DR. THEODORE C. FOOTE.
THE popular notion of the Hebrew ephodh is that of a long flow-
ing garment, and is drawn in part, no doubt, from the descrip-
tion in Ex. 28 and 39, but also very largely from pictorial Bibles,
representing a high priest in a long robe, and from sacred prints of
little Samuel in a neat white tunic not unlike the surplice of a modern
Learned commentators have set forth many widely divergent views
concerning the ephod, which fall roughly into two classes. The first
class presents a view, based upon Ex. 28 and 39, that the ephod was
a garment, and never anything else.1 This is the opinion of all the
were two kinds of ephods: one, used solely by the high priest, which
is the kind now generally referred to; the other, of linen, used by
minor priests and worn also by the Levites and even by laymen, when
engaged in a sacred rite.”
The same view is emphatically stated by Thenius.2 The ephod
is nowhere (not even in Hos. 3:4) anything else than a shoulder gar-
ment, as is shown also by the fact that all the Versions, in all passages
where the word occurs (with the single exception of the unimportant
Arabic translation of Jud. 8:27), either put the name itself, or garment
mantle and the like.
1 This view is advanced by ancient writers such as Josephus and Jerome, in
the Middle Ages by Rashi, and since then by Bertheau, Braunius, Cassell, Dill-
mann, Duff, Gesenius-Buhl, Keil, Kohler, Konig, Lotz, Maimonides, McClintock
and Strong, Meyer, Riehm, J. Robertson, Thenius, and Zeller.
2 "Die Bucher
Samuels" (in the Kgf. exeg. Handb.),
new ed. by Lohr.
2 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
An English view to the same effect is given in a recent book3, by
says: "Whatever was made, was a thing of magnificence, and implied
costly surroundings; but it is not, by all this, proved that ephod
means an image. It may have been merely a coat of extraordinary
magnificence, so heavy that it could stand alone, as we say; it may
have been placed upon an image; but it was an ephod, and an
ephod, so far as the usage of the language tells us, was a coat or
The second class of views concerning the ephod would make it
in some places an image and in others a garment.4 The citations
are given somewhat at length because they are the most authoritative
and recent critical opinions.
Benzinger says5 that Yahweh was very commonly represented by a
bull, but almost more frequently the idol was what is called an ephod.
It appears as the proper object of worship in the celebrated sanctua-
ries of Dan (Jud. 1 and 18), Ophra (Jud. 8:27), Nob (1 Sa. 21:10; 23:6).
Of course it represented Yahweh. About its form we know nothing.
From the name ephod ‘covering, garment,’ it may be concluded that
it had a kernel of wood, clay, or cheap metal, and over it a mantle
of gold or silver, often of great value. Its special significance lies in
this, that it was inseparably connected with the sacred lot. The
management of the ephod was, therefore, the affair of the priest; at
any rate the ephod needed a servant and, as a rule, a house also. It
was the means whereby one inquired of God. It is remarkable that
the official garment of the priests is likewise called ephod--more
exactly ephodh badh, the ‘linen ephod,’ 1 Sa. 2:18 and elsewhere, to
distinguish it from the former. It is not a bad idea of Smend's that
perhaps the image was originally clothed in an ephodh badh; cf. the
custom among the old Arabs of putting on garments and swords
(Wellhausen, Skizzen, III. 99).6 The expression nose ephodh, as the
name of the priest, which was afterwards referred to the linen coat,
3 Early Religion of
4 Variosly modified, this view is advanced by Alizon, Benzinger, Budde,
De Wette, Driver, Eichhorn, Gescnius, Gramberg, Hengstenberg, Kautzsch, Kittel,
Kuenen, Marti, Maybaum, J. D. Michaelis, Montefiore, Moore, Nowack, Reuss,
H. Schultz, Smend, W. R. Smith, Stade, Studer, Vatke, and Wellhausen. Duhm
thinks a 'mask,' Sellin a 'quiver'; cf. below, p. 4.
5 Hebraische Archaologie, 1894, p. 382 f.
6 Wellhausen, l.c., says it is not necessary to suppose that garments and
swords were put on images; they may have been put on stones or trees.
FOOTS: THE EPHOD. 3
meant originally nothing else than the bearer of the image (I Sa. 14:3, LXX).7
Professor Moore of Harvard in his Commentary on Judges, New
clearly an idol of some kind," adding in a footnote, "It would be
more exact to say, an agalma; in using the word idol here and below,
I do not wish to be understood to assume that it was iconic. All that
can with certainty be gathered from then, [the passages where ephod
occurs in judges and Samuel] is that it was a portable object which
was employed or manipulated by the priest in consulting the oracle.
In the Priests' Law-book, the ephod is a part of the ceremonial dress
of the high priest, to which the oracle-pouch containing Urim and
Thummim is attached; but, while it is probable that the oracle of
the high priest is a survival of the ancient priestly oracle by the
ephod, it is impossible to explain the references to the ephod in Judges
Samuel by the descriptions in P." More recently,8
7 It may be as well to introduce here some consideration of the ephod badh
which, in the above extract, is supposed to mean ‘linen ephod.' The word db,
‘linen,’ has no etymology, although it has been proposed to regard it as an error
for dk, connected with kad the Sumerian prototype of the Assyrian kitu, which
may have meant ‘linen.’ The most serious objection to the rendering ‘linen’
however, is found in Ex. 39:28 (see below, p. 11) where it is stated that the ysenk;mi
db, supposed to mean ‘linen breeches,’ were made of ww, a material which may
mean ‘muslin’ or ‘linen.’ The LXX omits db, though Theodotion, restores it
transliterated, thus showing that the word was not understood. The Targum
rendering is the same as that of our English versions. It seems clear that db did
not mean the material of the garment, and was misunderstood by the time the
Versions were made. Professor Haupt has suggested that the db dvpx is equiva-
lent to peri<zwman mori<ou, subligaculum membri; db, a ‘member’ of the body,
as in Job 18:13b, is identical with db, a ‘part,’ cf. pars (virilis). In Ex. 25:13ff.
1 Ki. 8:7; Num. 4;6, MyDiBa means ‘poles’ (Latin asser) just as fallo<j may be
connected with palus. The fallo<j was originally a piece of fig or olive wood.
The expression in Ex. 28:42, db ysnkm, rendered ‘linen breeches,’ is probably to
be understood as a ‘covering of the nakedness,’ i.e. ‘kilts’ (see Note A). The
two phrases which follow, viz.: hvr;f, rWb tys.kal ‘to cover the flesh of naked-
ness, and vyhy Myikarey dfv MyntmAm ‘they shall reach from the loins even to the
thighs,' seem to be explanatory glosses. Josephus, Antiquities, iii. 7. l, calls it
the dia<zwma peri> ta> ai]doi?a, and Philo peri<zwma ei]j ai]doi<wn skephn. The
mikhnese badh, if this interpretation of db be correct, will not be ‘breeches’ (cf.
Pesh. xmyvrp= peri<zwma), but like the Sotch kilt, a very shirt skirt such as is
seen in representations on Egyptian and Babylonian monuments. (For an
extended examination of the passages with db, see Note D.) We must then
understand ephodh badh to be ephodh partis (virilis).
8 Cheyne-Black's Encyclopaedia Biblica, vol. ii.,
4 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
gests that the ephod may have been a loincloth; but adheres to his
former distinction between the ephod garment and ephod-idol.
Professor Marti, of
"Not with the same certainty can the origin of the ephod be deter-
mined. It is certain, however, that it also signifies an image of a
god. But where we now find it in the O.T. in this sense, it must
be taken as an image of Yahweh (in Ophra, where Gideon sets it up,
Jud. 8:26, 27, in Dan, Jud. 18:18ff, also before in 17:5ff and in Nob,
1 Sa. 21:10; 23:6ff). It could, therefore, owe its origin only to a subse-
quent period. This, however, is not probable. Here also it is
much easier to assume that the old custom of making images of
gods, as the Teraphim at any rate testifies to, was transferred to
Yahweh. Therefore we have to discuss here the sacred object called
“The name ephod points to the fact that, earlier, these images had
an overlaying of silver or gold (cf. Jud. 8:21; 17:4f), and that even
molten images were found (cf. Ex. 32, I Ki. 12:28).”
Professor Sellin, of
torah, says: “Perhaps they were bound together in a bundle (cf.
1 Sa. 25:29), at any rate carried in or at the ephod. This must have
been either a covering over the arrows, just as the bow and arrows
of a warrior were put in a covering (Hab. 3:9; Zech. 9:13), or more
probably a girdle or band on which was carried the quiver with the
arrows (cf. rOzxe), and in the course of time the name of the band
came to signify the entire oracle instrument. dvpx never signifies an
image of a god, no matter how much this is maintained as certain;
not even Jud. 8:26f. (cf. Konig, Hauptprobleme, p. 62). Rather is
this signification excluded by Jud. 17:4f; 18:14, 20; Hos. 3:4 (cf. also
Ez. 21:27; molten image, ephod, and teraphim are three separate
things. Nor is that meaning possible in 1 Sa. 14:18, for one man did
not carry the image before his people; more likely a wagon was
used. On the other hand, the word in these passages, and also in
1 Sa. 23:6; 30:7 can as little signify the simple priestly garment, which,
precisely to distinguish it from that ephod, was called ephodh badh
(1 Sa. 2:18; 22:18; 2 Sa. 6:14). Now ephodh is certainly a covering of
metal or with metal woven into it (Is. 30:22; Ex. 28:8; 39:5). It seems
to me to follow as a certainty from 1 Sa. 14:3, 18, 41 of LXX, 30:7, that
9 Die Geschichte der israslitischen Religion, Strassburg, 1897, pp. 29 and
10 Beitrage zur israzlitischen und judischen Religionsgeschichte,
II., p. 115 ff.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 5
ephodh has this meaning, and was, therefore, either a covering over
the Urim, or, better, a band on which the priest carried it."11
Professor Kautzsch12 explains ephod as 'covering,' especially the
linen shoulder garment of the priest. In the Textbibel it is always
retained wherever it signifies an image of Yahweh used for oracular
purposes, overlaid with precious metal or perhaps more correctly a
Professor Budde says:13 “It is true that ephod signifies also a
priestly garment, but only with the addition badh (1 Sa. 2:18; 2 Sa. 6:14
1 Chr. 15:27). Both significations are later combined in the ephod of
the high priest in the source P, the shoulder garment into which the
oracle of the Urim and Thummim was inserted. The old ephod of
our passage and those referred to, must somehow have represented
the Deity, and also have been at a later time repudiated. The
gold formed the covering of a kernel of another material; but
whether the word ephod is to be derived from a root signifying to
draw over, cover, according to Is. 30:22, remains very questionable."
For convenience of reference the description of the ephod as
found in the Priests' Code is here given, being condensed from
Ex. 28 and 39.
Ex. 39:2: “Moses made the ephod14 of gold Blue, and purple, and
scarlet, and fine twined linen. They beat the gold into thin sheets
and cut it into wires, to work it: in the blue, in the purple, in the
scarlet and in the fine twined linen the work of the skilled weaver.
They made shoulder pieces for the ephod; joining together: the ephod
was jointed together at the two ends. The skilfully woven piece that
was upon it, to gird it on with, was of the same piece and similar
workmanship. And he made the ornament (breastplate), the work
of the skilled weaver, like the work of the ephod. The ornament was
square and double, being a span in length and breadth. They bound
the ornament by its rings, to the rings of the ephod with a lacing of
blue to keep it in place on the skilfully woven piece of the ephod that
it might not be loosed front the ephod." Ex. 28:30: "Thou shall put
in the ornament of judgment the Urim and Thmmim that they may
be upon Aaron's heart." Ex. 39:22 "Moses made the robe of the
11 Dr. Sellin's view does not exactly fit either of the two classes.
12 Textbibel des Alten und Neuen Testaments. Erklarung der Fremdworter,
s.v. " Ephod."
14 The italicized parts, read consecutively, will give as clear an idea of this
ephod as can be gotten from such a confusing description.
6 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
ephod of woven work, all of blue, and the hole of the robe in the
middle of it. They made upon the skirts of the robe pomegranates
of blue, etc."
It must not be forgotten that the above account, taken from the
book of Exodus, is several centuries later than the latest pre-exilic
mention of the ephod; and to attempt to make it a starting-point
in an investigation of the ancient ephod, would be like trying to
understand Gutenberg's first attempt at printing by starting with an
intricate description of the latest cylinder press. If one is con-
strained to question the later composition of the Priests' Code, the
following investigation may help him to see that this is not an arbi-
trary, but rather art unavoidable, conclusion.
The graphic account which follows presents the ephod in quite as
interesting if not so picturesque an aspect, and leads one to inquire
what the ephod actually was.
In 2 Sa. 6:14ff is the story15
of the bringing up of the
of Obed-Edom, to the tent16 made for it at
not only succeeded Saul on the throne of
married his daughter Michal, 1 Sa. 18:27, who held a prominent posi-
among his many wives. The procession in which the
borne, moved along with pomp and ceremony. David danced before
the sacred palladium with great enthusiasm, being girded with an
ephod. All the
Israelitish nation assisted in bringing up the
with shouting and the sound of trumpets. As the
entered the city the women lined the way. David danced with great
spirit, and Michal, looking out from the palace, saw him and became
exhausted by the long festivity, returned to his palace to greet his
family. So far overcome by her feelings that she forgot all other
15 Taken from the document J, probably not later than 850 B.C.
16 The distinctive name for the Tabernacle is NKAw;mi, ‘dwelling,’ though it was
very commonly described as dfvm lhxo, ‘Tent of Meeting.’ David evidently
knew nothing of the Tabernacle of the Priests' Code, Ex. 26 and 35, but impro-
a tent for the reception of the
that the ‘Tent of Meeting,’ dfvm lhxo was at
Chronicler, but it is inconceivable that David could have known of such a
ordained and venerable Tent, made especially for the
have improvised another. The consciousness of its unfitness leads David to plan
the building of a temple. It may be noted, also, in connection with the above
narrative, that, if our explanation of ephod be correct, David could not have
known of Ex. 20:25, forbidding indecent exposure during sacred rites.
FOOTS: THE EPHOD. 7
considerations, Michal went out to Meet her royal spouse and said,
glorious was the king of
to-day in the sight of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the
shameless fellows!” David said to Michal, “I will dance17 before
Yahweh! Blessed be Yahweh, who chose me in preference to thy
father and all his kin, to appoint me prince over the people of
Yahweh! Therefore I shall play before Yahweh. And even if I
should uncover myself still more and be contemptible in thine eyes,
I am sure that the girls you allude to will respect my royal dignity'."18
The story closes with the statement: "And Michal the daughter of
Saul never had another child." Orthodox commentators attribute
the curse of barrenness to divine retribution. It is more natural,
however, to suppose that David was so disgusted with Michal that
he ceased visiting her, which was social death to the member of
harem. Michal's jealousy would evidently not have been aroused
if the ephod had been, as is commonly supposed, a long flowing
garment. It is more likely that David was divested of his clothing,
as was, on certain occasions (e.g. 1 Sa. 19:24) customary among
Semitic peoples [see Note B], and was gilded with the ephod, as if
an apron, or as Professor Haupt has suggested, a loincloth.
RESUME.--The principal views regarding the ephod are as follows:
(I) It was always a garment worn by a priest; (2) it was always a
garment, whether on priest or idol; (3) it was a garment and also
an idol; (I) it was a garment and a quiver or quiver belt. The only
description given in the O.T. shows that the ephod was something
depending front the shoulders to the waist, and put on over a long
robe. But this entirely fails to satisfy the narrative in 2 Sa. 6.
17 The Received Test is evidently corrupt. After the words hvhy ynpl, the
LXX has hvhy jvrbv dq.erxE. The phrase lxrWy lf seems like an explanatory
gloss. For ytl.oqan;y, ‘I will be vile,’ the LXX reads kai> a]pokalufqh<somai=
ytylegnv, ‘I will uncover myself,’ thus making clear an otherwise confused state-
ment. The Masoretic text shows signs of having been tampered with
is an indefinite expression not corresponding to txzm dvf. The LXX reading
jyinayfb, ‘in thine eyes,’ for 'in my eyes,' brings out the antithesis which lies
between Michal's feeling and that of the handmaids. Driver strangely neglects
LXX on this passage; cf. Notes on the Hebrew Text of Samuel,
p. 210. The Hebrew text restored would then read: jUrbv dq.eraxE hvhy ynpl
[ LxrWy lf ] hvhy Mf lf dygn ytx tyocal vtyb lKmv j`ybxmE yb rHb rwx hvhy
rwx tvhmAxEh Mfv j`yinayfb lpw ytyyhv txzm dvf ytylegnv :hvhy ynpl yTqFWv
:hdbeKAxi Mm.f T;rmx
18 Literally: "And I shall play before Yahweh. And I shall uncover myself
more than this and I shall become contemptible in thine eyes. but with the
handmaids which you spoke of, with them, let me be honored."
8 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
2. WHAT WAS THE EPHOD?
The ephod is mentioned in seventeen different passages in the
Old Testament, and the word, with slight variation in form, occurs
fifty times. In studying the different passages, we must not overlook
the fact that the O.T. is not a homogeneous whole. If, therefore,
we wish to ascertain the original idea of the ephod, we must treat
the passages in chronological order. They cover a period of about
400 years, approximately from 800 B.C. to 400 B.C., while the actual
time between Gideon's ephod, Jud. 8:27, and the latest mention of
the ephod may have been well on to 1000 years. There was time
for development; and it is possible that the post-exilic ephod was
different from that of ancient
More than half of all the places where the word ephod occurs
belong to the priestly sections of Exodus and Leviticus, which are
known to be not older, in their present shape, than 500 B.C. The
historical books are not the work of a single writer, but are com-
posed of several strata. The oldest stratum, or what is called the
Judaic document, was compiled not later than 800 B.C., and to this
document we must assign most of the passages from Judges and
Samuel in which the ephod is mentioned. For convenience of
reference, the pre-exilic passages are here given.
(1) Jud. 8:27 lk vnzyv (D) hrp;fAb vryfb vtvx gcee.yv dvpxel Nvfd;gi vtvx Wfyv (J)
Mw vyrHx lxrWy "Gideon, made an ephod of it [the gold and raiment],
and put it in his city Ophra, and all
LXX, ei]j efwd. Alia exempl. efoud. Procopius in Catena Niceph. T. II.,
p. 180: Efoud, mantei?on h@ ei@dwlon. ]A, e]pe<nduma. V, Fecitque ex eo
Gedeon ephod. Pesh., xrpvf dbfv.
(2) Jud. 17:5, Myprtv dvqx Wfyv Myhlx tyb vl hkym wyxhv (J), "Micah had
a private chapel, and he made an ephod and teraphim." LXX, efwd kai>
qerafin. Syro-Hex., et alia exempl., efoud; 'A, e]pwmi<da; S, e@nduma
i[eratiko<n; ]A, morfw<mata; S, ei@dwla. V, Qui aediculam quoyue in ea
Deo separavit, et fecit ephod et teraphim, id est, vestem sacerdotalem, et
idola (O.L. et penates). Pesh., xsyrp tdp dbfv.
(3) Jud. 18:14: Myprtv dvpx hlxh MyTbAb wy yk Mtfdyh, (J), "Do you know
that there are, in these houses, an ephod and teraphim?" LXX, efwd
(al. ex. efoud) kai> qefrafin. V, Nostis quod in domibus istis sit ephod, et
teraphim? Pesh., xsyrpv xtdpv.
(4) Jud. 18:17, Myprtho txv dvqxeh txv, "And the ephod and the teraphim."
Perhaps a later addition, cf.
SBOT., Judges, p. 621.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 9
(5) Jud. 18:18, Myprth txv dvpxeh lsp tx vhqyv (J), "They took the image,
the ephod, and the teraphim." LXX, kai> e@labon to> glupto>n kai> to>19
efwd [alia, efoud] kai> to> qerafin. V, Tulerunt igitur qui intra rerant,
sculptile, ephod, et idola.
(6) Jud. 18:20 lsph txv Myprth txv dvqxeh tx Hqyv (J), "He took the
ephod, the teraphim, and the graven image." LXX, to> efwd [alia,
efoud] kai> to> qerafin kai> to> glupto<n. V, et tulit ephod et idola, ac
(7) 1 Sa. 2:18, db dvpxe rUgH rfn hvhy ynep tx trewm lxvmwv (E2), "Samuel
ministered before Yahweh, a child, girded with an ephodh badh." LXX,
kai> Samouhl h#n leitourgw?n e]nw<pion Kuri<ou paida<rion periezwsme<non efoud
bad [alia exempt., bar 2)]. ‘A, e]pe<nduma e]cai<reton. S, efoud linou?n.
q, efwd bar. V, puer, accinctus ephod lineo. Pesh., xcvbd xtdp.
(8) i Sa. 2:28, ynApl dvpxe txWl (RD), 'To bear an ephod before Me." LXX,
kai> ai@ren efoud [alia, e]nw<pion e]mou?]. V, portabat ephod.
(9) 1 Sa. 14:3, dvpxe xWen . . . hy.HixE (J) “Ahijah bearing an ephod." LXX,
ai@rwn efoud. ]A, fe<rwn e]pedu<thn. V, portabat ephod.
(10) 1 Sa. 14:18f Jsx ‘w rmxyv . .(dvpxe), hwyGha hy.HixEl lvxw rmxyv21 (J)
jdy, Saul said to Ahijah, Bring hither the ephod, for he bore the ephod
at that time among the Israelites. . . . And Saul said, Withdraw thy
hands." LXX, prosa<gage to> efoud; o!ti au]to>j h#ren to> efoud [alia
exempl, o!ti h#n h[ kibwto>j tou? qeou?] e]n t^? h[me<r% e]kei<n^ e]nw<pion Israhl .
. . . kai> ei#pe Saoul pro>j to>n i[ere<a, Suna<gage ta>j xei?ra<j sou. V, Applica
arcam Dei ... et ait Saul ad sacerdotem: Contrahe manum tuam.
19 kai> to> efwd probably indicates that dvpxeh lsp, which means the image of
the ephod, is a copyist's error, representing an original text dvpxh txv lsph.
This text is given in Field's Hexapla, with vHqlA for vHqyv.
20 Hieronymi Opp., T. vi., p. 903: Et vestitus, inquit, erat Samuel EPHOD BAD,
id est, indumento lineo; bad enim linum appellatur, uncle et BADDIM lina di-
cuntur. Pro quo Hebraico Latinoque sermone male quidam legunt EI'HOD BAR;
siquidem BAR aut filius appellatur aut frumenti manipulus, aut electus, aut ou#loj id est, crispus.
21 The Received Text reads: hyh yk Myhlxh NvrxE hwyGha hy.HxEl lvxw rmxyv
:lxrWy ynbv xvhh Mvyb Myhlxh NvrxE.. For “xh NvrxE hwyGha must be read, with
dvpxeh hwyGh not only because the
because the instrument of divination was not the
v. 3 takes pains to tell us Ahijah had with him. hwyGha is the regular expression
used with the ephod (cf. 23:9; 30:7). As to lxrWy ynbv . . . Myhlxh NvrxE hyh yk
Driver remarks (cf. Notes on Samuel, 1890, p. 84): lxrWy ynbv is untranslatable,
v never having the force of a preposition such as Mf, so as to be capable of being
a predicate with hyh. We must read, with LXX, xvhh Mvyb dvpxeh xWen xvh yk
lxrWy ynpl. It is certainly better to suppose ynbv to be corrupted from ynpl
than that ynpl has fallen out, leaving ynbv. Driver (loc. cit.) objects that ynpl
lxrWy alone at the end of a clause is bald, and against the usage of Heb. prose.
It is true that in Joshua and Chronicles lxrWy ynb is more common, but cf. ynpl
lxrWy in Josh. 11:6; 2 Sa. 10:15, 19; 1 Chr. 19:16, 19, also lxrWy ynpm in 2 Sa. 10:18, and
lxrWy ynplm in 1 Chr. 19:18. In two of the places cited lxrWy ynpl ends the first half of the verse, and lxrWy-lf stands repeatedly at the end of the verse.
10 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
(11) 1 Sa. 21:10, dvpxeh yrHx hlmWb hFvl xyh hnh . . . tyl;GA brH (E1), "The
sword of Goliath . . . there it is, wrapped in a mantle, behind the ephod."
LXX, e]neilhme<nh h#n e]n i[mati<&, q adds, o]pi<sw th?j e]pwmi<doj.22 S, efoud.
‘A. e]pendu<matoj. V, est involutus pallio post ephod.
(12) I Sa. 22:18, db dvpxe xWen wyx hwmHv Mynmw xvhh Mvyb tm,yAv (J), “He
killed that day eighty-five men bearing an ephodh badh.” LXX, pa<ntaj
ai@rontaj efoud [Alex. li<non]. 'A, fe<rontaj e]pe<nduma e]cai<reton. V, viros
vestitos ephod lineo.
(13) 1 Sa. 23:6, vdyb dry dvpxe, “An ephod went down in his hand." Probably
a marginal gloss; cf. SBOT., Samuel, p. 70.
(14) 1 Sa. 23:9, dvpxeh hwykha Nhkh rtAyAb;x, lx rmxyv (David) said to the
priest, Abiathar, Bring/ hither the ephod." LXX. prosa<gage to> efoud
Kuri<ou. 'A, e@ggison to> e@nduma (fort. e]pe<nduma). V. Applica ephod
(15) 1 Sa. 30:7, rtybx wGeyv dvpxeh tx xn hwyGha . . . rtybx lx dvd rmxyv (J)
dvd lx dvqxeh tx, "David said to Abiathar, Please bring me the ephod;
and Abiathar brought David the ephod." LXX, prosa<gage to> efoud;
]A, prose<ggison dh< moi to> e]pe<nduma; S, sth?son pro>j me> th>n e]pwmi<da;
V, Applica ad me ephod.
(16) 2 Sa. 6:14, db dvqxe rUgH dvdv (J), "David was girded with an ephodh
badh.23 LXX, e]ndedukw>j stolh>n e@callon; ]A, e]pe<nduma e]cai<reton;
S, u[podu<thn (fort. e]pendu<thn) linou?n. Praeterea Montefalconio edidit:
a@lloj efwd bu<ssinon ex I Paral. 15:27 ut videtur. V, David erat
accinctus ephod lineo. Pesh., xcvbd xtdp.
(17) I Ki. 2:26, ybx dvd ynpl ( dvpxeh ) tx tAxWn yk j~tymx xl hzh Mvybv,24 “I
will not kill thee now, because thou hast carried the ephod before my
father David." LXX, kai> ou] qanatw<sw se o!ti ^#raj th>n kibwto>n th?j
diaqh<khj Kuri<ou e]nw<pion tou? patro<j mou. V, quia portasti arcam Domini
(18) Hos. 3:4 (740 B.C.), Myprtv dvqx Nyxv . . . lxrWy ynb vbwye, "The Israelites
shall abide without ephod and teraphim." LXX, ou]de> i[eratei<aj, ou]de>
22 Hieronymus, in Epist. LXIV. ad Fabiolam, 15 (0pp. T. I.. P. 363): Sextum
est vestimentum, quod Hebraica lingua dicitur EPHOD. LXX, e]pwmi<da, id est
superhumerale appellant; Aq. e]pe<nduma, nos ephod suo ponimus nomine.
23 See above, p. 3, note 7.
24 This passage is to be compared
with i Sa. 14:18, where
substituted for ephod after the LXX was made; see note 21, p. 9 above. In this
passage the LXX represents a text: hvhy tyrb Nvrx tx tAxWn yk, so that if the
change of dvqxe to Nvrx took place, it was earlier than the LXX, provided the
LXX has not been altered. There are two arguments for reading dvpxe apart
from any desire to suppress the word ephod (for which see p. 40), and apart from
its being a natural thing for a scribe to recall the bringing of the Ark to Jeru-
one person ever bore the
for the priest with the ephod; (2) the context does not suit
does suit ephod, for v. 26b refers to the afflictions which Abiathar shared with
David, which can only refer to the time when David was fleeing before Saul, and
was with him, bearing not the
1 Sa. 23:9 and 30:7.
FOOTE : THE EPHOD. 11
dh<lwn; 'A, kai> a]kou<ontoj di ] e]ndu<matoj kai> dia> morfwma<twn; S, q, ou]de>
Efwd, ou]de> qerafin.25 V, sine ephod et sine theraphim; O. L. neque
Ephod (simulaerum) et Teraphim (penates). Pesh., xdvqx wbl xldv
Two post-exilic passages are appended:
(19) Is. 30:22, . . . Mrezt jb,hv tkase.ma tDpux txv jpsk yleysp yUpc tx 26 tAxme.Fv,
"Thou shalt defile the silver plating of thy images and thy molten gold
band; thou shall scatter them." LXX, kai> mianei?j [alia exempl. kai>
e]carei?j] ta> ei@dwla ta> perihrgurwme<na kai> perikexruswme<na lepta> poih<s^j.
V, laminas sculptilium . . . vestimentum conflatilis.
(20) Ex. 39:27, 28, rvw;mA wwe dBh ysenk;mi txv . . . UWfyv (P), "They made the
mikhnese habbadh of fine linen'" LXX, kai> ta> periskelh? [q, bad] e]k
bu<ssou keklwsme<nhj. V, feminalia quoque linea, byssina. The Targum
Onkelos has: ryvw; CUbdi xcUb ysenkm27 tyAv; Samaritan Targum: ynyr;w
rvw;mA tlym28 hrxbf. Pesh. has xcvbd xnvzro (i.e. peri<zwma bu<ssou).
Targum Onkelos, in Lev. 6:3, gives the plural Nysin;k;mav.
A. THE FORM OF THE EPHOD.
1. Was it a Garment?
In the following investigation, the word ephod will refer to that
which was in u e before the Exile; and the chronological order will
be observed wherever conducive to practical results.
As the narrative in 2 Sa. 6:14 has been already referred to,29 we may.
begin by noting the conclusion to be drawn from it, namely, that in
spite of the popular view, the ephod was not a long flowing garment.
David admits that he had uncovered himself so as to justify Michal’s.
censure had it not been before Yahweh. That he could have un-
covered himself still more shows that he was not nude, and suggests
the idea that his brief covering answered the purpose of a loincloth.
It is instructive to compare the post exilic, account of this event, in
1 Chr. 15, and note that the scribe thought it indecorous. Hear,
he "clothed" David with a is long linen robe,"30 omitted rUgh
25 Hieronvmus, XXIX. ad Marcellam: In Osee. . . .pro sacerdotio et manifest-
tationibus, in Hebraeo est, sine Ephod et sine Teraphim; sicut Theod. et Sym.
26 txmfv, instead of MtxmFv, with the LXX, and in harmony with jpsk and
Mrez;ti. For an extended consideration of this passage, see below, p. 16 f.
27 Cf. Merx, Chrestom. Targum. p. 214: numquam a brevi instruendum.
Ex. 30:34) says: Der Ubersetzer hat db offenhar glcich dem arab. bada, “weiss
29 See above, p. 6f.
30 1 Chr. 15:27, Cvb lyfmb lbrkum may he an intentional alteration of dvqxh lyfm, Ex. 28:31.
12 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
‘girded’ in connection with the ephod, and, apparently to justify
Michal's contempt, substituted for rkrkam 'dancing,' the word qHWm;
‘playing,’ which is as equivocal31 in Hebrew as in English. The
episode with Michal is omitted.
But the expression in 2 Sa. 6:14, "girded with an ephodh badh,"
does not imply a garment. David does not wear it, it is hung about
his loins by a girdle. In the same way a sword is girded upon the
loins. The original meaning of rgH, as of Arab. hagara, is ‘sur-
round, enclose,’ etc.; hence ‘bind on,’ and also ‘prevent access to’;
whence hrOgHE 'a girdle,' corresponding to lure, ‘enclosure, lap.’
Now hrOgH32 is the word used in Gen. 3:7 for the fig-leaf covering
made by Adam and Eve, "they made themselves aprons," vWfyv
trgoH Mhl. The margin of the A.V. calls it "a thing to gird on."
The meaning is evidently a loincloth. The Fr. giron has the mean-
ing ‘lap’ and also a heraldic design of triangular shape, like a primi-
tive loincloth.33 But the point is that rgH 'gird' does not imply
a garment, but a girding, which is associated with the waist and
In fact, the ephod was not a garment at all. By a garment is
meant something that is worn as clothing; a towel, e.g. is not a
garment, though a waiter may carry it on his arm; nor is a crown,
although it is said to be worn. By referring to the passages bearing
on the ephod, it will be seen that twice the ephod is associated
with teraphim, which proves nothing. Gideon's ephod is "put"
in his city Ophra. The ephod at Nob was on the wall, or floor,
with Goliath's sword mapped in a mantle "behind" it. When
Abiathar flees to join David, he takes the Nob ephod "in his
hand." Three times the ephod is “brought” to a person to be
used in divination. These passages would surely not suggest a gar-
ment. But there are three other passages, where one might point
to the English versions as showing conclusively that a garment was
meant, for in each case the translation is “wearing an ephod.” The
31 Cf. the older form qHc in Gen. 26:8. Professor Haupt has kindle pointed
out that Arab. ba’ala III. means both la’aba and jama’a; ba’ala is a denomina-
tive verb derived from ba’l ‘husband’; cf. pai?ze=o@xeue in note 12 of Haupt's
paper on “Ecclesiastes” in the Philadelphia Oriental Studies. p. 265; cf. also
the use ludere, in Hor. Ep. 2, 2, 214; and "play" in Milton, P. L. 9, 1045.
32 For other instances of the use of rgH see Ex. 12:11 Jud. 3:16; I Ki. 20:32.
2 Ki. 4:29; 9:1; Prov. 31:17; Is 32:11; Ez. 23:15 etc.
33 For a photograph of such a loincloth, see Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn,
et Deniker (Tome VII.), pl. xii.,
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 13
verb that is translated "wearing" is xWn 'bear'; the Greek and
Latin have ai@rw and portare. But there are no instances in classical
literature of ai@rw or portare by themselves, meaning to wear as a
garment; and xWn, one of the commonest verbs in the O.T., used
perhaps a thousand times, never has the meaning ‘wear,’ except it
be made for these three places, as in the English versions. In one
of these places, 1 Sa. 22:18, St. Jerorne, influenced, it may be, by the
word db, supposed to mean ‘linen,’34 translates vestitos ephod lineo,
but there is no reason for it, since the Hebrew and Greek are the
same. Now it is true that the Century Dictionary says that one
meaning of wear is ‘carry’; as, e.g., country people will advise a
person to wear a potato in the pocket to keep off rheumatism; but
the converse does not follow; carry never means ‘wear.’ These
mistranslations of xWn by the English "wear" in the familiar phrase
"wearing an ephod," together with the anachronism of the Priests'
Code, are accountable for the notion that the ephod is essentially a
2. Was the Ephod an Idol?
We have now to examine the passages in Judges, 1 Sa. 21:9, and
Is. 30:22, where almost all critical commentators have felt constrained
to suppose that an idol, image, agalma, or the like, is meant. A
exception is Professor Wilhelm Lotz, of
admirable article36 on the ephod is apparently unknown to recent
writers. It is, of course, an easy way of escaping a difficulty to say,
here the ephod is an idol and here it is a garment, but it is unscien-
tific. The feeling that it was a makeshift has given rise to many
curious conjectures, to show, it possible, some connection between
the idol and the garment; and so the theory has been evolved that
the ephod is the covering of the wooden core of an idol, and hence
a covering, i.e. a garment. Or, working in the other direction, it
has been thought that the ephod was a priestly garment on an idol,
and then identified with the idol. Some have grasped eagerly at
34 Cf. note 7 on p. 3 above.
35 In German the verb tragen may translate both xWn ‘bear’ and wbl ‘wear.’
This fact has added to the confusion, since by the expression Ephodtrager no
distinction is made between 'ephod-wearer' and ‘ephod-bearer.’ Since writing
the above I have noticed that Professor Moore observes that xWn, does not mean
‘wear’; cf. the Internat. Com. on Judges, 1895, p. 381, note.
36 See Realencyklopaedie fur prot. Theologie u. Kirche, third edition, vol. v,
14 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
the apparent distinction between ephodh and ephod badh, making
the former an idol and the latter a garment, thus throwing the diffi-
culty of unifying the two back upon the Hebrews themselves. But
the distinction does not hold good. Others, not finding any distinc-
tion in the Masoretic text, wish to make one, and, as Wellhausen,
propose to point dUpxA when it means an idol!37 But it must first
be determined when an idol is meant. If the LXX is any criterion
when transliterations are used, Gideon's and Micah's ephod would
be dOpx< represented by efwd, and the other places dUpx< repre-
sented by efoud. But those who understand an idol always take it
so of the ephod at Nob, where the Greek has shoulder piece; and so
the distinction is merely due to different translators pointing an
unknown word, sometimes dUpx and sometimes dOpx. In fact,
they are all forced explanations, arising from giving, undue weight
to minor details, and neglecting the fundamental principle that a
thing is what it is used for: and also the ethnological axiom that
"all worships that contain heathenish elements are traditional, and
nothing is more foreign to them than the introduction of forms for
which there is no precedent of usage."38 If the ephod is an article
of clothing, then it is a garment and is urn; if it is to represent
a deity, then it is an idol and is worshipped; but if, being neither
of these, it is connected with sacred lots, then it is a means of con-
sulting an oracle and is divined with. It is hard to discard the
notion of the garment-ephod, but it is based solely on mistranslations
arising from preconceived ideas, and the same is the case with the
notion that the ephod was an idol. The expressions upon which
the idea of the idol-ephod is based are the following from Jud. 8:27,
dvqxl Nvfd;gi vtvx Wfyv, “Gideon made an ephod of it " (cf. above
p. 8, No. 1). This cannot be forced to mean that all the gold went
into the ephod—vtvx refers as much to the purple raiment as to
the gold ornaments--probably but a small fraction became the
material of the ephod (if, indeed, any of it did!), as this very con-
densed statement seems to cover much more than is expressed: for
instance, the cost of making, the cost of the shrine, etc., vtvx gc.ey.ava
hrp;fAb vryfb, ”and put it in his city Ophra." This verb is usually
translated ‘set up,’ as though it had no other meaning; but it also
signifies ‘put’ or ‘place,’ as in Jud. 6:37 Gideon says, “Behold,” yknx
gyc.im, “I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor." This
37 See Geschichte
38 Robertson Smith, O. T. in the Jewish Church, 1881, p. 228.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 15
verb may mean simply to ‘leave’ somewhere, as in Gen. 33:15, hgyci.x
xn "Let me now leave some of the people with thee." One might
pertinently argue that the
reads vtx Ugc.iy.av, as to force the expression in the case of the ephod.39
Mw vyrHx lxrWy lk vnzyiv, “
Without this comment, it is unlikely that the notion of an idol-ephod
would ever have been evolved. The verb zanah, in this use, occurs
eighteen times, and is usually followed by "after" strange gods, gods
of the heathen, or idols, also "from" the true God. But the phrase
can also be used of seeking "after a man," and "unto those having
familiar spirits," Lev. 20:5f, and even "after whatever pleases the
eyes," Nu. 15:39. This expression," then, does not always mean an
idol, and hence it cannot be pressed in this particular instance, to
imply an idol. On the contrary, one might argue that Jud. 8:33 was
conclusive evidence that in verse 27; it means something different,
for “as soon as Gideon was dead,” the Israelites again went astray
after Baalim implying that when he was alive he had kept them
from idolatry. Put why may not the phrase yrHx hnz refer to a
lot-oracle, as may also be the case in Hos. 4:12 (cf. below, p. 36)?
This phrase, however, probably represents a later editorial comment;
the original narrative, it is agreed, had no criticism to make on
Gideon's ephod.41 Put a narrative that has been added to is
likely to be inconsistent. Professor More, of Harvard, has sug-
gested as possible that ephod has supplanted a word like elohim. If
so, it is easy to account for the condemnatory comment, but it is
hard to see how ephod could have been substituted and the comment
allowed to stand, in an age when the ephod was unquestionably
revered. But the point is that the phrase in question does not prove
our idol, but may only refer to a popular craze for some unapproved
use of divination.
Again, if we pass to Jud. 17; and 18, Micah males an ephod and
teraphim. There seems to be a double strand in the narrative, one
39 Professor Moore. in International Com. Judges, 1895, p. 379, renders ‘set
up,' and makes it a proof along with the next phrase, that the ephod was "clearly
an idol of some kind.” He concludes that this verse. Jud. 8:27, "imperatively
requires this interpretation."
40 For an extended examination of the phrase zanah axre, see my paper in the
Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol, xxii., pp. 64-69
41 In Chronicon Hebr., 1699, p. 407, vyrHx in this passage is interpreted to
mean after him, i.e. after Gideon's death; when the Israelites took the amiculum
and used it in idolatry.
16 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
part of which tells of the making of a hks.emav lsp, "a graven and
a molten image," and commentators have tried to establish a parallel
between them and the ephod and teraphim of the other strand of
showing that the apparent parallel gives no ground for thinking
Micah's ephod an image. Canon Driver is certainly right in styling
Micah's ephod and teraphim “instruments of divination.”43
Again, in 1 Sa. 21:10, where it is said that the sword of Goliath was
wrapped in a mantle "behind the ephod," it is commonly held to
mean that the ephod must have stood free from the wall in order to
have the sword behind it, thus suggesting an idol; but, as Lotz points
out (cf. above, p. 13), it is much more likely that the sword was
a trophy or votive offering, eine Art Weihgeschenk, and was hanging
from some large peg, upon which, when not in use, the ephod also
was hung. He concludes: To decide from, this passage that the
ephod is a statue standing clear of the wall, an image of Yahweh is
Finally, there are other commentators and scholars from Michaelis
and Vatke, who is very sure, to Duhm, Smend, Gesenius-Buhl, Marti,
and Budde, who considers it "very questionable," who hold a theory
that the ephod was a ‘covering, garment,’ or ‘mask’ of an idol and
so practically identified with it. The theory that dpx meant orgi-
nally ‘to cover’ is based on Is. 30:22 (cf. above, p. 11, No. 19), which
remains to be considered. It reads as follows: yUpci tx ( t) xm.Fv
‘gv Mzrti jbhz tkas.m tdpux txv jpsk ylysp, “Thou shalt
defile the silver plating of thy images and thy molten gold band;
thou shalt scatter them," etc. Comparing the Greek and Latin
versions, it will be seen that the Latin is simply Hebrew in Latin
words with an epexegetical rendering of tdpux by vestimentum.
The Greek, however, is a translation, treating the Hebrew idiom
in the first half as an instance of synecdoche. It can hardly he
regarded otherwise than as a rhetorical figure, where the silver
plating and the molten gold band of the Mylysp are put for the
images themselves. To think with Duhm, that the writer is making
a special point: of the outward decoration of the images, is to over-
look the evident condemnation of idols, not merely their adorning.
Cast away the yvpc and you still have the lsp. It seems unlikely
that tks.m is parallel with ylysp for one would surely expect tkos.m,
42 See Internat. Com. Judges. 1895, p. 375f.
43 See LOT., 7th ed., 1898, p. 168.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 17
and so the English versions have tacitly rendered it. Put the chief
difficulty is that tkas.m never means molten image, when, as here
it is a genitive. It means a ‘casting,’ and as a genitive it means
that the nomen regens is not carved, nor beaten, but cast. hDqux is
the regular feminine of dvqx, and hks.m tDapuxE means a ‘cast band,’
just as hksm lgf is a ‘cast calf,’ and hks.m yhlx ‘cast gods.’
The parallelism is between yvpc and tdpux, the ‘ornaments’ of the
Mylysp; and there is no rule that requires parallel expressions to be
synonyms in more than one sense. The two things are ornaments;
it is not necessary that they should both be coverings, nor of the
same material. But the yvpc was not a covering like a garment, but
apparently a decoration of an image made with silver leaf,--some-
thing to make it shine. The aphuddah44 was like it inasmuch as it
was an ornament, a gold band, whether as a loincloth or belt it is
impossible to say; perhaps it was the ancient ephod. Hence there
is nothing here on which to base a theory that the ephod was an idol.
These, then, are the passages that are claimed for an idol-ephod,
and all of them, as has been shown, are patient of a quite different
interpretation. It is possible to grant that they may be understood
of an idol, if this fact were assured beforehand; but to ground a
theory on them that is inconsistent with passages better understood,
But if the ephod was not an idol, neither was it a gold covering of
a woolen core. This distinction belongs more to craftsmen than
to critics; for what worshipper in gazing at such an idol (for idol
it would be) could distinguish between the inner core and the outer
covering? There is no doubt that wooden kernels were overlaid with
gold and silver, as in Baruch 6:39, but they were idols not ephods.
Etymologically nothing is gained, for the denominative from ephod
is not ‘to cover’ but ‘to bind.’ Another theory has been advanced
by Duhm,45 that the ephod was the mask of the idol, which was worn
by the priest in consulting the oracle. But the girding of the ephod
44 The derived meaning of hdpux ‘binding,’ from dvpx (see below, p. 45), is
confirmed by the lateness of this verse, which, by Duhm (cf. Marti), is paced as
late even as the second century B.C. It is apparently a misplaced verse, as it does
not accord with the contest, which is improved in point of coherency by omitting
it. Perhaps it belongs after Is. 31:6, where it harmonizes with the contest. The
interpolation of passages referring to idols is not uncommon in Isaiah, as Professor
Haupt has pointed out in his reconstruction of Is. 40; see Drugulin's, Marksteine,
45 Das Buch Jesaia, 1892, on 30:22.
18 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITLERATURE.
was not over the eyes, but about the loins (cf. above, p. 12). Again,
to escape the idol-ephod, if possible, the theory has been advanced,
most recently by Marti, that the ephod was a gold or cloth garment
hung upon an idol. That this was customary among the Hebrews
is not clear, but for other Semitic peoples, see Baruch 6:33. Granting
the fact, however, how can it be shown that the garment was the
chief, and the idol the inferior, object in the cult? If people were
led into idolatry by an idol with a garment on it, it certainly was not
due to the garment! This theory starts with the idea that the ephod
was a garment. It is consistent, but the starting-point is wrong.
The ephod is an instrument of divination.
B. THE USE OF THE EPHOD.
Important as is the light thrown upon an unknown object by its
context and environment, it is altogether inferior to that which comes
from a knowledge of its use. In about half the passages cited for
the ephod there is nothing to suggest a use. To say that the ephod
had always a religious significance is not to point out a use. To say
that "bearing an ephod" is almost synonymous with priest is true,
but it does not tell what the ephod was for. It does, however, enable
us to draw a reasonable inference, that, as one of the chief duties,
if not the foremost duty, of a priest46 in the time of the Judges was
to obtain divine oracles, so the ephod, his constant companion, was
used in divination. Some traveling Danites (Jud. 18:5, 14) learn that
Micah has an ephod and teraphim, and immediately desire to con-
sult the oracle. On a subsequent migration, they carry off for their
own use, priest, ephod, and teraphim. David, during his flight from
Said, is accompanied by the priest Abiathar; and on two occasions,
1 Sa. 23:9; 30:7, it is recorded that he said to the priest dvpxh hwyGha,
"Bring me the ephod."47 Abiathar brought the ephod, and David
46 In ancient
of men (cf. below, p. 41, n. 103), but every man was free to offer sacrifice or
obtain oracles by the use of lots. Later the oracular function was restricted to a
particular order, and ephod-bearer became synonymous with priest. The Hebrew
Nhk, priest, is the Arabic kahin, 'foreteller.' Later still the function of sacrifice was
taken over to the priests, and the oracular function, at least in theory, was
restricted to the high priest. For a similar change among the Incas of Peru, see
Reville, Hibbert Lectures, 1884, p. 230f.
47 Bertheau, Das Buch der Richter und Ruth,
"The demand of David, ' Bring the ephod,' means the same as ‘Consult Yahweh.’
But it is David who consults Yahweh. The words are plain enough, and there
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 19
inquired of Yahweh. In both instances the answer David receives is
what one might get by drawing lots. In addition to these passages,
there is a similar one in 1 Sa. 14:18, which will be considered later,
where Saul says to the priest Ahijah, "bring the ephod," and appar-
ently consults the oracle as David did. Now three such indisputable
instances, where the action has every appearance of being quite
customary, seem to establish the point that the ephod is directly
connected with divination. Of course, it is understood that there
is nothing in any other passage hearing on the ephod to oppose this
conclusion. One other passage may be noted in this connection.
In 1 Sa. 28:14, where Samuel's spirit is brought up to be consulted by
Saul, as in his lifetime, he comes up, according to a variant of the
LXX,48 with an ephod about him.
To discover what purpose the ephod served in divination, some
consideration must be given to that subject. By divination is meant,
foretelling events by means that are directly influenced by supernatural
power. Among the ancients, the means used were legion; but among
the Hebrews hardly more than three kinds were practised,--divina-
tion by clairvoyance, by dreams, and by lot. The first was the office
of the seer; the last, at least in the early days, that of the priest.
For the purposes of this investigation, it is necessary to consider only
divination by lot.49 The point to be determined is how the ephod
was used in divining by lot. In the performance of this function,
only two things, apparently, were indispensable: the sacred lots and
some receptacle in which they were placed. The ephod may have
been such a receptacle. Its association with rgH ‘gird’ suggests an
apron from which the lots were cast, or a bag or pouch girded about
the loins. To determine which of these the ephod was, it is neces-
sary to know how lots were used.
is no suggestion of technical language. The expression is vernally varied in 30:7,
where yl shows that David wanted the ephod to use. If Abiathar had carried
David's mouchoir (in modern Hebrew rdAUs= sudarium), he might have asked
for it in the same way (cf. 2 Ki. 4:6), with the addition of the suffix of the first
48 The reading of this variant, of uncertain origin, is a]nh>r presbu<teroj
a]nabai<nwn, kai> au]to>j peribeblhme<noj efoud. But even supposing the
Hebrew dvpx hFf instead of lyfm, the verb hFf, which is never used with
dvpx, would go far to condemn the reading.
49 The expression divination by lot is used without regard to the nature of the
lot, and therefore includes arrows and rods, but does riot include dice, which were
not used as sacred lots (cf. below, p. 25).
20 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
1. The Connection of the Ephod
It has been noted that there was not among the Hebrews that
diversity in the methods of divination that obtained among the
Greeks and Romans and also other Semitic peoples.50 Apart from
the office of the seer, and ambiguous allusions to the rod and to
teraphim, the method was always casting lots. There is no doubt
that in early times as well as much later, the Hebrews constantly
sought the will of God by lots. In order to use such means, it is
necessary to have souse receptacle in which the lots are placed.
From the passages already examined, it has been inferred that the
ephod, whether of gold or cloth, was such a receptacle. It could be
carried about by the priest or girded upon the loins for use.
The fact that the ephod was girded upon the loins seems to indi-
cate that both hands must be free to use it, and suggests the idea
that lots were drawn out of it. An examination has been made of
all the statements in regard to the use of lots, to determine whether
they were drawn or cast; for this point is essential in forming an
idea of the shape of the ephod. There is, in fact, but one passage
which gives any hint as to how the ephod was used--1 Sa. 14:18-20,
which may be assigned to a time prior to 8oo B.C. and may be a
contemporary account. The text is corrupt, but can be restored
from the Versions (cf. above, p. 9). The previous narrative tells
how Jonathan and his armor-bearer had put the Philistines to rout,
causing a great tumult which was noticed by Saul's watchmen at
Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul at once assembled the people, and found
that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were missing. Thereupon he
said to the priest Ahijah, "Bring the ephod." While Saul was speak-
ing with the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp burst out anew
and grew louder and louder. At this point there is a break in the
narrative, and a blank space in the text (qvsp fcmxb xqsp)51--
possibly indicating a lacuna--then Said said to the priest, "Take
50 See Haupt's "Babylonian Elements in the Levitical Ritual," in vol. xix
of JBL., p. 56.
51 This Masoretic note, of course, means only that there was a break in the
middle of the verse, caused by a defect in the surface written on, or quite possibly
by illegibility of writing or an erasure, in the archetype from which all souse-
quent copies of the O.T. are derived (cf. W. R. Smith, 0.T. in Jewish Church,
ed., p. 56; Lagarde, Mittheil.
is the lack of connection with what follows that suggests a lacuna. One would
expect the priests' answer in the negative, which Saul characteristically refused
FOOTE: EPHOD. 21
out thy hands."52 Thereupon Saul called out53 to attack; the people
with him took up the shout and they came to the battle. The inter-
est in the narrative for this investigation centres in the words of Saul
to the priest, "Take away” or "withdraw thy hand," or "hands,”
if we adopt the plural of the Greek, the Hebrew may be read either
way. These words, as a rule, are interpreted to mean that Saul
naturally impatient, told the priest to cease consulting the oracle.
Thenius, for instance, says, "’Withdraw thy hand,’ i.e. let it be; we
will not draw lots." That this exegesis is not satisfactory is shown
by the emphasis which commentators place upon Saul's natural
impatience. He would not wait for Samuel on one occasion; but
his impatience on this occasion was not so much due to temperament
as to the bleating of the sheep! On the other hand, Saul was like
without using divination, and when by ordinary means he could
obtain no favorable answer, he must have recourse to witchcraft.
Other commentators, again, explain the passage by an inference
drawn from it in this way: if Saul did not wait to consult the oracle,
it must have been very complicated and long, says Benzinger54
another commentator quotes Benzinger to the effect that the con-
sultation of the ephod was a long process, and this is the reason Saul
did not wait. But if the ephod was not a magical affair, as almost
all the modern commentators vaguely imply, but merely an apron
from which the lots were cast, or a pouch into which the priest put
his hands and drew the lots, the simplest explanation is that Saul
was in a hurry to attack the Philistines, and said to the priest,” Take
thy hands out," in order that he might know the decision of the
oracle. In regard to the answer given by the lot-oracle, it is possible
that in 1 Sa. 28:6 we should translate Uhnf xl “did not give a favor-
able answer," instead of "answered him not." The verse will then
read, "When Saul inquired of Yahweh, Yahweh did not give hint
52 jd,y Jsox; LXX, Suna<gage ta>j xei?raj sou. jdy is probably written
defective for jydy, as jkrd, ‘thy ways,’ for jykrd, in Ex. 33:13; Jos. 1:8; Ps.
119:37; also Mkdy for Mkydy in Ps. 134:2; cf. Ges.-Kautzsch, §91 k. Jsox<,
'withdraw,' though the ordinary meaning is ‘gather', it is used of Jacob ‘drawing’
his feet into bed, and also being ‘taken’ to his people, Gen. 49:33; it has the
meaning ‘to take away' in Is. 16:10; 57:1; 60:21. Jer. 48:33; Hos. 4:3; Joel 2:10;
53 qfez.Ayiva may be read qfaz;y.iva with V, conclamavit, and frequently LXX,
54 Heb. Archaologie, p. 408. But he continues quite rightly: “if one had to
exclude by a series of questions the different possibilities, as this is very clearly
represented in 1 Sa. 10:20ff.” It was, however, a simple matter when but (one
question was put.
22 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
a favorable answer,55 either by dreams, or by Urim, or by Prophets."
It is evident that Saul tried one method of divination and then
another, and finally resorted to witchcraft. It seems impossible that
the use of the sacred lots should give no answer at all, though tradi-
tion probably allowed but one use of them in a single inquiry. In
the present case, Saul presumably received a favorable answer.
This seems a satisfactory glimpse of the ephod in use, and the con-
clusion drawn from it would be that the ephod was a receptacle into
which the hands are put to draw the lots.
Put as lots are almost always spoken of as cast, the question arises
whether in antiquity the custom of drawing in; lots ever obtained.
There are ten verbs in Hebrew which are used in connection with
lots in the O.T. They are: xcy, hlfh, hlf, Ntn, lyFh, lyph,
lpn, jylwh, dry, and hry. Seven of them mean ‘to cast, throw,
let fall’; while three signify ‘to come up’ and ‘out,’ as from a
shaken receptacle. These verbs seem to show that among the
ancient Hebrews, at least, lots were not drawn, but cast. Among
Romans, also, the common expression is "to cast lots."
however, mentions, as if nothing unusual, that the oracular lots in
child. Quid igitur in his [sortibus] potest esse certi, quae Fortunae
monitu pueri manu miscentur atque ducuntur.56 On the other hand,
in the Illiad, III. 316ff., we read that Hector shakes the lots in a
helmet with an up and down motion,57 with averted face to prevent
suspicion of partiality, and the lot of
In the same way the ephod, if it were originally a loincloth as has
been suggested (cf. above, p. 7), would furnish a lap from which
the lots could be cast. That the shaking of the lap was to some
extent a familiar action, is seen from Neh. 5:13. “I shook out my lap,
saying, so God shake out every man from his house." Put in Prov. 16:33
55 Professor Haupt has shown, in BELR., note 47 (see JBL., 1900,
hnf, when indicating the answer to an oracle, technically means the favorable
56 De Divinatione, II. 41, 86.
57 Professor Gildersleeve kindly suggested to me that the motion was indicated
by the verb pa<llein which is used of Hector dandling his little son.
58 w!j a@p ] e@fan, pa<llen de> me<gaj koruqai<oloj !@Ektwr
a}y o[ro<wn: Pa<rioj de> qow?j e]k klh?roj o@rousen.
I have to thank Professor Haupt for the additional references: Sophocles, Electra.
710; Alcman, fragment 63, ll. 24, 400; 15, 191; Herod. 3, 128.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 23
lrvGh tx lFUy qyHb
vFPAwm lk hvhymv
The lot is cast in the lap,
But the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD
Evidently the verse does not fit the theory of casting out of the lap.
The word qyHe [see Note C], rendered ‘lap’ in this verse, is ambigu-
ous. The English word associated with it is ‘bosom,’ as also with
sinus and ko<lpoj. But it is quite misleading to translate qyH by
‘bosom.’ It is true that bosom has a wide range of meanings, but
the universal significance of the word when used alone is that part
of the body where the heart is; and this, it may safely be said, qyH
never means. It would be impossible for us to say, " My reins are
consumed within my bosom," and in Job 19:27 qyH evidently refers
to the abdominal cavity including the liver and intestines, the seat
of the affections among the ancients, which we associate with the
heart, and the upper or thoracic cavity of the body. This is respon-
sible for the confusion in the rendering of qyH, and the same exists
in regard to sinus and ko<lpoj. ‘Bosom’ or 'heart' is a legitimate
translation so long as they are used merely for the abstract idea of
affection; but when the ancient seat of` the passions had given rise
to a whole sphere of associations with that part of the body about
the loins and waist, such a translation as ‘bosom’ is entirely mis-
leading. In sinus and ko<lpoj the original idea seems to be that of
bulging, protuberance, etc., hence the part of the body containing the
viscera; then the folds of a garment where it hangs over the girdle
whence the lap, a place of concealment, a pocket; and even a con-
cave surface, bowl, urn. The etymology of qyH is not clear, but its
meanings have developed on the same lines. Hence when we rent
"The lot is cast in the qyH," the reference is not necessarily to the
lap of a garment but more likely to a pouch or urn. But this, again,
does not accord with the verbs which seem to mean ‘cast out of,’ as
Hector cast the lot out of the helmet.
The word that is almost invariably used in general reference to lot
casting is lrvg ‘lot.’ The lrvg is originally a pebble, thus suggest-
ing that lots were commonly small and round. They may have been
black and white, or inscribed with some symbol. In Lev. 16:8, 9, Aaron
casts lots for the scape-goat : tvlrg MriyfW;h ynw lf NroHExa Ntnv and
lrvgh vylf hlf rwx ryfWAh.. Instead of rendering with the R.V.,
"Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, and the goat upon
the lot fell," it is better to read, "Aaron put the lots for the
24 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
two goats into some receptacle, and the goal upon which the lot
came up," plainly referring to a receptacle answering, perhaps, to
the helmet of Hector.
But in the Talmudic tract Yoma (xmvy), 4, I, the whole matter is
put in a different light. Here we read, "The high priest put his
hands into the urn and took out two lots; upon one was written For
Yahweh, and upon the other was written For Azazel."59 Evidently
this was the traditional custom of drawing lots. The word for ‘urn,’
yPil;qa or yPel;qa seems to be the late Greek ka<lph possibly akin to
ko<lpoj, something hollowed out. The Gemarah explains that the
yPlq ‘urn’ was made of wood, but on one occasion a man had
become renowned by making one of gold; that the high priest
snatched the lots out quickly so as not to feel of them; that the lot
which was drawn in the right hand was for the goat which was near
his right side, and it was considered a happy augury when the right
hand held the lot inscribed hvhyl.
The Talmudic tract Baba Bathra (xrtb xbb), 122, a, also has
an instructive account. Eleazar stands before Joshua, bearing the
Urim and Thummim and casting lots to divide the land among the
twelve lots, each with the name of a tribe written on it; the other
containing twelve apportionments of land. The priest put one hand
into each urn, and drew in one hand the tribe, and in the other
the portion of
instance and in the one before mentioned, there was a solemn com-
muning with the Holy Spirit, who was believed to direct the drawing.
This drawing of lots suggests the comparison of the method of choos-
of the candidates, the other with white and colored beans, the person
being chosen whose name was drawn simultaneously with a white
Of course the Mishnah is not the Old Testament, but it claims in
Pirqe aboth (tvbx
law, and it reaches back as a written authority to the time of the Second
into an urn, or two urns as the occasion demanded, and then drawn.
59 vylf bvtk dHxv Mwl vylf bvtk dHx tvlrvg ynw hlfhv yplqb JrF
60 See Seyffert's Dict. of Classical Antiquities, under "Officials." The urn
used was called klhrwtri<j; cf. on this subject, klhro<w o]mfa<n 'to obtain an
oracle by lot'; kla<roij qeoprote<wn, ‘to divine by lot"; cf. Eur. Phaenissae, 852.
FOOTE: THE EPOD. 25
This oral tradition helps one to understand the account of the allot-
find the descendants of Joseph complaining that Joshua had placed
for them but one portion for an inheritance, whereas they were really
two tribes. dHx lbHv dHx lrvg hlHna yl hTtn fvdm. This seems
to point to the two urns, one for the lots and one for the apportion-
relents and the traditional method of drawing lots. We may compare
here a passage in Acts 8:21, where Peter tells Simon Magus that he has
neither part ( lbH?) nor lot ( lrvg?) the matter. Ou]k e@sti soi
meri>j ou]de> klh?roj e]n t&? lo<g& tou<t&61--nothing in either urn, may
have been in the mind of the writer, who was doubtless familiar with
Jewish customs; or more likely the expression was idiomatic and
originated in this custom. Cf. Sap. 2:9.
But notwithstanding these undoubted instances of drawing lots,
the fact remains that the verbs used to express the use of lots are
almost all verbs of casting. To settle the matter, if possible, the
crucial instance of casting lots for the robe, Ps. 22 was chosen for
investigation, as being the one most commonly associated with cast-
ing dice. This suggested Roman usages and the child drawing tlhe
lot at the Praenestine Oracle. Authorities like Paula, Smith's Classi-
cal Antiquities, and Marduardt's Romische Staatsverwaltung have
accepted the expression “to cast lots”' as stating some unexplained
custom. The latter, however, refers, in a note, to Servius on the
AEneid, a passage which will shortly be considered. A distinction
must first be made between the use of sons or klh?roj ‘lot,’ and tes-
serae, tali, ku<boi and a]stra<galei ‘dice.’ These do not enter into
this investigation, as they are entirely confined to the gaming sphere.
The common expression with dice is " playing," “using,” or “throw-
ing.” In the Roman world the use of dice was prohibited by the
Lex Titia et Publicia et Cornelia; the Roman soldiers could not
have used them under the eyes of a centurion; and even in Decem-
ber, during the Saturnalia, they could have had no connection with
To return to the lot, the verbs used with sors are mostly verbs of
Casting like conicere, deicere, mittere, etc., but not the idea of casting
out of a vessel, but generally in sitellam, which seems to have been
a vessel with a small mouth, and filled with water, in which the lots
61 Salkinson-Ginshui translate: hzh rbdb hlHnv qlHe jl Nyx.
Delitzsch: lrvgh qlhe jl Nyx . qlH, may have denoted, originally a smooth
pebble (Is. 57:6) used as a lot. qlH ‘to allot’ may be denominative; cf. Albert
Schultens, quoted in Gesenius' Thesaurus.
26 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
were put, but only one of them, as they floated on the top, could
appear in the small opening. Otherwise the sitella was used without
water, lots being drawn from it, as Livy, 25, 3, 16, sitella lata est, ut
sortizentur. The expression in sitellam is like the in urnam of
Est. 3:7, missa est sons in urnam, but there is no Hebrew equivalent
for in urnam. Finally much light is thrown on the subject by a
passage in the Casina of Plautus, 2, 5, 34, which shows that to speak
of casting lots did not imply that they were not also drawn at the
same time. Stalino says "Coniciam sortes in sitellam et sortiar Tibi
The passage in the AEneid, T. 508 f. refers to the assignment of
the daily tasks by lot
Jura dabat legesque viris, operumque laborem
partibus aequabat iustis, aut sorte trahebat.
Servius notes that Vergil had used the correct expression : Sorte
trahebat; proprie locutus est. Trahuntur enim sortes, hoc est, edu-
Further investigation showed that drawing lots was probably the
general method in classical antiquity. Sortior, indeed, denominative
from sors, and meaning to draw lots, as also klhrou?mai, is a fair index
of the use of sortes, even where it is distinctly stated that the lots
were cast. "Coniciam sortes in sitellam et sortiar" makes the
matter quite plain. This conclusion taken in connection with the
Hebrew tradition as found in the Mishnah and O.T. lays it open
to serious doubt whether a custom of casting a lot out of a vessel ever
But there still remains the query: If lots were drawn in divina-
tion, why was casting lots the well-nigh universal expression? The
solution of this difficulty seems to lie in the difference between our
point of view and that of the ancients in respect to divination. They
believed in it, as a rule, whether Latins or Greeks, and still more the
Hebrews. It was an integral part of their religion. The ceremony
was accompanied with prayer, and it was unquestionably believed
that the Supreme Wisdom directed which lot should come forth, i.e.
be drawn. The human element was, as far as possible, eliminated
from the drawing. The priest communed with God and snatched
the lots suddenly (see above, p. 24). The impersonal expressions
are used: the lot came up or came forth (see the verbs, p. 22, above).
The statement that the lot was drawn by the priest is distinctly
avoided, as though implying that God did not order it. So the child
FOOTE: THE LPHOD. 27
employed at Praeneste (as perhaps, little Samuel at
being more purely an instrument by whom God made known His
The peasants in
Evidently man's part was merely the casting the lots into the urn—
it was impious to speak of a man drawing them. So Prov. 16:33 seems
to be the key, when rightly understood, to the whole difficulty. The
lot is cast in the urn, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.62
In drawing, man was an impersonal agent--the lot came out. It
was man's part to prepare the lots and cast (which may have had
the sense of minding) them in some receptacle. Hence the verbs
used with lots are not those of drawing, but casting.
We have seen that lots were really drawn in divination. This
requires a receptacle of a different kind than would be necessary if
lots were cast out on the ground. A receptacle would be needed
that concealed the lots from sight and that could be fixed in such a
way that the hands would be free to use it. An urn set upon a tripod
would answer the purpose if it were so shaped that the lots could
not easily be seen. But this end could more easily be attained by
using a pouch which would have the additional advantage of being
portable, and when used could be hung at the waist. This seems to
have been the nature of the ephod. But it is necessary to extend
this investigation so as to include those objects which are connected
with divination by lot.
1. The Teraphim.
There are two considerations which make it necessary to include
teraphim. The ephod is associated with teraphim in Jud. 17 and 18,
and Hos. 3:4; and the teraphim are associated with divination63 in
Gen. 30:27; also in Ezek. 21:26 and Zech. 10:2.
That the teraphim were of the nature of idols or simulacra, no
one denies. Laban accuses Jacob of stealing his gods. Micah uses
the same expression. In I Sa. 15:23 teraphim are condemned along
62 In Prov.1:14, the robbers say to the your man, vnkeOtb lyPt jlrAvg "cast in
thy lot among us,” i.e. put your name on a lot and cast it with our lots, so that
you will have the same chance of getting the booty as we have. But the "lot"
may also be interpreted to mean the portion (cf. Jer. 13:25) of the young man-
put it in with our funds let us have: one purse. See Dr. Philip Schaff’s small
Dict. of the Bible, under "Lots."
63 See Robertson Smith. O. T. in Jewish Church, p. 226, 1st ed., and Maybaum,
Die Entwickelung des altisraelitischen Prophetenthums, 1883, p. 16.
28 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
idolatry, and appear in the same connection in 2 Ki. 23:24.
rious theories have been advanced concerning teraphim. Wake, in
Serpent Worship, p. 47, quite arbitrarily identifies teraphim with
seraphim and refers it to what he styles "the serpent symbol of the
Exodus called seraph," Nu. 21:8, 9, Heb., comparing also the serpent
God, pp. 182f., explains teraphim as representing the manes and
lares in the worship of ancestors. Schwally''64 and others have re-
cently derived teraphim from Myxpr ‘manes.' But the commonly
accepted view compares them to the Penates. It is noteworthy that
penates always occurs in the plural form as does teraphim, and the
two accounts of the stealing of teraphim may be compared to Aeneas
the captured penates to
improbable that in the life of the Punic leader Hannibal in Corn.
Nepos (Han. ix.), we are to understand teraphim by the statuas
aeneas. As to the form of the teraphim, it has been supposed from
1 Sa. 19:13 that they were of human shape and size,66 but the inference
as to the size is not warranted, since the human appearance was eked
out by a pillow at the head; all, according to Oriental custom, being
covered with the bedclothes. Of all the mentions of the teraphim
this is the only one that might seem to construe teraphim with the
singular, but it is not certain; the suffixes supplied in the English
are omitted in the Hebrew, only one being used, vytAwoxEram; which,
however, may refer to David (so Budde) or even to the bed, though
it is masculine gender.67 The LXX ta> kenota<fia ‘monuments of the
dead,’ and Latin statua68 in place of the almost invariable idola may
64 Das Leben nach dem Tode, p. 36. Further references may be found in
of Biblical Lit.
65 Ethnologically one would err in imagining any connection between these
early peoples. On this Brinton says, in Religions of Primitive Peoples (p. 8),
“Professor Buchmann expressed some years ago what I believe to be the correct
result of modern research in these words: it is easy to prove that the striking
similarity in primitive religious ideas comes not from tradition nor from relation-
ship or historic connection of early peoples, but front the identity in the mental
construction of the individual man, wherever he is found.’”
66 Not so, however Hitzig; see Commentary on 1 Sam. 19:13.
67 Similar irregularity may he seen in several instances, e.g. Ex. 11:6; 25:19;
Jud. 11:34 etc., cf. Ges.-Khautzsch, § 135, o. See Diehl, Das Pronomen pers.
suffixum 2 u. 3 pers.
plur. des Hebr. in der alttest. Uberlieferung,
68 Note that the versions take teraphim as a plural, with the exception of this
FOOTE : THE EPHOD. 29
be attempts to explain away the presence of teraphim in David's
house, or, it may be that the teraphim, among those who had given
up idolatry, took the form of ancestral images, associated more or
less with superstitious veneration, but not idolatry. In the account
of Rachel's stealing and hiding her father's teraphim (Gen. 31:19-35),
it is evident that the word is plural, and that the teraphim were
tolerably small images or she could scarcely have carried them
without Jacob's knowledge or hidden them so that Laban could not
The association of teraphim with divination69 is so frequent that
it seems to indicate the principal use to which they were put. That
they were not used in idolatrous worship is to be inferred from the
fact that Hosea, who boldly censures idolatry, allows the use of ephod
and teraphim.70 But if they were idols, how could they have given
answers to questions? It is quite usual for commentators to speak
of "consulting idols, oracular idols," etc. Now a commentator may
sometimes give an oracular utterance, but an idol never! If one
idol had ever given an oracle, we should never have had the magnifi-
cent arraignment of idols in Deutero-Is. 41:21ff.: "Declare to us what
will happen in the future that we may know that ye are gods: yea,
do good, or do evil, do something, that we may all see it! Behold
ye are of no account and your work is nothing at all!"--yet many
commentators, who will not allow any supernatural occurrence to
pass without advancing a natural explanation, are quite prone to
imply, and base arguments on the conclusion that the idols in some
mysterious way gave oracles. Rychlak, e.g., in Osee, says that error
would be avoided, si de manifestestationibus idolorum, quae et consule-
bantur et aliquando consulentibus responsa dabunt, in-
telligamus. Again, referring specifically to the older passages which
mention the ephod, two of which, 1 Sa. 23:9 and 30:7, represent the
ephod as giving oracles, Maybaum says," All those passages through-
out give the impression that by ephod is meant a real Yahweh image.
Now, either an image can give an oracle or the supposition is
69 See an article by Frarrer in Kitto’s Cyclopaedia of Biblical Lit.., Vol. III,
70 In this passage. Hos. 3:4, the prophet says of his unfaithful wife that she
must abide with him many days in faithfulness, but without a wife's privileges;
prince, and without sacrifice and without massebah, and without ephodh and
teraphim." Note that ephod and teraphim are more closely joined than the
71 Die Entwickelung des altisrael. Prophetentums, 1883, p, 26,
30 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
untenable.72 It may be argued that the users of them believed that
they gave oracles. They may easily have thought that idols heard
their prayers and influenced their destinies, but it is not credible that
they believed that any idol (apart from priest-jugglery) ever answered
such a question as this, "If I pursue this troop, shall I overtake
them?" 1 Sa. 30:17, but David received the answer "yes." Now it
may have been that lots were used coram idolo and with some invo-
cation of the idol. In Cheyne-Black's Encyc. Biblica under "Divina-
Professor Davies, of
"We omit the reference to the teraphim because no new point is
indicated by it; the king consulted the teraphim [singular], by
shaking the arrows before it, as was always done also by the heathen
Arabs." His designating teraphim as singular is quite arbitrary (see
above, p. 28). By consulting the section on arrows (p. 34, below),
it will be seen that arrows were not always used before idols. But
farther on in the article Davies says that possibly the teraphim were
used as lots. Then why not here in Ezek. 21:26? But the idea that
the Hebrews consulted idols by casting lots before them is pure
supposition, while the use of lots is not supposition but fact, as has
been shown in regard to the ephod, and will be shown in regard to
Urim and Thummim. These were real oracles, not dumb idols. The
prophets could not say of them, "Behold ye are of no account, and
work is nothing at all!" for great leaders in
on them and had been victorious.
But "the teraphim," says the prophet Zechariah (10:2), have
spoken vanity," rqw vzH MymsOqhv NvxA vrBd Myprth yk "and the
diviners have seen a lie." The LXX in this passage, and in Hos. 3:4,
renders teraphim respectively by a]pofqeggo<menoi, and dh?loi, terms
which indicate anything but dumb idols, and in this connection
should be accorded due weight. In the passage in Hosea, and also
in Jud. 17 and 18, teraphim are associated with the ephod. Micah
makes an ephod and teraphim, puts them in a private chapel, secures
a competent priest, and then travellers stop in and consult the oracle.
With what is already known of the ephod, viz., that it was a pouch
72 In the same strain, Aowack (Die Kleinen Prophelen, 1597, 1). 26) says:
dvpx in the old time undoubtedly was an idol which was used to give oracles,
1 Sa. 23:6, 9; 30:7. He adheres to the same view in his Richter und Ruth, 1901.
On the other hand, cf. Meyer (Chzronicozz Hebraeorum, 1699, p. 468), speaking of a theory that teraphim were statues of loved ones “Mical audivit quasi vocem
submissam loquentem ad se de rebus futuris ... quod est impossibile, cum sermo
non possit fieri nisi per organa a Deo in natura posita.”
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 31
to contain the sacred lots, it seems quite likely that the teraphim
were little images used as lots. We have inferred from Gen. 31:35,
the account of Rachel hiding her father's teraphim, that they must
been small from Hos. 3:4--the prophecy of
many days without teraphim (see note 70 on p. 29, above)--that they
were not condemned as idols, but associated with the ephod. The
order of occurrence is always ephod and teraphim. The ephod
itself was independent of the lots, which were called by another
name. The Urim and Thummim; as we shall see, were such lots
the arrows were lots: the goraloth were lots, the teraphim seem to
have been used as lots also. It is ouite natural that an image, looked
upon with superstitions awe as in some way a supernatural agent
should be the common household means of appeal to a wise and
benevolent Power, albeit but little known. The small size of such
images will cause no surprise to those who are familiar with the
innumerable Egyptian images not longer than three or four inches, or
miniature idols of the Chinese. In Ezek. 21 the king of
wishes to have divine guidance as to the route of an expedition.
To obtain it he uses three means, of which one is consult the
teraphim. He looked for real assistance. We are probably to
understand that he consulted the teraphim as we might speak of
consulting the dice. We conclude, then, that there is no Hebrew
authority to prove that teraphim is ever a pluralis extensivisus, indicat-
ing but one image, but there are three passages where it is evidently
plural, and the others are non-committal, or favor the plural. As
to size, our preconceived notions formed from the words image and
idol make it hard to think of the very small kind which, as among
the Chinese, may have been the common household image. The
narratives, where they are readily carried or concealed even by a
woman, certainly strengthen this view. That they were not used in
idolatrous worship in the time of Hosea (c. 740 B.C.) seems a fair
inference (cf. above, p. 29), and the connection with the ephod,
together with the fact that they gave oracles seems to point to the
theory advanced, that the teraphim were small images used as
lots in divination at a period in all probability earlier than 1000 B.C.
For elaborate arguments for the identity of teraphim with Urim and
Thummim, the reader is referred to Spencer's De Legibus ritualibus
Hebraeorum, 1732, III. 3, and to Robertson Smith's Old Testament
in the Jewish Church, 1892, p. 292, n. 1. That the teraphim were
gradually abandoned seems evident from their later condemnation
as something classed with idolatry and clung to with like stubborn-
32 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
ness; cf. 1 Sa. 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination (Msq,
see below, p. 34) and stubbornness is as iniquity (Nvx, see below,
p. 40, n. 100) and teraphim."73 Apparently a later comment aimed
at superstitious practices more than at the principle of divination.
See also 2 Ki. 23:24, where teraphim are classed with, but not as idols.
2. Urim and Thummim.
The same reasons which made it necessary to investigate the
teraphim apply to the Urim and Thummim. Their origin, as in the
case of ephod and teraphim, is unknown. The earliest document
of the O.T. which mentions them is the Deuteronomic Blessing,74
33:8, which has been assigned by
Jeroboam II (752-743). The passage in no way helps to an under-
standing of what the Urim and Thummim were. The account in
I Sa. 14:41 and 28:6 associates the use of Urim and Thummim with
Saul. The narrative is probably E, prior to 730 B.C.; and it is to
be noted that the use of Urim and Thummim is taken as a customary
thing, and although the passage in 1 Sa. l4:41, in the Hebrew, has be-
come corrupt, it is evidently since the third century B.C., and it shows
no signs of intentional alteration. The use of Urim and Thummim76
in divination in pre-exilic times is seen in I Sa. 14:41f, where Saul
divines with them to discover who had broken the taboo which he
had placed upon food. From v. 3 it will be seen that the ephod77
was used, and we are to understand that the lots were drawn from
it. Professor Haupt has rendered the passage as follows:78 "Saul
said: O Yahweh, God of Israel, why hast Thou not responded to
73 rcap;ha Myprtv NvxAv yrm, Msq-txFH yk
74 JdysHe wyxl jyrUxv jymitu rmx yvilel;v, "And of Levi he said, thy
Thummim and thy Urim be for the man, thy godly one."
75 Cheyne-Black's Encyclopaedia, col. 1090, § 25.
76 A careful survey of the literature on Urim and Thummim may be found in
an article so entitled by Muss-Arnolt in the Amer. Journal of Semitic Lit., July,
77 In 1 Sa. 28:6 we read that Saul could obtain no oracle, neither by dreams,
nor by Urim, nor by prophets. tvmlHb Mg hvhy vhnf xlv hvhyb lvxw lxwyv
Myxybnb Mg Myrvxb Mg. Comparing the undoubted use of the ephod by Saul,
the omission of it here is an indication that it was understood to he used with
cf. Driver's article on "Law" in
Robertson Smith's 0T. in the Jewish
78 yb wy Mx Mvyh jdbf tx tynf xl hm.AlA lxrWy yhlx hvhy lvxw rmxyv
lxrWy jm.fab Onwy, Mxv MyrUx hbh lxrWy yhlx hvhy hzh NvfAh, ynb Ntnvhyb vx
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 33
Thy servant this day? If the guilt be in me or in my son Jonathan,
0 Yahweh, God of Israel, give Urim; but if it should be Thy people
combines Myrvx with rrx curse, representing the unfavorable au-
swer, while Mym.tu means ‘blamelessness, acquittal,’ and is the favor-
The general view of the size of Urim and Thummim is gained
from the description of the Nw,h, a kind of pocket (usually, mistrans-
lated ‘breast-plate’), which is given in Exodus and Leviticus. This
pocket, bearing twelve precious stones, was about twelve inches
square, fastened permanently to the high priest's breast, with an
opening to allow the high priest to take out the Urim and Thummim,
which were kept within. It could scarcely have been used as a
dice-box, for it could not be removed from the ephod. Here, how-
ever, we may see a trace of the pre-exilic form of the ephod,
pouch to contain the sacred lots. It is altogether unlikely that Urim
and Thummim were ever used with the NwH as nothing is heard of
it before the Exile, and after the Return it: seems that Urim and
Thummim could not be used,80 or rather, that they no longer existed.
If they had survived the Captivity, they could doubtless have been
used. The Babylonian Talmud, Sota, 48, a, states that Urim and
Thummim were lost at the time of the destruction of the Temple,
586. B.C.81 Maimonides82 however, speaks of Urim and Thummim
having existed to complete the garments of the high priest though
they were not consulted. It seems probable that something was
made to represent them.
A good deal has been made by Wellhausen, Benzinger, and
Thenius-Lohr of the technic of the priest in the use of lots; but
the idea has arisen from a misconception of the manner in which
they were used, and a misunderstanding of 1 Sa. 14:18 and perhaps
14:41f, where receiving no answer may have been ascribed to a fault
of technic. Undoubtedly, if the post-exilic priest had had Urim and
79 See BELP. in JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LIT., 1900, p. 58, and notes 54-61,
cf. "Crit. Notes on Numbers," in SBOT., p. 57, l. 45.
80 Cf. Ezra 2:63, and Bertheau-Ryssel’s, commentary: also Siegfried ad loc.
81 Mym.t;v MyrUx vlFb Mynvwxrh Myxybn vtmwm, from the destruction of the
former prophets Urim and Thummim were lost."
82 Yadh Hachazaqah,
Nhb Nylxwn vyh xlw p”fxv Mydgb hnmw Mylwhl ydk Mym.tuv MyrUx, They made
in the Second Temple Urim and Thummim, in order to complete the eight
garments, although they were not consulted by them."
34 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
Thummim, he would have used them; but not having them, the idea
may have grown up that they were of the nature of charms. Well-
hausen, in Skizzen, III., p. 144, in speaking of amulets, says: "Frey-
tag has compared the Thummim of the high priest, which likewise
were carried at the neck. The phylacteries and bells on the pallium
show that one is not justified is repudiating the comparison. How-
ever, although the later Jews may have regarded Urim and Thummim
as a charm-ornament of the high priest, they seem to have been
originally two lots to which, when used for oracular purposes, was
attributed any alternative you please as signification (see Vatke,
323)." It is riot improbable that the sacred lots had come down
from heathen times and that they were originally amulets.83 They
may have been the sacred, or priestly, lots, while the teraphim were
the common household lots. Probably they were marked by color,
or more likely with the words by which they were called, indicating
one as the favorable, and the other as the unfavorable answer. Be-
ing lost at the Captivity, and forgotten, the very significance of the
names was no longer recognized and the Versions render "Lights
3. Arrows and Rods.
These complete the list of articles used by the Hebrews in divina-
tion by lot, if, indeed, the arrow is to be distinguished from the rod.
It is misleading even to speak of the Hebrews in this connection, for
an undoubted instance of a Hebrew (not a Bedouin) divining with
arrows is yet to be found.
In Ezek. 21:26f, "the king of
way to use divination ( Msq): he shook the arrows, he consulted the
teraphim,84 he inspected the liver. In his right hand is the lot,
in a dissertation by Anton Huber.85 In the game of Meisir, arrows
were used for lots. They were previously marked with names or
notches, and then placed in a leathern bag or quiver, and shaken
under a sheet which was held so as to conceal the arrows from the
person who shook them. When an arrow was shaken up so as to
project above the others, it was drawn and handed to another person
83 Cf. Brinton, Religions of Primitive Peoples, 1897, p. 148, on lucky stones.
84 The idea advanced by Davies,
the arrows and consulting the teraphim were but one act is not borne out by the
Hebrew. The methods used are as evidently three as any brief statement could
85 Uber des "Meisir" genannte Spiel der heidnischen Araber,
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 35
who gave it to the owner, who won according to the marks on the
arrow. This gives all the facts necessary for understanding how
arrows were used. The connection with Ezek. 21:26 is established by
the word for shaking the arrows, Arab. qalqala, which is the lqal;qi
this passage. The lot in his hand,
Wellhausen, Skizzen, III., p. 127, comes to the same conclusion,
the oracle according to the ritual of his people, putting the arrows
into a quiver, after first marking them with the names of different
places, and then shaking them to see what place would be indicated
by the coming out of an arrow, and what city he should first attack.
The Greeks call this belomanti<a or r[abdomanti<a. Wellhausen's con-
jecture Skizzen, III. p. 167, quoted by Benzinner p. 408, n., that
torah goes back to the lot-arrow and the verb hry 'cast' used of
lots and of arrows, a direction being obtained in the first instance
from the way the arrow pointed when cast is very doubtful, inasmuch
as it lacks the element of chance which is the essence of divination
by lot; for if arrows deviated in any unforeseen way from the direc-
tion in which they were shot, it would render skill in archery unat-
tainable. Besides it is first necessary to show that arrows were ever
‘cast’ in divination. They were shaken and drawn. It was this
superstitious use of chance that caused Mohammed to forbid this
use of arrows, Koran, Sura V. 4, 92; he implies that Satan is the
one who directs chances, not God. Contrast with this Prov. 16:33
see above, p. 27. Canon Driver, in his article on “Law,” hrvt, in
conjecture in spite of his warning: Such conjectures always remain
uncertain and do not deserve too much credit. Wellhausen there-
upon retracts a conjecture made with as little foundation, that
is related to tama’im 'amulets.' But Driver thinks to brace up the
theory by the use of hry in casting lots. There might be some
ground for it if lots were really cast as he supposes; but being in
reality drawn, as were the arrows, there is none. Some commenta-
tors have entered so heartily into the idea of the Loospfeile that an
arrow is never shot but it is in divination. So it is with Jonathan and
David, and so with Joash at Elisha's death-bed. But it is altogether
unlikely, since an arrow, when shot, is gone.87
86 See Haupt's "Babylonian Elements in the Levitical Ritual," JBL. XIX.,
87 Sellin, in Beitrage zur Religionsgesch., 1897, p. 116 ff., is not convincing;
36 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
In regard to the use of the rod, the only reference is Hos. 4:12, ymfa
vl dyGya vlqmav lxw;y vcfeb, "My people consult their staff, and their
rod makes known to them." From this passage no idea can be
gained of the method used in divination, except the derivation of
lqe.ma from llq, ‘shake,’ indicating, perhaps, the use of rods in a way
similar to that of the arrows; and this is favored by the parallelism
with Cfe which may be used for CHe, 'arrow'; cf. 1 Sa. 17:7, "the
staff88 of his spear." But it is not even certain that it was a lot at
all. The reference may be to a so-called divining rod which is said
to shake in the hand and indicate where water is to be found. If
the use of the rod, however, were similar to that of the arrow as a
lot, this verse (Hos. 4:12), with the use of hnz ‘to go astray’ after
lot-oracles (see above, p. 15) ought to be compared with Jud. 8:27,
where the same expression is used of Gideon's ephod. The rod has
an extensive use in Hebrew literature as a magician's wand or pedes-
trian's staff, but the data that prove its use as a lot are wanting.
2. The Ephod as a Part of the Insignia of Priests.
With the Captivity the ancient regime of the Hebrews came to an
end, and the period of Babylonian influence began. In all probability
many old customs and usages fell into desuetude, never to be revived;
many traditions derived from heathen times lapsed, and thereafter
were only remembered with shame; many ceremonial objects of
venerable antiquity were lost, and became names to conjure with,
or were restored under new forms bearing little likeness to the old.
So it was with the Urim and Thummim, which were never to appear
again; and yet the longing for them breaks forth in the Korahite
(43) of the
Thy Thummim, that they may lead me."89
But though Urim and Thummim did not exist after the Captivity
(see above, p. 33), yet the NwH was made, and also the ephod to
which it was attached; for the Babylonian Talmud, Nywdq, 37, a,
has a tradition of sages coming to a certain heathen Dama, the son
Ezek. 21:26, e.g., certainly does not show that the Hebrews used arrows. In Reclus, Primitive Folks, p. 276, is a suggestion as to the meaning of an arrow shot. Among the Kohls of Chota Nagpore, an arrow is shut in front of a person as
a sign that the way is cleared for him.
88 The text has CH, the Q're Cf; cf. also the interchange of h and ‘ in modern
89 See Lagarde, Prophetae Chaldaice, Lipsiae, 1872, p. xlvii, who emends: Hlw
ynvHny hmh jymtuv jyrUx. Cf. Duhm ad loc.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 37
of Nethina of Ashkelon, to purchase stones for the ephod.90 But
though the ephod was restored in an altered form, it was never again
used in divination, and only survived as a part of the insignia of
the high priest. These insignia were known as the abundance of
garments, Mydgb hbvrm, which is explained as follows: “High
priests who officiated from the day that the oil of anointment was
lost (literally hidden), had their high-priesthood indicated by the
abundance of their garments," that is, they wore the eight priestly
garments; of which the four peculiar to the high priest are given
as: Cycv NwHv dvqxv lyfm, the robe, the ephod, the breastplate,
and the gold plate.
It is impossible to say with certainty just what this high priest's
ephod was. Some writers, like Riehm (Handworterbuch des
2d ed., 1893-4, "Ephod"), consider it
tially a shoulder-piece; as Thenius, e.g., says the ephod is nowhere,
anything else than a shoulder garment. Others see in it a long robe
with a girdle about the waist and the hoshen, or ‘pocket,’ fastened
between the girdle and the shoulders. No doubt the description
was plain enough to him who wrote it; but the only clue we can
have to the object described must come from a knowledge of what
the old ephod was. This gives us three points which, in all proba-
bility, were the traditional residuum from which the post-exilic ephod
was reconstructed.91 These were the pouch for the sacred lots the
girding about the waist, and the equivalence of ephod-bearer and
priest. Now the main points in the description of the later ephod
are that it is an essential part of the insignia of the high priest, the
hoshen, a pouch for the sacred lots which were no longer in exist-
ence and the woven piece for girding on. These have been brought
out in all descriptions of the post-exilic ephod, but the point that
has been overlooked is that the Iroshen was upon the woren piece
(bwH) which was used to gird it on, Ex. 28:28, and not between the
band and the shoulders as has been supposed. Moreover, the loci-
tion of the woven piece was not at the waist, but higher up, "over
90 dvqxl Mynbx MymkH vnmm vwqk. See Babylonian Talmud, xmvy, p. 73, a, Commentary of Rashi. hbvrm is the participle Pual (hB,rum;), and properly denotes the high Priest, not his garments; cf. Levy's Dict. hbvrm; see also
Jastrow's Dict., p. 838, b.
91 Robertson Smith 0. T. in the Jew.
old Hebrew life which are reflected in lively form in the Earlier Prophets, were
obsolete long before the time of the Chronicler, and could not be revived except
by archeological research. The whole life of the old kingdom was buried and
38 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
the heart," Ex. 2*:29f. Hence the band must have encircled the
body just under the armpits. The braces92 over the shoulders, not
needed on the old ephod, were required to keep the band in place
when it was no longer around the loins. The "stones of remem-
brance" are an indication of the thought of a later age and are quite
in harmony with the fashioning of a decoration, the use of which
had long since passed away. The expression "over Aaron's heart"
is simply an indication of place; the metaphorical sense of bl was
mind as we still preserve it in the phrase to learn by heart. Rashi
(Breithaupt, p. 672) says : "I have neither heard of nor found in
the Talmud an exposition of the form of this ephod; but I imagine
that it was a cincture of a breadth accommodated to a man's back,
something like an apron (succinctorium)." There is another indi-
cation of the location of this band. Ezek. 44:18, giving directions as
to the priestly garments, says: fzayAb vrgHya xl, which is said to mean
that the band shall not be so high as to be sweated under the arms,
nor so low as to be liable to the same at the loins. But this is
doubtful. Yet so Rashi: "Hence they did not gird themselves in
places liable to sweat, neither at their armpits above nor their loins
below." Modern attempts at restoration of the post-exilic ephod
have neglected these points. Professor Moore (Cheyne-Black's
Encyc. Biblica, vol. ii., "Ephod") describes it as a curious garment
coming to the knees, apparently confusing it with the lyfm or ‘robe’
of the ephod, Ex. 39:22, which was not a part of the ephod, but was
put on first, and is enumerated by itself as a distinct garment (see
above. p. 37). Braunius93 has some curious pictures of the ephod,
and Riehm94 has some still more curious, but they are, of course,
imaginary reconstructions and not intended to be taken as authentic.
But from the data given above we shall not be far astray if we
picture to ourselves the post-exilic ephod as a woven band, probably
as wide as the hoshen, i.e. a span, encircling the body between the
armpits and the loins, having jeweled braces to hold it in place, and
a jeweled pouch in front-the traditional receptacle for the sacred
lots. It is not hard to see in this portion of the post-exilic insignia
92 Professor Haupt has kindly suggested to me that in the description of the
bronze carriages for the sacrificial basins in 1 Ki. 7:30, 40 (cf. Crit. Notes on
Kings, SB0T. ad loc. and Stade's paper in ZAT. XXI.), tvptk means 'struts,
oblique braces' ='suspenders'; see the figure of a Bedouin with tvptk Psalms, in
SBOT., p. 224.
93 De Vestitn Sacerdotum Hebr.,1701.
94 Handworterbuch les biblischen Altertums, 1884, Ephod.
FOOTE : THE EPHOD. 39
the essential features of the ancient ephod. It cannot be termed a
development, but rather a reconstruction based upon a tradition
which embodied the chief characteristics of the antique ephod.
In the light of the foregoing investigation it is apparent that many
commentators have gone astray because they did not give due weight
to the essential connection of the ephod with divination,--and not
some magical, image-speaking, priest-juggling, kind of divination,
which is utterly without proof among the Hebrews, but the ephod
is associated with divination by lot. This is the raison d'etre of the
old ephod, and an investigation which overlooks it is liable to any
kind of idle conjecture. Professor Marti's error has been of this
nature, and this is the difficulty with Professor Moore's article in
the Encyc. Biblica, although some of the inferences are no doubt
correct and were published by the present water in the JHU Cir-
culars95 over eight months before that article appeared.
That the ephod was originally an idol and afterwards became
something to hold lots is again, opposed to the sound ethnological
principle stated by Robertson Smith that nothing is more foreign to
traditional rites than the arbitrary introduction of new forms. Any
custom that is based on a superstition cannot charge, because the
essential cannot be distinguished from the non-essential. This is
clearly seen in the superstitious rites of the Romans, and especially in
incantations and the rites of the Salii.96 Quintilian,
says: Saliorum carmina vix sacerdotibus suis satis intellecta:97 sed
illa mutari vetat religio et consecratis utendum est. But divination
by lot was a superstition. The ephod, it is evident, goes back to
times that cannot long have been distinguishable front pure heathen-
dom. The lots used with the ephod were not common pebbles, but
traditional and sacred lots, whether teraphim or Urim and Thummim.
Correctness of ritual is the more important as the rites are less
understood. Hence Micah's joy at having a Levite for a priest:
“Now I know that Yahweh will do me good, since I have gotten a
95 This statement is made, of course, in my own defence. The paper referred
to, antedating the appearance of the Encyc. Biblica, dues not note that the arti-
cle on Dress by Abrahams and Cook suggests the possibility of the ephod's being
originally a loincloth.
98 See Teuffel and Schwabe, History of Roman Lit., 1891, concerning the Salii.
97 How true of our own Authorized Version and the following too.
40 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
Levite as my priest."98 The same devotion to the minutest detail
of ritual is to be noted in the Ceremoniale of the Roman Church.
And so with the ephod, unless the proper lots were had, no oracle
could be obtained; cf. Ezra 2:63, and see above, p. 33. The very
manner of drawing lots was of prime importance, cf. Gemarah on
Yoma, 4:1 (see above, p. 24). How, then, can we suppose that the
ephod was at one time an idol, and in less than two hundred years
after it was something to hold lots girded on little Samuel's waist!
Yet Maybaum99 asserts that MIicah's ephod was an idol (lsp) and
later on was called lgf, a 'calf'! It has been suggested that the
ephod must have been connected with idolatry, because in several
passages the word ephod seems to have been purposely eliminated
from the narrative.100 Budde, in his commentary on Judges, 1897,
p. 68, says that the old ephod must somehow have represented the
deity and therefore was afterwards repudiated. But if any such
intentional corrupting of passages took place, it must have been
accomplished shortly before the Captivity, since, with the exception
of Wellhausen,101 commentators agree that Hosea allows the ephod
and teraphim as "necessary forms and instruments of the worship of
Jehovah," to use the words of Robertson Smith, and hence the ephod
could not have been an idol. As for post-exilic times it makes little
difference what it was, for it had evidently been forgotten; and yet
one cannot help feeling that, had it been an idol or any object of
worship, it would not have been restored;102 but, like the teraphim,
which represented a comparatively harmless superstition, would have
been allowed to remain in oblivion. There is, however, another
reason for the corruption of the passages referring to the ephod
98 :Nhkl yvl.eh yl hyh yk yl hvhy byFyy yk ytfdy hTf hkym rmxyv. What a
confession, by the way, that the Aaronic priesthood was not known! See
Smith, O. T. in. Jew.
99 Prophetenthum, 1883, p. 27.
100 Cf. I Sa. 14:18; 14:41; 28:6; 28:14 LXX, variant; I Ki. 2:26; also according
to Wellhausen, in Ezek. 44:18, and I Sa. 15:23, where Nvx he thinks was dvpx.
101 Kleinen Propheten, p. 103, 1897. It is not without a touch of scorn that
Hosea here enumerates without explicit condemnation Masseba, Ephod, and
Teraphim, as something one will hardly get along without in exile: this is neces-
sary, you know, you surely like it this way!
102 The survival among Christian people of heathen rites which have lost their
ancient significance, such as, e.g., the Yule-log, is not parallel; inasmuch as a
century of disuse and oblivion would have clone away with anything as a survival.
The later ephod was not a survival, but a reconstruction; while the earlier ephod
probably represents a survival.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 41
which will be mentioned presently when the ephod is considered as
Having considered all the passages that throw any light on the
ephod, and also the conjectures which seem to have most weight
and are most recent, it remains to sum up the conclusions arrived
at. Starting with the principle that what a thing is for is the truest
indication of what it is, we find that the ephod was evidently used
in divination by lot. An investigation of the use of lots reveals the
fact that they were said to be cast, but were in reality drawn; and
the ephod was the receptacle, klhrwtri<j, that held them. Taken in
connection with the passages that speak of the ephod being girdled
on or fastened about the waist (rgH having this special meaning),
and the passage in 2 Sa. 6:14ff. which shows what a scanty covering
it was, the ephod appears to have been a pouch, large enough to
put the hands into, which was hung at the waist of the person using
it. It was easily carried in the hand. Its early use was not confined
to any special order of priests;103 but, like other things originally
common to all, it gradually became a priestly function. Samuel as
lad, girt with the ephod at
child that drew the oracles of Fortuna at Praeneste. The ephod was
quickly consulted, though there was doubtless a technical method
which was always observed. The lots were probably teraphim in
the earlier times, but Urim and Thummim seem to be supplanting
them at least as early as the time of Saul, though they continued to
be associated with the ephod as late as Hosea, 740 B.C. There is
no reason for supposing that Micah's ephod was anything different
from that used by Saul and David. In regard to Gideon's ephod
when we omit the later editorial comment, there is the bare state-
that it was made and placed in the city of
statement no theory which conforms to what is known of the ephod
can be disproved. The strongest probability lies on the side of its
being what the ephod was later--a pouch for the sacred lots, made,
it may be, most sumptuously (compare the candles, etc., given to
churches), as befitted the maker's social position (as, e.g. Gideon's),
and used as Micah's ephod was, in a private chapel such as wealthy
citizens affected. It is best to leave it so. Coniectura vilis est.
Connected with the subject of the ephod is the consideration of
103 But Welinausen, Proleg., 2d ed., 1883, p. 137 states that only priests could
use the ephod What shall we say, then, of Micah's Levite, of Samuel, or Saul, or
See also Robertson Smith, 0.T. in Jew.
baum, Prophetenthum, 1883, p. 10.
42 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
it as a survival of a primitive usage for ceremonial purposes just as
the use of stone knives for circumcision, or the Shofar in the modern
synagogue, the use of candles instead of gas or electric lights at
dinner parties, or the costume of the yeomen of the guard in Eng-
land who are still habited in the costume of the sixteenth century, or
the academic gowns, the royal crowns and sceptres, or the vest-
ments104 of the Catholic Church, etc.; cf. Joshua in the Polychrome
Bible, p. 62, 1. 5. In the qW sackcloth is a survival of primitive
usage; cf. Gen. 42:25 the corn sack, Is. 20:2 dress of prophets and
devotees, Gen. 37:34 conventional mourning garb. If the priests put
on the ephod, they did so because the ephod was a primitive usage.
It has been seen that no distinction is made in the O.T. between
ephodh and ephodh badh, which has been supposed to mean linen
ephod. But from the consideration on p. 3 above, note 7, and the
extended examination in Note D, p. 47, below, we must understand
FIG. 1. FIG. 2. FIG. 3.
ephodh badh to be a covering of the nakedness, literally ephodh partis
(virilis). Such representations are to be seen on Egyptian and
Babylonian monuments. Perhaps the commonest shape of the
ancient loincloth is shown in Fig. 1, which certainly meets the re-
quirements of the description of the mikhnese badh. The loincloth
of the Indians of Cape Horn (see above, p. 12, n. 33) was triangular
in shape and kept in pace by a cord, as in Fig. 2. The ephodh badh,
however, considering the use to which it is put, may have developed
from something like Fig. 3. This is a pouch or bag, differentiated
from the kilt by its specialized use. For the ephod was not a mere
loincloth or covering of the nakedness. The mikhnese badh were
that, and became the sacred garment. The ephod was not a loin-
cloth per se, but a pouch for sacred lots existing side by side with
ordinary loincloths and sacred kilts. Moreover, the mikhnese badh,
or sacred kilt, does not appear to have excited any repugnance at a
104 It may he noted that the vestments of the Church, especially the Chasuble,
Alb, and Stole, are probably the ancient official garments of civil magistrates of
the early centuries of the Christian era, and rather of Syrian officials than of
Greek or Roman. See the Century Dictionary, 1900, Vol. VIII., p. 6741.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 43
period of greater refinement than that of the early monarchy. That
this was the case with the ephod seems, to most commentators,
proved by the apparently intentional corruption of some of the
passages referring to the ephod (see above, p. 40, n. 100). These
commentators explain this repudiation by supposing the ephod to
have been an idol. But this was not the case. Perhaps the reason
for the repudiation of the ephod by certain redactors of the Biblical
documents may have been that they considered it indecent, either
because it was too scanty for a loincloth, or perhaps, because it had
some connection with the phallic worship of the Canaanites. The
ephod was not a phallus, which, we have constantly to remind our-
selves, was daily seen by the ancients without the slightest offence
(see Dr. Dollinger's Heidenhum und Judenthum, p. 169); but badh
may have meant phallus, and ephod was closely connected with it,
sharing the sacredness of the symbol, which to the ancients suggested
only profound and reverent thoughts. This cannot he doubted from
such references as Gen. 24:2-47:29,105 where a vow was rendered the
more inviolable by contact with what was looked upon as the symbol
of the mystery of life. Some such connection as this may account
for a feeling in later times that the ephod was indecent.
The ephod seems to be a special development of the primitive
loincloth. The loin-covering was probably the starting-point of
development in the direction both of the garment and the pouch.
A step in this development is seen in an account by John Foreman,
who travelled for several years in and about all the principal islands
the Philippine Archipelago, and who proceeded to
ber, 1898, at the request of the American Peace Commission, to
express his views before them. In 1696, he says, the men of the
was attached a piece of stuff in front, which was thrown over their
shoulders and hung loose at the back. This loincloth, which cannot
but remind one of the fig-leaf hagoroth of our first parents (Gen. 3:7)
would evidently furnish a place where articles could be carried. But
the ephod was not an ordinary pouch used for general purposes,
but it had a distinctly sacred character. The post-exilic ephod still
105 Cf. Dillmann's Genesis,
Genesis, p, 232,
106 The Philippine Islands, 2d ed.,
44 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
retained its sacred character, being a part of the merubah begadim
(see above, p. 37, n. go) by which the high priest was distinguished.
This use of garments to denote dignity is not without parallel.
Herbert Spencer in Ceremonial Institutions, "Badges and Costumes,"
1880, p. 181, quotes Cook as saying of the Sandwich Islanders, that
quantity of clothing is a mark of position, and of the Tongans he
the same; while he tells us that in
signify their rank by wearing a large amount of clothing at great
inconvenience to themselves. The Arabs furnish an allied fact. In
Karseem “it is the fashion to multiply this important article of
raiment [shirt] by putting on a second over the first and a third
the second.” The same practice prevails
many, where the peasant girls wear a great many skirts.107 The
ephod came, in time, to be the symbol of a special class of men who
were, in a way, intermediary between man and God, for through
them divine oracles were obtained. A sacred band for the loins may
be the index of this divine mission. Frazer's Goldelz Bough, 1890,
1., p. 37, gives instances of kings in the
were regarded as divine persons and were consulted as an oracle.
says: "At his inauguration the king of
girdle108 of red and yellow feathers, which not only raised him to
the highest earthly station, but identified him with their gods." But
still closer parallel to the ephod is to be found among the
Cliff-dwellers, who used a sacred girdle of cotton cloth, which, like
the later ephod, was about a span wide, and served as a pocket for
the prayer meal and sacred amulets (see above, p. 134) used in cere-
monials.109 We do not know that the amulets were used as lots, but
if so, here would be a primitive ephod with amulet-lots and distinctly
sacred character. No doubt many ethnological parallels will come
to light when the true idea of the ephod and divination by lot are
borne in mind; but there can be no reasonable doubt that it reaches
back in its origin to most primitive times.
Etymology of the Term "Ephod."
No etymology yet proposed for the word dvpx has been generally
accepted. The various forms of the stem which occur, are: dOpxe,
107 Cf. the plate
108 Cf. Huxley, Science and Hebrew Tradition.
109 Such a sacred girdle as is here described may be seen among the ethno-
exhibits of the
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 45
dpoxe, TAd;paxA, dPox;y,.va, OtDApuxE, tDapuxa. It used to be definitely stated
wished dpx that meant ‘to gird or bind on,’ and dvpx was the ‘thing girded
on,’ and hdpx the ‘girding on.’ One difficulty with this etymology
was the lack of Semitic parallels for dpx with such a meaning, which
is gained entirely from the context; but the chief difficulty is that
critical research has shown that dvpx was in use several centuries
earlier than dpx and hdpx, whence arose the later opinion that
is denominative and hdpx a derivative. Another group of commen-
tators following Lagarde (Ubersicht, p. 178; Mittheil. 4, pp. 17, 146)
refer dvpx to Arab. wafada ‘to come as an ambassador,’ and finally
a ‘garment of approach to God.’ This is just as fanciful as Lagarde's
etymology of lx and hnxet. The ephod is not to be regarded as a
garment. Other commentators and scholars have based a theory on
the use of hDpux110 in Is. 30:22 (see above, p. 16f., for a consideration
of this passage) that dvpx means a ‘covering, garment, mask,’ but
this verse may be as late as the second century B.C., and a careful
study of the parallelism would favor some such idea as ‘ornament’
for hdpx which may be derived from the ornamental post-exilic
ephod. The form hDApuxE is the regular fem. of dOpxe for dOpx< cf.
MdoxA, hm.AduxE; lgofA, hl.AgufE; especially MOrfA, f. hm.ArufE and the by-form
MOryfe. For the initial e, cf.sUbxe, Ges.-Kautzsch, §§ 23, h; 84 a, q,
and Haupt, Assyr. E-vowel, p. 26, No. 10. The Syriac equivalent of
dvpx has the fem. form, xTAd;Pi with aph eresis of the initial x; see
Noldeke, Syriac Gram. § 32 (cf. xTAr;Ha end for xtrHx). A
tentative explanation of dvpx has been given recently by Hubert
Grimme in the Orient. Litt.-Zeitung, February, 1901, under the title,
lxrx und Stammverwandtes, who notes the phenomenon seen in
the Semitic languages of q showing a tendency to become x. He
come believes that there are two q's, a sonant q which is stable, and a surd
q which has a tendency to become x.111 He gives several examples,
and among these are dpeqi ‘wrap together," appearing as dqx ‘wrap
up,' and dvpx ‘zusammenziehbare Loostasche.’ This is, at least, the
meaning sought, but the etymology is not certain.
110 Cf. the Talmudic xDnUpxE and xdnvp. It is by no means necessary to
suppose that xdnvp is derived from Latin funda, Funda (Macr. Saturn. 2.4, 31)
may he a Semitic loan word.
111 Cf. Haupt, in Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie. vol. ii (
2; Allen in PAOS., October, 1888, p. cxi; Talcott Williams' article on the Arabic
Haupt considers Grinune's theory very uncertain.
46 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
A. According to Skeat's Etymological Dictionary of the
1882, the verb kilt, to tuck up, is derived from a substantive signifying lap, occur-
ring in Sved. dial. kilta, the lap; cf. the Icelandic Kjalta, the lap, kjoltu-barn, a
baby in the lap. The oldest form of the substantive occurs in Moeso-Goth. kilthei,
womb, from the same root as
a substantive is ‘lap,’ hence ‘tucked-up clothes.’
B. Braunius, De vestitu saceradotum Hebr.,
in Hist. Orient. de Religione veterum
Islamismum sacra sua celebrasse nudos, atque ita aedem Meccanam circuivisse."
See also Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites;2 pp. 161, 450 f, where he
remarks: At Mecca, in the times of heathenism, the sacred circuit of the Caaba
was made by the Bedouins, either naked or in clothes borrowed from one of
usage was not peculiar to
was customary for the sacrificer to borrow a suit from the priest; and the same
custom appears in the worship of the Tyrian heal (2 Ki. 10:22), to which it may
be added that, in 2 Sa. 6:14, David wears the priestly ephod at the festival of the
conduct a shameless exposure of his person (cf. above, p. 7); see also I Sa. 19:24.
The Mecean custom is explained by saying that they would not perform the
sacred rite in garments stained with sin, but the real reason is quite different.
It appears that sometimes a man did make the circuit in his own clothes, but in
that case he could neither wear them again nor sell them, but had to leave them
at the gate of the sanctuary (Azraci, p. 125; B. Hisham, p. 128f.). They
became taboo (harim, as the verse cited by Ibn Hisham has it) through contact
with the holy place and function. See further in Robertson Smith; and cf.
Jastrow in JAOS., XX., p. 144, also XXI., 1900, p. 23, The Tearing of Garments.
C. The primitive use of qyH is clearly seen from the following analysis, to be
associated with the sexual relation, as Professor Haupt has suggested. The uses
of qyH are here classified in five groups which are arranged chronologically
according to the earliest passages quoted in each group.
1. The primitive use of qyH as seen in the earliest passages, clearly refers to
sexual embrace; as, Gen. 16:5, "I gave my handmaid into thy embrace." So
2 Sa. 12:8; 1 Ki. 1:2 (contemp.?) Prov. 5:2; Mic. 7:5; and probably Deut. 13:7;
2. Another primitive use of qyH is seen in the place where a child is held.
If at the breast, the Hebrews used: dDa, hz,HA, bble, dwa, and dwo. If on the
shoulder, see Is. 46:7. Undoubtedly the reference is to the abdominal part
of the body and the lap (cf. note A on kilt, above). So Nu. 11:12; Ruth 4:16;
2 Sa. 12:3 (nearly contemp.) 1 Ki. 3:20; 17:19; Is. 40:11; Lam. 2:12. Note that our
use of bosom in these places is poetic and symbolical; cf. above, p. 23.
3. The use is then seen to be extended to the garment about the qyH, the lap,
the folds of a garment overhanging the girdle-the primitive pocket or place for
putting the hand. So Ex. 4:6, 7; (in J, 850 B.C.) Ps. 35:13; 74:11; 79:12; 89:50;
Prov. 6:27; 16:33; 17:23; 21:14; Is. 65:6, 7; Jer. 32:18.
FOOTE: THE EPHOD. 47
4. Then the word is used of a curved surface, showing a similarity of develop-
ment with sinus and ko<lpoj. So I Ki. 22:35 (600 B.C.?) Ezek. 43:13-17.
5. Among the latest uses of the word are Job 19:27, referring to the abdominal
cavity, and Eccles. 7:9, referring to the same figuratively as seat of affections.
With ith the use of qyH compare Assyr. utlu and sunu; e.g. Descent of Istar,
Obv. 35, “the slaves sa istu urtli hairisina who from their husbands’ embrace ...''
And II R 35, Nr, "a maid sa ina sun mutisa who in her husband's embrace ...''
D. On p. 3 above, it is maintained that db never means ‘linen’ but always
‘part.’ All the decisive passages are here discussed. Ex. 39:28 makes it plain
that db does not refer to the material of the Mysnkm. The LXX and Pesh. feel
the difficulty and omit db. We revert then to the original meaning 'part.' Con-
sidering Ex. 28:42 in this light, rWb tOKkl hvr;f,, and the following clause are
plainly explanatory of db is and may be glosses. In Lev. 6:3 “even the miknese
badh shall he put over his flesh" seems to he a gloss on db vdm, which with
Lev. 6:14 db between tntok and wdq may have been added later when db was
misunderstood to mean linen; db after tpn,cm is also a subsequent audition;
after ysnkm and Fnekx it is probably original. Note that the dbh ydgb are worn
in the sanctuary only (i.e. in P). In Lev, 16:23 db is original, while in v. 32 ydgb
wdqh seems to be an explanatory gloss, as also in v. 4. In I Sa. 2:18; 22:18; 2 Sa. 6:14; I Chr. 15:27 db dypx, already sufficiently discussed, affords no reason for
inventing a new meaning for db; these passages are simply satisfied with the
original meaning 'part.' In Ezek. 9:2, 3, 11; 10:2, 6, 7; Dan. 10:5; 12:6, 7
MyDbh wbl, associatied with Mynt;mA, apparently refers to a loin cloth, MyDb
for db as partes privatae for pars virilis. The supernatural being in Ezk. 9 and 10
may have had on an db dypx around vynt;mA with an inishorn stuck in the belt
of the dvpx. This argument becomes more cogent when it is seen that the
Versions do not understand db. In the earlier passages: I Sa. 2:18 the LXX
simply transliterates; in 22:18 li?non in Cod. Alex. is evidently a subsequent correction; and in 2 Sa. 6:14 e@callon is clearly a guess. Some of the later
passages show that db was supposed by some translators to mean 'linen.' In
I Chr. 15:27, the Chronicler (see above, p.11) apparently substituted another
phrase for db dvpx dvs lfv, which was added later under the influence of the
parallel passage. But if we find 'linen' in the LXX in I Chr. 15:27 as well as in the Priestly Code; consistently throughout the Vulgate; and in the Peshita everywhere
except in Dan. 10:5; 12:6, 7, nevertheless in Ezek. 9:2, 3, 11 the LXX renders
MyDb by o[ podh<rhj, and similarly rpvsh tsq was not understood. Moreover
Theodotion, who must have known the hypothetical 'linen,' discards it entirely and
resorts to a transliteration, while the Pesh. sometimes hazards rqyx. From the Versions, then, it is plain that 'linen' is simply a guess for db and is varied
47b JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE.
without scruple; cf. MyDbh wbl in Ezek. 9:11; 10:2, 6 variously rendered
e]ndedukw>j to>n podh<rh, --th>n stolh>n, --th>n stolh>n th>n a[gi<an; contrast
Ezek. 44:17, 18, Heb. and Versions. We may then conclude that db 'linen’ never
existed, and db in db dvpx, db ysnkm, db ydgb means pars (virilis) and
MyDb in MyDbh wbul is an accusative of the member, as in Jud. 1:7, cf. Ges.-
Kautzsch § 121 d, and means partes (privatas), or as Haupt has suggested,
Mydb means a covering of the db like xeiri<j, manica, podei?on, etc,
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