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Holiness


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The Hebrew word for ‘holiness’, kedushah, conveys the twin ideas of separation from and dedication to something and hence holiness as a religious ideal refers to the attitude and state of mind in which certain activities and thoughts are rejected in order to come closer to God. The concept is found in a general sense in two biblical verses. At the theophany at Sinai, the ideal of holiness is expressed in the words: ‘And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation’ (Exodus 19: 6). The introductory verse to the Holiness Code (as it is called by modern scholars) states: ‘Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, And say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy’ (Leviticus 19: 2). In the first verse, Israel is to be separate from other nations as a holy nation dedicated to God. In the second verse, the plain meaning would seem to be: separate yourselves from the illicit practices mentioned later in the Holiness Code in order to be holy because God is holy.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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