The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
The first such word is the Hebrew qädãs. This word means to be holy, that is, to be withheld from ordinary use and treated with special care. In the concept of holiness, there is both the idea of separation from evil and sin and the idea of dedicating the item to God (or to the "good" as opposed to the "evil"). In general terms, the Hebrews translated things and events into "common" or "profane" and "clean" or "holy." Thus, in the many lists of the writings of Moses on such creatures as are involved in the dietary laws, the distinction is always between clean and unclean or common.
This concept allows inanimate objects, as well as the animal kingdom, to be considered holy. Objects could be dedicated or separated for "clean" usage that is to belonging to the Tabernacle or sanctuary, thus, making them holy. Likewise, animals were classified by the Levitical laws as being eligible for sacrifice, thus, making them potentially "holy."
These concepts operate from the basis that all holiness comes from God. God's essential nature is holy and His activities are holy, thus, separating Himself and His actions from the common. God owns the Tabernacle, so any object used in the rituals of the Tabernacle become Holy. So, all holiness comes from God. There is no holiness inherent in any form in nature.
This raises any interesting distinction. At least for the ancient Hebrews, objects that were qädãs never became common or profane. An example of this might be the bronze censers of the sons of Korah (Number 16:37-40; 17:2-5). On the other hand, people could "fall out" of holiness. The priests could profane themselves and lose their holy standing.