When God calls Samuel it seems like he is sleeping inside the Temple/Tabernacle where the ark of God was.

1 Samuel 3:2-3 NASB

2 But it happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to be poor and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was,

But according to the design given to Moses which is described in the book of Hebrews, there were only two rooms the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies which housed the vessels of God. There is no mention of anyone sleeping in those rooms.

Hebrews 9:15 NASB

1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was equipped, the outer sanctuary, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Most Holy Place, 4 having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover; but about these things we cannot now speak in detail.

By the time there were at Shiloh, it is said Samuel was sleeping inside the Temple/Tabernacle which also housed the Ark of the Covenant which somehow points to the holy of holies

Did Samuel sleep in the holy of holies at Shiloh?

  • It was forbidden for any but the High Priest, and that once a year, to enter within the veil. Hebrews 9:7.
    – Nigel J
    May 14, 2021 at 8:37

3 Answers 3


Please see if this helps.

  1. Some scholars think that Samuel was actually sleeping in the front compartment of the tent sanctuary called the Holy Place, the room where the Menorah, Table of Shewbread and the Incense Altar resided. This is very unlikely as this was still part of the Sanctury.

  2. It is more likely that Samuel was sleeping in one of the many chambers(tents) that had been erected in and around the Sanctury but within the outer courtyard. These tents were used by the priests to rest as well as be in close distance to the Sanctury where the ark of G-d was.

  • Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    May 14, 2021 at 9:08

Did Samuel sleep in the holy of holies at Shiloh?

No. Leviticus 16:2

And the LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron not to enter freely into the Most Holy Place behind the veil in front of the mercy seat on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.

Where did Samuel sleep?

1 Samuel 3:

2 And at that time Eli, whose eyesight had grown so dim that he could not see, was lying in his room.

Eli was in his room.

3 Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was located.

Samuel might not have his own room but somewhere near the ark of God before the veil.

4Then the LORD called to Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.”

5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you have called me.”

Samuel was within the shouting distance of Eli.

“I did not call,” Eli replied. “Go back and lie down.”

So he went and lay down.

The night had passed.

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord.

Eli had his own room inside the house of the Lord. Samuel was sleeping inside the house of the Lord within shouting distance of Eli, near the ark before the curtain.


That Samuel could have slept near the ark is entirely possible. If the supposition is that he could not have slept there because of Leviticus 16.2, where only the High Priest is permitted to enter the holy of holies, and that once a year, then one presupposes that part of the law was being honored and enforced by Eli. Why presuppose that Eli enforced Leviticus 16:2 when it is clear that he did not enforce Leviticus 7, which described the Priests portion of the peace offering? Clearly Eli's sons disparaged the law and ate portions of the sacrifice to which they were not entitled; Eli was judged for that reason (1 Sam 2:29). Additional evidence of disregard for the law is found in the elders of Israel who demonstrated no reverence for the holy of holies when they had the ark removed from "the temple" and brought to them in the field of battle (1 Sam 4:5-6). Having entered the holy of holies and retrieved the ark, none of them died, which should have happened if Leviticus 16:2 remained in effect. It appears God allowed the ark to be taken as part of His judgment on the family of Eli.

Bottom line: To insist the law was honored in one way while it was ignored in another requires that one twist themself into a theological pretzel to make the scripture say what they believe, instead of simply accepting the simple and express meaning of the words of the actual text.

It should be noted that Moses slept in the tent of meeting, with Joshua, his servant, there to guard him (Exodus 33:11). Samuel was the servant of Eli, the same word for "servant" that pertained to Joshua, and indeed Samuel had a similar role. Also, what better place than near the ark for Samuel be to hear the voice of the Lord, who came and "stood" in Samuel's presence (1 Sam 3:10)?

That Samuel would be sleeping near the ark is not an unreasonable conclusion.

Keep in mind two other important facts from the text pertaining the timing of the Lord's call to Samuel: (1) the word of the Lord was rare in those dark, spiritually dead times (1 Sam 3:1), and (2) Samuel did not yet know the Lord and neither had he heard (or read) the word of the Lord (1 Sam 3:7). It is likely Samuel had no idea what the ark was, or its purpose, or the need of proper reverence for it. He would find that our later. For once he knew the Lord, he feared the Lord and respected the sacrifice.

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