Small idols or superstitious figures, from the possession, adoration, and consultation of which extraordinary benefits were expected. See margin 2Ki 23.24; Eze 21.21. The Eastern people are still much addicted to this superstition of talismans. The ancient teraphim appear to have been household gods, and their worship was sometimes blended with that of Jehovah, Jg 17. They seem in one case to have resembled the human form in shape and size, 1Sa 19:13,16. The images of Rachel,
givers of prosperity, idols in human shape, large or small, analogous to the images of ancestors which were revered by the Romans. In order to deceive the guards sent by Saul to seize David, Michal his wife prepared one of the household teraphim, putting on it the goat's-hair cap worn by sleepers and invalids, and laid it in a bed, covering it with a mantle. She pointed it out to the soldiers, and alleged that David was confined to his bed by a sudden illness (1Sa 19:13-16). Thus she gained time for David's escape. It seems strange to read of teraphim, images of ancestors, preserved for superstitious purposes, being in the house of David. Probably they had been stealthily brought by Michal from her father's house. "Perhaps," says Bishop Wordsworth, "Saul, forsaken by God and possessed by the evil spirit, had resorted to teraphim (as he afterwards resorted to witchcraft); and God overruled evil for good, and made his very teraphim (by the hand of his own daughter) to be an instrument for David's escape.", Deane's David, p. 32. Josiah attempted to suppress this form of idolatry (2Ki 23:24). The ephod and teraphim are mentioned together in HO 3:4. It has been supposed by some (Cheyne's Hosea) that the "ephod" here mentioned, and also in Jg 8:24-27, was not the part of the sacerdotal dress so called (Ex 28:6-14), but an image of Jehovah overlaid with gold or silver (comp. Jg 17; 17:13; 9'>1Sa 21:9; 23:6,9; 30:7-8), and is thus associated with the teraphim. (See Thummim.)
(See IDOL.) Sometimes left untranslated; elsewhere "images ... idolatry" (Ge 31:19,30,34; 35:2, "strange gods".) Worshipped by Abram's kindred in Mesopotamia (Jos 24:14). Images in human form; Maurer thinks busts, cut off at the waist, from taaraph "to cut off," tutelary household gods; small enough to be hidden beneath the camel's furniture or palanquin on which Rachel sat. Michal put them in David's bed to look like him (1Sa 19:13; Jg 17:5; 18:14,17-18,20). Condemned as idolatrous (1Sa 15:23; 2Ki 23:24).
Used for divination (Eze 21:21; Zec 10:2), and to secure good fortune to a house, as the penates. From Arabic tarafa, "to enjoy the good things of life," according to Gesenius. The Syriac teraph means "to inquire" of an oracle, Hebrew toreph "an inquirer" (Ho 3:4-5). The Israelites used the teraphim for magic purposes and divination, side by side with the worship of Jehovah. Related perhaps to seraphim, the recognized symbol attending Jehovah; so perverted into a private idol meant to represent Him, a talisman whereby to obtain responses, instead of by the lawful priesthood through the Urim and Thummim. (See GATE.)
This is a Hebrew word in the plural. It refers to domestic idols, as for instance those Rachel stole from her father; there the word, as elsewhere, is translated 'images' with'teraphim' in the margin. Ge 31:19,34-35. Michal the wife of David had one in her house, and laid it in the bed when David escaped. 1Sa 19:13,16. Micah also had them in his house, and regarded them as 'gods.' Jg 17:5; 18:14-20. They were used in some way for divination, and are included among the images and idols which Josiah cleared from the land. 2Ki 23:24; Eze 21:21; Zec 10:2. In Ho 3:4 the Jews are described as having neither king, nor prince, nor sacrifice, nor image, nor ephod, nor teraphim
This word occurs only in the plural, and denotes images connected with magical rites. The derivation of the name is obscure. In one case --
--a single statue seems to be intended by the plural. The teraphim, translated "images" in the Authorized Version, carried away from Laban by Rachel were regarded by Laban as gods, and it would therefore appear that they were used by those who added corru
Teraphim were consulted for oracular answers by the Israelites,
TERAPHIM. It is said, Ge 31:19, that Rachel had stolen the images (teraphim) of her father. What then were these teraphim? The Septuagint translate this word by "oracle," and sometimes by "vain figures." Aquila generally translates it by figures." It appears, indeed, from all the passages in which this word is used, that they were idols or superstitious figures. Some Jewish writers tell us the teraphim were human heads placed in niches, and consulted by way of oracles. Others think they were talismans or figures of metal cast and engraven under certain aspects of the planets, to which they ascribed extraordinary effects. All the eastern people are much addicted to this superstition, and the Persians still call them telefin, a name nearly approaching to teraphim. M. Jurieu supposes them to have been a sort of dii penates, or household gods; and this appears to be, perhaps, the most probable opinion.