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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Teraphim

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Teraphim (tĕr'a-phĭm), givers of prosperous life? Images kept in the houses and honored with a certain kind of reverence. Laban had some of them; and Rachel took these when leaving Padan-aram. Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:30; Genesis 31:32-35. So we find that they were employed for purposes of divination among the Babylonians. Ezekiel 21:21. It is possible that Rachel imagined that some augury of the future might be obtained from them; and she must have considered them as having a tutelary power. These images were probably some of the strange gods of which Jacob subsequently cleansed his household. Genesis 35:2; Genesis 35:4. Micah had them in his house, and felt sure that Jehovah would bless him when he had a Levite to minister before them. Judges 17:5; Judges 17:13. These the Danites eagerly carried off. Judges 18:14-21. It is still more perplexing to find them in David's house. 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 19:16. And it does not seem that they were altogether put away till the thorough reformation of Josiah's days. 2 Kings 23:24. Then, indeed, they were classed with abominable things. The word is used, 1 Samuel 10:23, rendered in our version "idolatry," in expressing' the truth that obstinacy was sinful, "iniquity, and teraphim worship." We find them also censured in Zechariah 10:2 : and Hosea employed the term to signify the state of Israel with no kind of worship either of the true God or of false deities. Hosea 3:4. We may gather that they were made of various materials, as of silver, Judges 17:4, and that they resembled a human figure sometimes of the natural size. 1 Samuel 19:13. Perhaps they were like the Roman Penates or household gods. Small figures of baked clay, some with a human head and a lion's body, and others with a human body and lynx head, have been found under the pavement of the porch of the Khorsabad palace.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Teraphim'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/rpd/t/teraphim.html. 1893.

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