Holy of Holies

The Holy of Holies (Tiberian Hebrew: קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים Qṓḏeš HaQŏḏāšîm) is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where God's presence appeared. The area was defined by four pillars which held up the veil of the covering, under which the Ark of the Covenant was held above the floor. The Ark according to Hebrew Scripture contained the Ten Commandments, which were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Ark of the Covenant was supposed to be kept.

The Crusaders associated it with the Well of Souls,[1] which is located under the Foundation Stone of the Dome of the Rock.

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A model of the Tabernacle showing the holy place, and behind it the Holy of Holies

Hebrew terminology and translation

Holman The Holy of Holies
Depiction of a Jewish High Priest wearing Hoshen and Ephod included as an illustration in a Christian Bible; the Holy of Holies is in the background (1890, Holman Bible)

The construction "Holy of Holies" is a literal translation of a Hebrew idiom which is intended to express a superlative. 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.

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. The King James Version of the Bible has been in existence for over 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" was used to refer to the "Holy of Holies" in many English documents.

A related term is the debir (דְּבִיר) transliterated in the Septuagint (the Greek translation as dabir (δαβιρ),[2] which either means the back (i.e. western) part of the Sanctuary,[3] or derives from the verb stem D-V-R, "to speak", justifying the translation in the Latin Vulgate as oraculum, from which the traditional English translation "oracle" (KJV, 1611) derives.[4]

Ancient Israel


Layout of the tabernacle with the holy and holy of holies

According to the Hebrew Bible, in order that God may dwell among the Israelites, God gave Moses instructions for erecting a sanctuary. The directions provide for:

  1. A wooden ark, gilded inside and outside, for the Tablets of the Covenant, with a pure gold cover as the "mercy seat" for the Divine Presence;
  2. A gilt table for the "Table of Showbread", on which loaves of bread were arranged;
  3. A golden menorah, lampstand of 7 oil lamps for a light never to be extinguished;
  4. The dwelling, including the curtains for the roof, the walls made of boards resting on silver feet and held together by wooden 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;
  5. A sacrificial altar made of bronzed boards for its korban/sacrifice;
  6. The outer court formed by pillars resting on bronze pedestals and connected by hooks and crossbars of silver, with embroidered curtains;
  7. Recipe and preparation of the oil for the Lampstand.

According to the Bible, the Holy of Holies was covered by a veil,[5] and no one was allowed to enter except the High Priest, and even he would only enter once a year on Yom Kippur,[6] to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense. The Bible reports that in the wilderness, on the day that the tabernacle was first raised up, the cloud of the Lord covered the tabernacle (Exodus 40:33-40:34). 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 Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant with representation of Cherubim.

Upon completion of the dedication of the Tabernacle, the Voice of God spoke to Moses "from between the Cherubim" (Numbers 7:89).

Solomon's Temple

Brockhaus and Efron Jewish Encyclopedia e15 669-0
Solomon's Temple which was on the site prior to the building of the Second Temple

The Holy of Holies, the most sacred site in Judaism, is the inner sanctuary within the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem when Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple were standing. A brocade curtain (Hebrew: parochet), made with cherubim motifs woven directly into the fabric from the loom, divided the Holy of Holies from the lesser Holy place.[7] The Holy of Holies was located in the westernmost end of the Temple building, being a perfect cube: 20 cubits 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 and a pot of manna were also in the ark.[8] The Ark was covered with a lid made of pure gold, known as the "mercy seat" (Exodus 37:6) which was covered by the beaten gold cherubim wings, creating the space for the Divine Presence (Exodus 25:22).

Second Temple

Model of the Second Temple

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. 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.).[9] Josephus records that Pompey profaned the Temple by insisting on entering the Holy of Holies in 63 BCE.[10] When Titus captured the city during the Great Revolt, 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 which sat on top of the ark in the First Temple (the Second Temple 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 golden censers were 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.[11]

In Rabbinical Judaism

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 Kodesh Hakodashim[under discussion] is a subject of dispute.

Women praying in the Western Wall tunnels by David Shankbone
Women praying in the tunnel at the closest physical point not under Islamic Waqf jurisdiction to the Holy of Holies

Traditional Judaism regards the Holy of Holies as the place where the presence of God dwells. The Talmud gives detailed descriptions of Temple architecture and layout. According to the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Yoma, the Kodesh Hakodashim is located in the center North-South but significantly to the West from an East–West perspective, with all the major courtyards and functional areas lying to its east.

The Talmud supplies additional details, and describes the ritual performed by the High Priest. During the ritual, the High Priest would pronounce the Tetragrammaton, 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, 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.[12][13]

Synagogue architecture

Judaism regards the Torah ark, a place in a synagogue where the Torah scrolls are kept, as a miniature Holy of Holies.

The rock of the Dome of the Rock Corrected
The Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock, a possible historical location for the Kodesh Hakodashim.

Modern location

The Crusaders associated the Holy of Holies with the Well of Souls, which is located under the Foundation Stone of the Dome of the Rock.[1] Most Orthodox Jews today completely avoid climbing up to Temple Mount, to prevent them from accidentally stepping on the Most Holy Place or any sanctified areas. A few Orthodox Jewish authorities, following the opinion of the medieval scholar Maimonides, 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, seek to conform to the minimal requirements for coming near the Temple, such as immersing in a mikvah ("collection of water"), not coming during or following menstruation or immediately following a seminal emission, not showing their back towards its presumed location, and other strictures.

To avoid religious conflict, Jewish visitors caught praying or bringing ritual objects are usually expelled from the area by police.[14]

In apocryphal literature

According to the ancient apocryphal Lives of the Prophets, after the death of Zechariah ben Jehoiada, the priests of the Temple could no more, as before, see the apparitions of the angels of the Lord, nor could make divinations with the Ephod, nor give responses from the Debir.[15]


New Testament

The Greek New Testament retains the pre-Christian Septuagint phrase "Holy of the Holies" hágion (sg n) tōn hagíōn (ἅγιον τῶν ἁγίων)[16] without the definite article as "Holies of Holies" hágia (pl n) hagíōn (ἅγια ἁγίων)[17] in Hebrews 9:3. In the Vulgate, 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 Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome was a faithful translation for Christian Rome.

Christian traditions

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. The ciborium, a permanent canopy over the altar in some churches, once surrounded by curtains at points in the liturgy, symbolizes the Holy of Holies. Some Christian churches, particularly the Catholic Church, consider the Church tabernacle, or its location (often at the rear of the sanctuary), as their symbolic equivalent of the Holy of Holies, due to the storage of consecrated host in that vessel.

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Greek phrase refers to the Tabernacle or Temple. The name in Greek for the sanctuary of a church is Ἱερόν Βῆμα (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 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, where the tabot 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 Three ways to enter (most of the time) and those three doors are also a way to reveal the Holy Trinity. In the middle there is always an Altar where the Church's Tabot is kept. There can be as many altars as the number of Tabots."[18]

Malabar Nasrani tradition

A Syro Malabar Catholic Church or Nasrani Palli
A church of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala, South India still following the Jewish Christian tradition of keeping the Holy of Holies veiled by a red curtain in the tradition of the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem, much like their Orthodox counterparts viz. the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church.

The Saint Thomas Christians (also known as Nasrani or Syrian Christians) from Kerala, South India still follow much Jewish Christian tradition.[19] 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 (derived from the Syriac word "Qurobo" meaning "sacrifice").[19]

Roman Catholic Church

The Latin Vulgate 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, due to the object being a storage chamber for consecrated host and thus where the presence of God is most represented.

The Vulgate also refers to the Holy of Holies with the plural form Sancta sanctorum (2 Chr 5:7), arguably a synecdoche 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. 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 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) 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 Church's interpretation of the Book of Exodus (Exodus 25:22) and Latter-day Saint religious texts.

See also


  1. ^ a b Ritmeyer, Kathleen (1 January 2006). Secrets of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Biblical Archaeology Society. p. 104. ISBN 9781880317860.
  2. ^ Strong's Concordance, Gesenius devir
  3. ^ The Solomonic Debir according to the Hebrew Text of I Kings 6 J. Ouellette - Journal of Biblical Literature, 1970 - JSTOR "The immediate implication of this reading is that the holy of holies was built "from within the debir," that is ... The LXX simply transliterates dabir, while the Vulgate has "oraculum", thus suggesting a derivation from dbr "to speak."
  4. ^ The Damaged "blueprints" of the Temple of Solomon. L. Waterman - Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 1943 - JSTOR "The term "holy of holies" has long been accepted as a later descriptive term applied to the debir. The Hebrew word debir, rendered "oracle" in the versions, is a mistranslation based on a false etymology. The term itself signifies only the back or part behind, for example."
  5. ^ Exodus 26:31-33
  6. ^ Leviticus 16
  7. ^ Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 72b); Rashi's Commentary and Aramaic Targum of Exodus 26:31. The "parochet" was "the work of an artisan," meaning, one who was skilled in motifs worked into the loom. Brocade refers to the decorative elements inserted into the weft on the loom, unlike embroidery which is added to the finished cloth.
  8. ^ Midrash Rabba, Midrash HaGadol, et al.; Hebrews 9:4 in the New Testament
  9. ^ Midrash HaGadol on Exodus 26:31; Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 72b)
  10. ^ The War of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 7
  11. ^ Kershner, Isabel (8 December 2015). "A Carved Stone Block Upends Assumptions About Ancient Judaism". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  12. ^ Talmud Mas. Pesachim 26a
  13. ^ Talmud Mas. Eiruvin 105a
  14. ^ Shragai, Nadav (1 September 2003). "Three Jews Expelled from Temple Mount for Praying". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  15. ^ The Lives of the Prophets - Zechariah son of Jehoiada
  16. ^ "Ezekiel". google.com.
  17. ^ "NEW ADVENT BIBLE: Hebrews 9". newadvent.org.
  18. ^ Stuart C. Munro-Hay, Ethiopia, the unknown land: a cultural and historical guide, (London: I.B.Tauris, 2002). p. 50
  19. ^ a b Ross, Israel J. (1979). "Ritual and Music in South India: Syrian Christian Liturgical Music in Kerala". Asian Music. 11 (1): 80–98.
Ahiman Rezon

The Book of Constitutions of this Grand Lodge or Ahiman Rezon (אֲחִימָן רְזוֹן) was a constitution written by Laurence Dermott for the Antient Grand Lodge of England which was formed in 1751. The formation of the Ancient Grand Lodge brought together lodges and Masons who, believing themselves to be part of an older, original Masonic tradition, had chosen not to ally themselves with the previously formed Moderns Grand Lodge of 1717.

The title Ahiman Rezon has been often said to be of the Hebrew language and variously mean "to help a brother", "will of selected brethren", "The secrets of prepared brethren", "Royal Builders" and "Brother Secretary". Upon more inspection however the words Ahiman and Rezon are two Biblical figures. Ahiman was one of four Levite gatekeepers appointed by King David, the others being Shallum, Akkub, and Talmon who guarded the Holy of Holies. Rezon, a fallen prince, eventually came to lead a group of Marauders to seize Syria where he became king and was constantly entangled in feuds against King Solomon. The reason why Laurence Dermott used it, and what it meant to him, remains a mystery however some have speculated that Dermott chose these names to show exactly how the Ancient Freemasons felt in relation to the Modern Freemasons. Ancients sought to retain a purist form of Freemasonry, which they viewed as being holy. The Modernist sought to change Masonry, and were in the process removing the old ways entirely. Dermott saw the Ancients akin to Ahiman, guarding the Holiest of Holies-Masonry, and likewise to Rezon as his movement (the Ancient Freemasons) were rivaling the Modernist movement, much like Rezon's rivalry with King Solomon who had become unclean in the eyes of the Lord.

The Ahiman Rezon prepared by Smith in 1781, and used by Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, as well as Daicho's edition of 1807, used by the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons of South Carolina, are both based on the original text written by Laurence Dermott, which was first published in A.D. 1756 or the year of Masonry A.L. 5756.

Beth din shel Kohanim

The Beth Din of the priests or Court of the Priests ("house of judgement of the priests" Hebrew: בית דין של כהנים) was the court of Jewish law, composed of twenty-three senior priests that would oversee the day-to-day operation of the Temple in Jerusalem, including the sacrifices and offerings, the verification of Aaronic lineage, and the safeguarding of the vessels used in the Temple. The term Beth Din shel kohanim is mentioned by name only twice in Tannaitic and once in Amoraic literature, and has caused confusion regarding its meaning.The Beth din of the priests functioned on behalf and support of the Sanhedrin (Hebrew: סַנְהֶדְרִין), and performed its duties in the eleven Ammoth located between the western wall of the Holy of Holies structure and the western wall of the azarah (temple courtyard). This area was also known in Hebrew as achurei Beth HaKaporeth ("behind the Holy of Holies").Generally, the authority of the original Beth din shel Kohanim superseded that of the Sanhedrin in areas of interest relating to the Temple and to those related to the priesthood.

Some scholars are of the opinion that the 23 member body of the Beth din shel Kohanim also served in the Sanhedrin as a third of the 71 members serving therein.

Dome of the Spirits

The Dome of the Spirits or Dome of the Tablets (Arabic:, transliteration: Kubbat Al Arvah) is a small dome resting on a hexagonal base. It is probably located on the site of what was the Holy of Holies of the first and second temple in the north-west of the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.Several explanations exist concerning its name, which could be associated with the proximity of the cave of the spirits or according to a legend, the souls of the deads will be gathered there for prayers.Its other name, Dome of Tablets, comes from the Tablets of Stone, kept in the Ark of the Covenant.It was built in the tenth century.

Foundation Stone

The Foundation Stone (Hebrew: אבן השתייה‎ Even ha-Shtiyya or Hebrew: סֶּלַע‏‎ Selā‛, Arabic: الصخرة المشرفة‎ al-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah "The Noble Rock") is the name of the rock at the centre of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is also known as the Pierced Stone because it has a small hole on the southeastern corner that enters a cavern beneath the rock, known as the Well of Souls. There is a difference of opinion in classical Jewish sources as to whether this was the location of the Holy of Holies or of the Outer Altar. According to those that hold it was the site of the Holy of Holies, that would make this the holiest site in Judaism (Tanhuma, chapter 10).Jewish tradition views the Holy of Holies as the spiritual junction of Heaven and Earth, the axis mundi, and is therefore the direction that Jews face when praying the Amidah. The other view, that this was the site of the Outer Altar, would explain the holes in the stone which served various sacrificial purposes in the Outer Altar. From a classical Jewish textual standpoint, there is no conclusive opinion on the matter.

Holy of Holies (LDS Church)

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the Holy of Holies is a room in the Salt Lake Temple wherein the church's president—acting as the Presiding High Priest of the church—enters to act as High Priest of Israel in direct relationship with God, in accordance with the LDS interpretation of the Book of Exodus. Hence, this Holy of Holies in the temple is considered by adherents to be a modern cognate to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem. The room was also the place where the second anointing ordinance was administered, although, now any room in a temple set apart for this purpose is used.

Holy of Holies (disambiguation)

Holy of Holies may refer to:

Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle

Well of Souls, also called the Holy of Holies by medieval Christians, who believed the site marked the annunciation of John the Baptist


In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis (plural: iconostases) is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church. The iconostasis evolved from the Byzantine templon, a process complete by the fifteenth century.

A direct comparison for the function of the main iconostasis can be made to the layout of the great Temple in Jerusalem. That Temple was designed with three parts. The holiest and inner-most portion was that where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This portion, the Holy of Holies, was separated from the second larger part of the building's interior by a curtain, the "veil of the temple". Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. The third part was the entrance court. This architectural tradition for the two main parts can be seen carried forward in Christian churches and is still most demonstratively present in Eastern Orthodox churches where the iconostasis divides the altar, the Holy of Holies where the Eucharist is performed – the manifestation of the New Covenant – from the larger portion of the church accessible to the faithful. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition only men can enter the altar portion behind the iconostasis. However one will see women serving behind the iconostasis at female monasteries.

The word comes from the Greek εἰκονοστάσι(-ον) (eikonostási(-on), still in common use in Greece and Cyprus), which means "icon stand".

Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen

For the 3rd-generation Tanna sage, see Rabbi Ishmael (ben Elisha). For the 3rd-century Tanna sage, see Ishmael ben Jose.

Ishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen (Hebrew: רבי ישמעאל בן אלישע כהן גדול‎, "Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha Kohen Gadol", lit. "Rabbi Ishmael ben (son of) Elisha [the] Kohen Gadol (High priest)"; sometimes in short Ishmael ha-Kohen, lit. "Ishmael the Priest") was one of the prominent leaders of the first generation of the Tannaim.

Jewish tradition describes his father as High Priest in the Second Temple of Jerusalem, though no High Priest by the name Elisha is historically known. In the Talmud, he describes how he once entered the Holy of Holies, where God asked him for a blessing, and he replied by asking for God to treat Israel mercifully.Ishmael was also one of the Ten Martyrs, along with Shimon ben Gamliel. According to Jewish tradition, his son and daughter were taken captive as slaves in the Roman conquest. As the two slaves were both extremely beautiful, their respective owners decided to mate them together and share the offspring. They were brought together at night, when they could not see each other, but refused to cohabit. When they recognized each other in the morning, they embraced each other and cried until their souls departed. This story is recited in one of the Kinnot for Tisha BeAv, entitled "Ve'Et Navi Hatati".

Ishmael's traditional tomb is located in the Druze village of Sajur in the Upper Galilee.

Little Western Wall

The Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan (or just Kotel Katan) and the Small Kotel, (Hebrew: הכותל הקטן‎), is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount. The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period, (516 BCE – 70 CE). It is the continuation of the larger part of the Western Wall and almost exactly faces the Holy of Holies. HaKotel HaKatan is not as well-known and not as crowded as the larger part of the Western Wall. This section of the wall is of deep spiritual significance because of its close proximity to the Holy of Holies. However, it is not the closest location to the Holy of Holies, as there is a location in the Western Wall Tunnel which directly faces the Holy of Holies.

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as the Djeser-Djeseru (Ancient Egyptian: ḏsr ḏsrw "Holy of Holies"), is a mortuary temple of Ancient Egypt located in Upper Egypt. Built for the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut, it is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings. This mortuary temple is dedicated to Amun and Hatshepsut and is situated next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, which served both as an inspiration and later, a quarry. It is considered one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt."The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is responsible for the study and restoration of the three levels of the temple. As of early 1995, the first two levels were almost complete, and the top level was still under reconstruction.

Ordinance room

In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), an ordinance room is a room where the ceremony known as the Endowment is administered, as well as other ordinances such as Sealings. Some temples perform a progressive-style ordinance where patrons move from room to room, each room representing a progression of mankind: the Creation room, representing the Genesis creation story; the Garden room represents the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived prior to the fall of man; the World room, where Adam and Eve lived after the fall; the Terrestrial room; and the Celestial room representing the Celestial Kingdom of God, or more commonly, heaven. There is also an additional ordinance room, the Sealing room, and at least one temple has a Holy of Holies. These two rooms are reserved for the administration of ordinances beyond the Endowment. The Holy of Holies is representative of that talked about when the temple is discussed in the bible.


The parochet (Hebrew: פרוכת) (also paroches; from the Aramaic parokta meaning "curtain" or "screen" ) is the curtain that covers the Aron Kodesh (Torah Ark) containing the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) in a synagogue.

The parochet symbolizes the curtain that covered the Ark of the Covenant, based on Exodus 40:21. "He brought the ark into the Tabernacle and placed the screening dividing curtain so that it formed a protective covering before the Ark...".In most synagogues, the parochet which is used all year round is replaced during the High Holy Days with a white one.

The term parochet is used in the Bible to describe the curtain that separated the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) from the main hall called "Hekhal" of the Temple in Jerusalem. Its use in synagogues is a reference to the centrality of the Temple to Jewish worship.

The U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art in Jerusalem, Israel, houses the oldest surviving parochet, dating to 1572.

Sanctum sanctorum

The Latin phrase sanctum sanctorum is a translation of the Hebrew term Qṓḏeš HaQŏḏāšîm (Holy of Holies) which generally refers in Latin texts to the holiest place of the Tabernacle of the Israelites and later the Temples in Jerusalem, but also has some derivative use in application to imitations of the Tabernacle in church architecture.

The plural form sancta sanctorum is also used, arguably as a synecdoche, referring to the holy relics contained in the sanctuary. The Vulgate translation of the Bible uses sancta sanctorum for the Holy of Holies. Hence the derivative usage to denote the Sancta Sanctorum chapel in the complex of the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome.

In Hinduism, a temple's innermost part where the cult image (Murti) of the deity is kept forms the Garbha griha, also referred to as a sanctum sanctorum.

Solomon's Temple

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ: Beit HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE and its subsequent replacement with the Second Temple in 516 BCE. The period in which the First Temple presumably, or actually, stood in Jerusalem, is known in academic literature as the First Temple period (c.1000–586 BCE).The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah and that during the Kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh. During different periods of its operation, Asherah, Baal, the host of heaven and a solar deity were also worshipped in the high places. Temple worship included ritual sacrifice and ritual cleanings. It is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. The Jewish historian Josephus says that "the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built". This seems to be confirmed by very recent rare finds of abandoned jewellery, evidence of burnt stones and arrowheads dating from the Babylonian period.Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. In modern times, the Israel Antiquities Authority took advantage of a Waqf project to lay an electric cable in order to conduct a partial excavation, during which artifacts dating to the late First Temple period were discovered in situ for the first time.. In parallel, a massive project is currently underway to sort rubble created when Jordan's Waqf dug new entrances on the mount, potentially destroying a great deal of ancient material in what has been called "an archaeological crime".An ivory pomegranate which mentions priests in the house "of ---h", and an inscription recording the Temple's restoration under Jehoash have both appeared on the antiquities market, but their authenticity has been challenged, and they are subjects of controversy.

The House of the Lord

The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern is a 1912 book by James E. Talmage that discusses the doctrine and purpose of the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Published by the LDS Church, it was the first book to contain photographs of the interiors of Mormon temples.

On September 16, 1911, the Salt Lake Tribune published an account of individuals who had secretly taken photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple while it was undergoing renovation. The photographers had written to the church's First Presidency in a blackmail attempt. The church was offered the photographs for $100,000. If the church refused to pay, the photographers threatened to publicly display the photographs. Church president Joseph F. Smith was outraged and refused to deal with the photographers.In response to this report, Talmage wrote to the First Presidency and proposed the church pre-empt the revelation of the photographs by authorizing the publication of a book that contained high-quality photographs of the interior of temples. Talmage also proposed that the book could contain an explanation of the purpose and importance of temples to Latter-day Saints. The First Presidency agreed with Talmage's proposal and on September 22 assigned Talmage to produce such a book. The book was completed on September 30, 1912. During the time he was working on the book, Talmage was ordained as a church apostle in December 1911.The House of the Lord contained 46 photographic plates with descriptive captions and included photos of the interiors and exteriors of the six temples that built by 1912: the Kirtland, Nauvoo, Salt Lake, St. George, Logan, and Manti temples. The majority of the photos—31 of them—were of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple, including one of the temple's Holy of Holies. In the 1968 edition of the book, the photograph of the Holy of Holies was omitted.Talmage's book "had a significant and long-lasting effect on nonmembers and members alike". The book has gone through a number of editions and remains in print. In October 2010, an adapted excerpt from the book was published by the LDS Church in its official magazine. In 2000, Signature Books published a 1912 first-edition reproduction.

Warren's Gate

Warren's Gate, first described by the nineteenth century surveyor Charles Warren, is an ancient entrance into the Temple platform in Jerusalem which lies about 150 feet (46 m) into the Western Wall Tunnel. In the Second Temple period, the gate led to a tunnel and staircase onto the Temple Mount.

After the Rashidun Caliphate conquest of Jerusalem from the Byzantines, Jews were allowed to pray inside the tunnel. The synagogue was destroyed in the First Crusade in the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099. The tunnel then became a water cistern, thus its name Cistern 30.The area is surrounded by a vaulted 18-foot (5.5 m) tunnel.

Rabbi Yehuda Getz, the late official Rabbi of the Western Wall, believed that the Gate represented the point west of the Wall closest to the Holy of Holies. An underground dispute broke out in July 1981 between Jewish explorers inside Warren's gate and Arab guards who came down to meet them through surface cistern entries. A small underground riot ensued which was only stopped when the Jerusalem police came in to restore the peace.

Well of Souls

This article describes the cave in Jerusalem. For the series of novels by Jack Chalker see Well World.

The Well of Souls (Arabic: بئر الأرواح‎ Bir al-Arwah; sometimes translated Pit of Souls, Cave of Spirits, or Well of Spirits in Islam), also known in Christianity and Judaism by the time of the Crusades as the Holy of Holies, is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem. The name "Well of Souls" derives from a medieval Islamic legend that at this place the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgment Day. The name has also been applied to a depression in the floor of this cave and a hypothetical chamber that may exist beneath it.For Christians, the site is known as the Holy of Holies (alluding to the former inner sanctuary within the Temple in Jerusalem) and is venerated as a possible site of the annunciation of John the Baptist, since Luke says it happened in the Temple. The site has never been subject to an archeological investigation and political and diplomatic sensitivities currently preclude this.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (; Hebrew: יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.


Zion (Hebrew: צִיּוֹן‎ Ṣîyōn, modern Tsiyyon; also transliterated Sion, Sayon, Syon, Tzion, Tsion) is a placename often used as a synonym for Jerusalem as well as for the biblical Land of Israel as a whole. The word is first found in 2 Samuel 5:7 which dates from c. 630–540 BCE according to modern scholarship. It originally referred to a specific hill in Jerusalem (Mount Zion), located to the south of Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount). Mount Zion held a Jebusite fortress of the same name that was conquered by David and was re-named the City of David; see Names of Jerusalem. That specific hill ("mount") is one of the many squat hills that form Jerusalem, which also includes Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount), the Mount of Olives, etc. Over many centuries, until as recently as the Ottoman era, the city walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt many times in new locations, so that the particular hill known as Mount Zion is no longer inside the city wall, but its location is now just outside the portion of the Old City wall forming the southern boundary of the Jewish Quarter of the current Old City. Most of the original City of David itself is thus also outside the current city wall.

The term Tzion came to designate the area of Davidic Jerusalem where the fortress stood, and was used as well as synecdoche for the entire city of Jerusalem; and later, when Solomon's Temple was built on the adjacent Mount Moriah (which, as a result, came to be known as the Temple Mount) the meanings of the term Tzion were further extended by synecdoche to the additional meanings of the Temple itself, the hill upon which the Temple stood, the entire city of Jerusalem, the entire biblical Land of Israel, and "the World to Come", the Jewish understanding of the afterlife.

In Kabbalah, the more esoteric reference is made to Tzion being the spiritual point from which reality emerges, located in the Holy of Holies of the First, Second and Third Temple.

Temple Mount
See also
Holy Land
Tombs of
biblical figures


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