Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The root קדש (qadash) yields a small cluster of words that all have to do with holiness or sacredness. BDB Theological Dictionary proposes that this root perhaps reflects the idea of separateness, but HAW Theological Wordbook warns: "the fact that קדש (qadash) rarely, if ever, occurs in a secular sense makes any possible conclusion in this regard difficult [ . . . ]".
It is, however, quite certain that all things can be divided into holy (קדש, qadash) things and common (חלל, halal) things. And it should be noted that in the Bible the idea of holiness coincides with one-ness, wholeness and life, whereas the verb חלל (halal) that means to be profane or common is identical to the verb חלל (halal) meaning to pierce or puncture fatally.
This root's derivations are:
- The masculine noun קדש (qodesh), meaning apartness or sacredness, which may apply to divine attributes (Exodus 15:11, Isaiah 52:10), places (Deuteronomy 26:15, Ezra 9:8), buildings (Exodus 40:9 - specifically קדש הקדשים (qodesh haqodeshim); Holy of Holies - Exodus 26:33 - or rather Holiness of Holinesses, which possibly reflects the idea that when two or more "holinesses" get together in the name of the Lord, an additional, separate communal "holiness" emerges). Holinesses may be items such as furniture (Exodus 30:10), sacrifices (Numbers 18:17), vows (Deuteronomy 12:26), food (Leviticus 23:20), oil (Exodus 30:25), people (Leviticus 21:6), and times (Exodus 16:23).
- The adjective קדוש (qadosh), meaning sacred or holy. The adjective obviously follows the noun in its compass. It also denotes the "holy ones" or "saints" (Deuteronomy 33:3).
- The denominative verb קדש (qadash), which means to consecrate, make or be holy. This verb also follows the noun in its compass.
- The masculine noun קדש (qadesh), denoting a male temple prostitute (Job 36:14, 1 Kings 14:24), and:
- The feminine equivalent קדשה (qadesha), denoting a female religious prostitute (Deuteronomy 23:17). It's these two words that make linguist wonder about the ultimate meaning of this root; whether it denotes holiness or rather separateness, that is: part of a clearly separate realm of activities and symbols. Prostitution of any kind is condemned in the Bible, but here at Abarim Publications we surmise that these particular "holy" prostitutes were a common part of Canaanite fertility cults rather than one of mere sexual pleasure. In other words: the function of these people was to allow pregnancy if, for some reason, marital circumstances prohibited it — like a modern sperm bank or surrogate mother. Most famously, the widowed Tamar dressed up as one of these "holy" prostitutes with the express intent of becoming pregnant (Genesis 38:21).
- The masculine noun מקדש (miqdash), literally meaning place of separateness or holiness, and denoting a religious place or facility (pagan Joshua 24:26, Exodus 15:17, Amos 7:9; Israeli: Isaiah 63:18, Psalm 74:7).