Were little rolls of parchment, in which were written certain words of the law, and which were worn by the Jews upon their foreheads, and upon the left arm. The custom was founded on a mistaken interpretation of Ex 13:9,16, "And it shall be for a taken upon thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes."
Leo of Modena informs us particularly about these rolls. Those worn upon the forehead have been described under the article FRONTLETS, which see. Those that were to be fastened to the arms were two rolls of parchment written in square letters, with ink made on purpose, and with much care. They were rolled up to a point, and enclosed in a sort of case of black calfskin. They then were put upon a square bit of the same leather, whence hung a throng of the same, of about a finger's breadth and a cubit and a half long. These rolls were placed at the bending of the left arm, and after the throng had made a little knot in the form of the letter Yodh, it was wound about the arm in a spiral line, which ended at the top of the middle finger. They were called the Tephila of the hand.
The phylactery, from a Greek word signifying preservative, was regarded not only as a remembrancer of God's law, but as a protection against demons. It was probably introduced at a late period in the Old Testament history. Our Savior reproaches the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, shown in making their phylacteries broad as a sign of their superior wisdom and piety, Mt 23:5. David, on the other hand, says, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee," Ps 119:11.
(Gr. phulakteria; i.e., "defences" or "protections"), called by modern Jews tephillin (i.e., "prayers") are mentioned only in Mt 23:5. They consisted of strips of parchment on which were inscribed these four texts: (1.) Ex 13:1-10; (2.) Ex 11-16; (3.) De 6:4-9; (4.) Ex 11:10, and which were enclosed in a square leather case, on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew letter shin, to which the rabbis attached some significance. This case was fastened by certain straps to the forehead just between the eyes. The "making broad the phylacteries" refers to the enlarging of the case so as to make it conspicuous. (See Frontlets.)
Another form of the phylactery consisted of two rolls of parchment, on which the same texts were written, enclosed in a case of black calfskin. This was worn on the left arm near the elbow, to which it was bound by a thong. It was called the "Tephillah on the arm." Illustration: Tephillah on the Arm
totaphoth. (See EARRINGS.)
PHYLACTERIES, called by the Jews ?????, are little scrolls of parchment, in which are written certain sentences of the law, enclosed in leather cases, and bound with thongs on the forehead and on the left arm. They are called in Greek ??????????, from ???????, custodio, either because they were supposed to preserve the law in memory, or rather because they were looked upon as a kind of amulets or charms to keep them from danger. The making and wearing these phylacteries, as the Jews still do in their private devotions, is owing to a misinterpretation of those texts, on which they ground the practice, namely, God's commanding them "to bind the law for a sign on their hands, and to let it be as frontlets between their eyes," &c, De 6:8. The command ought doubtless to be understood metaphorically, as a charge to remember it, to meditate upon it, to have it as it were continually before their eyes, and to conduct their lives by it; as when Solomon says, concerning the commandments of God in general, "Bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thy heart," 3/1/type/nheb'>Pr 3:1,3; 6:21. However, the Jews understanding the precept literally, wrote out the several passages wherever it occurs, and to which it seems to refer, and bound them upon their foreheads and upon their arms. It seems the Pharisees used to "make broad their phylacteries." This some understand of the knots of the thongs by which they were fastened, which were tied very artificially in the form of Hebrew letters; and that the pride of the Pharisees induced them to have these knots larger than ordinary, as a peculiar ornament. The Pharisees are farther said to "enlarge the borders of their garments," ?? ???????? ??? ???????, Mt 23:5. These ???????? were the ?????, the fringes which the Jews are commanded to wear upon the borders of their garments, Nu 15:38-39. The Targum of Onkelos calls them ????????, which has so near an affinity with the Greek word ?????????, that there is no doubt but it signifies the same thing; which is, therefore, an evidence that the ???????? were the ?????. These were worn by our Saviour, as appears from the following passage: "Behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment," ????????? ??? ???????, Mt 9:20. Again: the inhabitants of Gennesaret are said to have brought unto him their diseased, and to have "besought him, that they might only touch the hem of his garment," ????????? ??? ???????, Mt 14:36. ????????? ??? ??????? is, in both these passages, very improperly translated the "hem of his garment." It should have been rendered "the fringe." The Pharisees are censured by our Saviour for enlarging these fringes of their garments, which we may suppose they did partly from pride, and partly from hypocrisy, as pretending thereby an extraordinary regard for the precepts of the law. It is reported by Jerom, as quoted by Godwin, that they used to have fringes extravagantly long; sticking thorns in them, that, by pricking their legs as they walked, they might put them in mind of the law. See FRONTLETS.