A curtain used in the tabernacle of the children of Israel and later the Temple of Solomon to separate the Holy of Holies, resting place of the Ark of tthe Covenant and God's presence within the temple, from the rest of the tabernacle.

Composed of the finest linen and very thick, the veil hung within the holy place in the temple, and divided it from the Holies like so:

-----------------------------------------
| |
| ------------------ |
| | | |
| ------------------ |
| Ark of the Covenant |
| |
|/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\|
| The Veil |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
-----------------------------------------

The veil's purpose was to keep people out of the presence of God, but not as an act of exclusion, but as an act of mercy. We are told that sin can not abide in the presence of God and to go into His presence unclean would cause the person to die. Hence, God had the Ark of the Covenant separated from the rest of the temple or tabernacle by the veil. It served as a constant reminder to the priests as well as the nation of Israel of their sin and how it separated them from fellowship with God. Only one person would pass beyond the veil and that only once a year. The High Priest on the Day of Atonement would go beyond the veil into the presence of God and present a sacrifice for the sins of the nation.

In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 15:38), after the death of Jesus on the cross, the veil within the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The tearing of the veil illustrates the redemptive work of the crucifixion. Humanity was separated from God by their sin in the time before Christ's sacrifice, but with the atonement made by His death, humanity was given open access to the throne and presence of God. The veil no longer served a purpose and was therefore torn in two.

Veil (?), n. [OE. veile, OF. veile, F. voile, L. velum a sail, covering, curtain, veil, probably fr. vehere to bear, carry, and thus originally, that which bears the ship on. See Vehicle, and cf. Reveal.] [Written also vail.]

1.

Something hung up, or spread out, to intercept the view, and hide an object; a cover; a curtain; esp., a screen, usually of gauze, crape, or similar diaphnous material, to hide or protect the face.

The veil of the temple was rent in twain.
Matt. xxvii. 51.

She, as a veil down to the slender waist,
Her unadorn'ed golden tresses wore.
Milton.

2.

A cover; disguise; a mask; a pretense.

[I will] pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming Mistress Page.
Shak.

3. Bot.

  1. The calyptra of mosses.
  2. A membrane connecting the margin of the pileus of a mushroom with the stalk; -- called also velum.

4. Eccl.

A covering for a person or thing; as, a nun's veil; a paten veil; an altar veil.

5. Zool.

Same as Velum, 3.

To take the veil Eccl., to receive or be covered with, a veil, as a nun, in token of retirement from the world; to become a nun.

 

© Webster 1913.


Veil (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Veiled (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Veiling.] [Cf. OF. veler, F. voiler, L. velarc. See Veil, n.] [Written also vail.]

1.

To throw a veil over; to cover with a veil.

Her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined.
Milton.

2.

Fig.: To invest; to cover; to hide; to conceal.

To keep your great pretenses veiled.
Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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