Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The high priest's rope

You've probably heard about the rope the high priest would wear each year when he would enter the Holy of Holies. Well, the whole thing is probably a myth that originated in the Middle Ages and was perpetuated by commentators like John Gill.

Todd Bolen writes,

The notion that the high priest would tie a rope around his ankle before entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) so that his body could be pulled out should he be struck down is not found in any ancient source, including the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, the Apocrypha, the Mishnah, the Babylonian Talmud, or the Jerusalem Talmud.
Still not convinced? You can read the whole thing here.

Oh well, it was a good story, anyway.


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David said...

Interesting. Rabbi Yosef told me that was a myth years ago, but he didn't connect it to the middle ages.

Hey, on the subject of myths: Preaching through Exodus, and I kept using a picture of a famous sculpture of Moses. But as I looked closer, he had horns! Turns out there was an ancient myth that an alternate translation of Moses' face glowing is that he got horns. Go figure.

Stephen Jones said...

Our OT History teacher in college said that Michaelangelo, the sculptor of the famous Moses statue, read from the Latin Vulgate.

When Jerome translated the Hebrew Bible into the Vulgate centuries earlier, he had mistranslated that "Moses' face was horned" (Heb. KeReN) instead of "Moses' face shone" (Heb. KaRaN).

Quite interesting - and funny.