Idolatries – An Evil Abomination – Part 3

This is the third part that deals with the remaining idols and idolatries.

Idol

(1.) Heb. aven, “nothingness;” “vanity” (Isaiah 66:3; Isaiah 41:29; Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Psalm 31:6; Jeremiah 8:19, etc.).

(2.) ‘Elil, “a thing of naught” (Psalm 97:7; Isaiah 19:3); a word of contempt, used of the gods of Noph (Ezekiel 30:13).

(3.) ‘Emah, “terror,” in allusion to the hideous form of idols (Jeremiah 50:38).

(4.) Miphletzeth, “a fright;” “horror” (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16).

(5.) Bosheth, “shame;” “shameful thing” (Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10); as characterizing the obscenity of the worship of Baal.

(6.) Gillulim, also a word of contempt, “dung;” “refuse” (Ezekiel 16:36; Ezekiel 20:8; Deuteronomy 29:17, marg.).

(7.) Shikkuts, “filth;” “impurity” (Ezekiel 37:23; Nahum 3:6).

(8.) Semel, “likeness;” “a carved image” (Deuteronomy 4:16).

(9.) Tselem, “a shadow” (Daniel 3:1; 1 Samuel 6:5), as distinguished from the “likeness,” or the exact counterpart.

(10.) Temunah, “similitude” (Deuteronomy 4:12-19). Here Moses forbids the several forms of Gentile idolatry.

(11.) ‘Atsab, “a figure;” from the root “to fashion,” “to labour;” denoting that idols are the result of man’s labour (Isaiah 48:5; Psalm 139:24, “wicked way;” literally, as some translate, “way of an idol”).

(12.) Tsir, “a form;” “shape” (Isaiah 45:16).

(13.) Matztzebah, a “statue” set up (Jeremiah 43:13); a memorial stone like that erected by Jacob (Genesis 28:18; Genesis 31:45; Genesis 35:14, 20), by Joshua (Joshua 4:9), and by Samuel (1 Samuel 7:12). It is the name given to the statues of Baal (2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:27).

(14.) Hammanim, “sun-images.” Hamman is a synonym of Baal, the sun-god of the Phoenicians (2 Chronicles 34:4, 7; 2 Chronicles 14:3, 5; Isaiah 17:8).

(15.) Maskith, “device” (Leviticus 26:1; Numbers 33:52). In Leviticus 26:1, the words “image of stone” (A.V.) denote “a stone or cippus with the image of an idol, as Baal, Astarte, etc.” In Ezekiel 8:12, “chambers of imagery” (maskith), are “chambers of which the walls are painted with the figures of idols;” compare Ezekiel 8:10, 11.

(16.) Pesel, “a graven” or “carved image” (Isaiah 44:10-20). It denotes also a figure cast in metal (Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 27:15; Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10).

(17.) Massekah, “a molten image” (Deuteronomy 9:12; Judges 17:3, 4).

(18.) Teraphim, pl., “images,” family gods (penates) worshipped by Abram’s kindred (Joshua 24:14). Put by Michal in David’s bed (Judges 17:5; Judges 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.”

Idolatry

Image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object. Paul describes the origin of idolatry in Romans 1:21-25 : men forsook God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (Romans 1:28).

The forms of idolatry are,

(1.) Fetishism, or the worship of trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc.

(2.) Nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as the supposed powers of nature.

(3.) Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of heroes.

In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as of heathen origin, and as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with heathen nations. The first allusion to idolatry is in the account of Rachel stealing her father’s teraphim (Genesis 31:19), which were the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban’s progenitors “on the other side of the river in old time” (Joshua 24:2). During their long residence in Egypt the Hebrews fell into idolatry, and it was long before they were delivered from it (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7). Many a token of God’s displeasure fell upon them because of this sin.

The idolatry learned in Egypt was probably rooted out from among the people during the forty years’ wanderings; but when the Jews entered Palestine, they came into contact with the monuments and associations of the idolatry of the old Canaanitish races, and showed a constant tendency to depart from the living God and follow the idolatrous practices of those heathen nations. It was their great national sin, which was only effectually rebuked by the Babylonian exile. That exile finally purified the Jews of all idolatrous tendencies.

The first and second commandments are directed against idolatry of every form. Individuals and communities were equally amenable to the rigorous code. The individual offender was devoted to destruction (Exodus 22:20). His nearest relatives were not only bound to denounce him and deliver him up to punishment (Deuteronomy 13:2-10), but their hands were to strike the first blow when, on the evidence of two witnesses at least, he was stoned (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). To attempt to seduce others to false worship was a crime of equal enormity (Deuteronomy 13:6-10). An idolatrous nation shared the same fate. No facts are more strongly declared in the Old Testament than that the extermination of the Canaanites was the punishment of their idolatry (Exodus 34:15, 16; Deuteronomy 7; Deuteronomy 12:29-31; Deuteronomy 20:17), and that the calamities of the Israelites were due to the same cause (Jeremiah 2:17). “A city guilty of idolatry was looked upon as a cancer in the state; it was considered to be in rebellion, and treated according to the laws of war. Its inhabitants and all their cattle were put to death.” Jehovah was the theocratic King of Israel, the civil Head of the commonwealth, and therefore to an Israelite idolatry was a state offense (1 Samuel 15:23), high treason. On taking possession of the land, the Jews were commanded to destroy all traces of every kind of the existing idolatry of the Canaanites (Exodus 23:24, 32; Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5, 25; Deuteronomy 12:1-3).

In the New Testament the term idolatry is used to designate covetousness (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5).

Jupiter

The principal deity of the ancient Greeks and Romans. He was worshipped by them under various epithets. Barnabas was identified with this god by the Lycaonians (Acts 14:12), because he was of stately and commanding presence, as they supposed Jupiter to be. There was a temple dedicated to this god outside the gates of Lystra (Acts 14:13).

Mercurius

The Hermes (i.e., “the speaker”) of the Greeks (Acts 14:12), a heathen god represented as the constant attendant of Jupiter, and the god of eloquence. The inhabitants of Lystra took Paul for this god because he was the “chief speaker.”

Moloch

King, the name of the national god of the Ammonites, to whom children were sacrificed by fire. He was the consuming and destroying and also at the same time the purifying fire. In Amos 5:26, “your Moloch” of the Authorized Version is “your king” in the Revised Version (Compare Acts 7:43). Solomon (1 Kings 11:7) erected a high place for this idol on the Mount of Olives, and from that time till the days of Josiah his worship continued (2 Kings 23:10, 13). In the days of Jehoahaz it was partially restored, but after the Captivity wholly disappeared. He is also called Molech (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5, etc.), Milcom (1 Kings 11:5, 33, etc.), and Malcham (Zephaniah 1:5). This god became Chemosh among the Moabites.

Necromancer

(Deuteronomy 15:11), i.e., “one who interrogates the dead,” as the word literally means, with the view of discovering the secrets of futurity (Compare 1 Samuel 28:7).

Queen of Heaven

(Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17, 25), the moon, worshipped by the Assyrians as the receptive power in nature.

Satan

Adversary; accuser. When used as a proper name, the Hebrew word so rendered has the article “the adversary” (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7). In the New Testament it is used as interchangeable with Diabolos, or the devil, and is so used more than thirty times.

He is also called “the dragon,” “the old serpent” (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; John 14:30); “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4); “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He is “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (Matthew 12:24). He is “the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way.” His power is very great in the world. He is a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Men are said to be “taken captive by him” (2 Timothy 2:26). Christians are warned against his “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), and called on to “resist” him (James 4:7).

Christ redeems his people from “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Satan has the “power of death,” not as lord, but simply as executioner.

Shrines, Silver

Little models and medallions of the temple and image of Diana of Ephesus (Acts 19:24). The manufacture of these was a very large and profitable business.

Sorcerer

From the Latin sortiarius, one who casts lots, or one who tells the lot of others.

In Daniel 2:2 it is the rendering of the Hebrew mekhashphim, i.e., mutterers, men who professed to have power with evil spirits. The practice of sorcery exposed to severest punishment (Malachi 3:5; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15).

Stargazers

(Isaiah 47:13), those who pretend to tell what will occur by looking upon the stars. The Chaldean astrologers “divined by the rising and setting, the motions, aspects, colour, degree of light, etc., of the stars.”

Stoics

A sect of Greek philosophers at Athens, so called from the Greek word stoa i.e., a “porch” or “portico,” where they have been called “the Pharisees of Greek paganism.” The founder of the Stoics was Zeno, who flourished about 300 B.C. He taught his disciples that a man’s happiness consisted in bringing himself into harmony with the course of the universe. They were trained to bear evils with indifference, and so to be independent of externals. Materialism, pantheism, fatalism, and pride were the leading features of this philosophy.

Tammuz

A corruption of Dumuzi, the Accadian sun-god (the Adonis of the Greeks), the husband of the goddess Ishtar. In the Chaldean calendar there was a month set apart in honour of this god, the month of June to July, the beginning of the summer solstice. At this festival, which lasted six days, the worshippers, with loud lamentations, bewailed the funeral of the god, they sat “weeping for Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14).

The name, also borrowed from Chaldea, of one of the months of the Hebrew calendar.

Tartak

Prince of darkness, one of the gods of the Arvites, who colonized part of Samaria after the deportation of Israel by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:31).

Teraphim

Givers of prosperity, idols in human shape, large or small, analogous to the images of ancestors which were revered by the Romans. In order to deceive the guards sent by Saul to seize David, Michal his wife prepared one of the household teraphim, putting on it the goat’s, hair cap worn by sleepers and invalids, and laid it in a bed, covering it with a mantle. She pointed it out to the soldiers, and alleged that David was confined to his bed by a sudden illness (1 Samuel 19:13-16). Thus she gained time for David’s escape. It seems strange to read of teraphim, images of ancestors, preserved for superstitious purposes, being in the house of David. Probably they had been stealthily brought by Michal from her father’s house. “Perhaps,” says Bishop Wordsworth, “Saul, forsaken by God and possessed by the evil spirit, had resorted to witchcraft); and God overruled evil for good, and made his very teraphim (by the hand of his own daughter) to be an instrument for David’s escape.” –  Deane’s David, p. 32. Josiah attempted to suppress this form of idolatry (2 Kings 23:24). The ephod and teraphim are mentioned together in Hosea 3:4. It has been supposed by some (Cheyne’s Hosea) that the “ephod” here mentioned, and also in Judges 8:24-27, was not the part of the sacerdotal dress so called (Exodus 28:6-14), but an image of Jehovah overlaid with gold or silver (compare Judges 17:1-13, 18; 1 Samuel 21:9; 1 Samuel 23:6, 9; 1 Samuel 30:7, 8), and is thus associated with the teraphim.

Witch

Occurs only in Exodus 22:18, as the rendering of mekhashshepheh, the feminine form of the word, meaning “enchantress” (R.V., “sorceress”), and in Deuteronomy 18:10, as the rendering of mekhashshepheth, the masculine form of the word, meaning “enchanter.”

Witchcraft

(1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Galatians 5:20). In the popular sense of the word no mention is made either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture. The “witch of En-dor” (1 Samuel 28) was a necromancer, i.e., one who feigned to hold converse with the dead. The damsel with “a spirit of divination” (Acts 16:16) was possessed by an evil spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered, “having a spirit, a pithon.” The reference is to the heathen god Apollo, who was regarded as the god of prophecy.

Wizard

A pretender to supernatural knowledge and power, “a knowing one,” as the original Hebrew word signifies.

Such an one was forbidden on pain of death to practice his deceptions (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, 27; 1 Samuel 28:3; Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 19:3).

Worshipper

(Gr. neocoros = temple sweeper [Acts 19:35] of the great goddess Diana). This name neocoros appears on most of the extant Ephesian coins.

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Source Information: Easton’s Bible Dictionary

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One Response

  1. An Evil Abomination is even not enough to explain them!

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