(Heb. kapporeth, a "covering;" LXX. and N.T., hilasterion; Vulg., propitiatorium), the covering or lid of the ark of the covenant (q.v.). It was of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, or perhaps rather a plate of solid gold, 2 1/2 cubits long and 1 1/2 broad (Ex. 25:17; 30:6; 31:7). It is compared to the throne of grace (Heb. 9:5; Eph. 2:6). The holy of holies is called the "place of the mercy-seat" (1 Chr. 28:11: Lev. 16:2).
It has been conjectured that the censer (thumiaterion, meaning "anything having regard to or employed in the burning of incense") mentioned in Heb. 9:4 was the "mercy-seat," at which the incense was burned by the high priest on the great day of atonement, and upon or toward which the blood of the goat was sprinkled (Lev. 16:11-16; comp. Num. 7:89 and Ex. 25:22).