Inner man, Inner sanctuary

Inner man, Inner sanctuary June 2, 2014

Mary Douglas (Leviticus as Literature) explains the connections between the qereb, the inner parts of the animal, and the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle:

“The Bible locates the emotions and thought in the innermost parts of the body; the loins are wrung with remorse or grief; the innermost part is scrutinized by God; compassion resides in the bowels. The psalmist said: ‘Truth is in the inward being’ (Psalm 74: 8). The same interiorizing movement is seen in the space of the body as in the space of the tabernacle building. The temple was associated with the creation, and the creation with fertility, which implies that the innermost part of the tabernacle was a divine nuptial chamber. Even from complete ignorance of mysticism, the analogy of the inner sanctuary with the centre of creation is intelligible. It was fitting that the sanctuary was interpreted as depicting ‘in a most tangible form the union between God and Israel’” (80; the quotation from Patai, Man and Temple, 91).

The tabernacle is thus the basis for nuptial mysticism, such as that of the Song of Songs.

Beyond that, we can note the verbal links between qereb and the nouns (qorban) and verb (qarab) for offering that dominate the opening verses of Leviticus. A qorban is brought near – qarab – and, in every offering beside the ‘olah, the appropriate qorban is the qereb, the inner parts. Those animal parts that are most interior to the animal, representing what is most interior to the human heart, are turned to smoke to draw nearest to Yahweh. 

From His innermost sanctuary, Yahweh longs to have the inner man: “Draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”


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