Definition of bema in English:


nounPlural bemata, Plural bemas

  • 1The altar part or sanctuary in ancient and Orthodox churches.

    • ‘Further, Loosley has initiated discussion on an even bigger problem: much more work needs to be done on all of the churches of northern Syria, not just those containing bemata.’
    • ‘At the far end of every ancient pagan basilica there was an elevated area called the bema.’
    • ‘At the Bema the clergy will sit, among the people, to listen to the Word of God in the obedient attitude of the disciples.’
    • ‘Nothing to date has been found in them to indicate ritual space, such as the bema of the Byzantine-period synagogues.’
    holy place, temple, shrine, tabernacle, altar, sanctum, inner sanctum, holy of holies, sacrarium, naos, adytum
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The podium or platform in a synagogue from which the Torah and Prophets are read.
      • ‘Just prior to Ne'ilah (the concluding service of Yom Kippur), one of the Chassidic masters ascended the bimah and said tearfully, ‘My dear brothers and sisters!’’
      • ‘Gordon spoke with passion about the importance of renewable energy, and then stepped down from the carved mahogany bimah to join the crowd in a meal of chicken and noodle pudding.’
      • ‘The interior remains faithful to the traditional Sephardic liturgy, with the congregation seated face to face and the Rabbi standing on the bimah opposite the Ark.’
      • ‘The wooden canopied bimah was not in the middle of the shul, but - in Sephardic fashion - just to the right of the entrance doorway.’
      • ‘It has a beautiful arched stained glass window above the bimah, portraying the 10 Commandments in Hebrew.’
      • ‘The Rabbi who led the congregation was so overjoyed with his prayer, that he danced and shouted the songs, and pounded the bimah as he chanted.’
      • ‘When Ellen read it from the bimah on Shabbat, I was deeply moved.’
    2. 1.2historical The platform from which orators spoke in ancient Athens.
      • ‘His first attempt to speak in public proved a failure, and he retired from the bema amidst the hootings and laughter of the citizens.’
      • ‘This is the "Bema," the orator's stand, whence speak the "demagogues," the molders of Athenian public opinion.’
      • ‘The crowd laughed at any speaker's awkwardness or mispronunciations; it hated hearing any speaker going off the topic; it whistled and clapped loudly to force the speaker from the bema.’


Late 17th century: from Greek bēma ‘step, raised place’.