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Blackmail, Washing of Feet, and the Holy of Holies

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Let me start off with this disclaimer. No disrespect is meant for the Temple, I work in the Temple, and I love it dearly. The quotes about the Temple, the Holy of Holies, and Washing of Feet are quotes from either public addresses or from the writings of the general authorities.

Since I’ve returned from my mission in 2014, I have had the chance to visit 55 different temples. I have learned a lot about the temple; one of the favorite things I have learned has been about the Holy of Holies and the history surrounding it. 

I was talking to the former temple president of the Bismarck North Dakota Temple and I asked him about the Holy of Holies and the Washing of Feet (Bismarck is a smaller temple). He was shocked and gave me a look of “You’re 24, how do you know about that?” and then he said:

“Every ordinance that can be performed in the Salt Lake Temple can be performed in any other temple, each temple has all the rooms need, the size and look of the rooms are the only difference. And I will leave it at that.”

Let me explain a little about the history of the Salt Lake Temple and the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple in the early 1900’s. (From “The House of the Lord” by Elder James E. Talmage)

 

Blackmail

The story around this photo is worth telling itself as it deals with apostasy and blackmail. In summary.

In the early 1900’s Gisbert Bossard, a former bishop, with the help of a groundskeeper snuck into the Salt Lake Temple during renovations and took almost 70 photographs of the Salt Lake Temple. Then a businessman named Florence tried to blackmail the Church with these photos. He sent a letter demanding that then Prophet Joseph F. Smith pay a large sum of money (over 2 million dollars in today’s money) Or he would sell them to “the highest bidder, be he Mormon, Jew or Gentile, I don’t care which.”

He sent a letter demanding that the then Prophet, Joseph F. Smith, pay a large sum of money (over 2 million dollars in today’s money) or he would sell them to someone else.

The reply from the Prophet? “I will make no bargain with thieves and traffickers in stolen goods.”

The Prophet then had a brilliant idea. Elder James E. Talmage had been writing a book about the Salt Lake Temple, “The House of the Lord.” The idea? To take photographs of every room within the temple and include them in the book, effectively snubbing Florence, the would-be blackmailer in the face. The Prophet even allowed Elder Talmage to include the picture of the Holy of Holies found above. (Here is the article The Deseret News ran about this 21 years ago).

Keep reading at Jeremy Goff’s blog.

 

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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