- First Reference: Leviticus 19:4
- Last Reference: Revelation 9:20
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: Yes
- Included in BDB: Yes
- H1544 Used 47 times
- H2553 Used 1 time
- H367 Used 1 time
- H410 Used 1 time
- H457 Used 16 times
- H6091 Used 16 times
- H6736 Used 1 time
- H8251 Used 1 time
- H8655 Used 1 time
- G1494 Used 9 times
- G1497 Used 7 times
1. Heb. aven, "nothingness;" "vanity" (Isaiah 66:3; 41:29; Deuteronomy 32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Psalms 31:6; Jeremiah 8:19, etc.).
2. Elil, "a thing of naught" (Psalms 97:7; Isaiah 19:3); a word of contempt, used of the gods of Noph (Ezekiel 30:13).
3. Emah, "terror," in allusion to the hideous form of idols (Jeremiah 50:38).
4. Miphletzeth, "a fright;" "horror" (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16).
5. Bosheth, "shame;" "shameful thing" (Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10); as characterizing the obscenity of the worship of Baal.
6. Gillulim, also a word of contempt, "dung;" "refuse" (Ezekiel 16:36; 20:8; Deuteronomy 29:17, marg.).
7. Shikkuts, "filth;" "impurity" (Ezekiel 37:23; Nahum 3:6).
8. Semel, "likeness;" "a carved image" (Deuteronomy 4:16).
9. Tselem, "a shadow" (Daniel 3:1; 1 Samuel 6:5), as distinguished from the "likeness," or the exact counterpart.
10. Temunah, "similitude" (Deuteronomy 4:12-19). Here Moses forbids the several forms of Gentile idolatry.
11. Atsab, "a figure;" from the root "to fashion," "to labour;" denoting that idols are the result of man's labour (Isaiah 48:5; Psalms 139:24, "wicked way;" literally, as some translate, "way of an idol").
12. Tsir, "a form;" "shape" (Isaiah 45:16).
13. Matztzebah, 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 (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).
14. Hammanim, "sun-images." Hamman is a synonym of Baal, the sun-god of the Phoenicians (2 Chronicles 34:4, 7; 14:3, 5; Isaiah 17:8).
15. Maskith, "device" (Leviticus 26:1; Numbers 33:52). In Leviticus 26:1, the words "image of stone" (A.V.) denote "a stone or cippus with the image of an idol, as Baal, Astarte, etc." In Ezekiel 8:12, "chambers of imagery" (maskith), are "chambers of which the walls are painted with the figures of idols;" comp. ver. 10, 11.
16. Pesel, "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).
17. Massekah, "a molten image" (Deuteronomy 9:12; Judges 17:3, 4).
18. Teraphim, pl., "images," family gods (penates) worshipped by Abram's kindred (Joshua 24:14). Put by Michal in David's bed (Judges 17:5; 18:14, 17, 18, 20; 1 Samuel 19:13).
"Nothing can be more instructive and significant than this multiplicity and variety of words designating the instruments and inventions of idolatry."
Exodus 20:4; Exodus 32:4; Exodus 32:20; Deuteronomy 4:23; Isaiah 40:19-20; Isaiah 44:9-12; Isaiah 44:17; Habakkuk 2:18; Acts 19:24-25
Manufacture of, forbidden
Exodus 20:4; Exodus 34:17
Exodus 32:3-4; Psalms 115:4-7; Psalms 135:15-17; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 31:7; Hosea 8:4
Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 31:7; Hosea 8:4
Wood and stone
Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 4:28; 2 Kings 19:18; Isaiah 37:19; Isaiah 41:6; Isaiah 44:13-19; Ezekiel 20:32
Prayer to, unanswered
1 Kings 18:25-29; Isaiah 16:12
Things offered to, not to be eaten
An image or anything used as an object of worship in place of the true God. Among the earliest objects of worship, regarded as symbols of deity, were the meteoric stones,which the ancients believed to have been images of the Gods sent down from heaven. From these they transferred their regard to rough unhewn blocks, to stone columns or pillars of wood, in which the divinity worshipped was supposed to dwell, and which were connected, like the sacred stone at Delphi, by being anointed with oil and crowned with wool on solemn days. Of the forms assumed by the idolatrous images we have not many traces in the Bible. Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines, was a human figure terminating in a fish; and that the Syrian deities were represented in later times in a symbolical human shape we know for certainty. When the process of adorning the image was completed, it was placed in a temple or shrine appointed for it. Epist. (Jeremiah 12:1; Jeremiah 19:1) ... Wisd. 13.15; (1 Corinthians 18:10) From these temples the idols were sometimes carried in procession, Epist. (Jeremiah 4:26) on festival days. Their priests were maintained from the idol treasury, and feasted upon the meats which were appointed for the idols' use. Bel and the Dragon 3,13.
I'DOL, noun [Latin idolum; Gr. form or to see.]
1. An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold.
The gods of the nations are idols. Psalms 96:5.
2. An image.
Nor ever idol seemed so much alive.
3. A person loved and honored to adoration. The prince was the idol of the people.
4. Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:1.
An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.
5. A representation. [Not in use.]
IDOL'ATER, noun [Latin idololatra. See Idolatry.]
1. A worshiper of idols; one who pays divine honors to images, statues, or representations of any thing made by hands; one who worships as a deity that which is not God; a pagan.
2. An adorer; a great admirer.
IDOL'ATRESS, noun A female worshiper of idols.
IDOL'ATRIZE, verb intransitive To worship idols.
IDOL'ATRIZE, verb transitive To adore; to worship.
IDOL'ATROUS, adjective Pertaining to idolatry; partaking of the nature of idolatry, or of the worship of false gods; consisting in the worship of idols; as idolatrous worship.
1. Consisting in or partaking of an excessive attachment or reverence; as an idolatrous veneration for antiquity.
IDOL'ATROUSLY, adverb In an idolatrous manner; with excessive reverence.
Image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object. Paul describes the origin of idolatry in Romans 1:21-25- men forsook God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (1:28).
The forms of idolatry are,
1. Fetishism, or the worship of trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc.
2. Nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as the supposed powers of nature.
3. Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of heroes.
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; Ezekiel 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 forty years' wanderings; but when the Jews entered Palestine, 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 13:20-10), 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 offence (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).
In the New Testament the term idolatry is used to designate covetousness (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5).
Wicked practices of:
Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 3:26-27; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:17-18; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Psalms 106:37-38; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:4-7; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Ezekiel 20:26; Ezekiel 20:31; Ezekiel 23:37; Ezekiel 23:39; Micah 6:7
Practices of, relating to the dead
Exodus 32:6; Exodus 32:25; Numbers 25:1-3; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 2 Kings 17:30; 2 Kings 23:7; Ezekiel 16:17; Ezekiel 23:1-44; Hosea 4:12-14; Amos 2:8; Micah 1:7; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 10:7-8; 1 Peter 4:3-4; Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:20-22; Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:1-6
Other customs of:
Offered burnt offerings
Exodus 32:6; 1 Kings 18:26; Acts 14:13
Isaiah 57:6; Isaiah 65:11; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 32:29; Jeremiah 44:17; Jeremiah 44:19; Jeremiah 44:25; Ezekiel 20:28
Offerings of wine
Offerings of blood
Psalms 16:4; Zech 9:7
Isaiah 57:6; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17; Ezekiel 16:19
Incense burned on altars
1 Kings 12:33; 2 Chronicles 30:14; 2 Chronicles 34:25; Isaiah 65:3; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 11:12; Jeremiah 11:17; Jeremiah 44:3; Jeremiah 48:35; Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 23:41; Hosea 11:2
Prayers to idols
Judges 10:14; Isaiah 44:17; Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 46:7; Jonah 1:5
Judges 16:24; Daniel 5:4
Singing and dancing
Cutting the flesh
1 Kings 18:28; Jeremiah 41:5
1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2; Job 31:27
1 Kings 19:18; 2 Kings 5:18
Tithes and gifts
2 Kings 23:11; Daniel 11:38; Amos 4:4-5
1 Kings 12:32; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 18:11-12; Ezekiel 18:15; Ezekiel 22:9; Daniel 3:2-3
Sun, moon, and stars
Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 21:5; 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 7:17-20; Jeremiah 8:2; Ezekiel 8:15-16; Zephaniah 1:4-5; Acts 7:42
Images of angels
Images of animals
Gods of Egypt
2 Kings 18:4
Net and drag
Numbers 33:52; Isaiah 2:16
Pictures on walls
Genesis 35:2; Exodus 20:3-6; Exodus 20:23; Deuteronomy 5:7-9; Exodus 23:13; 1 Corinthians 10:7; Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1; Leviticus 26:30; Deuteronomy 16:21-22; Deuteronomy 4:15-23; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Deuteronomy 11:16-17; Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Deuteronomy 30:17-18; Deuteronomy 31:16-21; Deuteronomy 31:29; Deuteronomy 32:15-26; 1 Kings 9:6-9; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 27:15; Exodus 34:17; 1 Samuel 15:23; Job 31:26-28; Psalms 16:4; Psalms 44:20-21; Psalms 59:8; Psalms 79:6; Psalms 81:9; Psalms 97:7; Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 45:16; Joel 3:12; Jonah 2:8; Micah 5:15; Habakkuk 1:16; Acts 15:29; Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Acts 17:16; Romans 1:25; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 10:20-22; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15
Warnings against, and punishments of
Deuteronomy 17:2-5; 2 Chronicles 28:23; Nehemiah 9:27-37; Psalms 78:58-64; Psalms 106:34-42; Isaiah 1:29-31; Isaiah 2:6-22; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 57:3-13; Isaiah 65:3-4; Jeremiah 1:15-16; Jeremiah 3:1-11; Jeremiah 5:1-17; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 8:1-2; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 13:9-27; Jeremiah 24:16; Jeremiah 17:1-6; Jeremiah 18:13-15; Jeremiah 19:1-15; Jeremiah 22:9; Jeremiah 32:35; Jeremiah 24:44; Jeremiah 48:8; Ezekiel 6:1-14; Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 8:5-18; Ezekiel 9:1-11; Ezekiel 14:1-14; Ezekiel 26:16; Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 22:4; Ezekiel 26:23; Ezekiel 44:10-12; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:2-5; Hosea 4:12-19; Hosea 5:1-3; Hosea 8:5-14; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 10:1-15; Hosea 11:2; Hosea 12:11-14; Hosea 13:1-4; Hosea 14:8; Amos 3:14; Amos 4:4-5; Amos 5:5; Micah 1:1-9; Micah 5:12-14; Micah 6:16; Micah 36:1; Malachi 2:11-13
Prophecies relating to
Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4; Isaiah 2:18; Isaiah 2:20; Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 17:7-8; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 10:11; Jeremiah 10:15; Jeremiah 51:44; Jeremiah 51:47; Jeremiah 51:52; Isaiah 21:9; Ezekiel 43:7-9; Hosea 10:2; Micah 5:13; Zephaniah 2:11; Zech 13:2
Deuteronomy 4:28; 1 Kings 18:27; Judges 6:31; 1 Samuel 5:3-4; 2 Chronicles 25:15; 1 Samuel 12:21; 2 Kings 3:13; Isaiah 16:12; Isaiah 36:18; 2 Chronicles 28:22-23; Psalms 115:4-5; Psalms 115:8; Psalms 96:5; Psalms 135:15-18; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 40:12-26; Isaiah 41:23-24; Isaiah 41:26-29; Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:9-20; Isaiah 45:20; Isaiah 46:1-2; Isaiah 46:6-7; Isaiah 47:12-15; 2 Kings 19:18; Isaiah 37:19; Zech 10:2; Isaiah 57:13; Jeremiah 2:28; Deuteronomy 32:37-38; Judges 10:14; Jeremiah 10:3-16; Jeremiah 48:13; Jeremiah 51:17; Habakkuk 2:18-19; Jeremiah 11:12; Jeremiah 14:22; Jeremiah 16:19-20; Hosea 8:5-6; Exodus 32:20; Psalms 106:20; Acts 14:15; Acts 17:22-23; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Galatians 4:8; Revelation 9:20; Daniel 5:23
strictly speaking denotes the worship of deity in a visible form, whether the images to which homage is paid are symbolical representations of the true God or of the false divinities which have been made the objects of worship in his stead. I. History of idolatry among the Jews.
The first undoubted allusion to idolatry or idolatrous customs in the Bible is in the account of Rachel's stealing her father's teraphim. (Genesis 31:19) During their long residence in Egypt the Isr'lites defiled themselves with the idols of the land, and it was long before the taint was removed. (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7) In the wilderness they clamored for some visible shape in which they might worship the God who had brought them out of Egypt. (Exodus 32:1) ... until Aaron made the calf, the embodiment of Apis and emblem of the productive power of nature. During the lives of Joshua and the elders who outlived him they kept true to their allegiance; but the generation following who knew not Jehovah nor the works he had done for Isr'l, swerved from the plain path of their fathers and were caught in the toils of the foreigner. (Judges 2:1) ... From this time forth their history becomes little more than a chronicle of the inevitable sequence of offence and punishment. (Judges 2:12,14) By turns each conquering nation strove to establish the worship of its national God. In later times the practice of secret idolatry was carried to greater lengths. Images were set up on the corn-floors, in the wine-vats, and behind the doors of private houses, (Isaiah 57:8; Hosea 9:1,2) and to check this tendency the statute in (27:15) was originally promulgated. Under Samuel's administration idolatry was publicly renounced, (1 Samuel 7:3-6) but in the reign of Solomon all this was forgotten, even Solomon's own heart being turned after other gods. (1 Kings 11:14) Rehoboam perpetuated the worst features of Solomon's idolatry. (1 Kings 14:22-24) erected golden calves at Beth-el and at Dan, and by this crafty state' policy severed forever the kingdoms of Judah and Isr'l. (1 Kings 12:26-33) The successors of Jeroboam followed in his steps, till Ahab. The conquest of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser was for them the last scene Of the drama of abominations which had been enacted uninterruptedly for upwards of 250 years. Under Hezekiah a great reform was inaugurated, that was not confined to Judah and Benjamin, but spread throughout Ephraim and Manasseh. (2 Chronicles 31:1) and to all external appearances idolatry was extirpated. But the reform extended little below the surface. (Isaiah 29:13) With the death of Josiah ended the last effort to revive among the people a purer ritual. If not a purer faith. The lamp of David, which had long shed but a struggling ray, flickered for a while and then went out in the darkness of Babylonian Captivity. Though the conquests of Alexander caused Greek influence to be felt, yet after the captivity better condition of things prevailed, and the Jews never again fell into idolatry. The erection of synagogues had been assigned as a reason for the comparative purity of the Jewish worship after the captivity, while another cause has been discovered in the hatred for images acquired by the Jews in their intercourse with the Persians. II. Objects of idolatry .
The sun and moon were early selected as outward symbols of all-pervading power, and the worship of the heavenly bodies was not only the most ancient but the most prevalent system of idolatry. Taking its rise in the plains of Chaldea, it spread through Egypt, Greece, Scythia, and even Mexico and Ceylon. Comp. (4:19; 17:3; Job 31:20-28) In the later times of the monarchy, the planets or the zodiacal signs received, next to the sun and moon, their share of popular adoration. (2 Kings 23:5) Beast-worship, as exemplified in the calves of Jeroboam, has already been alluded to of pure hero-worship among the Semitic races we find no trace. The singular reverence with which trees have been honored is not without example in the history of the Hebrew. The terebinth (oak) at Mamre, beneath which Abraham built an altar, (Genesis 12:7; 13:18) and the memorial grove planted by him at Beersheba, (Genesis 21:33) were intimately connected with patriarchal worship. Mountains and high places were chosen spots for offering sacrifice and incense to idols, (1 Kings 11:7; 14:23) and the retirement of gardens and the thick shade of woods offered great attractions to their worshippers. (2 Kings 16:4; Isaiah 1:29; Hosea 4:13) The host of heaven was worshipped on the house-top. (2 Kings 23:12; Jeremiah 19:3; 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5) (The modern objects of idolatry are less gross than the ancient, but are none the less idols. Whatever of wealth or honor or pleasure is loved and sought before God and righteousness becomes an object of idolatry.
ED.) III. Punishment of idolatry .
Idolatry to an Isr'lite was a state offence, (1 Samuel 15:23) a political crime of the greatest character, high treason against the majesty of his king. 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, (13:2-10) but their hands were to strike the first blow, when, on the evidence of two witnesses at least, he was stoned. (17:2-5) To attempt to seduce others to false worship was a crime of equal enormity. (13:6-10) IV. Attractions of idolatry .
Many have wondered why the Isr'lites were so easily led away from the true God, into the worship of idols. (1) Visible, outward signs, with shows, pageants, parades, have an attraction to the natural heart, which often fail to perceive the unseen spiritual realities. (2) But the greatest attraction seems to have been in licentious revelries and obscene orgies with which the worship of the Oriental idols was observed. This worship, appealing to every sensual passion, joined with the attractions of wealth and fashion and luxury, naturally was a great temptation to a simple, restrained, agricultural people, whose worship and law demands the greatest purity of heart and of life.
IDOL'ATRY, noun [Latin idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.]
1. The worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God.
Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
2. Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.
I'DOLISH, adjective Idolatrous.
I'DOLISM, noun The worship of idols. [Little used.]
I'DOLIST, noun A worship of images; a poetical word.
I'DOLIZE, verb transitive To love to excess; to love or reverence to adoration; as, to idolize gold or wealth; to idolize children; to idolize a virtuous magistrate or a hero.
I'DOLIZED, participle passive Loved or reverenced to adoration.
I'DOLIZER, noun One who idolizes, or loves to reverence.
I'DOLIZING, participle present tense Loving or revering to an excess bordering on adoration.