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The Holy of Holies (
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, the Jews and Samaritans. It was largely preserved ...
: ''Qōḏeš haqQŏḏāšīm'' or ''Kodesh HaKodashim''; also הַדְּבִיר ''haDəḇīr'', 'the Sanctuary') is a term in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, mīškān, residence, dwelling place), also known as the Tent of the Congregation ( he, link=no, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, also Tent of Meeting, etc.), ...
, where
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
's presence appeared. According to Hebrew tradition, the area was defined by four pillars that held up the veil of the covering, under which the Ark of the Covenant was held above the floor. According to the Hebrew scripture, the Ark contained the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments (Biblical Hebrew עשרת הדברים \ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים, ''aséret ha-dvarím'', lit. The Decalogue, The Ten Words, cf. Mishnaic Hebrew עשרת הדיברות \ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְ ...
, which were given by God to
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important pro ...
on Mount Sinai. The
Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem, or alternatively the Holy Temple (; , ), refers to the two now-destroyed religious structures that served as the central places of worship for Israelites and Jews on the modern-day Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerus ...
was said to have been built by
King Solomon King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen, which title is also given to the consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the ti ...
for keeping the Ark. Ancient
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""Th ...
traditions viewed the Holy of Holies as the spiritual junction of
Heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common religious cosmological or transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deities, angels, souls, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or reside. According to the belie ...
and Earth, the " axis mundi". As a part of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies was situated somewhere on
Temple Mount The Temple Mount ( hbo, הַר הַבַּיִת, translit=Har haBayīt, label=Hebrew, lit=Mount of the House f the Holy}), also known as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (Arabic: الحرم الشريف, lit. 'The Noble Sanctuary'), al-Aqsa Mosque compou ...
; its precise location in the Mount being a matter of dispute, with some classical Jewish sources identifying its location with the
Foundation Stone The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time ...
, which sits under the
Dome of the Rock The Dome of the Rock ( ar, قبة الصخرة, Qubbat aṣ-Ṣakhra) is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a site also known to Muslims as the ''al-Haram al-Sharif'' or the Al-Aqsa Compound. Its initial ...
. Other Jewish scholars argue that contemporary reports would place the Temple to the north or to the east of the current Dome of the Rock. The Christian Crusaders associated the Holy of Holies with the
Well of Souls The Well of Souls ( ar, بئر الأرواح, Biʾr al-Arwaḥ; sometimes translated Pit of Souls, Cave of Spirits, or Well of Spirits), is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Foundation Stone ("Noble Rock" in Islam) unde ...
, a small cave that lies underneath the Foundation Stone in the Dome of the Rock.


Hebrew terminology and translation

The construction "Holy of Holies" is a translation of the Hebrew (
Tiberian Hebrew Tiberian Hebrew is the canonical pronunciation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) committed to writing by Masoretic scholars living in the Jewish community of Tiberias in ancient Galilee under the Abbasid Caliphate. They wrote in the form of Tiberian ...
: ''Qṓḏeš haQŏḏāšîm''), which is intended to express a
superlative Comparison is a feature in the morphology or syntax of some languages whereby adjectives and adverbs are inflected to indicate the relative degree of the property they define exhibited by the word or phrase they modify or describe. In languag ...
. Examples of similar constructions are "servant of servants" (Gen 9:25), "Sabbath of sabbaths" (Ex 31:15), "God of gods" (Deut 10:17), " Vanity of vanities" (Eccl 1:2), " Song of songs" (Song of Songs 1:1), "king of kings" (Ezra 7:12), etc. The Bible distinguishes the proper noun "Holy of Holies" from the superlative adjective by the definite article, viz. ''Qṓḏeš HaQŏḏāšîm'' is the room and ''qṓḏeš qāḏāšîm'' is used otherwise. This adds an additional level of superlativity; the only matching examples of the prior set are "God of gods" and "Song of songs." In the Authorized King James Version, "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. Thus, the name "Most Holy Place" was used to refer to the "Holy of Holies" in many English documents. A related term is the ''
debir A Biblical word, dvir () may refer to: __NOTOC__ Names * Debir King of Eglon, a Canaanite king of Eglon, slain by Joshua (). Aided by miracles, Joshua's army routed the Canaanite military, forcing Debir and the other kings to seek refuge in a cave ...
'' () transliterated in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several books beyond t ...
(the Greek translation as ''dabir'' (), which either means the back (i.e. western) part of the Sanctuary, or derives from the verb stem D-B-R, "to speak", justifying the translation in the Latin Vulgate as ''oraculum'', from which the traditional English translation "oracle" (KJV, 1611) derives.


Ancient Israel


Tabernacle

According to the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
may dwell among the Israelites,
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
gave Moses instructions for erecting a
sanctuary A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a sa ...
. The directions provide for: # A wooden ark, gilded inside and outside, for the Tablets of the Covenant, with a pure gold cover as the "
mercy seat According to the Hebrew Bible, the ''kaporet'' ( ''kapōreṯ'') or mercy seat was the gold lid placed on the Ark of the Covenant, with two cherubim beaten out of the ends to cover and create the space into which Yahweh was said to appear. This w ...
" for the Divine Presence; # A gilt table for the " Table of Showbread", on which loaves of bread were arranged; # A golden menorah, lampstand of 7 oil lamps for a
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that can be perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), corresponding to frequencies of 750–420 ter ...
never to be extinguished; # The dwelling, including the curtains for the roof, the walls made of boards resting on
silver Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European ''h₂erǵ'': "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical co ...
feet and held together by
wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic materiala natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin tha ...
en bolts, the multi-colored curtain veiling the Holy of Holies (of blue, purple, crimson, white and gold), the table and candlestick, and the outer curtain; # A sacrificial altar made of
bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (including aluminium, manganese, nickel, or zinc) and sometimes non-metals, such as phosphorus, or metalloids such ...
d boards for its ''
korban In Judaism, the korban ( ''qorbān''), also spelled ''qorban'' or ''corban'', is any of a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Torah. The plural form is korbanot, korbanoth or korbans. The term Korban primarily ...
''/sacrifice; # The outer court formed by pillars resting on bronze pedestals and connected by hooks and crossbars of silver, with embroidered curtains; # Recipe and preparation of the
oil An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance that is composed primarily of hydrocarbons and is hydrophobic (does not mix with water) & lipophilic (mixes with other oils). Oils are usually flammable and surface active. Most oils are unsatura ...
for the Lampstand. According to the Bible, the Holy of Holies was covered by a
veil A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the head or face, or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent i ...
, and no one was allowed to enter except the
High Priest The term "high priest" usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest, or to one who is the head of a religious caste. Ancient Egypt In ancient Egypt, a high priest was the chief priest of any of the many gods rever ...
, and even he would only enter once a year on
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּפּוּר, , , ) is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism. It occurs annually on the 10th of Tishrei, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Primarily centered on atonement and repentance, the day's o ...
, to offer the blood of sacrifice and
incense Incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burnt. The term is used for either the material or the aroma. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, religious worship, aromatherapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be ...
. The Bible reports that in the wilderness, on the day that the
tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, mīškān, residence, dwelling place), also known as the Tent of the Congregation ( he, link=no, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, also Tent of Meeting, etc.), ...
was first raised up, the cloud of the Lord covered the tabernacle (). There are other times that this was recorded, and instructions were given that the Lord would appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat (''kapporet''), and at that time the priests should not enter into the tabernacle (Leviticus 16:2). According to the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
''
Ark of the Covenant with representation of
Cherub A cherub (; plural cherubim; he, כְּרוּב ''kərūḇ'', pl. ''kərūḇīm'', likely borrowed from a derived form of akk, 𒅗𒊏𒁍 ''karabu'' "to bless" such as ''karibu'', "one who blesses", a name for the lamassu) is one of the u ...
im. Upon completion of the dedication of the Tabernacle, the Voice of God spoke to Moses "from between the Cherubim" ().


Solomon's Temple

The Holy of Holies was the inner sanctuary within the
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, mīškān, residence, dwelling place), also known as the Tent of the Congregation ( he, link=no, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, also Tent of Meeting, etc.), ...
and
Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem, or alternatively the Holy Temple (; , ), refers to the two now-destroyed religious structures that served as the central places of worship for Israelites and Jews on the modern-day Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerus ...
when
Solomon's Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem between the 10th century BC and . According to the Hebrew Bible, it was commissioned by Solomon in the United Kingdom of Israel before being inherited by the ...
and the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, , ), later known as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem between and 70 CE. It replaced Solomon's Temple, which had been built at the same location in the United Kingdom of Israel before being inherite ...
were standing. A
brocade Brocade is a class of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored silks and sometimes with gold and silver threads. The name, related to the same root as the word " broccoli", comes from Italian ''broccato'' meaning "emb ...
curtain (
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, the Jews and Samaritans. It was largely preserved ...
: ''parochet''), made with
cherub A cherub (; plural cherubim; he, כְּרוּב ''kərūḇ'', pl. ''kərūḇīm'', likely borrowed from a derived form of akk, 𒅗𒊏𒁍 ''karabu'' "to bless" such as ''karibu'', "one who blesses", a name for the lamassu) is one of the u ...
im motifs woven directly into the fabric from the loom, divided the Holy of Holies from the lesser Holy place. The Holy of Holies was located in the westernmost end of the Temple building, being a perfect cube: 20
cubit The cubit is an ancient unit of length based on the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. It was primarily associated with the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Israelites. The term ''cubit'' is found in the Bible regarding Noa ...
s by 20 cubits by 20 cubits. The inside was in total darkness and contained the Ark of the Covenant, gilded inside and out, in which was placed the Tablets of the Covenant. According to both Jewish and Christian tradition,
Aaron's rod Aaron's rod refers to any of the walking sticks carried by Moses's brother, Aaron, in the Torah. The Bible tells how, along with Moses's rod, Aaron's rod was endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt that preceded the Exod ...
and a pot of
manna Manna ( he, מָן, mān, ; ar, اَلْمَنُّ; sometimes or archaically spelled mana) is, according to the Bible, an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the 40-year period follow ...
were also in the ark. The Ark was covered with a lid made of pure gold, known as the "
mercy seat According to the Hebrew Bible, the ''kaporet'' ( ''kapōreṯ'') or mercy seat was the gold lid placed on the Ark of the Covenant, with two cherubim beaten out of the ends to cover and create the space into which Yahweh was said to appear. This w ...
",() which was covered by the beaten gold cherubim wings, creating the space for the Divine Presence ().


Second Temple

When the Temple was rebuilt after the
Babylonian captivity The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defe ...
, 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. In Jewish tradition, two curtains separated the Holy of Holies from the lesser Holy place during the period of the Second Temple. These curtains were woven with motifs directly from the loom, rather than embroidered, and each curtain had the thickness of a handbreadth (ca. 9 cm.).
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian and military leader, best known for ''The Jewish War'', who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly ...
records that
Pompey Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a leading Roman general and statesman. He played a significant role in the transformation of ...
profaned the Temple by insisting on entering the Holy of Holies in 63 BCE. When
Titus Titus Caesar Vespasianus ( ; 30 December 39 – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death. Before becoming emperor, Titus gained renown as a mili ...
captured the city during the
First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt ( he, המרד הגדול '), or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews against the Roman Empire, fought in Roman-controlled ...
, Roman soldiers took down the curtain and used it to wrap therein golden vessels retrieved from the Temple.


Day of Atonement

The Holy of Holies was entered once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, to sprinkle the blood of sacrificial animals (a bull offered as atonement for the Priest and his household, and a goat offered as atonement for the people) and offer incense upon the Ark of the Covenant and the
mercy seat According to the Hebrew Bible, the ''kaporet'' ( ''kapōreṯ'') or mercy seat was the gold lid placed on the Ark of the Covenant, with two cherubim beaten out of the ends to cover and create the space into which Yahweh was said to appear. This w ...
that sat on top of the ark in the
First Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem between the 10th century BC and . According to the Hebrew Bible, it was commissioned by Solomon in the United Kingdom of Israel before being inherited by the ...
(the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, , ), later known as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem between and 70 CE. It replaced Solomon's Temple, which had been built at the same location in the United Kingdom of Israel before being inherite ...
had no ark and the blood was sprinkled where the Ark would have been and the incense was put on the Brazen Altar of incense). The animal was sacrificed and the blood was carried into the most holy place. The gold was also found in the Most Holy Place.


In ancient Judaism

The Magdala stone is thought to be a representation of the Holy of Holies carved before the destruction of the Temple in the year 70.


In Rabbinical Judaism

Traditional Judaism regards the location where the inner sanctuary was originally located, on the
Temple Mount The Temple Mount ( hbo, הַר הַבַּיִת, translit=Har haBayīt, label=Hebrew, lit=Mount of the House f the Holy}), also known as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (Arabic: الحرم الشريف, lit. 'The Noble Sanctuary'), al-Aqsa Mosque compou ...
( Mount Moriah), as retaining some or all of its original sanctity for use in a future
Third Temple The "Third Temple" ( he, , , ) refers to a hypothetical rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. It would succeed Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple, the former having been destroyed during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in and the latter havin ...
. The exact location of the Holy of Holies is a subject of dispute. Traditional Judaism regards the Holy of Holies as the place where the presence of
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
dwells. The
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law ('' halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cent ...
gives detailed descriptions of Temple architecture and layout. According to the
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cent ...
Tractate
Yoma Yoma (Aramaic: יומא, lit. "The Day") is the fifth tractate of '' Seder Moed'' ("Order of Festivals") of the ''Mishnah'' and of the ''Talmud''. It is concerned mainly with the laws of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, on which Jews atone for thei ...
, the ''Kodesh Hakodashim'' (Holy of Holies) is located in the center of the esplanade from a North-South perspective, but significantly to the West from an East–West perspective, with all the major courtyards and functional areas lying to its east. The
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law ('' halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cent ...
supplies additional details, and describes the ritual performed by the High Priest. During the ritual, the High Priest would pronounce the
Tetragrammaton The Tetragrammaton (; ), or Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew theonym (transliterated as YHWH), the name of God in the Hebrew Bible. The four letters, written and read from right to left (in Hebrew), are ''yodh'', '' he'', '' waw'', and ' ...
, the only point according to traditional Judaism that it was pronounced out loud. According to Jewish tradition, the people prostrated themselves fully on the ground when it was said. According to the Talmud, the High Priest's face upon exit from the Holy of Holies was radiant. While under normal circumstances, access to the Holy of Holies was restricted to the High Priest and only on
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּפּוּר, , , ) is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism. It occurs annually on the 10th of Tishrei, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Primarily centered on atonement and repentance, the day's o ...
, the Talmud suggests that repair crews were allowed inside as needed but were lowered from the upper portion of the room via enclosures so that they only saw the area they were to work on.


Synagogue architecture

Judaism regards the
Torah ark A Torah ark (also known as the ''Heikhal'', or the ''Aron Kodesh'') refers to an ornamental chamber in the synagogue that houses the Torah scrolls. History The ark, also known as the ''ark of law'', or in Hebrew the ''Aron Kodesh'' or ''aron ha ...
, a place in a
synagogue A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish: ''shul'', Ladino: or ' (from synagogue); or ', "community". sometimes referred to as shul, and interchangeably used with the word temple, is a Jewish house of wor ...
where the Torah scrolls are kept, as a miniature Holy of Holies.


Modern location

The exact location of the Holy of Holies is a contentious issue, as elements of questioning the exact placement of the Temple are often associated with Temple denial. There are three main theories as to where exactly the Temple stood on the Mount: where the
Dome of the Rock The Dome of the Rock ( ar, قبة الصخرة, Qubbat aṣ-Ṣakhra) is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a site also known to Muslims as the ''al-Haram al-Sharif'' or the Al-Aqsa Compound. Its initial ...
is now located; to the north of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Asher Kaufman); or to the east of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Joseph Patrich of the
Hebrew University The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI; he, הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם) is a public research university based in Jerusalem, Israel. Co-founded by Albert Einstein and Dr. Chaim We ...
).See article in the ''World Jewish Digest'', April 2007 The location of the Holy of Holies is, naturally, connected to the location of the Jewish Temple. The location of the Temple, however, had become uncertain already less than 150 years after the Second Temple's destruction, as detailed in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, , Talmūḏ) is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law ('' halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the cent ...
. Chapter 54 of the Tractate Berakhot states that the Holy of Holies was directly aligned with the Golden Gate, which would have placed the Holy of Holies slightly to the north of the Dome of the Rock, as Kaufman postulated. Chapter 54 of the Tractate Yoma and chapter 26 of the Tractate Sanhedrin, on the other hand, assert that the Holy of Holies stood directly on the
Foundation Stone The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time ...
. The Crusaders associated the Holy of Holies with the
Well of Souls The Well of Souls ( ar, بئر الأرواح, Biʾr al-Arwaḥ; sometimes translated Pit of Souls, Cave of Spirits, or Well of Spirits), is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Foundation Stone ("Noble Rock" in Islam) unde ...
, which is located under the
Foundation Stone The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time ...
of the
Dome of the Rock The Dome of the Rock ( ar, قبة الصخرة, Qubbat aṣ-Ṣakhra) is an Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a site also known to Muslims as the ''al-Haram al-Sharif'' or the Al-Aqsa Compound. Its initial ...
. Most Orthodox Jews today completely avoid climbing up to
Temple Mount The Temple Mount ( hbo, הַר הַבַּיִת, translit=Har haBayīt, label=Hebrew, lit=Mount of the House f the Holy}), also known as al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (Arabic: الحرم الشريف, lit. 'The Noble Sanctuary'), al-Aqsa Mosque compou ...
, to prevent them from accidentally stepping on any holy areas. A few Orthodox Jewish authorities, following the opinion of the medieval scholar
Maimonides Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah s ...
, permit Jews to visit parts of the Temple Mount known not to be anywhere near any of the sanctified areas. Orthodox Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, who come especially from those groups associated with the Temple Institute and its efforts to rebuild a
Temple A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called churches), Hinduism (whose temple ...
, seek to conform to the minimal requirements for coming near the Temple, such as immersing in a
mikvah Mikveh or mikvah (,  ''mikva'ot'', ''mikvoth'', ''mikvot'', or (Yiddish) ''mikves'', lit., "a collection") is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism to achieve ritual purity. Most forms of ritual impurity can be purif ...
("collection of water"; a ritual of purification), not coming during or following
menstruation Menstruation (also known as a period, among other colloquial terms) is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The menstrual cycle is characterized by the rise and fall of ho ...
or immediately following a seminal emission, not showing their back towards its presumed location, etc. To avoid religious conflict, Jewish visitors caught praying or bringing ritual objects are usually expelled from the area by police.


In apocryphal literature

According to the ancient
apocrypha Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. The word ''apocryphal'' (ἀπόκρυφος) was first applied to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered ...
l ''
Lives of the Prophets The ''Lives of the Prophets'' is an ancient apocryphal account of the lives of the prophets of the Old Testament. It is not regarded as scripture by any Jewish or Christian denomination. The work may have been known by the author of some of the ...
'', after the death of
Zechariah ben Jehoiada Zechariah ben Jehoiada ''Zəḵaryā ben-Yǝhōyāḏāʿ''; ar, زكريّا بن يهوياداع ''Zakariya bin Yehuyada'') is a figure in the Hebrew Bible described as a priest who was stoned to death by Jehoash of Judah and may possibly h ...
, the priests of the Temple could no more, as before, see the apparitions of the
angels In various theistic religious traditions an angel is a supernatural spiritual being who serves God. Abrahamic religions often depict angels as benevolent celestial intermediaries between God (or Heaven) and humanity. Other roles include ...
of the Lord, nor could make
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual. Used in various forms throughout history ...
s with the
Ephod An ephod ( he, אֵפוֹד ''ʾēfōḏ''; or ) was a type of apron, which according to the Hebrew Bible, was worn by the Jewish high priest the kohen gadol, an artifact and an object to be revered in ancient Israelite culture, and was clo ...
, nor give responses from the ''
Debir A Biblical word, dvir () may refer to: __NOTOC__ Names * Debir King of Eglon, a Canaanite king of Eglon, slain by Joshua (). Aided by miracles, Joshua's army routed the Canaanite military, forcing Debir and the other kings to seek refuge in a cave ...
''.


Christianity


New Testament

The Greek New Testament retains the pre-Christian Septuagint phrase "Holy of the Holies" ''hágion ''( sg n)'' tōn hagíōn'' () without the definite article as "Holies of Holies" ''hágia ''( pl n)'' hagíōn'' () in Hebrews 9:3. In the
Vulgate The Vulgate (; also called (Bible in common tongue), ) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. The Vulgate is largely the work of Jerome who, in 382, had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Gospels u ...
of Saint Jerome, these are rendered as ''sanctum sanctorum'' and ''sancta sanctorum'', respectively. The Greek language was the common language upon Hellenization of much of the Middle East after the death of Alexander the Great, and the division of his empire among four generals. The Jews of the Diaspora spoke it; the Vulgate was a faithful translation for Christian Rome.


Christian traditions

Certain branches of Christianity, including the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops via ...
, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church continue to have a tradition of a Holy of Holies that they regard as a most sacred site. The ciborium, a permanent canopy over the altar in some churches, once surrounded by curtains at points in the
liturgy Liturgy is the customary public ritual of worship performed by a religious group. ''Liturgy'' can also be used to refer specifically to public worship by Christians. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and partic ...
, symbolizes the Holy of Holies. Some Christian churches, particularly the Catholic Church, consider the
Church tabernacle A tabernacle or sacrament house is a fixed, locked box in which the Eucharist (consecrated communion hosts) is stored as part of the " reserved sacrament" rite. A container for the same purpose, which is set directly into a wall, is called an ...
, or its location (often at the rear of the sanctuary), as the symbolic equivalent of the Holy of Holies, due to the storage of consecrated
hosts A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places * Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks County People *Jim Host (born 1937), American businessman * Michel Host ...
in that vessel.


Eastern Orthodox Church

The Greek phrase refers to the Tabernacle or Temple. The name in
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
for the sanctuary of a church is (''Hieron Vema'', see Bema#Christianity), in Russian it is called Святой Алтарь (''Svyatoy Altar'' – literally: "Holy Altar"), and in Romanian it is called ''Sfântul Altar''.


Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

A
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical eff ...
term in Ge'ez is found in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: ''Qidduse Qiddusan'', referring to the innermost sanctuary of an Orthodox Christian church, where the
Tabot ''Tabot'' ( Ge'ez ታቦት ''tābōt'', sometimes spelled ''tabout'') is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of Orthodox Tewahedo Christian ...
is kept and only clergy may enter. This is also called the "Bete Mekdes”. Every Ethiopian Orthodox church has one, and it is covered with a Curtain. There are often three entry points, symbolising the Holy Trinity. In the middle, there is always an altar where the church's
Tabot ''Tabot'' ( Ge'ez ታቦት ''tābōt'', sometimes spelled ''tabout'') is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of Orthodox Tewahedo Christian ...
is kept. There can be as many altars as the number of Tabots."


Malabar Nasrani tradition

The
Saint Thomas Christians The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, ''Marthoma Suriyani Nasrani'', ''Malankara Nasrani'', or ''Nasrani Mappila'', are an ethno-religious community of Indian Christians in the state of Kerala (Malabar region), ...
(also known as Nasrani or Syrian Christians) from
Kerala Kerala ( ; ) is a state on the Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile regions of Cochin, Malabar, South Cana ...
,
South India South India, also known as Dakshina Bharata or Peninsular India, consists of the peninsular southern part of India. It encompasses the States and union territories of India, Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and T ...
still follow much
Jewish Christian Jewish Christians ( he, יהודים נוצרים, yehudim notzrim) were the followers of a Jewish religious sect that emerged in Judea during the late Second Temple period (first century AD). The Nazarene Jews integrated the belief of Jesus ...
tradition.Ross, Israel J. (1979). "Ritual and Music in South India: Syrian Christian Liturgical Music in Kerala". ''Asian Music''. 11 (1): 80–98. In Nasrani tradition the Holy of Holies is kept veiled for much of the time. The red veil covers the inner altar or the main altar. It is unveiled only during the central part of the main Nasrani ritual. The main ritual of the Saint Thomas Christians is the
Qurbana The Holy Qurbana ( syr, ܩܘܼܪܒܵܢܵܐ ܩܲܕܝܫܵܐ, ''Qurbānā Qaddišā'' in Eastern Syriac or ''Qurbānā Qandišā'' in the Indian variant of Eastern Syriac, the "Holy Offering" or "Holy Sacrifice" in English), refers to the Euchari ...
.


Roman Catholic Church

The Latin
Vulgate The Vulgate (; also called (Bible in common tongue), ) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. The Vulgate is largely the work of Jerome who, in 382, had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Gospels u ...
Bible translates ''Qṓḏeš HaqQŏḏāšîm'' as Sanctum sanctorum (Ex 26:34). Reproducing in Latin the Hebrew construction, the expression is used as a superlative of the neuter adjective ''sanctum'', to mean "a thing most holy". It is used by Roman Catholics to refer to holy objects beyond the Holy of Holies, and is specifically often used as an alternative name for a
tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, mīškān, residence, dwelling place), also known as the Tent of the Congregation ( he, link=no, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, also Tent of Meeting, etc.), ...
, due to the object being a storage chamber for consecrated host and thus where the presence of God is most represented. The
Vulgate The Vulgate (; also called (Bible in common tongue), ) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. The Vulgate is largely the work of Jerome who, in 382, had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Gospels u ...
also refers to the Holy of Holies with the plural form ''Sancta sanctorum'' (2 Chr 5:7), arguably a
synecdoche Synecdoche ( ) is a type of metonymy: it is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole (''pars pro toto''), or vice versa (''totum pro parte''). The term comes from Greek . Examples in common En ...
referring to the holy objects hosted there. This form is also used more broadly in Catholic tradition with reference to sanctuaries other than the
Temple in Jerusalem The Temple in Jerusalem, or alternatively the Holy Temple (; , ), refers to the two now-destroyed religious structures that served as the central places of worship for Israelites and Jews on the modern-day Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerus ...
. A notable example is for the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum, a chapel in the complex of St John Lateran in Rome.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The
Salt Lake Temple The Salt Lake Temple is a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. At , it is the largest Latter-day Saint temple by floor area. Dedicated in 1893, it is the sixth templ ...
of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian Christian church that considers itself to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The ch ...
(LDS Church) contains a Holy of Holies wherein the church's
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) * President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese f ...
—acting as the Presiding High Priest—enters to fulfill the relationship between the High Priest of Israel and God in accordance with the LDS Church's interpretation of the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus (from grc, Ἔξοδος, translit=Éxodos; he, שְׁמוֹת ''Šəmōṯ'', "Names") is the second book of the Bible. It narrates the story of the Exodus, in which the Israelites leave slavery in Biblical Egypt through th ...
() and Latter-day Saint religious texts.


Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) believes that the Holy of Holies on Earth was a copy of the true
tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible, the tabernacle ( he, מִשְׁכַּן, mīškān, residence, dwelling place), also known as the Tent of the Congregation ( he, link=no, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, also Tent of Meeting, etc.), ...
in
heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common religious cosmological or transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deities, angels, souls, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or reside. According to the belie ...
, and this view can also be seen in other
Christian denominations Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koine Greek title ''Christós'' (Χρισ ...
. Because in
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' (Hebrew: / , Modern: ' / ', Tiberian: ' / '; ISO 259-3: ' / ') and ''Hebrew people'' are mostly considered synonymous with the Semitic-speaking Israelites, especially in the pre-monarchic period when they were still ...
, God commands
Moses Moses hbo, מֹשֶׁה, Mōše; also known as Moshe or Moshe Rabbeinu (Mishnaic Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ, ); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, Mūše; ar, موسى, Mūsā; grc, Mωϋσῆς, Mōÿsēs () is considered the most important pro ...
to make sure that all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the Mount Sinai (Heb 8:2,5). After the " Great Disappointment", preacher O. R. L. Crosier, Hiram Edson, and F. B. Hahn published new insights into Christ's sanctuary ministry that Jesus began to minister in the heavenly sanctuary after His ascension (Heb 9:24). Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) believes that just as the
high priest The term "high priest" usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest, or to one who is the head of a religious caste. Ancient Egypt In ancient Egypt, a high priest was the chief priest of any of the many gods rever ...
completed the special ministry on
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּפּוּר, , , ) is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism. It occurs annually on the 10th of Tishrei, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Primarily centered on atonement and repentance, the day's o ...
and blessed the Israelites. Christ will come and bless his people after cleaning the Holy of Holies in heaven (Heb 9:23).


See also

*
Church tabernacle A tabernacle or sacrament house is a fixed, locked box in which the Eucharist (consecrated communion hosts) is stored as part of the " reserved sacrament" rite. A container for the same purpose, which is set directly into a wall, is called an ...
, the box in which the Eucharist is kept in some Christian denominations *
Foundation Stone The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time ...
, the rock at the centre of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem *
Honden In Shinto shrine architecture, the , also called , or sometimes as in Ise Shrine's case, is the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine, intended purely for the use of the enshrined ''kami'', usually symbolized by a mirror or sometimes by a s ...
, the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine * Holy of Holies (LDS Church), a small room located in the
Salt Lake Temple The Salt Lake Temple is a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. At , it is the largest Latter-day Saint temple by floor area. Dedicated in 1893, it is the sixth templ ...
* Most Holy Place, in various religions * Sanctum sanctorum, a Latin translation of the biblical term ''Holy of Holies'' *
Solomon's Temple Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple (, , ), was the Temple in Jerusalem between the 10th century BC and . According to the Hebrew Bible, it was commissioned by Solomon in the United Kingdom of Israel before being inherited by the ...
, in ancient Jerusalem * Warren's Gate, an ancient entrance into the Temple platform in Jerusalem


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Holy Of Holies Tabernacle and Temples in Jerusalem Yom Kippur Eastern Christian liturgy Jewish sacrificial law Hebrew Bible words and phrases Superlatives in religion Ark of the Covenant