Holman Bible Dictionary
Urim and Thummim
(yoo' rihm uhnd Thuhm' mihm) Objects Israel, and especially the high priest, used to determine God's will. Little is known about the Urim and Thummim. They are first mentioned in Exodus as being kept by the high priest in a “breastplate of judgment” (Exodus 28:15-30 ). Later, Moses gave the tribe of Levi special responsibility for their care (Deuteronomy 33:8 ). After Aaron's and Moses' death, Eleazar was to carry and to use the lots to inquire of the Lord (Numbers 27:18-23 ). They apparently were two objects that served as sacred lots. See 1 Samuel 14:41-45 ). This text also hints as to how the objects were used. They were “given,” perhaps drawn or shaken from a bag. One object gave one answer. The other lot gave another answer. Probably, whichever lot came out first, that was understood to be God's answer. The Urim and Thummim were not, however, automatic or mechanical. God could refuse to answer. Saul sought the spirit of Samuel through a witch because God would not answer Saul through Urim or dreams or prophets (1 Samuel 28:6-25 ).
The ultimate fate of the Urim and Thummim is unknown. In Nehemiah's time, expectation continued that someday a priest would arise with Urim and Thummim (Ezra 2:63 ; Nehemiah 7:65 ). This probably refers to the ability to receive an answer from the Lord, however, rather than a return of the lots given to Aaron. See Oracles ; Lots ; High Priest .
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