Definition of bema in English:


nounplural noun bemas, plural noun bemata/-mətə/

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

    ‘At the far end of every ancient pagan basilica there was an elevated area called the bema.’
    • ‘Nothing to date has been found in them to indicate ritual space, such as the bema of the Byzantine-period synagogues.’
    • ‘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 Bema the clergy will sit, among the people, to listen to the Word of God in the obedient attitude of the disciples.’
    holy place, temple, shrine, tabernacle, altar, sanctum, inner sanctum, holy of holies, sacrarium, bema, naos, adytum
    1. 1.1The 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!’’
      • ‘When Ellen read it from the bimah on Shabbat, I was deeply moved.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘It has a beautiful arched stained glass window above the bimah, portraying the 10 Commandments in Hebrew.’
      • ‘The wooden canopied bimah was not in the middle of the shul, but - in Sephardic fashion - just to the right of the entrance doorway.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 historical 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.’
      • ‘This is the "Bema," the orator's stand, whence speak the "demagogues," the molders of Athenian public opinion.’
      • ‘His first attempt to speak in public proved a failure, and he retired from the bema amidst the hootings and laughter of the citizens.’



/ˈbēmə/ /ˈbimə/


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