level). No man has a reach that great, or the strength. It had to have been someone much higher and greater than man to rip it in two. And we know who that “Someone” is. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest 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.”
Remember Isaiah’s vision? Isaiah 6:1-5 says, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Where did Isaiah see God in the Temple? High and lifted up. That is where God appeared in the Temple above the mercy seat, "high and lifted up." That is why that veil was so high. Yes, Jesus is the One that is “high and lifted up” in His Temple. He is the One that rent that veil from the top... all the way down to the bottom.
Is He really high and lifted up in our lives? The contemporary church has made up a long-haired, tattooed, body-pierced, rock-n-roll, alcoholic-wine drinking Jesus. They are in for a rude awakening when they stand before the real Jesus one day! Matthew 7:21-23 21 says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
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