3

20:4 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex לֹֽ֣א תַֽעֲשֶׂ֨ה־לְךָ֥֣ פֶ֣֙סֶל֙ ׀ וְכָל־תְּמוּנָ֡֔ה אֲשֶׁ֤֣ר בַּשָּׁמַ֣֙יִם֙ ׀ מִמַּ֡֔עַל וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר֩ בָּאָ֖֨רֶץ מִתַָּ֑֜חַת וַאֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בַּמַּ֖֣יִם ׀ מִתַּ֥֣חַת לָאָֽ֗רֶץ ׃

שמות 20:4 Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants Only) לא תעשה־לך פסל ׀ וכל־תמונה אשר בשמים ׀ ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת ואשר במים ׀ מתחת לארץ ׃

שמות 20:4 Paleo-Hebrew OT: WLC (Font Required) לא תעשה־לך פסל ׀ וכל־תמונה אשר בשמים ׀ ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת ואשר במים ׀ מתחת לארץ ׃

שמות 20:4 Hebrew Bible לא תעשה לך פסל וכל תמונה אשר בשמים ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת ואשר במים מתחת לארץ׃

Exodus 20:4 New American Standard Bible 1995

4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Exodus 25:18- New American Standard Bible 1995

18 You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work [a]at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub [b]at one end and one cherub [c]at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. ..............

2 Chronicles 3:11 New American Standard Bible 1995

11 The wingspan of the cherubim was twenty cubits; the wing of one, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and its other wing, of five cubits, touched the wing of the other cherub.

I was trying to reconcile Exodus 20:4 verse's command from God that prohibits making any idol in the likeness of what is in heaven with the construction of the Tabernacle(Exodus 25:18-) and the construction of Solomon's Temple(2 Chronicles 3:11) that describes the use of heavenly cherubim angels structures/statues/figures.

I suppose one can argue that Exodus 20:4 prohibits viewing/using heavenly aspects in an "idolizing"/"worshipping" perspective. However, the construction of the Tabernacle(Exodus 25:18-) and the construction of Solomon's Temple(2 Chronicles 3:11) us the heavenly cherubim angels structures/statues/figures as "auxiliary" aspects of worshipping God.

In any case, Could someone please explain in detail as to whether the Old Testament Hebrew word/phrase/term for "idol" in Exodus 20:4

-implies/suggests/hints some kind of idolatrous worshipping?

-Or does it just simply imply a "statue-like" figure/structure?

2
  • 1
    The cherubim were not a likeness of God (which is what the second commandment is, in context, since it follows after the first, which reads: I am the Lord your God, don't have any other gods besides Me). Pagans worshiped the stars and birds of the physical heaven; but angels are not part of the literal sky.
    – Lucian
    Jul 3 '21 at 15:04
  • @Lucian Thanks. I keep forgetting "Context, Context, Context", a lot of bible verses do Not stand by and itself, I keep forgetting that it's important to take the surround verses, plots and/or subplots...LOL. my mistake.
    – crazyTech
    Jul 3 '21 at 16:15
3

Exodus 20:

4“You shall not make for yourself an idol [H6459], or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5a “You shall not worship them or serve them;

Exodus 25:

18a You shall make two cherubim of gold,

But they did not worship these cherubim, so it was okay.

NASB Translated H6459 as some sort of image/s 18 times and as idol/s 13 times.
carved image (2), graven image (14), graven images (1), idol (10), idols (3), image (1).

The word itself is ambiguous. The important thing was that they did not worship the idol/image.

1
  • Thanks. I keep forgetting "Context, Context, Context", a lot of bible verses do Not stand by and itself, I keep forgetting that it's important to take the surround verses, plots and/or subplots...LOL. my mistake.
    – crazyTech
    Jul 3 '21 at 16:13
2

There were lots of things in the sanctuary and later, the temple, that were images of things in heaven and on earth such as:

  • 1 Kings 7:18, 20 - pomegranates
  • V19, 22 - lilies
  • V25 - bulls
  • V29 - cherubim
  • V29 - lions and bulls
  • V30 - wreaths
  • V36 - cheubim

The description of the temple furnishings had similar images of things in heaven and on earth.

The commandment against idolatry, Ex 20:4-6 is quite clear:

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters beneath. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving devotion to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Thus, there was no prohibition against images and statues of objects - the prohibition was against worshiping such objects.

2
  • Thanks. "Context, Context, Context", a lot of bible verses do Not stand by and themselves, I keep forgetting that it's important to take the surround verses, plots and/or subplots...LOL. my mistake.
    – crazyTech
    Jul 4 '21 at 0:11
  • 1
    Indeed, if they were not allowed to make any representational image of anything in heaven or on earth, they would be forced to do purely abstract non-representational art, which would be hard as even squares, circles, and other geometric shapes can be found in nature.
    – Robert
    Jul 4 '21 at 5:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.