idol

idol

An image or statue of a deity fashioned to be an object of worship. Statues of deities are a common feature of ancient Near Eastern religions. Exactly how the ancients imagined their gods to be present in the statues is not easy to discern. They did not necessarily believe the image itself was a god; rather, they may have believed the image made it possible for the god to encounter the worshiper. Statues of God, however, were strictly forbidden to Israel according to the Bible, a prohibition that sets Israel apart from its neighbors. The prohibition against idols is most decisively stated in the book of Exodus, in which God liberates the Hebrews from bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt and makes them his people at his mountain, Sinai. Israel agrees to worship God alone (Exod 19-24; esp. Exod 19:1-8). The people’s apostasy from their fundamental commitment is depicted as worship of the golden calf (Exod 32), which the text interprets as an idol (Exod 32:14). (1Kgs 12:28) relates Jeroboam’s founding of countershrines outside Jerusalem to that original apostasy. Early Christianity inherited the prohibition of idols from Jewish religion. Paul identifies idolatry as the cause of the disintegration of sexual and social morality (Rom 1:22-29), and he forbids Christians to take part in rites honoring other gods; civic feasts in the Roman Empire could be so interpreted (1Cor 10:14). Pauline theology also branded excessive concern with the wealth of this age as idolatry (Col 3:5).

Exod 19-24

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Exod 19:1-8

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Exod 32

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Exod 32:14

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1Kgs 12:28

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Rom 1:22-29

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1Cor 10:14

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Col 3:5

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