- Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the
Hebrew Biblewhich referred to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacleand later the Temple in Jerusalemwhich could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.
Judaismand certain branches of Christianity, including the Eastern Orthodox Churchand the Ethiopian Orthodox Churchas well as the Latter Day Saints, continue to have a tradition of a Holy of Holies which they regard as a most sacred site.
The Kadosh Hakadashim, Hebrew: (Biblical: hbrqofhbrholamhbrdalethbrsegolhbrshin. hbrhehbrpatahhbrqqofhbrhqamazhbrdalethbrqamazhbrshin.hbrhiriqmhbrmems "unicode|Qṓḏeš HaqQŏḏāšîm"), "Holy of Holies", the most sacred site in traditional
Judaism, is the inner sanctuary within the Tabernacleand Temple in Jerusalemwhen Solomon's Templeand the Second Templewere standing. Traditional Judaismregards the location where the inner sanctuary was originally located, on the Temple Mountin 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 Aaronand 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. Josephusrecords that Pompeyprofaned the Temple by 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 incensebefore the mercy seat.
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
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
Eastern Orthodox Churchhas received the Tradition of the Holy of Holies in the Temple area. The Holy Table(altar) in an Orthodox temple 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 Doorsor Royal Doors (sometimes, in very small chapels, there will only be one side door). There will also be a veilbehind 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. Persons below the rank of deaconmay enter only if there exist the other doors besides the Royal Doors. 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 iconof the Theotokoson 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 Doorsto a small table set near the Holy Table(Altar), and there he would be given Holy Communionby the Metropolitan of Moscowin 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 abbessin her own monastery, who is free to enter at any time. No one, male or female, should 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".
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
cognateterm 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.
Salt Lake Templeof 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(sourcetext|source=Bible|version=King James|book=Exodus|chapter=25|verse=22) and modern revelation.
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. This can include exclusive clubs or places where only those with the right credentials will be allowed in - though it can also be used humorously as well of just about anywhere.
Most Holy Place
* Sanctum Sanctorum
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