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Holman Bible Dictionary

Mercy Seat

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A slab of pure gold measuring about 45 inches by 27 inches which sat atop the ark of the covenant which was the same size. It was the base for the golden cherubim (Exodus 25:17-19 ,Exodus 25:17-19,25:21 ) and symbolized the throne from which God ruled Israel (Leviticus 16:2 ; Numbers 7:89 ). On the Day of Atonement the high priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the mercy seat as a plea for forgiveness for the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16:15 ). The Hebrew word means literally “to wipe out” or “cover over.” This has led modern translators to render the term “cover” (REB, NRSV note), “lid” (TEV), or “atonement cover” (NIV). “Mercy seat” is based on the earliest Greek and Latin translations. The mercy seat has been replaced as the symbol and place of God's presence and atonement. Christ's cross and resurrection showed the perfect presence and accomplished atonement once for all (Hebrews 9:1 ).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Mercy Seat'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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