Definition of bema in English:



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

    • ‘Nothing to date has been found in them to indicate ritual space, such as the bema of the Byzantine-period synagogues.’
    • ‘At the Bema the clergy will sit, among the people, to listen to the Word of God in the obedient attitude of the disciples.’
    • ‘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.’
    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!’’
      • ‘It has a beautiful arched stained glass window above the bimah, portraying the 10 Commandments in Hebrew.’
      • ‘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 wooden canopied bimah was not in the middle of the shul, but - in Sephardic fashion - just to the right of the entrance doorway.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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