Definition of bema in English:


Syllabification: be·ma
Pronunciation: /ˈbēmə

noun (plural bemas or bemata /-mətə/)

  • 1The altar part or sanctuary in ancient and Orthodox churches.
    More example sentences
    • 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.
  • 1.1 (bima, bimah) Judaism The podium or platform in a synagogue from which the Torah and Prophets are read.
    More example sentences
    • 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.
  • 1.2 historical The platform from which orators spoke in ancient Athens.
    More example sentences
    • 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.


late 17th century: from Greek bēma 'step, raised place'.

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