The point of adoration; i.e. the quarter or point of the compass towards which persons turn when they worship. The Persian fire-worshippers turn to the east, the place of the rising sun; the Jews to Jerusalem, the city of the King of kings; the Mahometans to Mecca; the early Christians turned to the “east,” and the “communion table” even of the “Reformed Church” is placed at the east end of the building, whenever this arrangement is practicable. Any object of passionate desire.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894