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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Urim and Thummim

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(See HIGH PRIEST; EPHOD.) ("lights and perfections".) The article "the" before each shows their distinctness. In Deuteronomy 33:8 the order is reversed "thy Thummim and thy Urim." Urim is alone in Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6 Saul is answered neither by dreams nor by Urim. Thummim is never by itself. Inside the high priest's breast-plate were placed the Urim and Thummim when he went in before the Lord (Exodus 28:15-30; Leviticus 8:8). Mentioned as already familiar to Moses and the people. Joshua, when desiring counsel to guide Israel, was to "stand before Eleazar the priest, who should ask it for him after the judgment of Urim before Jehovah" (Numbers 27:21). Levi's glory was "thy Thummim and thy Urim are with thy Holy One," i.e. with Levi as representing, the whole priestly and Levitical stock sprung from him (Deuteronomy 33:8-9).

In Ezra 2:63 finally those who could not prove their priestly descent were excluded from the priesthood "till there should stand up a priest with Urim and Thummim." Theteraphim apparently were in Hosea 3:4; Judges 17:5; Judges 18:14; Judges 18:20; Judges 18:30, the unlawful substitute for Urim (compare 1 Samuel 15:23 "idolatry," Hebrew teraphim; and 2 Kings 23:24, margin). Speaker's Commentary thinks that lots were the mode of consultation, as in Acts 1:26; Proverbs 16:33. More probably stones with Jehovah's name and attributes, "lights" and "perfections," engraven on them were folded within the ephod. By gazing at them the high priest with ephod on, before the Lord, was absorbed in heavenly ecstatic contemplation and by God was enabled to declare the divine will.

The Urim and Thummim were distinct from the 12 stones, and were placed within the folds of the double choshen. Philo says that the high priest's breast-plate was made strong in order that he might wear as an image the two virtues which his office needed. So the Egyptian judge used to wear the two figures of Thmei (corresponding to Thummim), truth and justice; over the heart of mummies of priests too was a symbol of light (answering to Urim). No image was tolerated on the Hebrew high priest; but in his choshen the white diamond or rock crystal engraven with "Jehovah," to which in Revelation 2:17 the "white stone" with the "new name written" corresponds, belonging to all believers, the New Testament king-priests. Compare Genesis 44:5; Genesis 44:15; Psalms 43:5, "send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead me."

Also 1 Samuel 14:19. Never after David are the ephod and its Urim and Thummim and breast-plate used in consulting Jehovah. Abiathar is the last priest who uses it (1 Samuel 23:6-9; 1 Samuel 28:6; 2 Samuel 21:1). The higher revelation by prophets superseded the Urim and Thummim. Music then, instead of visions, became the help to the state of prayer and praise in which prophets revealed God's will (1 Samuel 9:9).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Urim and Thummim'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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