The Priestly Blessing

Morning and Evening a solitary priest, white-robed and barefoot, chosen by lot, crossed the threshold and stepped into The Sanctuary. With slow, measured tread he made his way through the dimly lit chamber and approached the tremendous tapestry suspended at the rear. Behind the dark, massive veil breathed the brooding presence of God, heavy and weighted, hovering still and silent between the overspreading wings of golden seraphim, watchful eyes guarding the sacred Ark. Inside rested the Tables of Testimony where the Most High had signed with His own hand the Covenant He made with His people.

In front of the veil stood a slim golden altar, and on top of the altar, between the four horns of the corners, hot coals glowed brightly. Slowly the priest sprinkled an offering of incense, costly and fragrant, a sweet savour to the Lord, the smoke rising in a cloud with the prayers of the whole congregation gathered in the courts below, silent, worshipping, waiting.

His offering now completed, the priest slowly and reverently bows away from the Presence and only turns his back once he has passed out of the Sanctuary and stands once more on the porch outside. From his vantage point he faces the people assembled in the courts below, and joining hands with his attending priests, he pronounces the priestly blessing with which the people were sanctified morning and evening, day after day, year in and year out for generations …


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