(KJV) Leviticus 16:14

14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.

Since the blood is said to be sprinkled eastward,did it touch the mercy seat?

  • 2
    Yes, it did. Please compare more recent translations, as your dependence on KJV sometimes gives rise to misunderstandings like this one. There is no "interpretation" or "hermeneutics" required.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 11:55
  • 1
    @Dɑvïd where does your conviction come from? If the blood was sprinkled, not smeared, it is conceivable that it didn't touch the mercy seat! The word "upon" is misleading since right after that it says to sprinkle "before" the mercy seat; obviously he didn't sprinkle above/upon the seat, rather he stood behind the seat and sprinkled towards it.
    – bach
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 19:12
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    Yeah right! according to the Babylonian Talmud it never touched the mercy seat (Yuma 55a). And in the Palestinian Talmud (ibid) the Rabbis argue whether it needs to touch. Similarly the blood need not touch the curtain but if it did that's ok. In Yuma 57a Elazar ben Yosei testifies that he saw that the curtain in Rome and it was full of blood droplets. Apparently some of the droplets landed on the curtain (and possibly the mercy seat too).
    – bach
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 13:21
  • 2
    I agree with you 100 percent. I don't know why it was downvoted, i was actually gonna post an answer, but i was disappointed when i saw that it was closed. I even challenged @david as you can see but he wouldn't answer my question!
    – bach
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 0:51
  • 2
    How is this question unclear? It might have a simple answer, but it's clear what is being asked.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


Great question! Indeed the verse does not tell us whether the blood actually touched the mercy seat. But in Rabbinical sources we may find the answer to your question.

According to the Babylonian Talmud (Yuma 55a, as explained by Rashi) the blood never touched the mercy seat, it was just sprinkled in the direction of the mercy seat. Similarly the blood need not touch the veil, but if it did there is no harm done. However, in the Palestinian Talmud (ibid 5:4) we find an argument between the Rabbis whether it needs to touch the seat, and according to Zeirah (זעירה) it is a biblical requirement that the blood actually touch the mercy seat.

Keep in mind that though there was no requirement that there should be contact between the blood and the mercy seat/veil, since the priest stood right next to it and sprinkled in it's direction it is reasonable to assume that, in a lot of cases, there was contact between them. Indeed in Yuma (57a) we find testimony of Elazar ben Yosei that he saw that the veil in Rome (after the destruction of the second temple the holy vessels were stored in Rome) and it was full of blood droplets. Apparently some of the droplets landed on the veil. By the same token we can sensibly assume that there was contact between the blood and the mercy seat as well (unfortunately we have no testimony since there was no Ark of covenant since the destruction of the first temple).

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