Imagery

IMAGERY (מַשְׂכִּ֗ית, imagery, image [Lev 26:1], picture [Num 33:52]). In Ezekiel 8:12, the expression “room of pictures” was used by the prophet in his description of the Temple that he saw in a vision. Breaking through a hole in the wall of the Temple, the prophet entered a door and saw pictures of all kinds of animals represented on the walls of the rooms to which he had gained entrance. The seventy elders of Israel were in front of these pictures, burning incense and worshiping the images. The meaning of the prophet’s vision is to be found in the practices of the people of his day and the religious condition of Israel. The secret chamber into which he had gained entrance represented the secret idolatry of the people. The seventy elders represented the whole of the nation, revealing how widespread the infection of idolatry was. The pictures on the walls represented some form of animal worship that revealed how very degraded the worship of Israel had become. The pictures are thought to have been of reptiles, suggesting either an Egyptian or Babylonian origin of the cult, although other interpreters have proposed that they represent the hanging on of animistic religion that was indigenous to the area—a totemistic religion that has somehow managed to survive through the centuries. In all likelihood it was a general reference to the lowest form of idolatrous worship, designed to reveal the very low level to which the people had sunk, without any specific reference to a particular cult.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Only in Eze 8:12, "every man in his chambers of imagery," i.e. dark chambers on whose walls were pictures in relief representing all kinds of reptiles and vermin, worshipped by elders of Israel. Some maintain that the cult was of foreign origin, either Egyptian (Bertholet, Commentary on Ezekiel), or Babylonian (Redpath, Westminster Commentary on Ezekiel); others that it was the revival of ancient superstitions of a totemistic kind which had survived in obscure circles in Israel (W.R. Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites, revised edition, 357). The word here rendered "imagery" is elsewhere in the King James Version translated "image" (of stone) (Le 26:1, the Revised Version (British and American) "figured stone"), "pictures" (Nu 33:52, the Revised Version (British and American) "figured stones"; Pr 25:11, the Revised Version (British and American) "network"); twice it means imagination, conceit, i.e. a mental picture (Ps 73:20; Pr 18:11). "Imagery" occurs once in Apocrypha (Sirach 38:27 the King James Version, eis homoiosai zographian, the Revised Version (British and American) "to preserve likeness in his portraiture").

D. Miall Edwards