From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Semitic triliteral Q-D-S. For the acronym QDS as used in quantum mechanics, see Quantum digital signature.

Q-D-Š (or Q-D-Sh, also transliterated Q-D-S) is a common triconsonantal Semitic root form used in various ancient and modern languages since at least the 3rd millennium BCE.[1][unreliable source?] The meanings expressed by this root are "holy", "sacred", "divine power", "to set apart", and "sanctuary".[1][2] The root is Q-D-Š in Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, and reconstructed Phoenician, and Q-D-S in Arabic, Maltese, and Ge'ez.


meaning "holy"
English Proto-West-Semitic Phoenician Aramaic Syriac Hebrew Arabic Maltese Ge'ez
Phoenician sin.svg-Phoenician daleth.svg-Phoenician qoph.svg
ܩ -ܕ -ܫ
ق د س
^[Note] Semitic scripts are rendered from right-to-left.

The root qdš was used frequently in West Semitic languages as a verb meaning "consecrate", whereas in Akkadian texts, the verb conjugated from this root meant to "clean, purify."[5][6] It could also be used as an adjective meaning "holy", and a substantive referring to a "sanctuary, sacred object, sacred personnel."[6] It was used this way in Ugaritic, as for example, in the words qidšu (meaning "holy place" or "chapel") and qad(i)šu (meaning "consecrated gift" or "cultic personnel").[6] In some Ugaritic texts, qdš is used as a divine epithet. For example, the gods are referred to as "the sons of holiness" or "the holy ones" (bn qdš), and in the 2nd millennium BCE epic poem the "Legend of Keret", the hero is described as "the son of El and the offspring of the Benevolent One and qdš".[6][7]

William Foxwell Albright believed that Qudšu (meaning "holiness") was a common Canaanite appellation for the goddess Asherah, and Albright's mentor Frank Moore Cross claimed qdš was used as a divine epithet for both Asherah and the Ugaritic goddess, Athirat.[6][8][9] Johanna Stucky claims she may have been a deity in her own right.[10]

Depictions of a goddess in inscriptions from Dynastic Egypt, thought to Canaanite since she is referred to as Qdš (often transliterated in English as Qedesha, Qudshu or Qetesh), show a woman in the nude, with curly hair and raised arms carrying lilies and serpents.[8][11] Qdš is also depicted in the pantheon of gods at Memphis, Egypt possibly indicating worship of her as independent deity there.[11] The word qdš also appears in the Pyrgi Tablets, a Phoenician text found in Italy that dates back to 500 BCE.[12]


Qudšu was later used in Jewish Aramaic to refer to God,[8] and Qudš is the proto-form of the Hebrew word qadōš, meaning "holy".[1] The triconsonantal root Q-D-Š appears some 830 times in the Hebrew Bible, where it is used to express the notion of holiness, and when attributed to God, is used to refer to his unspeakable nature.[13][14] Its use in the Hebrew Bible evokes ideas of separation from the profane, and proximity to the Otherness of God, while in nonbiblical Semitic texts, recent interpretations of its meaning link it to ideas of consecration, belonging, and purification.[15]

The Hebrew language, sacred to Jews, is called "The Holy Tongue" (Hebrew: לשון הקודש‎ "Lashon HaKodesh") since ancient times. In addition, the Hebrew term for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is Beit Hamikdash (Hebrew: בית המקדש‎, "the holy house"), and Ir Ha-Kodesh (Hebrew: עיר הקודש‎, "City of the Holy"), the latter being one of the tens of Hebrew names for Jerusalem.

Three theological terms that come from this root are Kiddush, which is sanctification of the Sabbath or a festival with a blessing over wine before the evening and noon meals, Kaddish, which is the sanctification prayer, and mourner's prayer, and Kedushah which is the responsive section of the reader's repetition of the Amidah.

Kedeshah, (קדשה), one of two different words for prostitute (see sacred prostitution) used in the Hebrew Bible, also derives from the Q-D-Š root.[16][17] While the word zonah (זנה) simply meant an ordinary prostitute or loose woman, whereas the word kedeshah literally means "consecrated female".[16][18][19] Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to the Canaanites, who used it to refer to a female deity whose identity is a matter of debate, the Hebrew Bible is quick to use the word for the common prostitute whenever the word kedeshah is used.

There are two different words describing places that use this root in the Hebrew Bible. One is Kedesh, which refers to a Canaanite village first documented in Joshua 20:7 and later in 2 Kings 15:29. The other is Kadesh, a place in the south of Ancient Israel, mentioned in Numbers 13:26 and Deuteronomy 2:14.

Root: Q-D-Š (קדש): meaning "holy" or "set apart"
Hebrew[Note] Transliteration Lexical category Gender Definition
קֹדֶשׁ qodesh noun masculine holiness
קִדֵּשׁ qiddesh verb to sanctify; to make kiddush
נתקדשה nhitqadsh (Talmudic) to be betrothed, to be married
מִקְדָּשׁ miqdash noun masculine temple
מְקֻדָּשׁ miqudash adjective holy, sacred, sanctified
מֻקְדָּשׁ muqdash dedicated, devoted
קִדּוּשׁ qidush noun masculine (Jewish ritual) Kiddush
קַדִּישׁ qadish (Jewish ritual) Kaddish
קְדֻשָּׁה q'dusha feminine sanctity, purity, holiness ; (Jewish ritual) Kedushah
קָדֵשׁ qadesh masculine (pagan ritual) male prostitute
קְדֵשָׁה qdesha feminine (pagan ritual) female prostitute
קֶדֶשׁ qedesh (Canaanite village) Kedesh
קָדֵשׁ qadesh (Place in the south of Ancient Israel) Kadesh


The verb form of Q-D-S in Arabic (qadus) means "to be holy" or "to be pure, immaculate".[20][21] Quds can be used as a noun to denote "paradise" or as an adjective meaning "purity" or "holiness".[21] The definite noun form, al-Quds (Arabic: القدس‎, "the holy one"), is the most common of seventeen Arabic Names of Jerusalem and derives from the Aramaean word for "temple" (qōdšā).[3][22] The Turkish word for Jerusalem, Kudüs, derives from the Arabic name.[23]

Two other names for Jerusalem also derive from the Q-D-S root: Bayt al-Muqqadas ("the holy house") and Bayt al-Maqdis.[20][22][23] The wider area around Jerusalem, or the Holy Land, is referred to in Arabic and in Islamic sources as al ard al-muqaddasa (also Bilād al-Muqaddasa), as it is full of shrines and connections to prophets and saints.[20][24] The Christian Bible is known in Arabic as al-Kitāb al-Muqaddas.[24] Muqaddas in Arabic means not only "holy" and "sacred", but also "hallowed, sanctified, dedicated, consecrated."[24]

Al-Quds also appears in Arabic as part of a phrase to refer to the Holy Spirit, Rúḥu 'l-Quds (or Rūḥu 'l'Qudus), with Ruh meaning "spirit".[25] This phrase appears in the Qur'an a number of times, where it is thought to refer in some cases to the angel Gabriel.[26]

The concept of Rúḥu 'l-Quds is also discussed at length by the Sufi mystic, ʻAbd al-Karim al-Jili, who further distinguishes between two other concepts derived from the Q-D-S root in Arabic: qudsi ("holy one") and aqdasi ("most holy one").[25] The qudsi is one who "unceasingly contemplates the Divine consciousness sirr ['secret'], which is his origin" and is "illuminated" by it, whereas the aqdasi ("most holy one") is one who is actually united with this Essence.[25]

Qudsi is also used in Arabic to refer to a Jerusalemite, or a native/resident of Jerusalem.[27] It and its derivatives, such as Maqdisi and al-Muqaddasi are used in Arabic surnames or as appellatives assigned to those who come from or live in Jerusalem.

The religious terms Hadith Qudsi ("holy hadith") and Tafsir Qudsi ("sacred commentary") also incorporate qudsi, though in this case it is used as an adjective, rather than a noun or pronoun. Tafsir Qudsi is a form of Quranic commentary, while Hadith Qudsi refers to the "utterances of God through the Prophet", thus enjoying a status higher than that the hadith writings in general, though lower than that of the Qur'an.[28]

Other derivatives of Q-D-S in Arabic include qudus, which means "purity", "sanctity", "saint" or "holy", and qadas, which is used to refer to a "small cup or plate", often used to put forth offerings at holy sites.[21] Taqdis means to "purify, sanctify, consecrate to God," taqqadus is to "be purified, sanctified, consecrated," and taqâdus means to "play the saint". Istiqdas means "to deem holy."[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bernal and Moore, 2001, pp. 141–142.
  2. ^ Becking, 2001, p. 129.
  3. ^ a b Kaplony, 2002, p. 218
  4. ^ Aquilina, 2006, p. 294
  5. ^ Botterweck et al., 1974, p. 525.
  6. ^ a b c d e van der Toorn et al., 1999, p. 415.
  7. ^ Köhler et al., 1994, p. 1076.
  8. ^ a b c Albright, 1990, pp. 121–122.
  9. ^ Hadley, 2000, p. 49.
  10. ^ Johanna Stuckey (2007), The "Holy One", MatriFocus, retrieved 2008-11-18 
  11. ^ a b van der Toorn, et al., 1999, p. 416.
  12. ^ Azize, 2005, p. 184.
  13. ^ Bales, 1991, p. 48.
  14. ^ Joosten, 1996, p. 123.
  15. ^ Deiss et al., 1996, p. 81.
  16. ^ a b Blue Letter Bible, Lexicon results for qĕdeshah (Strong's H2181), incorporating Strong's Concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
  17. ^ Also transliterated qĕdeshah, qedeshah, qědēšā ,qedashah, kadeshah, kadesha, qedesha, kdesha. A modern liturgical pronunciation would be k'deysha.
  18. ^ Associated with the corresponding verb zanah.
  19. ^ Blue Letter Bible, Lexicon results for zanah (Strong's H2181), incorporating Strong's concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857)
  20. ^ a b c Hillenbrand, 2000, p. 301.
  21. ^ a b c d Steingass, 1990, p. 823.
  22. ^ a b Binz, 2005, p. 2.
  23. ^ a b Room, 2003, p. 171.
  24. ^ a b c Tallis and Netton, 2006, p. 100-101.
  25. ^ a b c Nicholson, 1978, pp. 108-110.
  26. ^ Hughes and Hughes, 1996, p. 133.
  27. ^ Elihay, 2004, p. 435.
  28. ^ Glassé and Smith, 2001, p. 383.


  • Albright, William Foxwell (1990), Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths, EISENBRAUNS, ISBN 0-931464-01-3 
  • Aquilina, Joseph (2006), Concise Maltese–English English–Maltese Dictionary, Midsea Books Ltd, ISBN 99932-7-070-9 
  • Azize, Joseph (2005), The Phoenician Solar Theology: An Investigation Into the Phoenician Opinion of the Sun Found in Julian's Hymn to King Helios, Gorgias Press LLC, ISBN 1-59333-210-6 
  • Bales, Norman (1991), He Died to Make Men Holy, College Press, ISBN 0-89900-271-4 
  • Becking, Bob; Dijkstra, Meindert; Vriezen, Karel J. H. (2001), Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 1-84127-199-3 
  • Bernal, Martin; Moore, David Chioni (2001), Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics, Duke University Press, ISBN 0-8223-2717-1 
  • Binz, Stephen J. (2005), Jerusalem, the Holy City, Twenty-Third Publications, ISBN 1-58595-365-2 
  • Botterweck, G. Johannes; Ringgren, Helmer; Fabry, Heinz-Josef (1974), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-2336-X 
  • Deiss, Lucien; Burton, Jane M.-A.; Molloy, Donald (1996), Visions of Liturgy and Music for a New Century, Liturgical Press, ISBN 0-8146-2298-4 
  • Elihay, J. (2004), The Olive Tree Dictionary: A Transliterated Dictionary of Conversational Eastern Arabic (Palestinian), Kidron Publishing, ISBN 0-9759726-0-X 
  • Glassé, Cyril; Smith, Huston (2001), The New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, AltaMira Press, ISBN 0-7591-0189-2 
  • Hadley, Judith M. (2000), The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-66235-4 
  • Hillenbrand, Carole (2000), The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-92914-8 
  • Hughes, Thomas Patrick; Hughes, Patrick (1996), A Dictionary of Islam: Being a Cyclopaedia of the Doctrines, Rites, Ceremonies, and Customs, Together With the Technical and Theological Terms, of the Muhammadan Religion, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-0672-8 
  • Joosten, Jan (1996), People and Land in the Holiness Code: An Exegetical Study of the Ideational Framework of the Law in Leviticus 17-26, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-10557-3 
  • Köhler, Ludwig; Baumgartner, Walter; Richardson, Mervyn Edwin John; Stamm, Johann Jakob (1994), The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament v. 3, E.J. Brill 
  • Kaplony, Andreas (2002), The Ḥaram of Jerusalem, 324-1099: Temple, Friday Mosque, Area of Spiritual Power, Franz Steiner Verlag, ISBN 3-515-07901-7 
  • Room, Adrian (2003), Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for Over 5000 Natural Features, Countries, Capitals, Territories, Cities and Historic Sites, McFarland, ISBN 0-7864-1814-1 
  • Nicholson, Reynold Alleyne (1978), Studies in Islamic Mysticism, Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-0278-4 
  • Steingass, Francis (1993), Arabic-English Dictionary, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-0855-0 
  • Tallis, Raymond; Netton, Ian Richard (2006), Islam, Christianity and Tradition: A Comparative Exploration, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-2392-2 
  • van der Toorn, K.; Becking, Bob; van der Horst, Pieter Willem (1999), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible: DDD, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-2491-9