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Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven imageThe 10 Commandments

The Apostle Paul describes the origin of idolatry in Romans 1:21-25, saying men forsook God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (Romans 1:28). People worshipped and paid divine honor to created images rather than the one true God (Yahweh), the Creator of the universe.

Forms of idolatry


    Various of things in God’s Creation were eventually worshiped as supposed representations of unseen god(s) — Sun, Moon, stars, planets, trees, rivers, hills, mountains, stones, animals, fire, lightning, etc.

    FETISHISM—objects such as small stone carvings of animals, false gods, Satan, demons, or sexual images supposed to have magical power to aid or protect their reverent and devoted owners

  2. Astrology, Divination, Sorcery

  3. Nature Worship

    People have worshipped natural forces or unseen beings as the supposed power of nature and the source of all life.

    Modern forms of this include:

    • Gaia (Mother Earth) / Gaia-Goddess worship movement / and related extreme Environmentalim and Globalism
    • Evolutionism as a force supposeduly taking humanity to ever higher god-like levels
    • The New Age Movement
    • The Force of Star Wars
  4. Self Worship

    Self-worship generally starts with denying or ignoring the obvious reality of our Creator God and His sovereignty (atheism, agnosticsm) and arrogantly, pridefully elevating one’s own self to the place of most important being in life—the ultimate decider of what is true and good. One’s focus generally becomes almost totally inward, feeding personal feelings, lusts and self-interests.

    The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
    God is in none of his thoughts. —Psalms 10:4 NKJV

    Today, “Just believe in yourself… Be true to yourself” is a common worldly view and message. Is that what God urges us to do? What does His Word reveal?…

    • YOU ARE BORN SPIRITUALLY DEAD, and remain so if you are not born-again.

      Ever since Adam’s first sin, all humans are born spiritually DEAD, in rebellion against God and a continual slave to sin. If you have not been reborn into the Kingdom of God, you are in the kingdom of Satan, the Great Deceiver.

    • If you, do NOT fear God, you can NEVER become truly wise.

      THE FEAR OF THE LORD— What is it? Why is it very important? Answer

    • One of the world’s biggest and most common sins is SELF-CENTERED EGOTISM—sinful pride and selfishness.

      Drop your pridefulness— HUMILITY before God is vitally important. Humility opens your eyes to truth and wisdom.

      Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought —Romans 12:3

      Conceit comes before a fall into condemnation (1 Timothy 3:6).

      What does God love, and what does He hate? He loves a humble repentant heart. He hates a prideful sinful one.

      If we suffocate pride, we will starve every other sin of its oxygen.

    • CONFIDENCE in what? Yourself? For a Christian, self-confidence is in who we are in Christ, not who we are in ourselves. He is our identity, and God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us. Believe in what GOD can do THROUGH YOU.

      Devote your life to serving God faithfully, pursuing holiness, righteousness, being one who truly loves (an action, not an emotion)—doing good works.

    • Allow the Holy Spirit of God to ALIGN YOU WITH GOD’S VIEW—your heart, thoughts and actions.

      Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6

      I must decrease, but He must increase. —John 3:30

      Become the kind of lover that God intends. For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE?

      What is sanctification?

  5. Invention of a God of One’s Own Liking

    Many people create a “God” of their own liking, a false god, and acknowledge and praise him instead—telling themselves that he is the real god. This idolatrous god in their mind, is a self-delusion, and often results from false teachings, both in ancient times and today.

  6. Rejecting the Word of God

    Maintaining a rebellious, insubordinate, stubborn, presumptious spirit

    “For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
    And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
    Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    He has also rejected you…” 1 Samuel 15:23 NASB excerpt

    “…And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. …you have rejected the word of the Lord…” —1 Samuel 15:23 NKJV excerpt

  7. Hero or Ancestor Worship

    The worship or extreme veneration of deceased ancestors or heros

  8. Covetousness / Greed

    In the New Testament covetousness (greed) is defined as idolatry (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5; Matthew 6:24; Col. 3:5; Luke 16:13; Ephesians 5:5).

The Bible’s Warning About Idolatry

Joshua warned the Israelites to throw away their foreign gods and “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV). Both the psalmist and the prophet Isaiah warned that those who worship inanimate idols will become like them—unseeing, unfeeling, unable to hear the truth that God would communicate to them.

Very serious heathen depravity and its punishment

In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as of heathen origin, and as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with heathen nations. The first allusion to idolatry is in the account of Rachel stealing her father’s teraphim (Genesis 31:19), which were the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban’s progenitors “on the other side of the river in old time” (Joshua 24:2).

During their long residence in Egypt the Hebrews fell into idolatry, and it was long before they were delivered from it (Joshua 24:14; Ezek. 20:7). Many a token of God’s displeasure fell upon them because of this sin.

The idolatry learned in Egypt was probably rooted out from among the people during the 40 years’ wanderings, but when the Jews entered Canaan, they came into contact with the monuments and associations of the idolatry of the old Canaanitish races, and showed a constant tendency to depart from the living God and follow the idolatrous practices of those heathen nations. It was their great national sin, which was only effectually rebuked by the Babylonian exile. That exile finally purified the Jews of all idolatrous tendencies.

The first and second commandments are directed against idolatry of every form. Individuals and communities were equally amenable to the rigorous code. The individual offender was devoted to destruction (Exodus 22:20). His nearest relatives were not only bound to denounce him and deliver him up to punishment (Deuteronomy 13:6-18), but their hands were to strike the first blow when, on the evidence of two witnesses, at least, he was stoned (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).

To attempt to seduce others to false worship was a crime of equal enormity (13:6-10). An idolatrous nation shared the same fate. No facts are more strongly declared in the Old Testament than that the extermination of the Canaanites was the punishment of their idolatry (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 7; 12:29-31; 20:17), and that the calamities of the Israelites were due to the same cause (Jeremiah 2:17).

“A city guilty of idolatry was looked upon as a cancer in the state; it was considered to be in rebellion, and treated according to the laws of war. Its inhabitants and all their cattle were put to death.”

Jehovah was the theocratic King of Israel, the civil Head of the commonwealth, and, therefore, to an Israelite, idolatry was a state offense (1 Samuel 15:23), high treason. On taking possession of the land, the Jews were commanded to destroy all traces of every kind of the existing idolatry of the Canaanites (Exodus 23:24, 32; 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5, 25; 12:1-3).

ANGELS appeared to men to rebuke their sin of idolatry (Judges 2:1-4).

Practices of various idolaters in various cultures

Practices varied widely. Far too many actions of idolaters have been so perverse and awful that we dare not cover them in any detail here, or even list them all. Suffice it to say that they include such as the following:

False gods mentioned in the Bible or closely related to them

  1. Adrammelech (Adrammalech)
  2. Amon
  3. Anammelech (Anamelech)
  4. Anath (aka Anat and Anatu) (many cultures, goddess of warfare and hunting)
  5. Apis (Egyptian) — See: What is a Golden Calf?
  6. Asherah (Asherim) (Canaanite goddess)
  7. Ashima (2 Kings 17:30)
  8. Ashtoreth / “the queen of heaven” (Asherah, Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth, Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtoret, Ashtarot, Astartu, Uni-Astre, Ashtart, Aset, Athtart)
  9. Baal (Hamman)
  10. Baal-berith
  11. Baal-peor
  12. Baal-Zebub (Baalzebub, Beelzebub)
  13. Bel
  14. calf
  15. Castor and Pollux (Acts 28:11)
  16. Castor and Pollux
  17. Chemosh
  18. Chiun
  19. Constellations
  20. Dagon (“Lord of the gods,” “Lord of the land,” “dew of the land”) (Philistines, Canaanite, Phoenician, Sumerian, Mesopotamian agricultural god)
  21. Diana (Roman goddess of the hunt and wild animals)
  22. Fortune (aka Gad)
  23. Gad (aka Fortune)
  24. golden calf
  25. graven image
  26. Ashima (Canaanite goddess of fate — 2 Kings 17:30) (see: Hamath)
  27. Hebat (Heba, Hebatu, Ḫepat, Hepat, Khepat) (Hurrian goddess)
  28. Hermes (Mercury)
  29. host of heaven—worshipped
  30. Heqet
  31. Ishtar (Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian “queen of heaven”) (aka Inanna, Anath, Anat, Anatu, Isis, Astarte — Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, sex, war, justice, political power)
  32. image of jealousy—an idolatrous object seen in Ezekiel’s vision
  33. Jupiter (Zeus)
  34. Zeus / Jupiter
  35. Malcam (Malkam, Malcham, Milkowm, Milcom) (Ammonite god)
  36. Meni
  37. Merodach
  38. Milcom (Malcam, Malkam, Malcham, Milkowm)
  39. Moloch (Molech, Milcom, Malcham) (Canaanite god of fire, husband of Ishat)
  40. Sin (Nanna, Nannar, Sīn, Sin, Suen) (Mesopotamian Moon god, including Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian)
  41. Nebo (Nabu) (Mesopotamia)
  42. Nergal
  43. Nibhaz
  44. Nisroch
  45. Noph
  46. Rimmon
  47. Satyr
  48. Serpent
  49. Sikkuth (Amos 5:26 ESV)
  50. stars
  51. Succoth Benoth
  52. Sun
  53. Tammuz (Dumuzid, Dumuzi, Adonis)
  54. Tartak

Other false dieties in Biblical times

  1. Abzu / Apsu (Mesopotamian)
  2. Achlys (Greek)
  3. Aeolus (Greek)
  4. Aether (Greek)
  5. Aglibol (Canaanite Moon goddess)
  6. Ahuramazda (aka Ahura Mazda) (Persian, the Zoroastrian false creator god and god of the sky, whose name literally means “Lord of Wisdom”)
  7. Aion (Greek)
  8. Amphitrite (Greek)
  9. Amun (Egyptian god of the air)
  10. Amurru / Martu (Akkadian and Sumerian)
  11. Ananke (Greek)
  12. Angelos (Greek)
  13. Anshar / Anšar (Mesopotamian)
  14. Anu (Anum, Ilu, An) (Mesopotamian)
  15. Anubis (Egyptian god of the afterlife)
  16. Aphrodite (Greek)
  17. Apollo (Greek)
  18. Ares (Greek)
  19. Arsay (Canaanite goddess of the underworld)
  20. Arsu (Canaanite god of the evening star)
  21. Artemis (Greek)
  22. Aset (Egyptian goddess of healing and magic) (see: Ishtar)
  23. Ashara (Elamite)
  24. Ashtar-Chemosh (Moabite goddess)
  25. Ashur (Asshur, Ashshur, Ašur, Asur, Aššur, Assur, Bêlu Rabû—“great lord,” Ab Ilâni—“father of gods,” and Šadû Rabû—“great mountain”) (Assyrian)
  26. Atargatis (Canaanite goddess of fertility, wife of Hadad)
  27. Athena (Greek) / Minerva (Roman)
  28. Attar (Canaanite god of the morning star)
  29. Atum / Ra-Atum / Tum (Egyptian creator god / sun god)
  30. Azizos (Canaanite god of the morning star)
  31. Ba‘alat Gebal / Baalat Gebal (Canaanite)
  32. Baalah (Canaanite goddess)
  33. Ba'alat Gebal (goddess of Byblos, Phoenicia)
  34. Baalshamin / Baal Shamem / Baal Shamaim (supreme sky god of Palmyra, Syria)
  35. Bast / Bastet / Lady of the East / Goddess of the Rising Sun / Sacred and All Seeing Eye (of Ra) / Goddess of the Moon (Egyptian goddess of protection, pleasure, and the bringer of good health)
  36. Bel / Bol (chief god of Palmyra, Syria)
  37. Berith (Canaanite)
  38. Bes (Egyptian god of music, merriment, and childbirth) / The Spanish isle of Ibiza is named for this God—“Island of Bes.”
  39. Boreas (Greek)
  40. Buchis (Egyptian)
  41. Ceto (Greek)
  42. Chaos (Greek)
  43. Chronos (Greek)
  44. Demeter / Démétér (goddess of agriculture) (Greek)
  45. Dionysus (Greek)
  46. Djehuty / Thoth (Egyptian god of the moon, sacred texts, mathematics, the sciences, magic, messenger and recorder of the deities, master of knowledge, and patron of scribes)
  47. Eileithyia (Greek)
  48. El (Canaanite)
  49. Enki / Ea (Sumerian, Canaanite, and Hittite god of water, knowledge, mischief, crafts, and creation)
  50. Enlil / Elil (Mesopotamian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian god of wind, air, earth, storms)
  51. Enyo (Greek)
  52. Erebus (Greek)
  53. Ereshkigal (Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld)
  54. Erinyes (Greek)
  55. Eris (Greek)
  56. Eros (Greek)
  57. Ersa (Greek)
  58. Eshmun (Canaanite goddess of healing)
  59. Eurus (Greek)
  60. Eurynomos (Greek)
  61. Gaia (Greek)
  62. Geb (Egyptian)
  63. Glaucus (Greek)
  64. Hadad (Adad, Ishkur, and Ramman) (Canaanite / Mesopotamian) / equivalent to Zeus/Jupiter/Baal
  65. Hades (Greek)
  66. Hathor (Egyptian goddess of love, beauty, music, dancing, fertility, and pleasure / protector of women)
  67. Hebe (Greek)
  68. Hecate (Greek)
  69. Hemera (Greek)
  70. Hephaestus (Greek)
  71. Hera (Greek)
  72. Hestia (Greek)
  73. Hišmitik / Hismitik (Elamite)
  74. Horon (Canaanite god of the underworld)
  75. Horus (Egyptian god of war and the sky)
  76. Humban (Enlil) (Elamite)
  77. Hymen (Hymenaios, Hymenaeus, Humén, Humen) (Greek god of weddings and son of Apollo)
  78. Iacchus (Greek)
  79. Inshushinak (Ninurta) (Elamite)
  80. Ishara (Canaanite goddess, wife of Dagon)
  81. Ishat (Canaanite goddess of fire, wife of Moloch)
  82. Ishmekarab (Elamite)
  83. Ishtaran (Sumerian, god of city of Der)
  84. Isis (Greek) (see: Ishtar)
  85. Jabru (Anu, Enlil) (Elamite)
  86. Kiririsha (Elamite)
  87. Kirmašir / Kirmasir (Elamite)
  88. Kotharat (Kotharot, Kathirat) (Canaanite goddess of marriage and pregnancy)
  89. Kothar-wa-Khasis (Canaanite god of craftsmanship and weapons)
  90. Kunzibami (Elamite)
  91. Lagamar (Nergal) (Elamite)
  92. Lahmu (Mesopotamian / Nineveh)
  93. Liluri (Canaanite)
  94. Liluri (Syrian)
  95. Malakbel (Canaanite Sun god, and of vegetation, welfare, angel of Bel)
  96. Manungal (Sumerian, Babylonian, and Akkadian goddess of the underworld, punishment, prisons)
  97. Manuzi (Canaanite god of weather and husband of Liluri)
  98. Manuzi (Syrian)
  99. Manzat (Elamite rainbow goddess)
  100. Marduk (associated with planet Jupiter) (Babylonian god of creation, judgment, water, magic / patron god of the city of Babylon)
  101. Marqod (Baal-Marqod) (Phoenician god of dance)
  102. Mašti / Masti (Elamite)
  103. Ma’at (Egyptian goddess of truth, justice, balance, and paintings)
  104. Melinoë / Melinoe (Greek)
  105. Melqart (Phoenician / god of Tyre, the underworld and cycle of vegetation)
  106. Misor (Canaanite god)
  107. Moirai (Greek)
  108. Mot (Mavet, Muth, Maveth, Maweth, Mutu, Mūtu) (Canaanite god of death)
  109. Mummu (Mesopotamian)
  110. Nahhunte (Utu / Shamash) (Elamite Sun god / Babylonian)
  111. Naiads (Greek)
  112. Nammu (Sumerian) / Tiamat (Babylonian)
  113. Napir (Elamite Moon god)
  114. Napirisha (Enki)(Elamite)
  115. Narundi (Ishtar or Nanaya —Mesopotamian goddess of love) (Elamite goddess known from Susa)
  116. Neith (Egyptian goddess of creation, wisdom, weaving, and war, and funerals)
  117. Nephthys / Mistress of the House (Egyptian goddess of the air)
  118. Nereids (Greek)
  119. Nereus (Greek)
  120. Nergal / Nirgal / Nirgali (Meslamtaea, Erra and Irra) (Mesopotamian)
  121. Nikkal (Canaanite / Phoenician)
  122. Ninazu (Sumerian god of the underworld and of healing)
  123. Ninegal / Belet Ekallim (Mesopotamian goddess)
  124. Ningishzida (Mesopotamian)
  125. Ninḫursaĝ / Ninhursag / Ninkharsag (Damgalnuna or Ninmah) (Sumerian fertility goddess and mother goddess of the mountains)
  126. Ninlil (Sud / Assyrian: Mulliltu) (Mesopotamian)
  127. Ninshubur (Sumerian)
  128. Notus (Greek)
  129. Nut (pronounced “newt”) (Egyptian goddess of the sky and heavens)
  130. Oceanids (Greek)
  131. Oceanus (Greek)
  132. Osiris (Egyptian god of the dead)
  133. Ourea (Greek)
  134. Pabilsag (Sagittarius) (Mesopotamian city of Isin)
  135. Papsukkal (Mesopotamian)
  136. Persephone (Greek)
  137. Phanes (Greek)
  138. Phorcys (Greek)
  139. Pidray (Canaanite goddess of light and lightning)
  140. Pinikir (Ishtar, Ninsianna) (Elamite goddess of love and sex; “queen of heaven”)
  141. Pontus (Greek)
  142. Pontus (Greek)
  143. Poseidon (Greek)
  144. Proteus (Greek)
  145. Ptah (Egyptian god whose breath was said to give life to everything at the beginning)
  146. Qadeshtu “Holy One” (Canaanite goddess of love, desire, lust)
  147. Qetesh (Egyptian, Canaanite)
  148. Ra (Egyptian Sun god / king of the deities and the father of all creation)
  149. Resheph (Canaanite / Egyptian god of plague and healing)
  150. Ruhurater (Ninurta) (Elamite)
  151. Sarpanit (Mesopotamian goddess of birth)
  152. Sekhmet (Egyptian goddess of the hot desert sun, plague, chaos, war, and healing)
  153. Šennukušu / Sennukusu (Elamite)
  154. Set / Seth (Egyptian god of the desert, foreign lands, thunderstorms, eclipses, and earthquakes)
  155. Shadrafa (Canaanite god of medicine or healing)
  156. Shahar (Canaanite)
  157. Shalim (Shalem, Šalām, Salam, Salem, Salim) (Canaanite god of dusk and netherworld)
  158. Shapash (Shapsh, Shapshu, Shemesh) / Sun god or goddess (Canaanite Sun goddess)
  159. Shu (Egyptian)
  160. Šihhaš / Sihhas (Elamite)
  161. Simut (Nergal) (Elamite)
  162. Sobek (Egyptian lord of crocodiles / creator of order / creator of the Nile River — associated with fertility)
  163. Sydyk (Canaanite god of righteousness or justice)
  164. Tallai (Canaanite goddess of winter, snow, cold and dew)
  165. Tartarus (Greek)
  166. Tefnut (Egyptian)
  167. Tethys (Greek)
  168. Thalassa (Greek)
  169. Thaumas (Greek)
  170. Thetis (Greek)
  171. Thoth / Djehuty (Egyptian god of the moon, sacred texts, mathematics, the sciences, magic, messenger and recorder of the deities, master of knowledge, and patron of scribes)
  172. Tiamat (Mesopotamian)
  173. Tirutur (Elamite)
  174. Tishpak (Akkadian / Babylonian goddess)
  175. Triptolemus (Greek)
  176. Triton (Greek)
  177. Trophonius (Greek)
  178. Upur-kubak (Elamite goddess of light)
  179. Uranus (Greek)
  180. Yam (Canaanite god of the sea and river)
  181. Yarhibol (Sun god, “lord of the spring”)
  182. Yarikh (Canaanite Moon god)
  183. Zephyrus (Greek)

More information

List of IDOLATERS—people, cities and nations

References of interest

Hebrew and Greek names for idol worship

Greek: εἰδωλολατρεία —transliteration: eidólolatria —meaning: image worship

Hebrew: תְּרָפִים —transliteration: teraphim —meaning: some kind of idol made for worship (possibly a household idol)

Hebrew: פֶסֶל —transliteration: pesel —meaning: an idol, image

More information

Article Version: May 17, 2024