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Idol Makers

IDOL MAKERS. Craftsmen made idols of various materials—wood, stone, metal, and pottery. Besides this, there were miniature idols or amulets and scarabs made by jewelers and workers in steatite and semiprecious stones. Because of the value of the metal, idols made of silver or gold might be cast hollow. Those made of bronze or lead might be overlaid with silver or gold. There is, however, a bronze alloy that looks much like gold, and this was prob. not overlaid with a precious metal. Silver and gold were sometimes beaten into thin plates and then fashioned into shape over wooden, stone, or metal idols (Isa 30:22). Occasionally idols were decorated with chains and other jewelry (Isa 40:19).

Small household gods, usually of Astarte, were often made of pottery, either in a press mold or fashioned by hand. Small figurines of Baal were common in Syria, but they were usually cast of a base metal and overlaid with gold foil.

Isaiah 44:13 affords a good description of the making of a wooden idol: “The carpenter stretches a line, he marks it out with a pencil; he fashions it with planes, and marks it with a compass; he shapes it into the figure of a man.” The following verse mentions some trees used for idol making—the cedar, the holm, and the oak. It is known that the gods had each his particular sacred tree.

The most famous animal idols in the history of Israel were Aaron’s golden calf of Sinai (Exod 32:2-4) and Jeroboam’s golden calves at Bethel and Dan (1 Kings 12:28, 29). The idols that Ezekiel in vision saw portrayed on a wall of the Temple could hardly have been real; the scene is undoubtedly symbolical (Ezek 8:10).

The NT has nothing to say about idol making.