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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Phylacteries

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Were little rolls of parchment, in which were written certain words of the law, and which were worn by the Jews upon their foreheads, and upon the left arm. The custom was founded on a mistaken interpretation of Exodus 13:9,16 , "And it shall be for a taken upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes."

Leo of Modena informs us particularly about these rolls. Those worn upon the forehead have been described under the article FRONTLETS, which see. Those that were to be fastened to the arms were two rolls of parchment written in square letters, with ink made on purpose, and with much care. They were rolled up to a point, and enclosed in a sort of case of black calfskin. They then were put upon a square bit of the same leather, whence hung a throng of the same, of about a finger's breadth and a cubit and a half long. These rolls were placed at the bending of the left arm, and after the throng had made a little knot in the form of the letter Yodh, it was wound about the arm in a spiral line, which ended at the top of the middle finger. They were called the Tephila of the hand.

The phylactery, from a Greek word signifying preservative, was regarded not only as a remembrancer of God's law, but as a protection against demons. It was probably introduced at a late period in the Old Testament history. Our Savior reproaches the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, shown in making their phylacteries broad as a sign of their superior wisdom and piety, Matthew 23:5 . David, on the other hand, says, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee," Psalm 119:11 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Phylacteries'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ats/p/phylacteries.html. 1859.

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