Was the high priest tied with a rope before going into the most holy place?

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Some believe that the high priest was tied with a rope when he went into the most holy place. So, if he was found guilty and died, he would be pulled out since no one else was allowed there.

But this is only a legend according to Dr. W. E. Nunnally, Associate Professor of Early Judaism and Christian Origins at Central Bible College, and also Adjunct Professor of Hebrew at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary:

“The rope on the high priest legend is just that. It has obscure beginnings in the Middle Ages and keeps getting repeated. It cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Pseudepigrahpha, the Talmud, Mishna, orany other Jewish source. It is just not there.”

So, what did the High priest do in the most holy place?

On the great Day of Atonement which took place once a year, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. On that Day of Atonement two kids of goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle, and lots were cast upon them, “one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat” (Leviticus 16:8).

The goat upon which the first lot fell was to be slain as a sin offering for the people. And the priest was to bring his blood within the veil, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat above the tables of the law (Leviticus 16:16). Thus, the claims of the law, which demanded the life of the sinner, were satisfied.

Then as a mediator, the priest took the sins upon himself, and, leaving the sanctuary, he bore with him the burden of Israel’s guilt. And at the door of the tabernacle, he laid his hands upon the head of the scapegoat and confessed over him (Leviticus 16:21,22). And as the goat bearing these sins was sent away, the sins were forever separated from the people. Today, Jesus serves as both the sacrifice for our sins and as our heavenly High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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