From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Of the 19 Hebrew words for it and Image many express the abhorrence which idolatry deserves and the shame and sorrow of the idolater.

(1) Αwen , "vanity," "nothingness," "wickedness," "sorrow" ( Isaiah 66:3;  Isaiah 41:29;  Deuteronomy 32:21;  1 Kings 16:13;  Psalms 31:6;  Jeremiah 8:19;  Jeremiah 10:8;  Zechariah 10:2;  1 Samuel 15:23). "Beth-el," the house of God, is named "Beth-aven," house of vanity, because of the calf worship.

(2) Εliyl , either a contemptuous diminutive of Εel , God, godling; or from al "not," a "thing of naught." There is a designed contrast between the contemptible Liliym and the Divine Εlohim ( Psalms 97:7;  Isaiah 19:3, "non-entities" margin  Ezekiel 30:13).

(3) Emah , "terror," ( Jeremiah 1:38) "they are mad after their idols," hideous forms more fitted to frighten than to attract, bugbears to frighten children with.

(4) Miphletseth , "a fright": Maachah's idol which Asa cut down ( 1 Kings 15:13;  2 Chronicles 15:16); the phallus, symbol of the generative organ, the nature goddess Asherah's productive power.  Jeremiah 10:2-5 graphically describes the making of an idol and its impotence.

(5) Bosheth , "shame": not merely shameful, but the essence of shame, bringing shame on its votaries and especially expressing the obscenity of Baal's and Baal Peor's worship ( Jeremiah 11:13;  Hosea 9:10).

(6) Gillulim , from Gal "a heap of stones" (Gesenius):  Ezekiel 30:13;  Ezekiel 16:36;  Deuteronomy 29:17, "dungy gods" margin

(7) Shiquts , ceremonial "uncleanness" ( Ezekiel 37:23). The worshippers "became loathsome like their love," for men never rise above their object of worship; "they that make them are like unto them, so is everyone that trusteth in them" ( Psalms 115:4-8).

(8) Ceemel , a "likeness" ( Deuteronomy 4:16).

(9) Tselem , from Tseel "a shadow" ( Daniel 3:1;  1 Samuel 6:5), "the image" as distinguished from the Demuth , "likeness," the exact counterpart (Greek Eikoon ;  Colossians 1:15;  Genesis 1:27). The "image" presupposes a prototype. "Likeness" (Greek Homoiosis ) implies mere resemblance, not the exact counterpart and derivation, hence the Son is never called the "likeness" of the Father but the "Image" ( 1 Corinthians 11:7;  John 1:18;  John 14:9;  2 Corinthians 4:4;  1 Timothy 3:16;  1 Timothy 6:16;  Hebrews 1:3). The idol is supposed to be an "image" exactly representing some person or object.

(10) Timahuh "similitude," "form "( Deuteronomy 4:12-19, where Moses forbids successively the several forms of Gentile idolatry: ancestor worship, as that of Terah ( Joshua 24:2), Laban ( Genesis 31:19;  Genesis 31:30;  Genesis 31:32), and Jacob's household ( Genesis 35:2-4), to guard against which Moses' sepulchre was hidden; hero worship and relic worship ( Judges 8:27;  Judges 17:4;  2 Kings 18:4); nature worship, whether of the lower animals as in Egypt, or of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, as among the Persians).

(11) Atzab , Etzeb , Otzeb , "a figure," from Aatzab "to fashion"; with the additional idea of sorrowful labour ( Isaiah 48:5;  Psalms 139:24), "see if there be any wicked way (way of pain, way of an idol,  Isaiah 48:5) in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." The way of idolatry, however refined, proves to be a way of pain, and shuts out from the way everlasting ( 1 John 5:21;  Revelation 21:8;  1 Corinthians 10:20-21). Tacitus, the Roman historian (Hist. 5:4), notices the contrast between Judaism and the whole pagan world, which disproves the notion that it borrowed from the latter and consecrated several of their rites.

"The Jews conceive the Divinity as One, and to be understood only by the mind; they deem those profane who form any image of the gods, of perishable materials and after the likeness of men; the Divinity they describe as supreme, eternal, unchangeable, imperishable; hence there are no images in their cities or their temples, with these they would not flatter kings nor honour Caesars."

(12) Tsiyr , "a pang," also "a mould" or "shape" ( Isaiah 45:16).

(13) Matseebah , a "statue" set up ( Jeremiah 43:13, margin). Obelisks to the sun god at the city (house) of the sun, as Beth-shemesh or Heliopolis mean; "On" in  Genesis 41:45;  2 Kings 3:2;  2 Kings 10:26-27 margin. The "images" or standing columns of wood (subordinate gods worshipped at the same altar with Baal) are distinct from the standing column of stone or "image" of Baal himself, i.e. a conical stone sacred to him.

The Phoenicians anointed stones (often aerolites, as that "which fell down from Jupiter," sacred to Diana of Ephesus,  Acts 19:35) to various gods, like the stone anointed by Jacob ( Genesis 28:18;  Genesis 28:22) at Bethel, called therefore Baetylia (compare also  Genesis 31:45). The black pyramidal stone in Juggernaut's temple, that of Cybele at Pessinus in Galatia, the black stone in the Kaaba at Mecca reported to have been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel, all illustrate the wide diffusion of this form of idolatry. So the Lingams in daily use in the worship of Siva in Bengal, and the black stone daily anointed with perfumed oil in Benares.

(14) Chammanim , "sun images." The Arabic Chunnas is the planet Mercury or Venus. The symbol of the Persian sun god was the sacred fire, Amanus or Omanus, Sanskrit Homa ( 2 Chronicles 34:4;  2 Chronicles 34:7;  2 Chronicles 14:3;  2 Chronicles 14:5). Chamman, is a synonym of Baal the sun god in the Phoenician and Palmyrene inscriptions, and so is applied to his statues or lofty, obelisk like, columns ( Isaiah 17:8;  Isaiah 27:9 margin). These "statues" are associated with the Asherim ("groves" KJV), just as Baal is associated with Asherah or Astarte ( 1 Kings 14:23, margin  2 Kings 23:14). The Palmyrene inscription at Oxford is, "this Chammana the sons of Malchu have dedicated to the sun."  Ezekiel 6:4;  Ezekiel 6:6; sun worship and Sabeanism or worship of the heavenly hosts ( Tsebaowt ) was the oldest idolatry.

Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible, alludes to it ( Job 31:26), "if I beheld the sun when it shined or the moon ... and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this were an iniquity," etc. In opposition to this error God is called "Lord God of Sabaoth." The tower of Babel was probably built so that its top should be sacred to the heavens (not that its top should reach heaven,  Genesis 11:4), the common temple and idolatrous center of union. The dispersion defeated the purpose of the builders, but still they carried with them the idolatrous tendency, attributing their harvests, etc., to the visible material causes, the sun, moon, air, etc. ( Jeremiah 44:17). Soon a further step was deifying men, or else attributing every human vice, lust, and passion to the gods. Cicero ridicules this groveling anthropomorphic worship, yet was himself a priest and worshipper!

These sun columns towering high above Baal's altars ( 2 Chronicles 34:4;  2 Chronicles 34:7) were sometimes of wood, which could be "cut down" ( Leviticus 26:30). The Phoenician Adon or Adonis, the Ammonite Moloch or Milcom, the Moabite Chemosh, the Assyrian and Babylonian Bel, and the Syrian Hadad, the Egyptian Ra, are essentially the same sun god. Adrammelech was the male, and Anammelech the female, power of the sun. Gad was the sun, or Jupiter, representing fortune, Meni the moon or Venus, representing fate ( Isaiah 65:11). As the sun represents the active, so the moon the passive powers of nature. The two combined are represented as at once male and female, from whence in the Septuagint Baal occurs with masculine and feminine articles, and men worshipped in women's clothes, and women in men's clothes, which explains the prohibition  Deuteronomy 22:5.

Magic influences were attributed to sowing mingled seed in a field and to wearing garments of mixed material; hence the prohibition  Leviticus 19:19. In  Ezekiel 8:17, "they put the branch to their nose" alludes to the idolatrous usage of holding up a branch of tamarisk (called barsom) to the nose at daybreak while they sang hymns to the rising sun (Strabo, 15, section 733). Baal or sun worship appears indicated in the names Bethshemesh, Baal Hermon, Mount Heres ("sun"), Belshazzar, Hadadezer, Hadad Rimmon (the Syrian god).

(15) Maskiyt ( Leviticus 26:1;  Numbers 33:52): "devices"; with Eben "stones of device," namely, with figures or hieroglyphics sacred to the several deities on them; "effigied stones" (Minucius Felix, 3). Like "the chambers of imagery" or priests' chambers with idolatrous, pictures on the walls as seen in vision ( Ezekiel 8:12), answering to their own perverse imaginations. Gesenius, "a stone with an idol's image, Baal or Astarte."

(16) Teraphim . (See Teraphim .)

(17) Pecel . The process by which stone, metal, or wood was made into a graven or carved image (literally, one trimmed into shape and having had the finishing stroke) is described  Isaiah 44:10-20. It was overlaid with gold or silver, and adorned with chains of silver (worn lavishly by rich orientals) and embroidered robes ( Jeremiah 10:8-9). "Fastened with nails that it should not be moved" ( Isaiah 41:7), to keep the god steady! and that his influence might be secured to the spot ( Isaiah 40:19-20;  Isaiah 45:20;  Ezekiel 16:16-18; margin  Judges 3:19;  Judges 3:26 (See Eglon , (See Ehud );  Deuteronomy 7:25).

(18) Pecilim .

(19) Nesek , Masecah ( Isaiah 41:29). "Molten images" ( Deuteronomy 27:15). In  Exodus 32:4 "Aaron fashioned it with a graying tool ( Cheret ) after he had made it a golden calf." The sense is, he formed it first of a wooden center, then covered it with a coating of gold, the image so formed being called Masecah . The mode of its destruction shows this; the wooden center was first-burnt, then the golden covering was beaten or rubbed to pieces ( Deuteronomy 9:20;  Deuteronomy 9:21). So Septuagint, Keil, etc. The rendering "he bound it (the gold) up in a bag" is less probable. In  Genesis 35:2, Jacob's charge to "his household and to all that were with him Put away the strange gods ('the gods of the foreigner,' the Canaanites) among you, and be clean and change your raiment," it seems surprising that idols should have had place in his household.

The explanation is gathered from what went before, but the connection is so little obvious that it can only be the result of truth not contrivance. Rachel had stolen Laban's images ( Teraphim ) without Jacob's knowledge ( Genesis 31:32); perhaps not for worship but for their gold and silver, to balance what was withheld by him from her. Laban had divined by them, as  Genesis 30:27, "I have learned by experience," ought to be translated "I have learned by divination" literally, I have hissed, "I have divined by omens from serpents." Moreover the sons of Jacob had just before ( Genesis 30:34) carried away all the spoils of Shechem's city, and among them doubtless their gold and silver idols. The words "all that were with him" point to the captured wives and women, etc. "Change your raiment" was a charge needed for all who had taken part in the slaughter, and so were ceremonially defiled.

There are two degrees in idolatry. Against the worst, that of having other gods besides Jehovah the one only God, the first commandment is directed. Against the less flagrant degree, worshipping the true God under the form of an image or symbolic likeness, representing any of His attributes, the second is directed. The Baal and Asheerah ("groves") worship violated the first command. meat; Aaron's calf worship and Jeroboam's violated the second. Compare  1 Kings 16:30;  2 Kings 10:26-28;  2 Kings 10:31;  2 Kings 17:7-23. So the Roman and Greek universals violate the second commandment in the adoration of the eucharistic mass, the bowing before images, etc., and go perilously near violating the first in the divine titles wherewith they invoke the Virgin Mary. Jeroboam's calves paved the way for Baal worship. See  Exodus 20:3, "thou shalt have no other gods before My face."

Polytheism ancient and modern is willing to grant Jehovah the first place among deities; but He will have none "in His presence" which is everywhere ( Psalms 139:7). Again no outward form can image God, it only debases instead of helping the worshipper. The principle involved is stated by Paul on Mars' hill, surrounded by the choicest works of genius representing deity ( Acts 17:29), "forasmuch as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device." Once that the first visible representation of God is made, or adopted, it entails another and another endlessly, no one or more idols or symbols ever adequately representing all the countless attributes of God. Hence a female deity was added to the male; an Apollo, Venus, Mercury, Diana, etc., etc., must be added to Jupiter; and, instead of one omnipresent God, deities whose power was restricted to localities were worshipped ( 1 Kings 20:23;  1 Kings 20:28;  2 Kings 17:26).

Like all deviations from truth, the first lie necessitates countless others. "The express image of the Father's person" is the incarnate God Jesus. He alone (not visible images and pictures of Him), as represented in the written word, is the appointed revealer of the unseen God ( John 1:18). Israel was God's representative and "peculiar treasure above all people, a kingdom of priests and an holy nation"; the same relation Christ's church now holds ( 1 Peter 2:5;  1 Peter 2:9). Israel's kings (when Israel had chosen a visible head instead of the invisible King alone) were under God as their feudal superior ( 1 Kings 3:14;  1 Kings 11:11). The penalty of overt, idolatry, as being treason against the divine King, was death. The offender's nearest relatives must denounce him, and even be first to stone him ( Exodus 22:20;  Deuteronomy 13:2-10;  Deuteronomy 17:2-5).

Especially Moloch's worship with human sacrifices and passing through the fire entailed death as the penalty. The Canaanites were exterminated for it ( Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7;  Deuteronomy 12:29-31;  Deuteronomy 20:17). Israel's disasters were the punishment of their idolatry ( Jeremiah 2:17). Saul lost his throne, Achan his life, and Hiel his family, for retaining or restoring anything of a people doomed for idolatry (1 Samuel 15; Joshua 7;  1 Kings 16:34). God works out His ends, even His judgments, in the way of natural consequence. The calves of Jeroboam and Baal's groves were the sin. The disgust of all godly Israelites, intestine divisions, a perpetual conflict between the Mosaic law, still in force, and the established national idolatry, and the immorality which results from idolatry, were the natural and penal consequence, bringing ruin finally on the state.

Israel, foremost in the offense under Jeroboam and then Ahab, is first to have prophets sent as censors and seers to counteract the evil, but proving refractory is the first to be carried into captivity. Judah, following the bad example in her turn, has prophets sent whom she rejects and even kills, and at nearly the same interval between the sin and the punishment follows Israel into captivity. Idolatry on the part of the Old Testament Israel, and the spiritual Israel, is high treason against the heavenly King ( 1 Samuel 8:7) whose direct subjects we avowedly are. The punishments were then temporal ( Deuteronomy 17:2-13). Israel's original contract of government is in  Exodus 19:3-8;  Exodus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 28, 29, 30.

Often Israel fell from the covenant, and at intervals renewed it. The remarkable confirmation of the divine authority of the law is, it was only in prosperity Israel neglected it, in distress they always cried to God and returned to the law, and invariably received deliverance ( Judges 10:10;  2 Chronicles 15:12-13); especially at the return from Babylon ( Nehemiah 9:38). Israel's idolatry was not merely an abomination in God's sight, as that of the Gentiles, but spiritual "adultery" against Jehovah her Husband ( Isaiah 54:5;  Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 16).  Hosea 2:16-17; "thou shalt call Me Ishi (my Husband, the term of affection), no more Baali" (my Lord, the term of rule, defiled by its application to Baal, whose name ought never to be on their lips:  Exodus 23:13;  Zechariah 13:2), etc.

Fornication formed part of the abominable worship of the idols, especially Baal Peor and Ashtoreth or Astarte, who represented nature's generative powers and ( Numbers 25:1-2) to whom Qideeshim and Qedeeshot public male and female prostitutes, were "consecrated" (as the Hebrew means:  Deuteronomy 23:17, etc.;  2 Kings 23:7;  Hosea 4:14), "separated with whores (withdrawn from the assembly of worshippers for carnal connection with them) ... sacrifice with the harlots" (so Hebrew) (Herodotus i. 199). This horrid consecrated pollution prevailed in Phoenicia, Syria, Phrygia, Assyria, and Babylonia, and still in Hindu idolatry. Man making lust a sacred duty! This is the force of the phrase, "Israel joined himself unto Baal Peor," as appears in  1 Corinthians 6:16-17, "He which ... is joined to an harlot is one body; for two, saith He, shall be one flesh.

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." God chose Egypt as Israel's place of training, though an idolatrous country, but took every precaution, if they would only have heeded Him, to save them from the contagion. He placed them in a separate province; as shepherds they were an abomination to Egyptians, and sacrificed to God the very animals Egypt worshipped ( Exodus 8:26). Finally, the Egyptians bitterly oppressed them. Yet the fascinations of idolatry spellbound Israel during their long stay in Egypt ( Joshua 24:14;  Ezekiel 20:7), and led them to relapse into the sin from which Abram had been rescued by his call from Ur. God by Moses smote the symbols of Egyptian idolatry with the ten plagues, "executing judgment against all the gods of Egypt" ( Exodus 12:12), the river, the wind bringing locusts, the dust of the earth, the cattle, the symbol of Apis ( Numbers 33:4). (See Egypt .)

Yet Israel in all their history showed a continual tendency to adopt the idols of the neighbouring nations; in the desert they "sacrificed unto devils" ( Saeer , a shaggy goat, worshipped with the foulest rites at Mendes in Lower Egypt. Speaker's Commentary translated "to the evil spirits of the desert":  Leviticus 17:7, compare  Isaiah 13:21;  Isaiah 34:14;  2 Chronicles 11:15). Behind the idols, though nonentities in themselves, lurk real demons, to whom consciously or unconsciously the worship is paid, as inspiration declares ( Deuteronomy 32:17), "devils" Lasheedim , "destroyers"; as Satan's name Apollyon means; slavish fear being the prompting motive, not love, the idol feaster has his fellowship with demons ( 1 Corinthians 10:20), even as the communicant in the Lord's supper has by faith real fellowship with the Lord's body once for all sacrificed, and now exalted as the Head of redeemed mankind.

In the northern kingdom of Israel, from Jeroboam down to Hoshea whom Shalmaneser dethroned, no one royal reformer appeared. In Judah several arose, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah. The Babylonian captivity almost thoroughly purged the Jews from their proneness to idols ( Jeremiah 44:17-18, contrast  Hosea 3:4). But traces appeared still in their partially adopting Greek idolatry and usages for worldly compromise, just before Antiochus Epiphanes' attempt to overthrow Jehovah's worship ( 1 Maccabees 1:43-54). The heroic resistance of the Maccabees, besides their contact with the Persians who rejected images, and especially the erection of synagogues and the reading the law every sabbath in them, gave them the abhorrence of idols which now characterizes them.

In the Christian church "the deadly wound" that was given to "the beast" (the God-opposed world) by Christianity (Minucius Felix, A.D. 180, and Arnobius adv. Gent. 4:1, mention that the Romans were shocked to find among Christians "no altars, no temples, no images") was speedily "healed" by image worship being revived in the Roman and Greek churches ( Daniel 7:8;  Daniel 7:11-24;  Daniel 7:25;  1 Timothy 4:1-3), so that "the beast that was, and is not (during the brief continuance of the deadly wound), yet is" ( Revelation 17:8); and in spite of God's judicial plagues men repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk" ( Revelation 9:20). The deadly wound is healed also by the prevalenee of "covetousness which is idolatry" ( Ephesians 5:5;  Colossians 3:5) in all Christendom, reformed and unreformed, and the "form of godliness without the power"; culminating in the willful king of the third kingdom ( Daniel 8:11-12;  Daniel 11:36;  2 Timothy 3:1-9 describes the hotbed from which the last anti-Christianity shall spring).

Probably the second beast is the same, the false prophet who causes an image to be made to the first beast ( Daniel 7:8-26), and all who will not worship it to be killed, after the harlot has been unseated and judged ( Revelation 13:14-18;  Revelation 16:13-16;  Revelation 16:17). The Lord will come "utterly to abolish the idols," and all "idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" ( Revelation 21:8;  Isaiah 2:18-19;  Zechariah 13:2-3). Self idolatry, self will, and self sufficiency must be subdued, if God is to be our God.  1 Samuel 15:23 implies that "conscious disobedience is idolatry, because it makes self will, the human I, into a god" (Keil).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [2]

Terâphı̂ym ( תְּרָפִים , Strong'S #8655), “idol; household idol; cultic mask; divine symbol.” This word is a loanword from Hittite-Hurrian ( tarpish ) which in West Semitic assumes the basic form tarpi . Its basic meaning is “spirit” or “demon.” Biblical Hebrew attests this word 15 times.

Terâphı̂ym first appears in Gen. 31:19: “And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the [household gods] that were her father’s.” Hurrian law of this period recognized “household idols” as deeds to the family’s succession and goods. This makes these terâphı̂ym (possibly a plural of majesty as is ’elohim —when used of false gods; cf. 1 Kings 11:5, 33) extremely important to Laban in every way.

In 1 Sam. 19:13 we read that “Michal took the terâphı̂ym [here a plural of “majesty”] and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goat’s hair at its head, and covered it with blankets” (author’s translation). In view of 1 Sam. 19:11, where it is said that they were in David’s private quarters, supposing that this terâphı̂ym was a “household idol” is difficult, although not impossible. Some scholars suggest that this was a “cultic” mask used in worshiping God.

Either of the former suggestions is the possible meaning of the word in the Micah incident recorded in Judg. 17-18. Notice in Judg. 17:5: “… Micah had a house of gods, and made an ephod, and terâphı̂ym and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.” In Judg. 18:14 terâphı̂ym appears to be distinguished from idols: “… there is in these houses an ephod, and terâphı̂ym , and a graven image, and a molten image?” The verses that follow suggest that the graven image and the molten image may have been the same thing: Judg. 18:17 uses all four words in describing what the Danites stole; Judg. 18:20 omits “molten image” from the list; and Judg. 18:31 reports that only the graven image was set up for worship. We know that the ephod was a special priestly garment. Could it be that terâphı̂ym was a “cultic mask” or some other symbol of the divine presence?

Thus terâphı̂ym may signify an “idol,” a “cultic mask,” or perhaps a “symbol of the divine presence.” In any case the item is associated with pagan worship and perhaps with worship of God.

'Ĕlı̂yl ( אֱלִיל , Strong'S #457), “idol; gods; nought; vain.” The 20 occurrences of this noun are primarily in Israel’s legal code and the prophetic writings (especially Isaiah). Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Syriac, and Arabic.

This disdainful word signifies an “idol” or “false god.” 'Ĕlı̂yl first appears in Lev. 19:4: “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods.…” In Lev. 26:1 the ’elilim —are what Israel is forbidden to make: “Ye shall make you no idols.…” The irony of this is biting not only with respect to the usual meaning of this word but also in view of its similarity to the usual word for God ( ‘elohim  ; cf. Ps. 96:5): “For all the gods [ ‘elohim ] of the people are idols [ ‘elohim ] …” (1 Chron. 16:26). Second, this word can mean “nought” or “vain.” 1 Chron. 16:26 might well be rendered: “For all the gods of the people are nought.” This nuance appears clearly in Job 13:4: “But ye are forgers of lies; ye are all physicians of no value [physicians of vanity].” Jeremiah told Israel that their prophets were “prophesy [ing] unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought …”. Gillûl ( גִּלֻּל , Strong'S #1544), “idols.” Of the 48 occurrences of this word, all but 9 appear in Ezekiel. This word for “idols” is a disdainful word and may originally have meant “dung pellets”: “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you” (Lev. 26:30).

This word and others for “idol” exhibit the horror and scorn that biblical writers felt toward them. In passages such as Isa. 66:3 the word for “idol,” ‘awen , means “uncanny or wickedness.” Jer. 50:38 evidences the word ‘emim , which means “fright or horror.” The word ‘elil appears for “idol” in Lev. 19:4; it means “nothingness or feeble.” 1 Kings 15:13 uses the Hebrew word, mipletset , meaning a “horrible thing, a cause of trembling.” A root signifying to make an image or to shape something, ‘tsb (a homonym of the root meaning “sorrow and grief”) is used in several passages (cf. 1 Sam. 31:9).

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

The ancient Hebrews lived in a world filled with idols. Egyptians represented their deities in various human-animal forms. Similarly, the various Mesopotamian cultures used idol representations of their deities, as did the Hittites in ancient Asia Minor. More of a threat to Hebrew worship were the Canaanite Baal and Asherah fertility images, some of which are commonly found in excavations. Use of idols in worship continued to be commonplace in Greek and Roman religion.

One of the prominent distinguishing features of biblical religion is its ideal of imageless worship. Clearly expressed in the decalogue is the command: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” ( Exodus 20:4-5 ). This is usually interpreted to be a negative statement concerning idols but with positive implications toward the spiritual worship desired by God.

Idols were a problem of long standing. The first rebellion of the Hebrews centered around the golden calf made under Aaron's leadership in the wilderness ( Exodus 32:1 ). The bronze serpent illustrates the Hebrews' propensity for idol worship. Moses set it up in the wilderness to allay a plague of serpents ( Numbers 21:1 ), but Israel retained it and made it an object of worship ( 2 Kings 18:4 ). Joshua called on the people to put away the gods their fathers had served in Mesopotamia and in Egypt ( Joshua 24:14 ). Perhaps a misguided King Jeroboam intended to represent Yahweh by the gold calves set up in his temples at Bethel and Dan when he led the northern tribes to secede from the kingdom inherited by Rehoboam ( 1 Kings 12:28-33 ).

Biblical writers often denounced idolatry. None is more graphic and devastating than that in  Isaiah 44:9-20 . The idol is made by a workman but is powerless to sustain the workman to complete his task. Further, the idol begins as a leftover piece of a tree from which a person makes a god. He then worships no more than a block of wood.

Many scholars believe that the threat of idolatry was much less in the Jewish community after the Babylonian Exile and that it continued to be diminished though still present throughout New Testament times. The most noted problem in the New Testament concerns the propriety of eating meat which has previously been offered to an idol ( 1 Corinthians 8-10 ). Paul seemingly broadened the scope of idolatry for Christianity when he identified covetousness with idolatry ( Colossians 3:5 ). See [[Food Offered To Idols]]; Pagan Gods .

Bruce C. Cresson

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Εἴδωλον (Strong'S #1497 — noun, masculine — eidolon — i'-do-lon )

primarily "a phantom or likeness" (from eidos, "an appearance," lit., "that which is seen"), or "an idea, fancy," denotes in the NT (a) "an idol," an image to represent a false god,  Acts 7:41;  1—Corinthians 12:2;  Revelation 9:20; (b) "the false god" worshipped in an image,  Acts 15:20;  Romans 2:22;  1—Corinthians 8:4,7;  10:19;  2—Corinthians 6:16;  1—Thessalonians 1:9;  1—John 5:21 .

 Jeremiah 14:22 18:15 Leviticus 19:4 Ephesians 4:17 Acts 14:15 1—Corinthians 8:4 10:19 Jeremiah 10:5 Isaiah 44:9-20 Habakkuk 2:18,19  Psalm 115:4-8 Acts 14:15-18 17:16,21-31

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Idol. An image or anything used as an object of worship in place of the true God. Among the earliest objects of worship, regarded as symbols of deity, were the meteoric stones, which the ancients believed to have been images of the Gods sent down from heaven. From these, they transferred their regard to rough unhewn blocks, to stone columns or pillars of wood, in which the divinity worshipped was supposed to dwell, and which were connected, like the sacred stone at Delphi, by being anointed with oil and crowned with wool on solemn days.

Of the forms assumed by the idolatrous images, we have not many traces in the Bible. Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines, was a human figure terminating in a fish; and that the Syrian deities were represented, in later times, in a symbolical human shape, we know for certainty. When the process of adorning the image was completed, it was placed in a temple or shrine appointed for it.  Jeremiah 12:1;  Jeremiah 19:1.  Wisdom of Solomon 13:15;  1 Corinthians 8:10.

From these temples, the idols were sometimes carried in procession,  Jeremiah 4:26, on festival days. Their priests were maintained from the idol treasury, and feasted upon the meats which were appointed for the idols' use. See Bel and the Dragon 3, 13.  Daniel 14:3;  Daniel 14:13. (Apocrypha)

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • Teraphim, pl., "images," family gods (penates) worshipped by Abram's kindred ( Joshua 24:14 ). Put by Michal in David's bed ( Judges 17:5;  18:14,17,18,20;  1 Samuel 19:13 ).

    "Nothing can be more instructive and significant than this multiplicity and variety of words designating the instruments and inventions of idolatry."

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Idol'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • King James Dictionary [7]

    I'DOL, n. L. idolum Gr. form or to see.

    1. An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold.

    The gods of the nations are idols.  Psalms 96

    2. An image.

    Nor ever idol seemed so much alive.

    3. A person loved and honored to adoration. The prince was the idol of the people. 4. Any thing on which we set our affections that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.

    Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  1 John 5

    An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.

    5. A representation. Not in use.

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [8]

     Jeremiah 22:28 (a) This type refers to a man who had been extolled by the people and then had been cast down. The hopes of the people were wrecked with his downfall.

     Zechariah 11:17 (a) This is a reference to a religious leader who, after winning the hearts of his people, deserts them and leaves them empty, hungry and helpless.

     1 John 5:21 (b) An idol in the Christian's life is anything or any person that takes the heart and love away from the Lord or that comes between the child of GOD and GOD. It may be money, fame, pleasure, companionship, or even a religious activity.

    Webster's Dictionary [9]

    (1): ( n.) That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.

    (2): ( n.) A false notion or conception; a fallacy.

    (3): ( n.) An image of a divinity; a representation or symbol of a deity or any other being or thing, made or used as an object of worship; a similitude of a false god.

    (4): ( n.) An image or representation of anything.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

    See Idolatry

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

    properly an outward object adored as divine, or as the symbol of deity. (See Idolatry).

    I. Classification Of Scriptural Terms Having Physical Reference To Such Objects. As a large number of different Hebrew words have been rendered in the A.V. either by idol or image, and that by no means uniformly (besides one or more in Greek more uniformly translated), it will be of some advantage to attempt to discriminate between them, and assign, as nearly as the two languages will allow, the English equivalents for each. (See Image).

    (I.) Abstract terms, which, with a deep moral significance, express the degradation associated with idolatry, and stand out as a protest of the language against its enormities.

    (1.) General terms of Doubtful signification.

    1. אֵַליל , Elil', is thought by some to have a sense akin to that of שֶׁקֶר , She'Ker, "falsehood," with which it stands in parallelism in  Job 13:4, and would therefore much resemble Aven, as applied to an idol. It is generally derived from the unused root אָלִל , to Be Empty or vain. Delitzsch (on  Habakkuk 2:18) derives it from the negative particle אִל , Al, "die Nichtigen;" but according to Furst (Handw. s.v.) it is a diminutive of אֵל , "god," the additional syllable indicating the greatest contempt. In this case the signification above mentioned is a subsidiary one. The same authority asserts that the word denotes a small image of the god, which was consulted as an oracle among the Egyptians and Phoenicians ( Isaiah 19:3;  Jeremiah 14:14). It is certainly used of the idols of Noph or Memphis ( Ezekiel 30:13). In strong contrast with Jehovah, it appears in  Psalms 90:5;  Psalms 97:7, the contrast probably being heightened by the resemblance between Elilim and Elohim. A somewhat similar play upon words is observable in  Habakkuk 2:18, אֵַלילַים אַלֵּמַים , Elilim Illemim, A.V. "dumb idols." See EL. 2. גַּלּוּלַים , gill'ulim', also a term of contempt, of uncertain origin ( Ezekiel 30:13), but probably derived from גָּלִל , to Roll, as Dung, hence Refuse. The Rabbinical authorities, referring to such passages as  Ezekiel 4:2;  Zephaniah 1:17, have favored the interpretation given in the margin of the A.V. to  Deuteronomy 29:17, "dungy gods" (Vulg. "sordes," "sordes idolorum,"  1 Kings 15:12). Jahn, connecting it with גָּלִל , Galal, "to roll," applies it to the stocks of trees of which idols were made, and in mockery called Gilluim, " rolling things" (A Volvendo, he says, though it is difficult to see the point of his remark).

    Gesenius, repudiating the derivation from the Arabic jalla, "to be great, illustrious," gives his preference to the rendering "stones, stone gods," thus deriving it from גִּל , Gal, "a heap of stones;" and in this he is followed by First, who translates Gillil by the German "Steinhaufe." The expression is applied, principally in Ezekiel, to false gods and their symbols ( Deuteronomy 29:17;  Ezekiel 8:10, etc.). It stands side by side with other contemptuous terms in  Ezekiel 16:36;  Ezekiel 20:8, as, for example, שֶׁקֶוֹ , Shekets, "filth," "abomination" ( Ezekiel 8:10), and cognate terms. (See Dung).

    May not גַּלּוּלַים , mean Scarabaei, the commonest of Egyptian idols? The sense of dung is appropriate to the dung-beetle; that of rolling is doubtful, for, if the meaning of the verb be retained, we should, in this form, rather expect a passive sense, "a thing rolled;" but it may be observed that these grammatical rules of the sense of derivatives are not always to be strictly insisted on, for Sidon, צַידוֹן , though held to signify "the place of fishing," is, in the list of the Noachians, the name of a man, "the fisherman," Ἀλιεύς , of Philo of Byblus. That a specially-applicable word is used may perhaps be conjectured from the occurrence of אלילים , which, if meaning little gods, would aptly describe the pigmy PTEH-SEKER-HESAR, Ptah- Sokari-Osiris, of Memphis. Ezekiel uses the term גלולים of the idols of Egypt which the Israelites were commanded to put away at or about the time of the Exodus, but did not, and seem to have carried into the Desert, for the same word is used, unqualified by the mention of any country, of those worshipped by them in the Desert ( Exodus 20:7-8;  Exodus 20:16;  Exodus 20:18;  Exodus 20:24); it is, however, apparently employed also for all the idols worshipped in Canaan by the Israelites ( Ezekiel 20:31;  Ezekiel 23:37). Scarabaei were so abundant among the Egyptians and Phoenicians that there is no reason why they may not have been employed also in the worship of the Canaanitish false gods; but it cannot be safely supposed, without further evidence, that the idols of Canaan were virtually termed scarabtei. (See Beetle).

    (2.) General terms of Known signification.

    3. אָוֶן , A'Ven, rendered elsewhere "nought," "vanity," "iniquity," "wickedness," "sorrow," etc., and only once "idol" ( Isaiah 66:3). The primary idea of the root seems to be Emptiness, nothingness, as of breath or vapor; and, by a natural transition, in a moral sense, wickedness in its active form of mischief; and then, as the result, sorrow and trouble. Hence aven denotes a vain, false, wicked thing, and expresses at once the essential nature 3f idols, and the consequences of their worship. The character of the word may be learnt from its associates. It stands in parallelism with אֶפֶס . e'phes ( Isaiah 41:29), which, after undergoing various modifications, comes at length to signify "nothing;" with הֶבֶל , He'Bel, "breath" or "vapor," itself applied as a term of contempt to the objects of idolatrous reverence ( Deuteronomy 32:21;  1 Kings 16:13;  Psalms 31:6;  Jeremiah 8:19;  Jeremiah 10:8); with שָׁוְא , Shav, "nothingness, "vanity;" and with שֶׁקֶר , She'Ker, "falsehood" ( Zechariah 10:2): all indicating the utter worthlessness of the idols to whom homage was paid, and the false and delusive nature of their worship. It is employed in an abstract sense, to denote idolatry in general, in  1 Samuel 15:23. There is much significance in the change of name from Bethel to Beth-aven, the great centre of idolatry in Israel ( Hosea 4:15). (See Bethaven).

    4. שַׁקּוּוֹ , Shik-K-Ts', "filth," "impurity," especially applied, like the cognate שֶׁקֶוֹ , she'kets, to that which produced ceremonial uncleanness ( Ezekiel 37:23;  Nahum 3:6), such as food offered in sacrifice to idols ( Zechariah 9:7; comp.  Acts 15:20;  Acts 15:29). As referring to the idols themselves, it primarily denotes the obscene rites with which their worship was associated, and hence, by metonymy, is applied both to the objects of worship and also to their worshippers, who partook of the impurity, and thus "became loathsome like their love," the foul Baal-Peor ( Hosea 9:10). (See Abomination).

    5. In the same connection must be noticed, though not actually rendered "image" or idol," בּשֶׁת , Bo'Sheth, "shame," or "shameful thing" (A.V.  Jeremiah 11:13;  Hosea 9:10), applied to Baal or Baal-Peor, as characterizing the obscenity of his worship. (See Baal-Peor).

    6. אֵימָה , Eynnzah', "horror" or "terror," and hence an object of horror or terror (Jeremiah 1, 38), in reference either to the hideousness of the idols or to the gross character of their worship. In this respect it is closely connected with

    7. מַפְלֶצֶת .Miphle'Tseth, a "fright," "horror," applied to the idol of Maachah, probably of wood, which Asa cut down and burned ( 1 Kings 15:13';  2 Chronicles 15:16), and which was unquestionably the- Phallus, the symbol of the productive power of nature (Movers, Phon. 1, 571 Selden, de Dis Syr. 2, 5), and the nature-goddess Ashera. Allusion is supposed to be made to this in  Jeremiah 10:5, and Epist. of Jeremiah 70. In  2 Chronicles 15:16 the Vulg. render "simulacrum Priapi" (comp. Horace, "furum aviumque maxima Formido"). The Sept. had a different reading, which it is not easy to determine. They translate, in  1 Kings 15:13, the same word both by Σύνοδος (with which corresponds the Syriac ido, "a festival," reading, perhaps, עֲצֶרֶת , Atsereth, as in  2 Kings 10:20;  Jeremiah 9:2) and Καταδύσεις , while in Chronicles it is Εἴδωλον . Possibly in  1 Kings 15:13 they may have read מְצֻלָּתָהּ , metsullathah, for מַפְלִצְתָּהּ , Miphlatstah, as the Vulg. Specum, of which "sinulacrum turpissimum" is a correction. (See Grove).

    (II.) We now come to the consideration of those words which more directly apply to the images or idols as the outward symbols of the deity who was worshipped through them.

    (1.) Terms indicating the Form of idols.

    8. סֶמֶל or סֵמֶל , S'Mel, with which Gesenius compares as cognate מָשָׁל Mashal, and צֶלֶם , Tselen; the Lat. Sinilis and Gr. Ὁμαλός , signifies a "likeness," "semblance." The Targum in  Deuteronomy 4:16 gives צוּרָא , Tsirda, "figure," as the equivalent, while in  Ezekiel 8:3;  Ezekiel 8:5 it is rendered by צְלִם , tselan, "image." In the latter passages the Syriac has Koimto, "a statue" (the Στήλη Of the Septuagint) which more properly corresponds to Matstsebah (see No. 13, below); and in Deuteronomy genes, "kind" (= Γένος ). The passage in  2 Chronicles 33:7 is rendered "images of four faces," the latter words representing the one under consideration. In  2 Chronicles 33:15 it appears as "carved images," following the Sept. Τὸ Γλυπτόν . On the whole, the Gr. Εἰκών of  Deuteronomy 4:16;  2 Chronicles 33:7, and the "simulacrum" of the Vulg. ( 2 Chronicles 33:15) most nearly resemble the Heb. Semel. (See Carved).

    9. צֶלֶם , Fse'Lem (Chald. Id. and צְלִם , Tselam'), is by all lexicographers, ancient and modern, connected with צֵל , Tsel, "a shadow." It is the "image" of God in which man was created ( Genesis 1:27; comp. Wisd. 2, 23), distinguished from דְּמוּת , demuth, or "likeness," as the "image" from the "idea" which it represents (Schmidt, De Imag. Dei In Hom. p. 84), though it would be rash to insist upon this distinction. In the N.T. Εἰκών appears to represent the letter ( Colossians 3:10; compare the Sept. at  Genesis 5:1), as Ὁμοίωμα the former of the two words ( Romans 1:23;  Romans 8:29;  Philippians 2:7), but in  Hebrews 10:1, Εἰκών is opposed to Σκία as the substance to the substantial form, of which it is the perfect representative. The Sept. render Demzth by Ὁμοίωσις , Ὁμοίωμα , Εἰκών , Ὅμοιος , and Tselem most frequently by Εἰκών , though Ὁμοίωμα , Εἴδωλον , and Τύπος also occur. But, whatever abstract term may best define the meaning of Tselem, it is unquestionably used to denote the visible forms of external objects, and is applied to figures of gold and silver ( 1 Samuel 6:5;  Numbers 33:52;  Daniel 3:1), such as the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar, as well as to those painted upon walls ( Ezekiel 33:14). "Image" perhaps most nearly represents it in all passages. Applied to the human countenance ( Daniel 3:19), it signifies the "expression," and corresponds to the Ἰδέα of  Matthew 28:3, though Demuth agrees rather with the Platonic usage of the latter word. (See Graven).

    10. תְּמוּנָה , Temundh', rendered "image" in  Job 4:16; elsewhere "similitude" ( Deuteronomy 4:12), "likeness" ( Deuteronomy 5:8): "form," or "shape" would be better. In  Deuteronomy 4:16 it is in parallelism with תִּבְנַית , Tabnith', literally "build;" hence "plan" or "model" ( 2 Kings 16:10; compare  Exodus 20:4;  Numbers 12:8).

    11. עָצָב , Atsab', עֶצֶב , E'Tseb ( Jeremiah 22:28), or עֹצֶב , O'Tseb ( Isaiah 48:5), "a figure," all derived from a root עָצִב , Atsab, " to work" or "fashion" (akin to חָצִב , Chatsab, and the like), are terms applied to idols as expressing that their origin was due to the labor of man. The verb in its derived senses indicates the sorrow and trouble consequent upon severe labor, but the latter seems to be the radical idea. If the notion of sorrow were most prominent, the words as applied to idols might be compared with aven above.  Isaiah 58:3 is rendered in the Peshito Syriac "idols" (A.V. "labors"), but the reading was evidently different. In Psalm 129:24, דֶּרֶךְ עֹצֵב is "idolatry."

    12. צַיר , Tsir, once only applied to an idol ( Isaiah 45:16; Sept. Νῆσοι , as if De, אַיַּים ). The word usually denotes "a pang," but in this instance is probably connected with the roots צוּר , Tsar, and יָצִר , Yatsar, and signifies "a shape" or "mould," and hence an "idol."

    13. מִצֵּבָה , Matstsebah', anything set up, a "statue" (= נְצַיב ,! Netsib,  Jeremiah 43:13), applied to a memorial stone like those erected by Jacob on four several occasions ( Genesis 28:18;  Genesis 31:45;  Genesis 35:14;  Genesis 35:20) to commemorate a crisis in his life, or to mark the grave of Rachel. Such were the stones set up by Joshua ( Joshua 4:9) after the passage of the Jordan, and at Shechem ( Joshua 24:26), and by Samuel when victorious over the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 7:12). When solemnly dedicated they were anointed with oil, and libations were poured upon them. The word is applied to denote the obelisks which stood at the entrance to the temple of the sun at Heliopolis ( Jeremiah 43:13), two of which were a hundred cubits high and eight broad, each of a single stone (Herod. 2, 11). It is also used of the statues of Baal ( 2 Kings 3:2), whether of stone ( 2 Kings 10:27) or wood (id. 26), which stood in the innermost recess of the temple at Samaria. Movers (Phon. 1, 674) conjectures that the latter were statues or columns distinct from that of Baal, which was of stone and conical (p. 673), like the "meta" of Paphos (Tacit. H. 2, 3), and probably, therefore, belonging to other deities, who were his Πάρεδροι or Σύμβωμοι . The Phoenicians consecrated and anointed stones like that at Bethel, which were called, as some think, from this circumstance, Baetylia. Many such are said to have been seen on Mt. Lebanon, near Heliopolis, dedicated to various gods, and many prodigies are related of them (Damascius in Photius, quoted by Bochart, Canaan, 2, 2). The same authority describes them as aerolites, of a whitish and sometimes purple color, spherical in shape, and about a span in diameter. The Palladium of Troy, the black stone in the Kaaba at Mecca, said to have been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel, and the stone at Ephesus "which fell down from Jupiter" ( Acts 19:35), are examples of the belief, anciently so common, that the gods sent down their images upon earth. In the older worship of Greece, stones, according to Pausanias (7, 22, § 4), occupied the place of images. Those at Pharae, about thirty in number, and quadrangular in shape, near the statue of Hermes, received divine honors from the Pharians, and each had the name of some god conferred upon it. The stone in the temple of Jupiter Ammon ("umbilico maxime similis"), enriched with emeralds and gems (Curtius, 4:7, § 31); that at Delphi, which Saturn was said to have swallowed (Pausan. Phoc. 24, § 6); the black stone of pyramidal shape in the temple of Juggernaut, and the holy stone at Pessinus, in Galatia, sacred to Cybele, show how widely spread and almost universal were these ancient objects of worship. (See Pillar).

    Closely connected with these "statues" of Baal, whether in the form of obelisks or otherwise, were

    14. חִמָּנַים , Chammanim'. rendered in the margin of most passages "sun- images." The word has given rise to much discussion. In the Vulg. it is translated thrice Simulacra, thrice Delubra, and Oncefana. The Sept. gives Τεμένη twice, Εἴδωλα twice, Ξύλινα Χειροποίητα , Βδελύγματα , and Τὰ Ὑψηλά With one exception ( 2 Chronicles 34:4, which is evidently corrupt), the Syriac has vaguely either "fears," i.e. objects of fear, or "idols." The Targum in all passages translates it by חֲנַיסְנְסִיָּא , Chanisnesaya', "houses for star-worship" (Furst compares the Arab. Chunnas, the planet Mercury or Venus), a rendering which Rosenmuller supports. Gesenius preferred to consider these Chanisnesaya As veils" or "shrines surrounded or shrouded with hangings" ( Ezekiel 16:16; Targ. on  Isaiah 3:19), and scouted the interpretation of Buxtorf "status solares" as a mere guess, though he somewhat paradoxically assented to Rosenm Ü ller's opinion that they were "shrines dedicated to the worship of the stars." Kimchi, under the root חמן , mentions a conjecture that they were trees like the Asherim, but (s.v. חמם ) elsewhere expresses his own belief that the Nun is epenthetic, and that they were so called "because the sun-worshippers made them." Aben-Ezra (on  Leviticus 26:30) says they were "houses made for worshipping the sun," which Bochart approves (Canaan, ii, 17), and Jarchi that they were a kind of idol placed on the roofs of houses. Vossius (De Idol. 2, 353), as Scaliger before him, connects the word with Amanus or Omanus, the sacred fire, the symbol of the Persian sun-god, and renders it pyraea (comp. Selden, ii, 8). Adelung (Mithrid. 1, 159, quoted by Gesenius on  Isaiah 17:8) suggested the same, and compared it with the Sanscrit Homa. But to such interpretations the passage in  2 Chronicles 34:4 is inimical (Vitringa on  Isaiah 17:8). Gesenius's own opinion appears to have fluctuated considerably. In his notes on Isaiah (I. c.) he prefers the general rendering "columns" to the more definite one of "sun-columns," and is inclined to look to a Persian origin for the derivation of the word. But in his Thesaurus he mentions the occurrence of Chainman as a synonym of Baal in the Phoenician and Palmyrene inscriptions in the sense of "Dominus Solaris," and it's after application to the statues or columns erected for his worship. Spencer (De Legg. Hebr. 2, 25), and after him Michaelis (Suppl. ad Lex. Hebr. s.v.), maintained that it signified statues or lofty columns, like the pyramids or obelisks of Egypt. Movers (Phon. 1, 441) concludes with good reason that the sun-god Baal and the idol "Chamman" are not essentially different. In his discussion of Chammanim he says, "These images of the fire-god were placed on foreign or non-Israelitish altars, in conjunction with the symbols of the nature-goddess Asherah, or Σύμβωμοι ( 2 Chronicles 14:3;  2 Chronicles 14:5;  2 Chronicles 34:4;  2 Chronicles 34:7;  Isaiah 17:9;  Isaiah 27:9), as was otherwise usual with Baal and Asherah." They are mentioned with the Asherim, and the latter are coupled with the statues of Baal ( 1 Kings 14:23;  2 Kings 23:14). The Chammanim and statues are used promiscuously (compare  2 Kings 23:14, and  2 Chronicles 34:4;  2 Chronicles 14:3;  2 Chronicles 14:5), but are never spoken of together. Such are the steps by which he arrives at his conclusion. He is supported by the Palmyrene inscription at Oxford, alluded to above, which has been thus rendered: "This column ( חמנא , Chammaind), and this altar, the sons of Malchu, etc., have erected and dedicated to the sun." The Veneto-Greek Version leaves the word untranslated in the strange form Ἀκάβαντες . From the expressions in  Ezekiel 6:4;  Ezekiel 6:6, and  Leviticus 26:30, it may be inferred that these columns, which perhaps represented a rising flame of fire and stood upon the altar of Baal ( 2 Chronicles 34:4), were of wood or stone. (See Asherah).

    15. מִשְׂכַּית , Maskith', occurs in  Leviticus 26:1; Numbers 23:52;  Ezekiel 8:12 : "device," most nearly suits all passages (compare  Psalms 73:7;  Proverbs 18:11;  Proverbs 25:11). This word has been the fruitful cause of as much dispute as the preceding. The general opinion appears to be that אֶבֶן מ signifies a stone with figures graven upon it. Ben-Zeb explains it as "a stone with figures or hieroglyphics carved upon it,'" and so Michaelis; and it is maintained by Movers (Phon. 1, 105) that the Baetylia, or columns with painted figures, the "lapides effigiati" of Minucius Felix (c. 3), are these "stones of device," and that the characters engraven on them are the Ἱερὰ Στποχεῖα , or characters sacred to the several deities. The invention of these characters, which is ascribed to Taaut, he conjectures originated with the Seres. Gesenius explains it as a stone with the image of an idol, Baal or Astarte, and refers to his Mon. Poaen. p. 21-24, for others of a similar character. Rashi (on  Leviticus 21:1) derives it from the root שׂכ , ִ to cover, "because they cover the floor with a pavement of stones." The Targum and Syriac,  Leviticus 26:1, give stone of devotion," and the former, in  Numbers 33:52, has "house of their devotion" where the Syriac only renders "their objects of devotion." For the former the Sept. has Λίθος Σκοπός , and for the latter Τὰς Σκοπιὰςαὐτῶν , connecting the word with the root שָׂכָה . "to look," a circumstance which has induced Saalschuitz (Mos. Recht, p. 382-385) to conjecture that Eben Maskith was originally a smooth elevated stone employed for the purpose of obtaining from it a freer prospect, and of offering prayer in prostration upon it to the deities of heaven. Hence, generally, he concludes it signifies a stone of prayer or devotion, and the "chambers of imagery" of  Ezekiel 8:7 are "chambers of devotion." The renderings of the last mentioned passage in the Sept. and Targum are curious as pointing to a various reading, מְשֻׂכָּתוֹ , or, more probably, מַשְׁכָּבוֹ . (See Imagery).

    16. תְּרָפַים , Teradphim'. (See Teraphir)

    (2.) The terms which follow have regard to the material and Workmanship of the idol rather than to its character as an object of worship.

    17. פָּסֶל , Pe'Sel, usually translated in the Authorized Version "graven or carved image." In two passages it is ambiguously rendered "quarries" ( Judges 3:19;  Judges 3:26), after the Targum, but there seems to be no reason for departing from the ordinary signification. In the majority of instances the Sept. has Γλυπτόν , once Γλύμμα . The verb is employed to denote the finishing which the stone received at the hands of the masons after it had been rough-hewn from the quarries ( Exodus 34:4; 1 Kings 5:32). It is probably a later usage which has applied Pesel to a figure cast in metal, as in  Isaiah 40:19;  Isaiah 44:10. (More probably still , Pesel denotes by anticipation the molten image in a later stage, after it had been trimmed into shape by the caster.) These "sculptured" images were apparently of wood, iron, or stone, covered with gold or silver ( Deuteronomy 7:25;  Isaiah 30:22;  Habakkuk 2:19), the more costly being of solid metal ( Isaiah 40:19). They could be burned ( Deuteronomy 7:5;  Isaiah 45:20;  2 Chronicles 34:4), or cut down ( Deuteronomy 12:3) and pounded ( 2 Chronicles 34:7), or broken in pieces ( Isaiah 21:9), In making them, the skill of the wise iron-smith ( Deuteronomy 27:15;  Isaiah 40:20) or carpenter, and of the goldsmith, was employed ( Judges 17:3-4;  Isaiah 41:7), the former supplying the rough mass of iron beaten into shape on his anvil ( Isaiah 44:12), while the latter overlaid it with plates of gold and silver, probably from Tarshish ( Jeremiah 10:9), and decorated it with silver chains. The image thus formed received the further adornment of embroidered robes ( Ezekiel 16:18), to which possibly allusion may be made in  Isaiah 3:19. Brass and clay were among the materials employed for the same purpose ( Daniel 2:33;  Daniel 5:23). (Images of glazed pottery have been found in Egypt [Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 3, 90: comp.  Wisdom of Solomon 15:8].) A description of the three great images of Babylon on the top of the temple of Belus will be found in Diod. Sic. 2, 9 (compare Layard, Nin. 2. 433). The several stages of the process by which the metal or wood became the "graven image" are so vividly described in  Isaiah 44:10-20, that it is only necessary to refer to that passage, and we are at once introduced to the mysteries of idol manufacture, which, as at Ephesus, "brought no small gain unto the craftsmen." (See Shrine).

    18. נְסֶךְ or נֵסֶךְ , N'Sek, and מִסֵּכָה , Massekah', are evidently synonymous ( Isaiah 41:29;  Isaiah 48:5;  Jeremiah 10:14) in later Hebrew, and denote a "molten" image. Massekah is frequently used in distinction from Pesel or Pesilim ( Deuteronomy 27:15;  Judges 17:3, etc.). The golden calf, which Aaron made, was fashioned with "the graver" ( חֶרֶט , Cheret), but it is not quite clear for what purpose the graver was used ( Exodus 32:4). The Cheret (comp. Χαράττω ) appears to have been a sharp-pointed instrument, used like the Stylus for a writing implement ( Isaiah 8:1). Whether then Aaron, by the help of the cheret, gave to the molten mass the shape of a calf, or whether he made use of the graver for the purpose of carving hieroglyphics upon it, has been thought doubtful. The Syr. has tuipso ( Τύπος ), "the mould," for Cheret. But the expression וִיָּצָר , vay- yatsar, decides that it was by the Cheret, in whatever manner employed, that the shape of a calf was given to the metal. (See Molten).

    (3.) In the New Test. the Greek of idol is Εἴδωλον , which exactly corresponds with it. In one passage Εἰκών is the "image" or head of the emperor on the coinage ( Matthew 22:20). (See Alisgema). II. Actual Forms Of Idols. Among the earliest objects of worship, regarded as symbols of deity, were the meteoric stones which the ancients believed to have been the images of the gods sent down from heaven. (See Diana). From these they transferred their regard to rough unhewn blocks, to stone columns or pillars of wood, in which the divinity worshipped was supposed to dwell, and which were consecrated, like the sacred stone at Delphi, by being anointed with oil, and crowned with wool on solemn days (Pausan. Phoc. 24, § 6). Tavernier (quoted by Rosenm Ü ller, At. And Al Morgenland, 1, § 89) mentions a black stone in the pagoda of Benares which was daily anointed with perfumed oil, and such are the "Lingams" in daily use in the Siva worship of India (compare Armobius, 1, 30; Min. Felix, c. 3). Such customs are remarkable illustrations of the solemn consecration by Jacob of the stone at Bethel, as showing the religious reverence with which these memorials were regarded. Not only were single stones thus honored, but heaps of stone were, in later times at least, considered as sacred to Hermes (Homer,. Od. 16, 471; comp. the Vulg. at  Proverbs 26:8, "Sicut qui mittit lapidem in acervum Mercurii"), and to these each passing traveler contributed his offering (Crezer, Symb. 1, 24). The heap of stones which Laban erected to commemorate the solemn compact between himself and Jacob, and on which he invoked the gods of his fathers, is an instance of the intermediate stage in which such heaps were associated with religious observances before they became objects of worship. Jacob, for his part, dedicated a single stone as his memorial, and called Jehovah to witness, thus holding himself aloof from the rites employed by Laban, which may have partaken of his ancestral idolatry. (See Jegar-Saiadutha).

    Of the forms assumed by the idolatrous images we have not many traces in the Bible. Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines, was a human figure terminating in a fish (See Dagon); and that the Syrian deities were represented in later times in a symbolical human shape we know for certainty. (See Nisroch).

    The Hebrews imitated their neighbors in this respect as in others ( Isaiah 44:13;  Wisdom of Solomon 13:13), and from various allusions we may infer that idols in human forms were not uncommon among them, though they were more anciently symbolized by animals ( Wisdom of Solomon 13:14), as by the calves of Aaron and Jeroboam, and the brazen serpent which was afterwards applied to idolatrous uses ( 2 Kings 18:4;  Romans 1:23). When the image came from the hands of the maker it was decorated richly with silver and gold, and sometimes crowned (Epist. Jeremiah 9), clad in robes of blue and purple ( Jeremiah 10:9), like the draped images of Pallas and Hera (Muller, Hand. Dl. Arch. D. Kunst, § 69), and fastened in the niche appropriated to it by means of chains and nails ( Wisdom of Solomon 13:15), in order that the influence of the deity which it represented might be secured to the spot. So the Ephesians, when besieged by Croesus, connected the wall of their city by means of a rope to the temple of Aphrodite, with a view to insuring the aid of the goddess (Herod. 1, 26); and for a similar object the Tyrians chained the stone image of Apollo to the altar of Hercules (Curt. 4:3, § 15). Some images were painted red ( Wisdom of Solomon 13:14), like those of Dionysus and the Bacchantes, of Hermes, and the god Pan (Pausan. 2, 2, § 5; Muller, u. and. d. Arch. d. Kunst, § 69). This color was formerly considered sacred. Pliny relates, on the authority of Verrius, that it was customary on festival days to color with red lead the face of the image of Jupiter, and the bodies of those who celebrated a triumph (33:36). The figures of Priapus, the god of gardens, were decorated in the same manner ("ruber custos," Tibull. 1, 1, 18). Among the objects of worship enumerated by Arnobius (1, 39) are bones of elephants, pictures, and garlands suspended on trees, the "rami coronati" of Apuleius (de Mag. c. 56).

    When the process of adorning the image was completed, it was placed in a temple or shrine appointed for it ( Οἰκία , Epist. Jeremiah 12, 19; Οἴκημα ,  Wisdom of Solomon 13:15; Εἰδωλεῖον ,  1 Corinthians 8:10; see Stanley's note on the latter passage). In  Wisdom of Solomon 13:15, Οἴκημα is thought to be used contemptuously, as in Tibull. 1, 10, 19, 20, "Cum paupere cultu Stabat in Exigua ligneus Cede deus" (Fritsche and Grimm, Handb.), but the passage quoted is by no means a good illustration. From these temples the idols were sometimes carried in procession (Epist. Jeremiah 4, 26) on festival days. Their priests were maintained from the idol treasury, and feasted upon the meats which were appointed for the idols use (Bel and the Dragon, 3, 13). These sacrificial feasts formed an important part of the idolatrous ritual, and were a great stumbling block to the early Christian converts. They were to the heathen, as Prof. Stanley has well observed, what the observance of circumcision and the Mosaic ritual were to the Jewish converts, and it was for this reason that Paul especially directed his attention to the subject, and laid down the rules of conduct contained in his first letter to the Corinthians (8-10). (See Idolatry).