ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia


For TYPES of biblical idolatry, see: Idolatry. Idols mentioned in the Bible:

“Nothing can be more instructive and significant than this multiplicity and variety of words designating the instruments and inventions of idolatry.”

Isaiah (44:13-17) gives a minute description of the process of carving idols of wood.

To cast idols to the “moles and to the bats” means to carry them into the dark caverns or desolate places where these animals may live (Isa. 2:20), i.e., to consign them to desolation or ruin.

  1. Hebrew: Teraphim, plural, meaning: “images;” “a family idol.” These were family gods (penates) worshipped by Abram’s kindred (Josh. 24:14—“put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt”). “Teraphim” are mentioned by name six times in the Bible: Judg. 17:5; 18:14, 17,18,20; Hosea 3:4. Michal put one in David’s bed (1 Sam. 19:13).

  2. Hebrew: Matztzebah, meaning: something stationed, i.e., a column or (memorial stone); a “statue” set up (Jer. 43:13); a memorial stone like that erected by Jacob (Gen. 28:18; 31:45; 35:14, 20), by Joshua (Joshua 4:9), and by Samuel (1 Sam. 7:12). It is the name given to the statues of Baal (2 Kings 3:2; 10:27).

  3. Hebrew: Chamman or Hammanim, meaning: “sun-images” or “sun-pillars.” Hamman is a synonym of Baal, the sun-god of the Phoenicians (2 Chr. 34:4, 7; 14:3,5; Isa. 17:8).

  4. Hebrew: aven—idol, meaning: “nothingness;” “vanity” (Isa. 66:3; 41:29; Deut. 32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Ps. 31:6; Jer. 8:19, etc.).

  5. Hebrew: 'Elil, meaning: “a thing of naught” (Ps. 97:7; Isa. 19:3); a word of contempt, used of the gods of Noph (Ezek. 30:13).

  6. Hebrew: 'Emah, meaning: “terror,” in allusion to the hideous form of idols (Jer. 50:38).

  7. Hebrew: Miphletzeth, meaning: “a fright;” “horror” (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chr. 15:16).

  8. Hebrew: Bosheth, meaning: “shame;” “shameful thing” (Jer. 11:13; Hosea 9:10); as characterizing the obscenity of the worship of Baal.

  9. Hebrew: Gillulim, (a word of contempt), meaning: “dung;” “refuse” (Ezek. 16:36; 20:8; Deut. 29:17, marginal note).

  10. Hebrew: Shikkuts, meaning: “filth;” “impurity” (Ezek. 37:23; Nahum 3:6).

  11. Hebrew: Semel, meaning: “likeness;” “a carved image” (Deut. 4:16).

  12. Hebrew: Tselem, meaning: “a shadow” (Dan. 3:1; 1 Sam. 6:5), as distinguished from the “likeness,” or the exact counterpart.

  13. Hebrew: Temunah, meaning: “similitude” (Deut. 4:12-19). Here Moses forbids the several forms of Gentile idolatry.

  14. Hebrew: 'Atsab, meaning: “a figure;” from the root “to fashion,” “to labor;” denoting that idols are the result of man’s labor (Isa. 48:5; Ps. 139:24, “wicked way;” literally, as some translate, “way of an idol”).

  15. Hebrew: Tsir, meaning: “a form;” “shape” (Isa. 45:16).

  16. Hebrew: Maskith, meaning: “device” (Lev. 26:1; Num. 33:52). In Lev. 26:1, the words “image of stone” (King James Version) denote “a stone or cippus with the image of an idol, as Baal, Astarte, etc.” In Ezek. 8:12, “chambers of imagery” (maskith), are “chambers of which the walls are painted with the figures of idols;” compare ver. 10,11.

  17. Hebrew: Pesel, meaning: “a graven” or “carved image” (Isa. 44:10-20). It denotes also a figure cast in metal (Deut. 7:25; 27:15; Isa. 40:19; 44:10).

  18. Hebrew: Massekah, meaning: “a molten image” (Deut. 9:12; Judg. 17:3,4).

Author: Matthew G. Easton, with minor editing by Paul S. Taylor.


FALSE GODS of idolaters: