Holy of Holies: Wikis

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The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.

Contemporary Judaism and certain branches of Christianity, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Latter-day Saints, continue to have a tradition of a Holy of Holies which they regard as a most sacred site.

Contents

Judaism

Rav Getz synagogue (Warren's Gate) is the closest point a Jew can get to the temple assuming the temples were located at the traditional site, under the Dome of the Rock.

The Kodesh Hakodashim, Hebrew: (Biblical: קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים Qṓḏeš HaqQŏḏāšîm), "Holy of Holies", the most sacred site in traditional Judaism, is the inner sanctuary within the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem when Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple were standing. Traditional Judaism regards the location where the inner sanctuary was originally located, on the Temple Mount in Mount Moriah, as retaining some or all of its original sanctity for use in a future Third Temple. The exact location of the Kadosh Hakadashim is a subject of dispute.

The Kadosh Hakadashim was located in the westernmost end of the Temple building, being a perfect cube: 10 cubits by 10 cubits, by 10 cubits. The inside was in total darkness and contained the Ark of the Covenant, gilded inside and out, in which were placed the Tablets of the Covenant, the Rod of Aaron and a pot of manna. The Ark was covered with a gilded lid known as the "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence. When the Temple was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity, the Ark was no longer present in the Holy of Holies; instead, a portion of the floor was raised slightly to indicate the place where it had stood. Josephus records that Pompey profaned the Temple by insisting on entering the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies was hidden by a veil, and no one was permitted to enter except the High Priest, and even he could only enter once a year on Yom Kippur, to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense before the mercy seat.

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Hebrew idiom

The construction "Holy of Holies" is a literal translation of a Hebrew idiom which is intended to express a superlative. Similar constructions are found elsewhere:

  • servant of servants (Gen 9:25)
  • Holy of Holies (Ex 26:33)
  • Sabbath of sabbaths (Ex 31:15)
  • Heaven of heavens (Deut 10:14)
  • God of gods (Deut 10:17)
  • Lord of lords (Deut 10:17)
  • Vanity of vanities (Eccl 1:2)
  • Song of songs (Song of Solomon 1:1)
  • Prince of princes (Dan. 8:25)

Most Holy Place

In the King James Version of the Bible, "Holy of Holies" is always translated as "Most Holy Place". This is in keeping with the intention of the Hebrew idiom to express the utmost degree of holiness.

The King James Version of the Bible has been in existence for nearly four hundred years. For most of that time, it was a primary reference in much of the English speaking world for information about Judaism. Thus, the name "Most Holy Place" is used to refer to the "Holy of Holies" in many English documents.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Sanctuary of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Valaam Monastery.

The Eastern Orthodox Church has received the Tradition of the Holy of Holies in the Temple area. The Holy Table (altar) in an Orthodox church is in a restricted area behind the iconostasis (icon screen). The entire area behind the iconostasis is known as the "Altar" or the "Holy Place", and corresponds directly to the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple.

The iconostasis is usually punctuated by three doors, the middle one being the Holy Doors or Royal Doors (sometimes, in very small chapels, there will only be one side door). There will also be a veil behind the Holy Doors, usually embroided with the symbol of the Cherubim or a cross. Only Orthodox clergy or those who have permission to do so may enter the holy space behind the iconostasis. Bishops, priests and deacons are allowed to enter the Royal Doors, but only at specific times during the services; and they alone may stand in front of the Holy Table, or touch it. All others are forbidden to touch the Holy Table and must walk round behind it when serving. At the churching of Orthodox children when they are 40 days old, if a male child has been baptized he will be brought inside the Sanctuary by the priest; the female child is instead placed in front of the icon of the Theotokos on the iconostasis.

Anyone lower in rank than a deacon must receive a blessing from the priest before he enters the Holy Place. Historically the only exception to the rule of non clerical males being forbidden to stand before the Holy Table have been the Russian Tsars on the day of their coronation. After his anointing, the new Tsar would be escorted through the Holy Doors to a small table set near the Holy Table (Altar), and there he would be given Holy Communion by the Metropolitan of Moscow in the same manner as priests. For the most part, women are forbidden to enter the sanctuary, with the exception of elderly nuns who may be blessed to assist the priest during services, and an abbess in her own monastery, who is free to enter at any time. No one, male or female, typically is allowed to enter the sanctuary without good reason.

The name in Greek for the Sanctuary is the Ieron Vema (see Bemah), in Russian it is called Svatiy Oltar, an in Romanian it is called Sfântul Altar.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

A cognate term in Ge'ez is found in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church: Qidduse Qiddusan, referring to the innermost sanctuary of an Orthodox Christian church building, where only clergy may enter.

The Salt Lake Temple contains a Holy of Holies.

Latter-day Saints

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) contains a Holy of Holies wherein the Church's President—acting as the Presiding High Priest—enters to fulfill the relationship between the High Priest of Israel and God in accordance with the LDS interpretation of the Book of Exodus (Exodus 25:22) and Mormon religious texts.

Non Religious Use of the term

The expression 'Holy of Holies' has also been used in non-religious descriptions of any place that is regarded with a special veneration.

See also



The Holy of Holies (Hebrew: Tiberian: קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים Qṓḏeš HaqQŏḏāšîm) is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the first Temple, which can be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Judaism regards the holy ark, a place in a synagogue where the Torah scrolls are kept, as a miniature Holy of Holies. Jewish tradition teaches that when the Third Temple is built, the actual Holy of Holies will be restored. See also Kodesh Hakodashim

Certain branches of Christianity, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church continue to have a tradition of a Holy of Holies which they regard as a most sacred site.

Contents

Judaism

) is the closest point a Jew can get to the temple assuming the temples were located at the traditional site, under the Dome of the Rock.]] The Kodesh Hakodashim, "Holy of Holies", the most sacred site in traditional Judaism, is the inner sanctuary within the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem when Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple were standing. Traditional Judaism regards the location where the inner sanctuary was originally located, on the Temple Mount in Mount Moriah, as retaining some or all of its original sanctity for use in a future Third Temple. The exact location of the Kadosh Hakadashim is a subject of dispute.

The Kadosh Hakadashim was located in the westernmost end of the Temple building, being a perfect cube: 10 cubits by 10 cubits, by 10 cubits. The inside was in total darkness and contained the Ark of the Covenant, gilded inside and out, in which were placed the Tablets of the Covenant, the Rod of Aaron and a pot of manna. The Ark was covered with a gilded lid known as the "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence. When the Temple was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity, the Ark was no longer present in the Holy of Holies; instead, a portion of the floor was raised slightly to indicate the place where it had stood. Josephus records that Pompey profaned the Temple by insisting on entering the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies was hidden by a veil, and no one was permitted to enter except the High Priest, and even he could only enter once a year on Yom Kippur, to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense before the mercy seat.

Hebrew idiom

The construction "Holy of Holies" is a literal translation of a Hebrew idiom which is intended to express a superlative. Similar constructions are found elsewhere:

  • servant of servants (Gen 9:25)
  • Holy of Holies (Ex 26:33)
  • Sabbath of sabbaths (Ex 31:15)
  • Heaven of heavens (Deut 10:14)
  • God of gods (Deut 10:17)
  • Lord of lords (Deut 10:17)
  • Vanity of vanities (Eccl 1:2)
  • Song of songs (Song of Solomon 1:1)
  • Prince of princes (Dan. 8:25)

Most Holy Place

In the King James Version of the Bible, "Holy of Holies" is always translated as "Most Holy Place". This is in keeping with the intention of the Hebrew idiom to express the utmost degree of holiness.

The King James Version of the Bible has been in existence for nearly four hundred years. For most of that time, it was a primary reference in much of the English speaking world for information about Judaism. Thus, the name "Most Holy Place" is used to refer to the "Holy of Holies" in many English documents.

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church has received the Tradition of the Holy of Holies in the Temple area. The Holy Table (altar) in an Orthodox church is in a restricted area behind the iconostasis (icon screen). The entire area behind the iconostasis is known as the "Altar" or the "Holy Place", and corresponds directly to the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple.

The iconostasis is usually punctuated by three doors, the middle one being the Holy Doors or Royal Doors (sometimes, in very small chapels, there will only be one side door). There will also be a veil behind the Holy Doors, usually embroided with the symbol of the Cherubim or a cross. Only Orthodox clergy or those who have permission to do so may enter the holy space behind the iconostasis. Bishops, priests and deacons are allowed to enter the Royal Doors, but only at specific times during the services; and they alone may stand in front of the Holy Table, or touch it. All others are forbidden to touch the Holy Table and must walk round behind it when serving. At the churching of Orthodox children when they are 40 days old, if a male child has been baptized he will be brought inside the Sanctuary by the priest; the female child is instead placed in front of the icon of the Theotokos on the iconostasis.

Anyone lower in rank than a deacon must receive a blessing from the priest before he enters the Holy Place. Historically the only exceptions to the rule of non clerical males being forbidden to stand before the Holy Table have been the Russian Tsars on the day of their coronation. After his anointing, the new Tsar would be escorted through the Holy Doors to a small table set near the Holy Table, and there he would be given Holy Communion by the Metropolitan of Moscow in the same manner as priests. For the most part, women are forbidden to enter the sanctuary, with the exception of elderly nuns who may be blessed to assist the priest during services, and an abbess in her own monastery, who is free to enter at any time. No one, male or female, typically is allowed to enter the sanctuary without good reason.

The name in Greek for the Sanctuary is Ἱερόν Βῆμα (Hieron Vema, see Bemah), in Russian it is called Сватий Олтар (Svatiy Oltar), an in Romanian it is called Sfântul Altar.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

A cognate term in Ge'ez is found in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church: Qidduse Qiddusan, referring to the innermost sanctuary of an Orthodox Christian church building, where only clergy may enter.

Latter-day Saints

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) contains a Holy of Holies wherein the Church's President—acting as the Presiding High Priest—enters to fulfill the relationship between the High Priest of Israel and God in accordance with the LDS interpretation of the Book of Exodus (Exodus 25:22) and Mormon religious texts.

Non-religious use of the term

The expression "Holy of Holies" has also been used in non-religious descriptions of any place that is regarded with a special veneration.

See also


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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English

Proper noun

Holy of Holies

  1. The most sacred place within a sacred building.
    • 1882. Franz von Reber, Joseph Thacher Clarke, History of Ancient Art, p. 146:
      The holy of holies, a cubical space of ten cubits on the side, was separated from the larger antechamber by four columns, which were also covered with gold and stood upon silver sockets; they bore a second curtain of four colors.
  2. (informal, humorous) One's private retreat or sanctum.

Translations


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


That part of the Tabernacle and of the Temple which was regarded as possessing the utmost degree of holiness (or inaccessibility), and into which none but the High Priest—and he only once during the year, on the Day of Atonement—was permitted to enter (see Atonement, Day of).

A similarly high degree of holiness was ascribed to the following: the altar (Ex 29:37; A. V. "most holy"); the incense-altar (ib. xxx. 10); all the implements of the sanctuary (ib. xxx. 29; Num 4:4, 19); the things reserved for the priests ("minḥah"; Lev 2:3, 10; vi. 10; x. 12; Num 18:9; Ez 42:13); the sin-offering (Lev 6:18, 22; x. 17); the guilt-offering (Lev 7:1, 6; xxxi. 14); the offering of the leper (because it belongs to the priests; Lev 14:13); and the showbread (Lev 24:9). The designation "most holy" is applied also to the work of Aaron and his sons (1Chr 6:49).

In the Tabernacle and the Temple.

The inner room or cell of the sanctuary, termed also the "miḳdash ha-ḳodesh" (Lev 16:33; A. V. "the holy sanctuary"), is known as the "Holy of Holies" par excellence. As such it comprised that smaller western part of the Tabernacle, the "mishkan," which was divided off from the remainder of the meeting-tent by a curtain or veil suspended from four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold and having sockets of silver (Ex 26:32, xxxvi. 36, R. V.). This curtain was woven in four colors: white, blue, scarlet, and purple, and was made of byssus, i.e., linen. The cell was cubelike in shape, being 10 ells high, 10 ells long, and 10 ells broad. It contained the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 26:34; comp. Josephus, "Ant." iii. 6, §§ 4, 5).

In Solomon's Temple the Holy of Holies formed a part of the house of Yhwh (1 Kg 6:1 et seq.), which was 60 cubits in length, 20 cubits in breadth, 30 cubits in height, and built of stone (Josephus, "Ant." viii. 3, § 2: "white marble"), and was divided into two sections by a partition of cedar-wood with a door covered by a costly curtain (Josephus, l.c. § 3; 2Chr 3:14). The section farthest from the entrance, designated also as the "debir" (the "oracle" "the most holy place," 1 Kg 6:5, R. V. margin), was 20 cubits high and presented the shape of a cube. The stone of this inner or hinder part, like the outer room, was completely hidden with cedar boards carved with knops or gourds and open flowers and then covered with pure gold. This room must have been without light. In it was placed the Ark (ib. vi. 18, 19).

In the Second Temple, details of the construction of which are not preserved in the Biblical documents (Ez 6:3 mentions dimensions), the Holy of Holies was curtained off (I. Macc. i. 22, iv. 51). It was empty, except for a stone three fingers in breadth on which the high priest deposited the censer (Josephus, "B. J." v. 55; Yoma v. 2). In Ezekiel's ideal Temple the Holy of Holies measured 20 cubits in length and the same in breadth (Ezek 41:4). Ezekiel (ib. 21, 23) calls this inner section simply (missing hebrew text) (R. V. "sanctuary"), in contrast to the "hekal" (= "temple").

In the Herodian Temple.

In the Herodian Temple the Holy of Holies was not divided off from the rest of the hekal by a wall, but two curtains, a cubit apart, partitioned the inner chamber from the outer room. These curtains were richly wrought. (Sheḳ. viii. 5), and were so arranged that in order to enter the high priest had to lift them diagonally at the sides; the outer opening was at the south end, the inner at the north (Yoma v. 1). The length of the Holy of Holies was 20 cubits. Above both the inner and the outer rooms was an upper chamber, constructed to enable builders to make the necessary repairs. A trap-door was above the Holy of Holies, and through this the workmen were lowered in boxes, to guard against profanation (lit. "feasting their eyes"). In this upper chamber the location of the two rooms underneath was marked off (Mid. iv. 5).

According to Maimonides ("Yad," Bet ha-Beḥirah, iv. 1; see Yoma 23a), in the Holy of Holies of theTabernacle was a stone on which the Ark rested; before it was placed the flask of manna and Aaron's staff. Solomon made a depression in order that these objects might, if necessary, be hidden therein, which was done by Josiah (comp. Hor. 12a; Ker. 5b; Yoma 21a, 52a).

—Critical View:

It is generally contended that the Tabernacle represents a later priestly reconstruction patterned after the Solomonic and Ezekiel's ideal Temples (see Graf, "Die Geschichtl. Bücher des Alten Testaments," Leipsic, 1868; Popper, "Der Biblische Bericht über die Stiftshütte"). The account of Solomon's Temple (I Kings vi.) is also very much involved, and probably represents various sources. The legislation in P is based partly on actual practise, partly on theoretical insistences anticipated to a certain extent in Ezekiel, gradually realized in the Second (Zerubbabel's) Temple and fully recognized as authoritative in the Maccabean-Herodian-Mishnaic Temple. According to Büchler ("Die Priester und der Cultus," Vienna, 1895), during the last period of the Temple's existence certain concessions were made with latitude for "laymen." On the one hand, the use of the term "Ḳodesh ha-Ḳodashim" as a synonym for, or a later explanation of, "debir" (="oracle"), and the application of the same designation to all the things that were accessible only to the priests, and, on the other, the uncertainty of the use of the double phrase in Ezekiel (see above; Smend, Commentary on Ezek. lxi.; Bleek, "Einleitung," 4th ed., p. 234), indicate a gradual evolution of the notion that certain places and things partook of a higher degree of holiness than others. The analysis of the various passages shows that "Ḳodesh," originally designating "property of or reserved for Yhwh," only gradually came to admit of different degrees. In distinction from all tithes which are holy those belonging to the priests are further designated as "miḳdash" (Num 18:29; comp. ib. viii. 32).

Applied to locality, this distinction in degrees is noticeable first in Ezekiel. His idea of the ascending scale of holiness is apparent in his designation of the Temple territory as "Holy of Holies" in comparison with the surrounding Levitical land (Ezek 43:12, xlviii. 12). This notion pervades the Priestly Code and is determinative of the later Jewish conception, which ascribes to the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, the different courts and buildings of the Temple, in a fixed but ascending scale, different degrees of sanctity (Sanh. 2a, 16a; Sheb. 14a; "Yad," l.c. vi.).

Bibliography: Saalschütz, Archäologie der Hebräer. ii. 318; Haneberg, Die Religiösen Altertämer, Munich, 1869; Bähr, Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus, 2d ed., i.; Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Gesch. Israels; Josephus, B. J. v. 5; Winer, B. R. ii.; Spiess, Das Jerusalem des Josephus, 1881; De Vogä, Le Temple de Jérusalem, Paris, 1864; Hildesheimer, Die Beschreibung des Herod, Tempels, etc., Berlin, 1876; Baudissin, Studien zur Semitischen Religionsgesch. ii., Leipsic, 1878.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

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