The biblical account of David's first escape from Saul in 1 Sam 19 mentions that his wife Michal camouflaged his escape by hiding an "image" (KJV) or a "household idol" (NASB) in his bed.

Is that to mean that David allowed idols in his own home?

  • Household idols were quite common in Old Testament times. – Bagpipes Jul 13 '14 at 12:17

Idols were commonplace in David's time, perhaps his wife Michal went out and purchased one to help cover up his escape.

Another possibility is that other residents in his household worshiped the idols and David never expressly forbade idols from his household, thus Michal may have borrowed or moved an idol from elsewhere in the house.

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    The hebrew of this account is התרפים, which literally translates as "THE images/idols," which would help strengthen the idea that the idols were already in the house. Furthermore, the language used is one of "taking," which also implies that they were lying around. – Michael Siev Oct 4 '11 at 21:05
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    It's very likely that David did not know of the idol in his home. Household idols may have had a significance to women which they didn't have for men (not being as occupied with household affairs as women, and household/hearth idols frequently having associations with fertility). Note e.g. Genesis 31:34 (Rachel on the camel saying she has PMS) - Jacob had no idea that she had these idols. – James Feb 14 '12 at 3:44

I heard some reference to house idols being made of gold and silver, so they may have been used as a savings. If true, then stealing an idol might mean more than stealing coinage or other forms that gold or silver might be shaped into.

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Any idol large enough to simulate a human in bed is too large to go unnoticed by David, so the idea that David did not notice the household idol doesn't seem to wash. So why did David allow it? Anything we say is conjecture because at this point we aren't told anything else about it. You could project that they were so commonplace that David just wanted to keep the peace with Michal and chose not to make it an issue. We're drawn to this bit of info because it would seem so unlike David to permit this.

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Having the idol in his home is a clear sign of henotheism. All though David worshiped Yahweh, they still acknowledged the fact that other people had gods of their own accord. It is not until 2nd Isaiah where we see the universalism of an absolute monotheistic society. I hope this helps you!

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