An implement used by the priests of
the Hebrews to obtain oracles from God. In
I Sam. xiv. the Urim and Thummim appear as an
accessory of the ephod, especially if (as is probably the case) the Septuagint in verse 41 has the
right reading: " Yahweh, thou God of Israel,
wherefore e,nswerest thou not thyservant this day?
If the guilt be mine or my son Jonathan's, let
Urim come forth; if it be the people's, let Thummim come forth." Clearly the Urim and Thummim
were two holy lots which were in some close connection with the ephod, and were brought forth
by the priest (who put his baud into the bag in
which they were kept), or were made to leap out
by violent shaking of the bag. From the two passages
I Sam. xiv. 41, xxviii. 6
it is evident that in
the time of Samuel, Saul, and David it was customary to inquire of God by means of the Urim
and Thummim, or, which amounts to
Varieties the same thing, by the ephod; and
of Ephod. further, from
I Sam. xiv. 3, 18
margin), that it was a part of the high
priest's duty to carry it with him. The form of
the ephod does not appear from these passages.
It is doubtless the same thing which appears in
I Sam. xxi. 9,
where the sword of Goliath is placed
behind it (doubtless as a sacred trophy), in all
probability as it hung upon the wall; but this last
passage gives no warrant for concluding that it
was an image of Yahweh. Besides this ephod
which the high priest wore, there is mention of an
ephod of linen worn by other priests
(I Sam. xxii. 18),
(I Sam. ii. 18),
and by David
(II Sam. vi. 14).
The ephod to which the Urim and
Thummim belonged was therefore not of linen, but
probably of some costlier stuff. An ephod which
belonged to the high priest's equipment is described
Ex. xxv. 7, xxviii. 4,
etc.; but it can not
be said that this is something entirely different
from that which appears in the early accounts.
Taken altogether, the references contained in the
Old Testament do not permit a very lucid account
to be given of the article.
According to Ex. xxviii., the ephod was made of
gold, blue, purple, and fine linen, joined with two
shoulder pieces and a band. It was apparently an
ornament for the breast and had a loose "pocket"
a word which is not understood) in which
were the Urim and Thummim. This
High- pocket, a span square, was made fast
Priestly to the ephod by rings of gold and
Ephod. chains which were carried to rosettes
on the shoulders, the rings being underneath the ephod. The "pocket" was adorned
with three rows of precious stones, four in a row,
on which were engraved the names of the twelve
tribes. The ephod, which was rather of the nature of regalia than of ordinary clothing, was worn
above an overcoat of blue (cf.
I Sam. ii. 18-19).
far the ephod of the time of Samuel was like that
described in the priest-code.
But it is held that numerous signs indicate
another kind of ephod. From
Judges viii. 24
concluded that the ephod was sometimes an image
of deity, since in this case it is stated that the
thing became a snare to Gideon and to Israel.
Those who support this view see confirmation in
I Sam. xxi. 10,
and in the connection between ephod and teraphim in
Hos. iii. 4.
But this view is untenable. That the
Ephod not teraphim were images is clear from
I Sam. xix. 13, 16;
but it does not follow from the "and" in
Hos. iii. 4
that the ephod was also an image. What the two
had in common was that both were used as oracles
(Ezek. xxi. 21;
Zech. x. 2).
Judges xviii. 20
speaks against the similarity of ephod and image,
and suits better the explanation that the former
was something that could be hung about one.
And the passage in which Gideon is said to have
made an ephod is little more certain. So little is
known of what was actually done in that case,
what was bought with the 1,700 shekels, and what
was the cost of labor, that no sure conclusion is
possible. If the passages quoted do not show that
the ephods of Gideon and Micah were images, on
the other hand it can not be proved that they were
not. Still, the ephod was something habitually
worn as a duty by the priests, and this does not
agree with the supposition that the article was a
standing image, as is required by the hypothesis
that the sword of Goliath was placed behind such
(I Sam. xxi. 10
that Gideon's ephod was an image, the carrying
of such a weight as is stated to have been the
amount of the booty was beyond the power of a
priest. In all cases but this, the ephod was made
to be worn, and the ephod is never mentioned
among the forbidden representations. Some suppose
that the gold was used merely as a plating;
in that case how massive must Gideon's ephod
have been to require 1,700 shekels to cover it! And
another terminology is employed to express such
(Ex. xx. 23, xxxii. 31
It is unlikely, too,
that the same word would denote an image and a
part of the priest's regalia, while a distinction is
made between that and a linen ephod. Duhm's
explanation of it as a golden mask which the priest
put on is equally untenable (Das Buch Jesaiah
200, Göttingen, 1892). Since other peoples made
articles of clothing richly decorated to put on the
images of their deities, it is not inconceivable that
the Hebrews did the same.
The etymological meaning of the word is doubtful.
Generally it is taken from a root meaning
"to draw over," hence "covering." Lagarde connects
it with an Arabic root meaning "to draw
near to a greater as a mediator," and so makes it
mean "a vestment in which to approach God."
Support for this is found in the Syriac pedhta, from
a root the same as the Arabic mentioned above.
If this be the case, it gives the more reason for rejecting
the meaning "image." See
Images And Image-Worship, I.
Bibliography: T. C.
Foots, The Ephod, in Johns Hopkins
University Circulars, Baltimore, 1900; idem, in JBL,
1902, pp. 1-48; B. Ugolini, Thesaurus antquitatum sacrarum,
xii. 785 sqq., Venice, 1744-89; W. Baudissin, Geschichte
des alttestamentlichen Priesterthums, pp. 205 sqq.,
Leipsic, 1889; P. de Lagarde, in Abhaudlungen der Göttinger
Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1889, 178; Benzinger,
Archäologie, p. 382; Nowack, Archäologie, ii. 21
sqq., 118 sqq.; G. F. Moore, Judges, p. 381, New York,
1895: E. Sellin, Beiträge zur israelitischen and jüdischen
Religions-Geschichte II, i. 119-120, Leipsic, 1897; A.
van Hoonacker, Le Sacerdoce lévitique, pp. 370 sqq.,
Louvain, 1899; DB, i. 725-727; EB, ii. 1308-09; JE,