As is well documented in the Bible and elsewhere, in Bible times, the innermost area of a temple (often referred to as the Holy of Holies) was only permitted to be occupied by the head priest, and even then only once per year.

My question is: when during planning or construction was that location designated as a holy place?

Until designated as a holy place I would assume that craftsmen, construction workers, etc. would be allowed to occupy that space during construction, but I don't know for sure. It's also possible that the head priest would do all the work himself, but am not familiar with the culture and skills of that time period to know for sure whether he'd have been a jack-of-all-trades, or if the skilled construction would be performed by others.

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    – MCW
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 21:14
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    This question might get a better answer on Mi Yodea, where there are several experts in Judaism. Would you be open to migration there?
    – Robert Columbia
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 23:05
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    Are you confusing "A" temple with "THE" temple? The most important Jewish sacrifices had to be performed at the Jerusalem temple, specially built for that (e.g., this is the point of dispute with the Samaritans). Given the amount of specific instructions and the importance of the rites, it certainly would be the "holy of holies" as soon as completed.
    – Luiz
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 13:17
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    @Luiz Yeah; This needs a timeframe, at least pre/post Hezekiah. And if not provided ideally in the Q, then at least in the As… // (at)OP: Please clarify; this seems as if you assume a valid answer to cover almost one millennium of 'unchanging' practices? The usage of "a temple" seems to set the focus into a quite early timeslot? Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 14:49
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    I'm reluctant to close a question that has several good answers.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 15:21

3 Answers 3


The point at which The Temple became holy would be from its dedication forward.
The Temple was rebuilt a few times. Below is the dedication for the first temple.

1 Kings chapter 8 gives a description of the events surrounding the dedication which involved:

  • Gathering of the nation's leadership v 1-5
  • The installation of The Ark v 6-9
  • A cloud filling the holy place symbolizing the presence of God v 10-11
  • A speech from the king v 12-21
  • Prayer by the king v 22-53
  • Closing speech by the king v 54-61
  • Sacrifices to God v 62-64
  • A festival v 65-66
  • The first line is an assertion without supporting references. The First Temple is Solomon's, and as he was likely not a historical figure to be taken literally: therefore these very much later texts approach a back-projection, but not the reality on the ground at the time? Would the above then apply to Tabernacles, 'Heights', or 2nd Temple buildings, in Jerusalem or elsewhere as well? Which of your bullets showing the "surrounding" would be 'the dedication'? 1st, last, one between, all of them? Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:00

Actually, in Jewish law, non-high priests are allowed in the Holy of Holies not only during the original construction, but when renovations or repairs are needed. Maimonides, in his code of Jewish law (Laws of the Holy Temple 7:23), thus states:

When builders [are required] to enter the Temple building to construct or repair it... it is a mitzvah for the [craftsmen] who enter to be priests who do not possess any disqualifying physical deformities. If no [capable craftsmen meeting those criteria] can be found, priests with disqualifying deformities should enter. If none are found, Levites should enter. If none are found, Israelites should enter... If no [capable craftsman] who are ritually pure can be found, impure [craftsmen] may enter.


Judging entirely from Christian religion, as I'm not really entirely familiar with Judaism and we know that a lot of Christian practices come from Judaism, probably the site is designated as "holy" sometime after construction. I can't say for sure when, but as an example, in Christian churches which also have a "holy place" which is in the east end of the temple, it is designated as holy through a ritual which happens post-construction.

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    Adding a source or two would improve your answer. Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 14:44
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    I don't have sources since I'm Greek and Christian and am speaking entirely from my personal experience and knowledge
    – G. Rig
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 12:35

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