1 Kings 8:8 (ESV)

8 And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day.

The language of this verse raises something of a problem as to how we should understand it. This problem does not detract from the significance of the event the writer described. Nevertheless, it may be a distraction when we attempt to visualize what the verse says.

We know that the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were separate rooms. This is told to us in the description of the building in a previous chapter We also know that the ends of the poles used to carry the ark were not visible from the outside of the building, yet the writer tells us that the ends of the poles, and only the ends of the poles, were visible from inside the Holy Place. This is the reason that the writer could state that the ark was still in its place when these words were written.

The only answer that we can imagine is that the door or curtain that separated the outer from the inner sanctuary did not reach from wall to wall but opened at each end. One commentator suggests that these openings at the ends of the separation were so small that the ends of the poles were only visible when one was very close to either of the openings. Yet, this suggestion may have its own problems, and we cannot be too dogmatic about it.