Sights and Insights: A portrait of Yom Kippur at Timna Park

The best-known attraction of Timna Park north of Eilat is called “Solomon’s Pillars.”

By WAYNE STILES
October 3, 2011 05:44
Timna Park

Timna Park. (photo credit: BiblePlaces.com)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Wayne Stiles is an author who has never recovered from his travels in Israel—and loves to write about them from his desk in Texas.

I felt like I had entered a doorway to history.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in the Arava Valley, Timna Park offers visitors an unforgettable visualization of Yom Kippur.

The best-known attraction of Timna Park is called “Solomon’s Pillars,” beautiful Nubian sandstone pillars that have nothing to do with King Solomon. But they’re fun to climb. The park also features relics from Egyptian idol worship as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining. All very fascinating.

Photo: BiblePlaces.comBut perhaps the best part of Timna Park is the least-known exhibit. A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years. Reading the Tabernacle’s dimensions in Exodus 35-40 is so different from seeing them with your own eyes—and in the very wilderness where the Tabernacle stood. 

As I marveled at the realistic replica, I glanced above the back of the Tent of Meeting and imagined the pillar of fire that would have rested over it at night, signifying that the Lord was with his people (Exodus 40:34-38). But to remain with his people, the Tabernacle had to be cleansed every year. That caused me to think of Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—when God forgave the sins of his people.

Click for full Jpost coverage

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


The simple white fabric that flapped in the breeze formed the perimeter of the Tabernacle, and it served as the first of a number of barriers between the Hebrews and the Lord. Today we place barriers between our leaders and the people in order to protect the leader. But the Tabernacle’s barriers stood to protect the people from God. No one ever would come into the presence of a holy God without a sacrifice for sin—because holiness cannot abide sin in its presence. What stood before me reminded me of that fact.

The large, brazen altar was the place where the majority of sacrifices occurred on a daily basis. All sacrifices began with “the burnt offering,” from the Hebrew term olah (Leviticus 1:3). The English word “holocaust” (meaning “burnt whole”) comes from this term. 

Just past the brazen altar stood the bronze laver, the washbowl where the priests would scrub up. Behind it, the tent called “the Holy Place” had dull colors on the outside, but underneath I saw beautiful embroidery of colorful cherubim.

Photo: BiblePlaces.comEntering the Holy Place was something only priests could do, but today, tourists can enter to examine the Tabernacle’s interior. After my eyes adjusted to the dark room, I saw on the right the Table of Showbread with its twelve loaves that represented Israel’s twelve tribes. The menorah on the left offered meager lighting, and the lack of breeze made the room stifling. The Altar of Incense stood in the back before the small room called “The Holy of Holies.”

On Yom Kippur, Aaron the priest would wear humble clothing and offer on the Brazen Altar a bull for himself and for the priests. Leviticus 16 lays out the instructions. He would then cast lots to decide which of two goats would be sacrificed and which would be the “scapegoat,” or the “goat of removal.” Aaron would take a fire pan of coals from the altar and go inside the Holy Place with incense. As he entered the Holy of Holies, smoke from the incense would shield Aaron from the glory of God. Then he would sprinkle the blood of the bull and one of the goats on and in front of the mercy seat—the top of the Ark of the Covenant. The words “mercy seat” come from a Hebrew word related to kippur—“to make atonement.”

Aaron then laid his hands on the head of a goat, and confesses over it all the sins of Israel—symbolically transferring the sins from the nation to one goat. And the goat was carried away to a distant desert. The scapegoat ceremony was seen by all and could be understood by all. It was a powerful visual aid that demonstrated the reality of sin and the need to eliminate it through a sacrifice that took your place.

As I explored the replica of the biblical Tabernacle in Timna Park, it was hard to take it all in. On a designated day a particular man would wear specific clothes and offer certain sacrifices in a particular way for an explicit purpose: The cleansing of the Tabernacle and the forgiveness of the people’s sins. Why? So that God would dwell with them.

Timna Park is a wonderful place to visit. Not many other parks can offer such great lessons in biblical history, in personal holiness, and in the purpose of Yom Kippur.

That’s a bargain for the price of an admission ticket.

What to Do There: Climb “Solomon’s Pillars,” visit the remnants from Egyptian idol worship, and read the signs about ancient copper mining in the area. But don’t miss the Tabernacle model and the informative tour offered. At some point before your tour, read Leviticus 16.

How to Get There: From the Jericho area, travel about 265 km south, turning west at the Bik’at Timna Junction.

Read Wayne’s blog and subscribe to his weekly Podcast at www.waynestiles.com.

Tell us your story

Here at JPost we’re interested to hear which moments defined this past year for you personally, and how they will influence the year ahead.

We want to hear about the changes that impacted your year, whether it be a decision you've made, a personal gain or loss, a family event or a community gathering. Tell us about your experience how it affected you and what you’ve gained from it in order to improve the next year.

Please send in your stories in text, image or video (or any combination of the above mentioned), to  lifestyle@jpost.com. The best story will win a two-night weekend stay at The Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem.

The winner will be chosen by a panel composed of Lifestyle Editor Yoni Cohen, Internet Desk Manager Elana Kirsh and Managing Editor Moshe Raphaely.

Stories must be submitted by Wednesday, October 12, 2011. The winner will be announced the following week on Wednesday October 19.

Selected entries will be published on JPost.com.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

El Al
August 16, 2014
The Travel Adviser: For El Al, mission accomplished

By MARK FELDMAN