ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia


For TYPES of biblical idolatry, 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.

  1. 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).

  2. 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).

  3. 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).

  4. Hebrew: aven—idol, meaning: “nothingness;” “vanity” (Isaiah 66:3; 41:29; Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Psalms 31:6; Jeremiah 8:19, etc.)

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

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

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

  8. Hebrew: Bosheth, meaning: “shame;” “shameful thing” (Jeremiah 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; Deuteronomy 29:17, marginal note).

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

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

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

  13. Hebrew: Temunah, meaning: “similitude” (Deuteronomy 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 (Isaiah 48:5; Psalms 139:24, “wicked way;” literally, as some translate, “way of an idol”).

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

  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.

  17. 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).

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

  19. Heqet, the Egyptian goddess of fertility, 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.

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.


FALSE GODS of idolaters

Article Version: September 11, 2017