(3.) 'Emah, "terror," in allusion to the hideous form of idols (Jer 50:38).
(8.) Semel, "likeness;" "a carved image" (De 4:16).
(10.) Temunah, "similitude" (De 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 (Isa 48:5; Ps 139:24, "wicked way;" literally, as some translate, "way of an idol").
(12.) Tsir, "a form;" "shape" (Isa 45:16).
(13.) Matztzebah, a "statue" set up (Jer 43:13); a memorial stone like that erected by Jacob (Ge 28:18; 31:45; 35:14,20), by Joshua (Jos 4:9), and by Samuel (1Sa 7:12). It is the name given to the statues of Baal (2Ki 3:2; 10:27).
(15.) Maskith, "device" (Le 26:1; Nu 33:52). In Le 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 Eze 8:12, "chambers of imagery" (maskith), are "chambers of which the walls are painted with the figures of idols;" comp. Eze 8:10-11.
(17.) Massekah, "a molten image" (De 9:12; Jg 17:3-4).
Nothing can be more instructive and significant than this multiplicity and variety of words designating the instruments and inventions of idolatry.
Of the 19 Hebrew words for it and IMAGE many express the abhorrence which idolatry deserves and the shame and sorrow of the idolater.
(1) Awen, "vanity," "nothingness," "wickedness," "sorrow" (Isa 66:3; 41:29; De 32:21; 1Ki 16:13; Ps 31:6; Jer 8:19; 10:8; Zec 10:2; 1Sa 15:23). "Beth-el," the house of God, is named "Beth-aven," house of vanity, because of the calf worship.
(2) Eliyl, either a contemptuous diminutive of Eel, God, godling; or from al "not," a "thing of naught." There is a designed contrast between the contemptible liliym and the Divine Elohim (Ps 97:7; Isa 19:3, "non-entities" margin Eze 30:13).
(3) emah, "terror," (Jer 1:19) "they are mad after their idols," hideous forms more fitted to frighten than to attract, bugbears to frighten children with.
(4) miphletseth, "a fright": Maachah's idol which Asa cut down (1Ki 15:13; 2Ch 15:16); the phallus, symbol of the generative organ, the nature goddess Asherah's productive power. Jer 10:2-5 graphically describes the making of an idol and its impotence.
(7) shiquts, ceremonial "uncleanness" (Eze 37:23). The worshippers "became loathsome like their love," for men never rise above their object of worship; "they that make them are like unto them, so is everyone that trusteth in them" (Ps 115:4-8).
(8) ceemel, a "likeness" (De 4:16).
(9) tselem, from tseel "a shadow" (Da 3:1; 1Sa 6:5), "the image" as distinguished from the demuth, "likeness," the exact counterpart (Greek eikoon; Col 1:15; Ge 1:27). The "image" presupposes a prototype. "Likeness" (Greek homoiosis) implies mere resemblance, not the exact counterpart and derivation, hence the Son is never called the "likeness" of the Father but the "Image" (1Co 11:7; Joh 1:18; 14:9; 2Co 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; 6:16; Heb 1:3). The idol is supposed to be an "image" exactly representing some person or object.
(10) timahuh "similitude," "form "(De 4:12-19, where Moses forbids successively the several forms of Gentile idolatry: ancestor worship, as that of Terah (Jos 24:2), Laban (Ge 31:19,30,32), and Jacob's household (Ge 35:2-4), to guard against which Moses' sepulchre was hidden; hero worship and relic worship (Jg 8:27; 17:4; 2Ki 18:4); nature worship, whether of the lower animals as in Egypt, or of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, as among the Persians).
(11) atzab, etzeb, otzeb, "a figure," from aatzab "to fashion"; with the additional idea of sorrowful labour (Isa 48:5; Ps 139:24), "see if there be any wicked way (way of pain, way of an idol, Isa 48:5) in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." The way of idolatry, however refined, proves to be a way of pain, and shuts out from the way everlasting (1Jo 5:21; Re 21:8; 1Co 10:20-21). Tacitus, the Roman historian (Hist. 5:4), notices the contrast between Judaism and the whole pagan world, which disproves the notion that it borrowed from the latter and consecrated several of their rites.
The Jews conceive the Divinity as One, and to be understood only by the mind; they deem those profane who form any image of the gods, of perishable materials and after the likeness of men; the Divinity they describe as supreme, eternal, unchangeable, imperishable; hence there are no images in their cities or their temples, with these they would not flatter kings nor honour Caesars.
(12) tsiyr, "a pang," also "a mould" or "shape" (Isa 45:16).
(13) matseebah, a "statue" set up (Jer 43:13, margin). Obelisks to the sun god at the city (house) of the sun, as Beth-shemesh or Heliopolis mean; "On" in Ge 41:45; 2Ki 3:2; 10:26-27 margin. The "images" or standing columns of wood (subordinate gods worshipped at the same altar with Baal) are distinct from the standing column of stone or "image" of Baal himself, i.e. a conical stone sacred to him.
The Phoenicians anointed stones (often aerolites, as that "which fell down from Jupiter," sacred to Diana of Ephesus, Ac 19:35) to various gods, like the stone anointed by Jacob (Ge 28:18,22) at Bethel, called therefore Baetylia (compare also Ge 31:45). The black pyramidal stone in Juggernaut's temple, that of Cybele at Pessinus in Galatia, the black stone in the Kaaba at Mecca reported to have been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel, all illustrate the wide diffusion of this form of idolatry. So the Lingams in daily use in the worship of Siva in Bengal, and the black stone daily anointed with perfumed oil in Benares.
(14) chammanim, "sun images." The Arabic Chunnas is the planet Mercury or Venus. The symbol of the Persian sun god was the sacred fire, Amanus or Omanus, Sanskrit homa (2Ch 34:4,7; 14:3,5). Chamman, is a synonym of Baal the sun god in the Phoenician and Palmyrene inscriptions, and so is applied to his statues or lofty, obelisk like, columns (Isa 17:8; 27:9 margin). These "statues" are associated with the Asherim ("groves" KJV), just as Baal is associated with Asherah or Astarte (1Ki 14:23, margin 2Ki 23:14). The Palmyrene inscription at Oxford is, "this chammana the sons of Malchu have dedicated to the sun." 6/4/type/mnt'>Eze 6:4,6; sun worship and Sabeanism or worship of the heavenly hosts (tsebaowt) was the oldest idolatry.
Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible, alludes to it (Job 31:26), "if I beheld the sun when it shined or the moon ... and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this were an iniquity," etc. In opposition to this error God is called "Lord God of Sabaoth." The tower of Babel was probably built so that its top should be sacred to the heavens (not that its top should reach heaven, Ge 11:4), the common temple and idolatrous center of union. The dispersion defeated the purpose of the builders, but still they carried with them the idolatrous tendency, attributing their harvests, etc., to the visible material causes, the sun, moon, air, etc. (Jer 44:17). Soon a further step was deifying men, or else attributing every human vice, lust, and passion to the gods. Cicero ridicules this groveling anthropomorphic worship, yet was himself a priest and worshipper!
These sun columns towering high above Baal's altars (2Ch 34:4,7) were sometimes of wood, which could be "cut down" (Le 26:30). The Phoenician Adon or Adonis, the Ammonite Moloch or Milcom, the Moabite Chemosh, the Assyrian and Babylonian Bel, and the Syrian Hadad, the Egyptian Ra, are essentially the same sun god. Adrammelech was the male, and Anammelech the female, power of the sun. Gad was the sun, or Jupiter, representing fortune, Meni the moon or Venus, representing fate (Isa 65:11). As the sun represents the active, so the moon the passive powers of nature. The two combined are represented as at once male and female, from whence in the Septuagint Baal occurs with masculine and feminine articles, and men worshipped in women's clothes, and women in men's clothes, which explains the prohibition De 22:5.
Magic influences were attributed to sowing mingled seed in a field and to wearing garments of mixed material; hence the prohibition Le 19:19. In Eze 8:17, "they put the branch to their nose" alludes to the idolatrous usage of holding up a branch of tamarisk (called barsom) to the nose at daybreak while they sang hymns to the rising sun (Strabo, 15, section 733). Baal or sun worship appears indicated in the names Bethshemesh, Baal Hermon, Mount Heres ("sun"), Belshazzar, Hadadezer, Hadad Rimmon (the Syrian god).
(15) maskiyt (Le 26:1; Nu 33:52): "devices"; with eben "stones of device," namely, with figures or hieroglyphics sacred to the several deities on them; "effigied stones" (Minucius Felix, 3). Like "the chambers of imagery" or priests' chambers with idolatrous, pictures on the walls as seen in vision (Eze 8:12), answering to their own perverse imaginations. Gesenius, "a stone with an idol's image, Baal or Astarte."
(16) teraphim. (See TERAPHIM.)
(17) pecel. The process by which stone, metal, or wood was made into a graven or carved image (literally, one trimmed into shape
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.
... Wisd. 13:15;
From these temples the idols were sometimes carried in procession, Epist.
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.