ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
Meaning: givers of prosperity
idols in human shape, large or small, analogous to the images of ancestors which were revered by the Romans
In order to deceive the guards sent by Saul to seize David, Michal his wife prepared one of the household teraphim, putting on it the goat's-hair cap worn by sleepers and invalids, and laid it in a bed, covering it with a mantle. She pointed it out to the soldiers, and alleged that David was confined to his bed by a sudden illness (1 Samuel 19:13-16). Thus, she gained time for David's escape.
It seems strange to read of teraphim, images of ancestors, preserved for superstitious purposes, being in the house of David. Probably they had been stealthily brought by Michal from her father's house. “Perhaps,” says Bishop Wordsworth, “Saul, forsaken by God and possessed by the evil spirit, had resorted to teraphim (as he afterwards resorted to witchcraft); and God overruled evil for good, and made his very teraphim (by the hand of his own daughter) to be an instrument for David's escape” [Deane's David, p. 32.].
The ephod and teraphim are mentioned together in Hos. 3:4. It has been supposed by some (Cheyne's Hosea) that the “ephod” here mentioned, and also in Judges 8:24-27, was not the part of the sacerdotal dress so called (Exodus 28:6-14), but an image of Jehovah overlaid with gold or silver (compare Judges 17, 18; 1 Samuel 21:9; 23:6,9; 30:7,8), and is thus associated with the teraphim.