In the English, idolatry is defined as coming from the Greek
eidololatria - worship/service of idols: eidolon = image +
latreia = worship, service. In English translations of the
Bible, words such as idol, image, abomination, detestable thing, etc., are
used interchangeably. To have no consistency in translation, I feel, masks
the issues at hand. Where specifics would address issues and clarify subjects,
this ambiguous word idol/idolatry does nothing to remove the obstacles in
our walk with YHWH. Yes, scripture says that we are not to worship idols and
I do not, according to my limited understanding. But what if the scripture
wrote that you were not participate in a funeral meal, part of the cult of
the dead, or set up a gravestone to the dead or make an image of Asherah and
yet I had literally made a menorah out of square stock steel in my blacksmithing
class and did an absolutely gorgeous job, unknowing that I had made an asherah?
What if pagan idolatry is alive and well in our day, just as it was 3000
years ago or even in the years just before the exile to
There are a number of different Hebrew words that are translated as idol in the Tanak [Hebrew text, Old Testament]. Each one of them shows a different aspect of idolatry. These aspects of idolatry are separate from those already covered under the Abominations and Detestable Things [Shiqquts and Thoebah] study, which deals with two generalities of what is an abomination and what is detestable. When I translate a passage, I translate consistently [as I can be, if you find any inconsistency, please let me know], so if you see abomination, it is always shiqquts; if you see molten/metal image, it is always massekah. Far too often, English translators have confused issues in text by not being word consistent. Sometimes it is due to a book or portion of a book being assigned to a different translator. Many translators will not view translated words the same and therefore use them differently. Sometimes it is a matter of whitewashing an issue, so that certain biblical characters are not seen as observing idolatrous practices. I think it helps for us all to be on the same page for a start, then begin to weed through the other issues.
When YHWH made a covenant with the people, he directed specific things to be observed as the teachings, laws of the covenant. The first is that He does not share well with other false elohiym [gods]. He wants us to Himself and will not tolerate other elohiym [gods] before His face. The second defined images that would be used to represent these other elohiym and service to them. Shemoth 20:1-5, then elohiym spoke all these words, saying, 2 "i am YHWH your elohey, who brought you out of the land of mitsrayim, out of the beyth [house] of slavery. 3 you will have no other elohiym before my face. 4 you will not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 you will not worship them or serve them; for i am YHWH your elohey, a zealous el, It is not that YHWH is the best el, it is a matter that YHWH is the only el, anything else is a counterfeit, worthlessness.
As we will see, it is not an image that is the problem, but what it stands for and a religious system attached to it, that becomes idolatry. A tree is not a problem, but when that tree is a representative of Asherah and becomes a site of worship, or the tree is carved into an Asherah and set up and worshipped, then it is idolatry. Sometimes items were innocent, void of idolatry, but came to have a certain association, and then became a stumbling block for others. Appreciating the sun, its warmth, the light and the fact that it makes things grow, provides health to living creatures is not idolatry, but setting up images or symbols of the sun, making offerings, a house to contain the images, that is idolatry.
Sometimes idols become idols by accident. Lets take modern sports as an example. I have heard testimony from athletes and have read their quotes, where the athletes began to associate wins with what they were wearing at the time and to promote another win, they would wear their lucky whatever each time. While we may view this as superstitious, it is in fact idolatry. As we look into this subject, other aspects to idolatry will be exposed. This is necessary to clear the way of YHWH of these stumbling blocks, so that we may have the shalom of YHWH.
As mentioned earlier, this study is to point out the generalities of idolatry. The specific deities and their practices are part of the Worthless Deities in the Hebrew Text study.
Overview of Idolatry
The prophet YeshaYahu [Isaiah] had several passages that give a general overview of idolatry from the craftsmen that creates idols to the materials that they are made of, as well as a very pointed one in Thehillah [Psalms] 115 and YirmeYahu [Jeremiah]10. Idolatry is a very common theme among the prophets, due to the constant idolatry of the people they prophesied against.
YeshaYahu 44:8-20, 8 do not dread, nor be afraid. have i not declared and made you hear since then? so you are my witnesses, is there an eloah besides me? yes, there is none. i have not known a rock. 9 those who form a carved image [fesel] are all of them vanity [worthless]. and their delights do not profit; and they are their own witnesses. they do not see, nor know, that they may be ashamed. 10 who has formed an el, or poured out an image to no profit? 11 look, all his companions will be ashamed; and the craftsmen, they are from men. they will assemble, all of them will stand; they will dread; they will be shamed together. 12 he carves iron with a tool; he works in the coals and forms it with hammers, and works it with his powerful arm; then he is hungry, and has no strength; he drinks no water and is weary. 13 he fashions wood, and stretches a line; he marks it with a stylus; he shapes it with a carving tool, and he marks it with a compass. and he makes it according to the figure of a man, as the beauty of a man, to sit in the beyth [house]. 14 he cuts down cedars and takes cypress and oak, and he makes the trees of the forest strong for him. he plants a tree, and rain makes it grow. 15 and it will be for a man to burn; yes, he takes of them and is warmed; and he kindles it and bakes bread. yes, he makes an el and worships; he makes a carved image and bows to it. 16 he burns half of it in the fire; he eats flesh on half of it; he roasts roast, and is satisfied. then he warms himself and says, ah, i am warm; i have seen the fire. 17 and he makes an el of the rest, his carved image; he bows to it and worships, and prays to it, and says, deliver me, for you are my el. 18 they do not know nor discern; for he has smeared their eyes from seeing, their hearts from understanding. 19 and not one turns back to his heart, nor has knowledge, nor discernment to say, i have burned half of it in the fire; and i also have baked bread on its coals. i have roasted flesh and have eaten it; and i have made the rest of it into a detestable thing. will i bow to a product of a tree? 20 feeding on ashes, a deceived heart turns him aside, and he does not deliver his being, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand?
Thehillah [Psalm] 115:4-11, their images are silver and gold, the work of the hands of man; 5 they have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; 6 they have ears, but they do not hear; they have a nose, but they do not smell; 7 their hands do not feel; their feet do not walk; they do not mutter through their throat. 8 the ones who make them are like them, and everyone trusting in them. 9 yisrael, trust in YHWH; he is their help and their shield. 10 beyth aharon house of aaron], trust in YHWH; he is their help and their shield. 11 ones fearing YHWH, trust in YHWH; he is their help and their shield.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 10:14-16, every man is stupid from lack of knowledge; every refiner is put to shame by the carved image. for his molten metal image is a lie and no breath is in them. 15 they are vanity, the work of delusion. in the time of their judgment they will perish. 16 the portion of yaaqob [jacob] is not like these. for he is the former of all things; and yisrael is the tribe of his inheritance; YHWH tsebaoth [hosts, armies] is his name.
YeshaYahu 46:1-9, 46 1 bel has bowed; nebo stoops; their carved wooden images are for the beast, and for the cattle; your things carried are loads; a burden for the weary. 2 they stoop; they bow together; they are not able to deliver the burden; and their being has gone into captivity. 3 listen to me, beyth [house of] yaaqob, and all the remnant of the beyth yisrael; who are born from the belly, who are lifted from the womb, 4 even to old age i am he; and i will bear to gray hair; i made, and i will carry; and i will bear and deliver. 5 to whom will you compare and make me equal; yes, compare me, that we may be alike? 6 those who lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the measuring rod; they hire a refiner and he makes it an el. they fall down; yes, they worship. 7 they carry it on the shoulder; they bear it and set it in its place, and it stands; it will not move from its place. yes, he cries to it, but it does not answer, it does not save him from his distress. 8 remember this and be a man; return it on your heart, transgressors. 9 remember former things from forever, for i am el, and no one else is elohiym, even none like me,
YeshaYahu 45:20-25, 20 gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the goyim; the ones who set up the wood of their carved image [fesel], and the ones who pray to an el who cannot save; they know nothing. 21 declare and bring near; yes, let them consult together. who has revealed this of old; who has told it from then? is it not i, YHWH? and there is no elohiym other than me; a just el and a savior; there is none except me. 22 turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for i am el, and there is no other. 23 i have sworn by myself, the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and will not return, that to me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear. 24 he will say, only in YHWH do i have righteousness and strength; to him he comes; and they are ashamed, all who are angry with him. 25 in YHWH all of the seed of yisrael will be justified, and will honor.
Hebrew Idolatry Terms
I do not include asheriym in the following idol terms. Asherah is a specific deity. Asheriym is a plural form of Asherah. Some scholars believe asheriym to be the trees that were worshipped as her symbol, or the poles that were made of previous asherah trees. Since they are a specific deity symbol, they are covered in the Worthless Deity study, not the general idolatry represented below.
Thehillah [Psalm] 115:4-8, their images are silver and gold, the work of the hands of man; 5 they have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; 6 they have ears, but they do not hear; they have a nose, but they do not smell; 7 their hands do not feel; their feet do not walk; they do not mutter through their throat. 8 the ones who make them are like them, and everyone trusting in them.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 44:19, and when we burned sacrifices to the queen of the heavens and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make cakes in her image, and pour out drink offerings to her, without our men?
Hoshea 8:4-7, they
have set up kings, but not by me. they have made
princes, but i did not know. they made images for
themselves with their silver and their gold, so that they may be cut off. 5 shomron [
Shemoth 34:17, you will make for yourself no molten metal elohey.
Wayyiqra 19:4, do not turn to the elohiym; and you will not make molten metal elohey for yourselves; i am YHWH your elohey.
HaDebariym 27:15, cursed is the man who makes a carved and molten metal image, an abomination to YHWH, the work of a craftsman's hands, and who sets it up in a secret place. and all the people will answer and say, amen.
HaDebariym [Deuteronomy] 29:17, and you have seen their abominations, and their idols of wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them;
I Shmuel [Samuel] 15:23, for the sin of divination by lots [drawing of lots] is rebellion; and iniquity and therafiym are the urging/insisting. because you have rejected the word of YHWH, so he has rejected you from being king.
Yechezqel [Ezekiel] , for the king of babel will stand at the mother of the way, at the head of the two ways to practice divination. he will shake arrows, he will ask theraphiym; he will look at the liver.
ZekarYahu [Zechariah] 10:2, for the therafiym speak iniquity, and the diviners have seen a lie and have told false dreams. they comfort in vain. on account of this, they wandered like a flock. they were troubled because there was no shepherd.
YeshaYahu 45:20, gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the goyim; the ones who set up the wood of their carved image [fesel], and the ones who pray to an el who cannot save; they know nothing.
YeshaYahu 48:5, and i declared to you from then; before it came i made you hear, otherwise you should say, my image [atsab] did them; and my carved image [fisel] and my poured image [nesek] commanded them.
YeshaYahu 40:18-20, and to whom will you liken el? or what likeness will you array to him? 19 the craftsman pours out the casted image, the smelter spreads it with gold; and he casts the chains of silver. 20 he too poor for that offering chooses a tree that will not rot; he seeks a skilled artisan for him, to prepare a carved image that will not be shaken.
Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 16:17, you have also taken things of beauty, my gold and of my silver, which i had given to you, and made for yourself male images and prostituted with them
Yechezqel , and she added to her prostitutions. and she saw men carved on the wall, images of the kashddiyym [chaldeans] engraved with red color,
Wayyiqra [Leviticus] 26:30, and i will destroy your high places and cut down your chammaniym [altars], and will put your dead bodies on the carcasses of your idols. and my being will loathe you.
YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 17:8, and he will not gaze to the altars, the work of his hands; and he will not see what his fingers have made, even the asheriym, and the chammaniym [sun pillars].
YeshaYahu 27:9, by this, then, the iniquity of yaaqob [jacob] will be covered, and this is all the fruit, to take away his sin; when he sets all the stones of the altar as stones of chalk that are beaten in pieces; asheriym and chammaniym [sun pillars] will not rise.
I think I can better bring understanding
by making the parallel of the holocaust. Without going into detail, that most
are already aware of, what happened to mass amounts of Jewish people, gypsies,
and anybody basically considered undesirable by the Nazis of World War II,
involved burning. Yes there were other means of extermination, and mass graves
held some of them, but the greater amount of bodies were burned in the furnaces,
ovens of the concentration camps as a means of disposing them. For those of
you not as aware of the history, you might not be aware of the meaning of
the word holocaust. Ernst Kleins Etymological Dictionary of the English Language
defines Holocaust as: c.1250, "sacrifice by fire, burnt offering,"
from Gk. holokauston, neut. of holokaustos "burned whole," from holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)) + kaustos, verbal adj. of kaiein
"to burn." Originally a Bible word for "burnt
offerings," given wider sense of "massacre, destruction of a large
number of persons" from 1833. The Holocaust
"Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War II," first recorded
1957, earlier known in Heb. as Shoah "catastrophe."
The word itself was used in
Perhaps with the understanding of
the holocaust, you might better be able to understand what was happening with
the burning of sacrifices producing the smoke,
II Melekiym [Kings] 23:8-10, 8 and he made all the kohaniym [priests] come in out of the cities of yahudah [judah], and defiled the high places where the kohaniym burned up in smoke, from geba to beer-sheba, and broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of yahusha [joshua] the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. 9 however the kohaniym of the high places did not come up to the altar of YHWH in yerushalaim, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. 10 and he defiled thofeth in the valley of ben hinnom, so that no man could cause his son and his daughter to pass through the fire of melek [king].
II Dibrey HaYamiym [Chronicles] 28:1-4, achaz was a son of twenty years when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in yerushalaim; and he did not do the right in the eyes of YHWH, as his father dawiyd, 2 but walked in the ways of the kings of yisrael, and also made molten metal images for the baaliym [plural of baal]. 3 and he himself burned up in smoke in the valley of ben hinnom, and burned his sons in the fire, according to the abominations of the goyim that YHWH drove out from before the sons of yisrael; 4 and sacrificed and burned up in smoke in the high places, and on the heights, and under every green tree.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 11:12,13, then the cities of yahudah and those living in yerushalaim will go and cry to the elohiym to whom they burned up in smoke. but they are not at all able to save them in the time of their trouble. 13 for according to the number of your cities were your elohey, yahudah; according to the number of the streets of yerushalaim you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn up in smoke to baal. This passage is important because of the precedent set in the burning children sacrifices, that it was done for protection from enemies, to avert calamity, etc. If they were burning children to avert calamity, why would they be burning incense in this passage?
YirmeYahu 19:2-5, and go out to the valley of ben hinnom by the entry of potsherd gate. and there declare the words that i will speak to you. 3 and say, hear the word of YHWH, kings of yahudah, and those living in yerushalaim. so says YHWH tsebaoth, the elohey of yisrael, look, i will bring evil on this place by which all who hear it will have tingling ears. 4 because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned up in smoke in it to other elohiym whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of yahudah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents. 5 they have also built the high places of baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to baal, which i never commanded nor spoke, nor did it come into my heart. Again, how can anyone accept burning incense in this passage when YirmeYahu clearly says that they have burned their sons to Baal and they have filled the place with the blood of innocents? This is not incense being burned here.
Wayyiqra [Leviticus] 26:27-30, if you will not listen to me for this, and will walk contrary to me, 28 then i also will walk contrary to you in fury. i also will chastise you, i also, seven times for your sins. 29 and you will eat of the flesh of your sons, and you will eat of the flesh of your daughters. 30 and i will destroy your high places and cut down your chammaniym [altars], and will put your corpses on the corpses of your idols. and my nafesh [being] will loathe you.
Thehillah 78:58, for they enraged him with their high places; and they provoked him to jealousy with their molten images.
Amos 7:9, and the high places of yitschaq [isaac] will be desolated, and the set apart [holy] places of yisrael will be laid waste; and i will rise against the beyth yarabam [house of jeroboam king of yisrael] with the sword.
Miykah [Micah] 1:5, all this is against the transgression of yaaqob [jacob], and against the sins of the beyth yisrael [house of israel]. what is the transgression of yaaqob? is it not shomron [samaria]? and what are the high places of yahudah [judah]? are they not yerushalaim [jerusalem]?
Hoshea 8:11-14, because
efrayim has made many altars to sin, they are altars to him to sin. 12 i will write the great things
of my thorath for him. they were counted as a strange
thing. 13 they sacrifice
flesh for the sacrifices of my offerings, and they eat. YHWH did not accept
them. now he will remember their iniquity and punish
their sins. they will return to mitsrayim [
Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 6:1-8, and it happened, the word of YHWH came to me, saying, 2 son of man, set your face towards the mountains of yisrael and prophesy against them. 3 and say, mountains of yisrael, hear the word of the lord YHWH, so says the lord YHWH to the mountains, and to the hills, to the ravines, and to the valleys, look, i, even i will bring a sword on you, and i will destroy your high places. 4 and your altars will be ruined, and your pillars will be broken. and i will cast down your slain before your idols. 5 and i will put the corpses of the sons of yisrael before their idols, and i will scatter your bones around your altars. 6 in all your dwelling places the cities will be laid waste, and the high places will be deserted, so that your altars may be laid waste and become guilty, and that your idols may be broken and brought to an end, and your pillars may be cut down, and your works wiped out. 7 and the slain will fall in your midst, and you will know that i am YHWH.
Bereshiyth [Genesis] 28:18, 19, 22 so yaaqob [jacob] rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. 19 he called the name of that place beyth el; however, previously the name of the city had been luz. this stone, which i have set up as a pillar, will be the beyth elohiym [house of gods], and of all that you give me i will surely give a tenth to you.
Shemoth [Exodus] 23:24, you will not worship their elohey, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you will utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.
Wayyiqra 26:1, you will not make eliylim [gods] to yourselves; and you will not set up for yourselves idols, or a pillar. and you will not place any stone image [mashkiyth] in your land, to bow yourselves to it; for i am YHWH your elohey.
HaDebariym [Deuteronomy] 16:21, 22, you will not set up for yourself asherah of any trees, which you make for yourself near the altar of YHWH your elohey. 22 and you will not raise up for yourself any pillar, which YHWH your elohey detests.
II Melekiym [Kings] , and he [yoshiyahu, king of yahudah] broke the pillars in pieces, and cut down the asheriym [plural of asherah], and filled their places with the bones of men.
II Melekiym [Kings] , and he said, what is this gravestone/monument that i see? and the men of the city said to him, the tomb of the man of who came from yahudah and proclaimed these things that you have done concerning the altar of beyth el.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 31:21, set up markers for yourself; make sign posts for yourself. set your heart toward the highway, even the way you went. turn again, virgin of yisrael; turn again to these cities of yours.
Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 39:15, and as they pass, those who pass through the land, and any sees a bone of a man, then he will build a monument/gravestone beside it until the ones burying have buried it in the valley of the multitude of gog.
Houses of Idolatry
Beyth [beth, bet] is the Hebrew word for house. It is not just a physical house, as in a home, but can also represent a family or family line, a dynasty or a physical house of worship, such as a temple. I prefer the word beyth in translations because there is no set one word translation. You need the context to help you determine which aspect of beyth to apply.
When you study the Beyth
of YHWH, you see that it is more in the family line, dynasty aspect. But a
beyth YHWH was written by scribes as a temple at times. It began with the
nomadic mishkan, the tabernacle, then Shlomoh [Solomon]
built a temple that came to be called the Beyth YHWH or
The subject of the temple,
in connection with YHWH is too broad for this study, but it is covered in
A House To Hold A God study. I do want to make a
few points on what these houses to hold the gods are. The first time that
beyth is used, not in a house for the family capacity, but in dealing with
a house for a deity is in Bereshiyth [Genesis] 28:10-22, 10 then yaaqob [jacob]
departed from beer
Understand that El is
also the name of the head of the Ugaritic/Canaanite pantheon, he is the creator
god, the head of the assembly of the other gods, most of which he fathered.
The plural of el/god is eliym/elohiym, which is also the Ugaritic/Canaanite
term for the other gods eliym. There are many cases in the Bible that use
elohiym and it has no reference to YHWH at all, but to other deities. In other
studies, I have shown examples of the borrowing or converging of stories,
beliefs and characteristics involving Canaanite/Ugaritic beliefs and in the
Bible, they simply switch the name to YHWH or keep the name of EL, but it
is now attributed to YHWH. This account of Yaaqob shows the plural form of
the gods. He took an experience, set up a pillar to commemorate it, anointed
the now religious object with oil and said it was the gate to the heavens
and made it a house for the sacred stone. Beyth El, known as
HaDebariym [Deuteronomy] 7:25, 26, you will burn the carved images of their elohiym with fire; and you will not lust after the silver and gold on them, nor will you take it to yourself, that you not be snared by it; for it is a detestable thing to YHWH. 26 and you will not bring a detestable thing into your beyth, that you not be a cursed thing like it. you will utterly detest it, and you will utterly hate it; for it is a cursed thing.
not trust yourself to words of the liar, saying, the heykal [temple] of YHWH.
the heykal of YHWH. this is the heykal
of YHWH. 5 for if you thoroughly
do good your ways and your plans; if you truly do justice between a man and
his neighbor; 6
if you do not oppress the ger [convert], the orphan, and the widow; and innocent
blood you do not shed in this place, or go after other elohiym to your evil;
7 then i will let you dwell in this place, in the land that
i gave to your fathers, from forever and to forever.
8 look, you trust for yourself on words of the liar without
being of use. 9 will you steal, murder, and commit
adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense to baal, and walk after other
elohiym whom you do not know? 10
and will you then come and stand before my face in this beyth on which my
name is called, and say, we are rescued in order to do all those abominations. 11 has this
beyth on which my name is called become the cave of breachers/breakers [breakers
of covenant] in your eyes? look, even i have seen,
declares YHWH. 12 but go
now to my place which was in shiylo [shiloh, first
location of the tent with the ark when they entered canaan], where i made
my name dwell at the first, and see what i did to it for the evil of my people
yisrael. 13 and now, because
you have done all these works, says YHWH, and i spoke to you, rising up early
and speaking, but you did not hear. i called you, but you did not answer. 14 and i will do to the beyth on
which my name is called, in which you are trusting, and to the place which
i gave to you and to your fathers, as i have done to shiylo. 15 and i will cast you out from my
face as i cast out all your brothers, all the seed of efrayim. 16 and you,
do not pray for this people; do not lift up cry or prayer for them. do not intercede with me, for i do not hear you. 17 do you not see what they are doing
in the cities of yahudah and in the streets of yerushalaim? 18 the sons gather wood, and the
fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for melketh
hashamayim [queen of the heavens], and to pour out drink offerings to other
elohiym, that they may provoke me. 19
do they provoke me, says YHWH? is it not themselves,
to the shame of their own faces? 20
so the adonay YHWH says this, look, my anger and my fury will be poured out
on this place, on man and on animal, and on the trees of the field, and on
the fruit of the ground. and it will burn and will
not be put out. 21 so says
YHWH tsebaoth, the elohey of yisrael, add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices
and eat flesh. 22 for i
did not speak to your fathers, nor command them in the day that i brought
them out from the land of mitsrayim [
This passage is very important, as are other passages in YirmeYahu, that YHWH did not institute the religious system of the temple, the sacrifices, etc., that the people set these up and attributed it to His name YHWH. They were filling the so called Beyth YHWH with idols of other elohiym, they were committing idolatrous practices in the same temple, which YHWH never directed them to make in the first place. For those of you that believe that Dawiyd/Solomon was directed to build the temple, you might want to read the accounts in the various books of the Bible; they contradict themselves. The temple that was built was to control and centralize the people and the religion of Dawiyd [David].
YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 66:1-6, so says YHWH, the heavens are my throne, and the earth the stool of my feet. where then is the beyth that you build for me? and where then is the place of my rest? 2 and all these my hand has made and all these things exist, says YHWH. and to this one i will regard/look on, to the needy and injured of breath, and trembling at my word. 3 ritually slaughtering the bull is as striking a man; sacrificing the lamb is as breaking the neck of a dog; offering the grain/ meal offering is as blood of swine; recording/ remembering the moon is as blessing vanity/evil, also they have chosen their way and in their abominations their being delights. 4 i also will choose/assay/examine in their mischievous deeds and their terror i will bring to them because i called and no one cohabited/marital rights; i spoke and they did not observe, but they did evil in my eyes and that which i did not delight, they chose. 5 observe the word of YHWH, those who tremble at his word. your brothers have said, hating you, banishing you for the sake of my name, YHWH is honored. but he will appear in your joy and they will be ashamed. 6 a roaring voice from the city, a voice from the heykal [temple/palace], the voice of YHWH completing recompense to his enemy.
The YeshaYahu passage is instrumental in showing that the religious system that man has set up is evil in the eyes of YHWH. Here we see that YHWH mocks them about the beyth they have built, as if it could contain the Creator, who made everything. He says that the heavens are His throne and the earth is His footstool. What is that tiny beyth that they have built in Yerushalim, to house Him, in comparison? Nothing.
He then goes on to compare their religious practices in that temple to those of the idolatrous nations: the slaughtering of the bull is the same as striking and killing a man; the sacrificing of a lamb is the same as the Canaanite practice of breaking a dogs neck for religious purposes; the grain/meal offering is the same as sacrificed blood of pigs, another idolatrous practice; and recording/remembering the moon [lunar calculation instead of sighting] is the same as blessing an evil thing, instead of denouncing it as unrighteous. YHWH states that they have chosen their own way, which is contrary to the Way of YHWH, that they delight in their abominations, instead of being ashamed of them. As a result, YHWH is going to assay them.
Assay is a metallurgical term. An assayer determines the purity of a metal, whether or not it has impurities, what kind and at what levels. This term is used in the book of YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] as well. YirmeYahu is appointed an assayer of the people by YHWH. YHWH says that no matter how many times they are heated up to refine, they remain impure, and therefore they are rejected silver dross, and are cast out.
Continuing in the passage in YeshYahu 66, YHWH says that He called them and no one cohabited. This word literally means the intimacy of sexual relations. He is pointing out that He desired fellowship with them on an intimate level, not a superficial relationship and they did not answer the call. He spoke words that they did not observe, practice. Shema means to observe, not just hear. It is like the passage in Yaaqob [James] that speaks of faith without deeds is dead. You cannot hear the words of YHWH and do nothing, you must shema observe them, do them. Instead, of observing, the people chose to do evil in the eyes of YHWH.
There are those that tremble at the words of YHWH, these people are the faithful of YHWH, the believers, the upright in YHWH Tremblers. The brothers of these tremblers hate them. The haters banished the tremblers, saying that it was for the sake of the name YHWH and that by doing so, YHWH was honored. YHWH says instead He will appear in the joy of the tremblers and the haters will be ashamed. Then what does He do? There is a roaring voice from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of YHWH completing recompense on His enemies. That temple was destroyed and those haters of the tremblers doing their own evil way were shamed in death and exile. That temple and its practices was not of YHWH, the Creator.
In the book of Acts, in the speech that Stephan makes before they stone him, 7:48-50 has Stephan saying, but the elyon [most high] dwells not in the work of hands, as says the prophet, heaven is my throne, and earth the footstool beneath my feet, what house will you build me ? says YHWH, or what is the place of my rest ? has not my hand made all these ? According to this attribution of Stephans, he has applied this passage in the same manner that I have, that the house was built by Shlomoh, by the hands of men, but it was not at YHWHs directing He does not dwell in the work of mens hands!
Here is a question: Why would a creator deity that did not want a single image of him or anything else to represent him to be made, in any fashion, want a bloody house, which is also a representation?
Industry of the House of Idolatry
In the passage about Yaaqob and Beyth El, not only does Yaaqob state that the site is now the House of the Gods, but he states he is going to give a tenth to it, a tithe if you will. A house of a god has to be maintained and that involves a tax, to build a bigger, better house, more elaborate idols, finer furnishings, offerings, words of the god and a priesthood to make those offerings and maintain the house. This is the industry of idolatry. It is like a mafia shakedown. You want protection? Weve got it for price. You want direction? Weve got it for a price. You want blessings? Well, weve really got those for a price. And how about your own personal god? Weve got craftsmen that can make anything. For the wealthier we have molten metal images, but for those of you that are not so well off, we can do them in wood with metal overlay. And if you cant afford the metal, well there is always just plain old wood. And there is always clay for the gods to inhabit. Well take your grain offerings, your meal offerings, your wine for libations, your birds, sheep goats and oxen for barbeques. We, I mean the gods, like to eat very well. You dont want to give them your worst, they would be offended, you need to give them the best that you have. You will have to clothe us and provide special garments to minister in, so that we will not look like everyone else. It is easier to exalt ourselves that way. Since we are the only ones to hear the Holy Word, you will have to pay us for copies of scrolls and books. And dont forget you have to tell us your sins so that we can sell you forgiveness for your peace of mind and later control you with that shameful information. Beware, without us, you will never enter heaven and be condemned to hell. We are necessary to protect you from all the evils we devise. We are fearmongers you know? You will have to pay us if you dont want to be afraid.
Shoftiym [Judges] 17, 1 and there was a man of the hills of efrayim, and his name was miykah [shortened version of name miykayahu mentioned later]. 2 and he said to his mother, the eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, and you uttered a curse, even also speaking in my ear; look, the silver is with me. i have taken it. and his mother said, blessed be my son by YHWH. 3 and he gave back the eleven hundred silver pieces to his mother. and his mother said, i have wholly consecrated the silver to YHWH from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a molten metal image. and now, i am returning it to you. 4 and he returned the silver to his mother. and his mother took two hundred silver pieces and gave them to a refiner. and he made it a carved image, and a molten metal image. and it was in the beyth of miykahyahu. 5 and the man, miykah, had a beyth elohiym house of gods]. and he made an efod, and therafiym, and consecrated one of his sons. and he was a kohen for him. 6 and in those days there was no king in yisrael; each man did the right in his own eyes. 7 and there was a young man of beyth lechem in yahudah, of the family of yahudah; and he was a lewiy. and he resided there. 8 and the man went out of the city, out of beyth lechem yahudah, to live where he might find a place. and he came to the hills of efrayim, to the beyth of miykah, to work his way. 9 and miykah said to him, from where do you come? and he said to him, i am a lewiy of beyth lechem yahudah, and i am going to live where i may find a place. 10 and miykah said to him, live with me, and be a father and a kohen to me. i will give you ten silver pieces for the days, and an order of garments, and your sustenance. and the lewiy went in. 11 and the lewiy was willing to live with the man, and the young man was to him as one of his sons. 12 and miykah consecrated the hand of the lewiy and the young man was a kohen to him; and he was in the beyth of miykah. 13 and miykah said, now i know that YHWH will do good to me, for the lewiy is a kohen to me.
Whether the later scribe, who supported a melek/king over Yisrael, added YHWH to these passages, we may never know. YHWH adamantly forbids such idolatry, yet you will see this and other passages associating idolatry that is devoted to YHWH, as though that makes it permissible. It is not, regardless of who you devote it to. You cannot take an abomination and unabominate it by devoting it to YHWH. MiykaYahu not only has a molten metal image made, but a carved one. He makes a house to place all these images in, like a shrine or temple. He makes an efod [ephod]. The word efod is of uncertain origin. By descriptions of other passages, an efod is a type of garment worn by an officiate, priests in these cases, close to a mantle or breastplate. Some were made of linen and some were cast of metal with precious stones inlaid. The item was worshipped at times, which indicates that it is not just a garment, but operated in a certain capacity or gave the wearer certain abilities, such as prophecy, oracles. He also has therafiym [teraphim], which some translators define as household idols, but the root word is rafa, to heal. These were healing and protecting idols. Some translators call them household idols, ignoring the healing aspect. MiykaYahu then makes one of his sons a priest. Later a man from the tribe of Lewiy [Levite] arrives, looking for work and is hired to be as a father and a kohen/priest to the house of MiykahYahu.
In the next chapter, men from the tribe of Dan are looking to establish territory and some of them stop by, consult with the Lewiy as to attacking some Tsidoniy [Sidonian] villages to take over. They are told that they will succeed. After taking the villages, the men who consulted the Lewiy, tell the rest of Dan that MiykaYahu has a beyth and all the different idols and the Lewiy as kohen. They decided to take by force, all that he has and convince the Lewiy to come with them, and they said to him, be quiet. lay your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be a father and a kohen to us. is it better for you to be a kohen for one man's beyth, or for you to be a kohen to a tribe and a family in yisrael? 20 and the heart of the kohen was glad. and he took the efod, and the therafiym, and the carved image, and went among the people. Does any of this sound remotely upright?
The aspects of setting up a kohen or a father, are dealt with in the Rule Over Us study, as well as the Cultic Professionals study. This is not a system of shoftiym [judges] that YHWH set up. YHWH is the one to rule over us. He does not want anyone to mediate, but wants a direct relationship. A priest, like the system of melekiym/kings, is a religious system using intermediaries between the deity and the person, one which YHWH did not originate. Idols, like priests, are part of the industry of religion.
Idolatry of Achaz, King of Yahudah
Below are two different accounts of Achaz, one in the book
of Melekiym [Kings] and the other in Dibrey HaYamiym [Chronicles]. Both ascribe
specific rampant idolatry to him. What I would like you to notice is that
after loosing a battle with
II Melekiym [Kings] 16
16 1 in the seventeenth year of feqach [peqach]
ben remalyahu, achaz ben yotham the king of yahudah began to reign. 2 achaz was a son of twenty years
when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in yerushalaim; and he
did not do the right in the eyes of YHWH his elohey, like his father dawiyd. 3 but he walked in the way of the
kings of yisrael, and also he caused his son to pass through the fire, according
to the detestable things of the goyim, whom YHWH had cast out from before
the sons of yisrael. 4 and
he sacrificed and burned sacrifice in the high places, and on the heights,
and under every green tree. 5
then retsiyn the king of
A wee bit different account is written in II Dibrey HaYamiym [Chronicles] 28.
II Dibrey HaYamiym 28
achaz was a son of twenty years when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen
years in yerushalaim; and he did not do the right in the eyes of YHWH, as
his father dawiyd, 2 but
walked in the ways of the kings of yisrael, and also made molten metal images
for the baaliym [plural]. 3
and he himself burned sacrifices in the valley of ben hinnom, and burned his
sons in the fire, according to the detestable things of the goyim that YHWH
drove out from before the sons of yisrael;
4 and sacrificed and burned sacrifices in the high places,
and on the heights, and under every green tree.
5 and YHWH his elohey gave him into the hand of the king
YoshiYahus Removal of Idolatry
Below is a passage of king YoshiYahu of Yahudah, who began
his reign as a child of 8 years. He was more than likely steered in his ruling
by ChilqiYahu the kohen gadol/high priest. YoshiYahu was king shortly before
the exile to
II Melekiym [Kings] 23:4-24, 4
and the king commanded chilkiyahu [hilkiah] the kohen gadol [high priest],
and the kohaniy [priests] of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold,
to bring out from the heykal [temple of] YHWH all the vessels that were made
for baal, and for asherah, and for all the armies of the heavens. and he burned them at the outside of yerushalaim, in the fields
of kidron, and carried their ashes to beyth el. 5 and he caused to cease the idolatrous
kohaniym [priests] whom the kings of yahudah had given place to burned sacrifices
in the high places in the cities of yahudah, and in the places around yerushalaim,
and those burning sacrifices to baal, to shemesh/shamash [sun god], and to
yarach [moon god], and to constellations, and to all the armies of the heavens.
6 and he brought out the asherah from the beyth YHWH to
the outside of yerushalaim, to the torrent qidron, and burned it at the torrent
qidron, and ground it to powder, and threw the powder of it on the graves
of the sons of the people. 7
and he broke down the houses of the qedoshiym [holy ones/male prostitutes]
that were in the beyth YHWH, where the women were weaving houses of asherah. 8 and he made all the kohaniym [priests]
come in out of the cities of yahudah, and defiled the high places where the
kohaniym burned sacrifices, from geba to beer sheba, and broke down the high
places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of yahusha [joshua]
the ruler of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the
city. 9 however the kohaniym
of the high places did not come up to the altar of YHWH in yerushalaim, but
they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. 10 and he defiled the thofeth in
the valley of the sons of hinnom, so that no man could cause his son and his
daughter to pass through the fire to the melek [king]. 11 and he caused to cease the horses
that the kings of yahudah had given to shemesh/shamash, at the entrance of
the beyth YHWH, by the room of nathan melek the eunuch,
that was in the courts. and he burned with fire the
chariots of the shemesh/shamash. 12
and the altars that were on the top of the upper room of achaz, which the
kings of yahudah had made, and the altars which menashsheh had made in the
two courts of the beyth YHWH, the king broke down, and ran from there and
threw the dust of them into the torrent qidron. 13 and the high places that were
before yerushalaim, which were on the right hand of the mountain of the corruption,
which shlomoh [solomon] the king of yisrael had built for ashthoreth the abomination
of the tsidoniym [sidonians], and for kemosh the abomination of the moabiym
[moabites], and for milkom [probably contraction for melek olam, see study
on worthless deities for further information] the detestable thing of the
sons of ammon, the king defiled. 14
and he broke the sacrificial altars in pieces, and cut down the asheriym [plural
or asherah], and filled their places with the bones of men. 15 and also the altar that was in
beyth el, the high place that yaraboam [jeroboam] ben nebat had made by which
he made yisrael to sin, both that altar and the high place he broke down,
and burned the high place; he ground it into powder, and burned asherah. 16 and yoshiyahu turned and saw the
tombs that were there in the mountain, and sent and took the bones out of
the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word
of YHWH that the man of the elohiym had proclaimed, who had proclaimed these
things. 17 and he said,
what is the tsiyon [monument, gravestone, landmark]
that i see? and the men of the city said to him,
the tomb of the man of the elohiym who came from yahudah and proclaimed these
things that you have done concerning the altar of beyth el.
18 and he said, let him alone, let
no one touch his bones. and they let his bones escape
with the bones of the prophet that came out of shomron [
II Dibrey HaYamiym [Chronicles] 34:1-8, yoshiyahu[josiah] was a son of eight years when he began to reign, and he reigned in yerushalaim thirty one years. 2 and he did the right in the eyes of YHWH, and walked in the ways of his father dawiyd, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. 3 and in the eighth year of his reign, and he was still a boy, he began to seek to the elohey of his father dawiyd; and in the twelfth year he began to cleanse yahudah and yerushalaim from the high places, and the asheriym, and the carved images, and the molten metal images. 4 and they broke down before him the altars of the baaliym [plural], and the chammaniym that were on high above them, and he cut down the asheriym, and the carved images, and the molten metal images he broke down and beat small, and scattered on the surface of the grave of those who sacrificed to them. 5 and he burned the bones of the kohaniym [priests] on their altars, and cleansed yahudah and yerushalaim, 6 and in the cities of menashsheh [manasseh], and efrayim [ephraim], and shimon, even to nafthaliy [naphtaliy], with their tools all around. 7 and he broke down the altars and the asheriym, and he had beaten down the carved images very small; and he had cut down all the chammaniym in all the land of yisrael, and returned to yerushalaim.
So lets make a list of what YoshiYahu is said to have removed or stopped.
So you can see everything in the definition list at the beginning
of this study, is pretty much covered here, and worse, was still actively
being done by 600
Never Ending Backsliding?
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 8:1-12, at that time, declares YHWH, they will bring out the bones of the kings of yahudah [judah], and the bones of its rulers, and the bones of the kohaniym [priests], and the bones of the nebiyiym [prophets], and the bones of those living in yerushalaim [jerusalem], out of their tombs. 2 and they will spread them before the sun and the moon and all the armies of the heavens whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshiped. they will not be gathered or buried; they will be dung on the face of the ground. 3 and death will be chosen rather than life by all the rest of those who remain of this evil clan, who remain there in all the places where i have driven them, says YHWH tsebaoth. 4 and you will say to them, so says YHWH, will they fall and not rise up? or will one turn away and not return? 5 why has this people, yerushalaim, turned away to a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast to deceit. they refuse to return. 6 i listened and heard. they did not speak so. no man repented because of this evil, saying, what have i done? everyone turned in their own courses, as a horse rushes into the battle. 7 also the stork in the heavens knows her seasons, and the turtledove and the swallow and the thrush observe the time of their coming. but my people do not know the judgment of YHWH. 8 how do you say, we are wise, and the thoroth [teachings, laws] of YHWH is with us? look, the lying pen of the scribes has certainly worked deceit. 9 the wise are ashamed; they are terrified and are captured. look, they have rejected the word of YHWH, and what wisdom is theirs? 10 so i will give their wives to others, their fields to those who will inherit. for everyone from the least even to the greatest cuts off a profit. from the nabiy even to the kohen, everyone deals falsely. 11 for they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, shalom, shalom. and there is no shalom. 12 were they ashamed when they had done detestable things? they were not even at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. so they will fall among those who fall. in the time of their punishment they will wither, says YHWH.
Please note that the idolatrous religious systems set up by the kings, the priests, the false prophets and scribes - those in power, does not lend itself to theshubah/repentance turning and returning. These systems continue. They are fed by the never ending supply of people that do not truly seek a relationship with YHHW. They do not mind adding a veneer of YHWH to their ever changing, timeless idolatry. History has shown the convergence and migration of deities and their practices, just as linguists study the migration patterns of languages. The lies continue through generational traditions and new converts; brought about by wars, trade, nomads, explorers, etc. These followers of perpetual idolatry hold fast to deceit, not even asking what it is that they have done this. They say they have wisdom, but they have none. There is no wisdom or understanding without YHWH. The breach with YHWH, they maintain with their lies, deceiving the people that if you follow what they direct, then you will have shalom wholeness, completeness, peace. But there is no wholeness without YHWH. There is no completeness without YHWH. There is no peace. These idolaters are not ashamed and do not know how to blush. This is why there has always been war, theft, murder, adultery- because they continue, from of old, to worship for their own selfishness, what is not of YHWH. YHWH will judge them.
Hoshea warns of this in the 4th chapter, verses 1-14, 1 sons of yisrael, hear the word of YHWH, for YHWH has a quarrel with those living in the land; for there is no truth, and no mercy, and no knowledge of elohiym in the land. 2 swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and the committing of adultery increase. and blood touches against blood. 3 on account of this the land will mourn, and every one living in it will droop, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven; and also the fish of the sea will be removed. 4 yet let not a man strive with nor reprove a man. for your people are as a striven with kohen [priest]. 5 and you will stumble in the day, and a nabiy [prophet] also will stumble with you at night, and i will cut off your mother. 6 my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. because you rejected the knowledge, i also rejected you from being kohen to me. since you have forgotten the thoroth [teachings, laws] of your elohey, i will forget your sons, even i. 7 as they were increased, so they sinned against me. i will change their honor into shame. 8 they eat up the sin of my people, and they lift their being to their iniquity. 9 and it will be, like people, like kohen. and i will visit their ways on them and repay them for their deeds. 10 for they will eat and not have enough. they will whore and not increase, because they have ceased heeding YHWH. 11 whoring and wine and new wine take away the heart. 12 my people by their trees seek advice, and their maqel [rod, staff, branch] declares to them. for the breath of whoring has led them astray, and they whored from under their elohey. 13 they sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burned up in smoke on the hills, under oak [alon] and poplar [lebonah] and terebinth [elah], because its shade is good. on account of this, your daughters will whore, and your brides will commit adultery. 14 i will not punish your daughters when they whore, nor your brides when they commit adultery. for the men themselves go aside with whores, and they sacrifice with haqedeshoth [temple prostitutes]. the people who do not understand are thrust down.
The trees, in the above passage, are symbols of specific deities. Alon is associated with El and later Baal and Elah is associated with Asherah, which ties in with the seeking advice by the trees, a generalized symbol of Asherah and the answering rod, staff, branch. Asherah is possibly the mother that is mentioned in verse 5, that is going to be cut off, as you would a tree or the Asherah pole. She is frequently referred to as the mother in Ugaritic/ Canaanite texts. This is more fully explained in the Worthless Deities study. I wanted to provide enough information here that you would be able to see that this chapter is all about idolatry; that a people who reject the knowledge of YHWH are destroyed by that very lack of knowledge.
Theshubah Turning and Returning
YirmeYahu 3:20-25, surely as a wife treacherously
departs from her lover, so you have dealt treacherously with me, beyth yisrael
In the Hebrew, there is a word called theshub, which means to turn and return. The ambiguous word repent, is often used in translations, but does not bear the full meaning of theshub. If you make covenant with YHWH and somehow get off that path, you need to turn and return to YHWH. The word repent does not have any connection with the Way of YHWH, this journey that we are on, the path of the upright. Unfortunately repent, to many, means to simply ask for forgiveness, no matter how many times you continue to commit that same sin. But, theshubah indicates a direction, a way of life that does not allow for the repetition of the same sin. Otherwise you would not be returning, you would still be facing the direction of sinning. When our eyes are fixed on YHWH, when we are meditating on His thoroth [teachings], and teaching them to our sons, and speaking of them as we sit in our houses, and as we walk in the way, and as we are lying down, and as we are rising up and writing them on the doorposts of our houses, and on our gates, we are not faced the wrong way and committing idolatry against YHWH.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 4:1,2, if you will return, yisrael, says YHWH, return to me. and if you will turn away from your abominations from my face and will not waver, 2 and you will swear, YHWH exists/lives, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; even the goyim will bless themselves in him, and in him they will praise.
The purpose of this study is not to deal with the specifics of each particular deity, but rather the general practice of idolatry and the fact that it still continues today, much in the same form it did thousands of years ago. The specifics of the deities and their cultural pantheons and the practices, including the modern adaptations is in the Worthless Deities in the Hebrew Text study, which I strongly advise readers to look into. The Worthless Deities study is basically a continuation of this study; explaining the biblical association and showing the modern day practice.
Contrary to what many may believe, the modern practices, whether their origins are known or not, is still idolatry and therefore a stumbling block in your relationship with YHWH. The whole purpose of this section is to aid those that desire the wholeness, completeness shalom of YHWH.
Thehillah [Psalm] 119:165, great shalom to those loving your thorah, and nothing to them is a stumbling-block.