Idols of the Bible
For TYPES of idolatry mentioned in the Bible, see: Idolatry
Various idols (representations of false gods) are 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.
Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
And their precious things shall not profit;
They are their own witnesses;
They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. —Isaiah 44:9 NKJV
Denuded and scultured trees, poles or posts representative of the goddess Asherah (aka Astarte, Ishtar, etc.), and sometimes carved stone or of silver
“They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree,” —2 Kings 17:10 NASB
- Who and what are Asherah (Asherim)?
- What are the HIGH PLACES referred to in Scripture?
- What are the GROVES referred to in Scripture?
Hebrew: Teraphim, plural, meaning: “images;” “a family idol”
These were family gods (penates) worshipped by Abram’s kindred (Joshua 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: Judges 17:5; 18:14, 17,18,20; Hosea 3:4. Michal put one in David’s bed (1 Samuel 19:13).
Hebrew: Matztzebah, meaning: something stationed, i.e., a column or (memorial stone); a “statue” set up (Jeremiah 43:13); a memorial stone like that erected by Jacob (Genesis 28:18; 31:45; 35:14, 20), by Joshua (Joshua 4:9), and by Samuel (1 Samuel 7:12).
It is the name given to the statues of Baal (2 Kings 3:2; 10:27).
Chamman or Hammanim
Hebrew: Chamman or Hammanim, meaning: “sun-images” or “sun-pillars”
Hamman is a synonym of Baal, the sun-god of the Phoenicians (2 Chronicles 34:4, 7; 14:3,5; Isaiah 17:8).
Hebrew: aven—idol, meaning: “nothingness;” “vanity” (Isaiah 66:3; 41:29; Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Psalm 31:6; Jeremiah 8:19, etc.)
Hebrew: 'Elil, meaning: “a thing of naught” (Psalm 97:7; Isaiah 19:3); a word of contempt, used of the gods of the city of Noph (Ezek. 30:13)
Hebrew: 'Emah, meaning: “terror,” in allusion to the hideous form of idols (Jeremiah 50:38)
Hebrew: Miphletzeth, meaning: “a fright;” “horror” (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16)
Hebrew: Bosheth, meaning: “shame;” “shameful thing” (Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10); as characterizing the obscenity of the worship of Baal.
Hebrew: Gillulim, (a word of contempt), meaning: “dung;” “refuse” (Ezek. 16:36; 20:8; Deuteronomy 29:17, marginal note).
Hebrew: Shikkuts, meaning: “filth;” “impurity” (Ezek. 37:23; Nahum 3:6).
Hebrew: Semel, meaning: “likeness;” “a carved image” (Deuteronomy 4:16).
Hebrew: Tselem, meaning: “a shadow” (Dan. 3:1; 1 Samuel 6:5), as distinguished from the “likeness,” or the exact counterpart.
Hebrew: Temunah, meaning: “similitude” (Deuteronomy 4:12-19). Here Moses forbids the several forms of Gentile idolatry.
Hebrew: 'Atsab, meaning: “a figure;” from the root “to fashion,” “to labor;” denoting that idols are the result of man’s labor (Isaiah 48:5; Psalm 139:24, “wicked way;” literally, as some translate, “way of an idol”).
Hebrew: Tsir, meaning: “a form;” “shape” (Isaiah 45:16).
Hebrew: Maskith, meaning: “device” (Leviticus 26:1; Numbers 33:52). In Leviticus 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.
Hebrew: Pesel, meaning: “a graven” or “carved image” (Isaiah 44:10-20). It denotes also a figure cast in metal (Deuteronomy 7:25; 27:15; Isaiah 40:19; 44:10).
Hebrew: Massekah, meaning: “a molten image” (Deuteronomy 9:12; Judges 17:3,4)
Heqet is the Egyptian goddess of fertility and was represented as a frog and was identified with false godess Hathor (usually represented as a cow) who supposedly personified feminine love, motherhood and joy.
Idols to the moles and bats
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 (Isaiah 2:20), i.e., to consign them to desolation or ruin.
Specific false gods of idolaters
- golden calf
- Host of heaven
- Image of Jealousy
- Malcam (Malkam, Malcham, Milkowm, Milcom)
- Milcom (Malcam, Malkam, Malcham, Milkowm)
- Moloch (Molech, Milcom, Malcham)
- Nebo (Nabu)
- Sin, a moon god
- Tammuz (Dumuzi, Adonis)
- For more idols, see Idolatrous religions / False gods of Egypt
- About idolatry and false goods in the Bible
- What are graven images?
- What are Teraphim?