555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

73. Why Do the Jews Face the East When Praying?

In Jerusalem, the Jews always turned their faces toward the "holy hill" of the temple while praying (see Dan. 6:10; II Chron. 6:34). The Samaritans, on the contrary, faced Mt. Gerizim. In the court of the temple, the Jews in prayer faced the temple itself (see I Kings 8:38) to the Holy of Holies (see Ps. 5:8). Daniel, while praying in exile, opened his window toward Jerusalem (see Dan. 6:10). Modern Jews in Europe and America customarily face the East in prayer. It was a custom among the early Christians to face the East but that has long been discontinued. Mohammedans face in the direction of Mecca.