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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Teraphim

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(See IDOL.) Sometimes left untranslated; elsewhere "images ... idolatry" (Genesis 31:19; Genesis 31:30; Genesis 31:34; Genesis 35:2, "strange gods".) Worshipped by Abram's kindred in Mesopotamia (Joshua 24:14). Images in human form; Maurer thinks busts, cut off at the waist, from taaraph "to cut off," tutelary household gods; small enough to be hidden beneath the camel's furniture or palanquin on which Rachel sat. Michal put them in David's bed to look like him (1 Samuel 19:13; Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14; Judges 18:17-18; Judges 18:20). Condemned as idolatrous (1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 23:24).

Used for divination (Ezekiel 21:21; Zechariah 10:2), and to secure good fortune to a house, as the penates. From Arabic tarafa , "to enjoy the good things of life," according to Gesenius. The Syriac teraph means "to inquire" of an oracle, Hebrew toreph "an inquirer" (Hosea 3:4-5). The Israelites used the teraphim for magic purposes and divination, side by side with the worship of Jehovah. Related perhaps to seraphim , the recognized symbol attending Jehovah; so perverted into a private idol meant to represent Him, a talisman whereby to obtain responses, instead of by the lawful priesthood through the Urim and Thummim. (See GATE.)

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Teraphim'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/t/teraphim.html. 1949.

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