The Bible mentions several people who possessed teraphim, or household  idols. These images were used as talismans to bring a blessing upon the  household. Two women married to men of God kept family idols—Rachel and  Michal.

Rachel was the wife of Jacob and the daughter of Laban. When  Jacob tried to quietly move his family away from Laban to his own homeland,  Laban pursued him with a band of men. Having caught up with Jacob, Laban accused  him of stealing his household idols. Jacob, unaware that Rachel had stolen the  idols, declared, “Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the  presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it” (Genesis 31:32).

Genesis does not explain why Rachel stole the household idols. Perhaps she had  a nostalgic desire to have some items from her old home, and the teraphim were the most prominent. Another possibility is that the idols were made of  valuable materials. If so, Rachel may have taken them for financial gain. Or it  could be that Rachel believed in the power of the images. She may have stolen  the idols out of a superstitious fear of moving from home. She had lived with or  near her father her entire life, and she likely felt some anxiety about moving  to a new place. The household idols could have been like a good-luck charm for  her.

Basically, it appears that Rachel continued to hold to  superstitions and pagan spiritual practices embraced by her father’s family.  Still today, many Christians have difficulty letting go of non-Christian  practices that exist as part of family tradition.

Michal, the wife of  King David, also had teraphim in her possession. At one point her father,  Saul, sent men to kill David. Michal helped David escape through a window and  then took a large household idol and placed it in his bed. She disguised the  image under a blanket to look like David. In this way, she bought some time to  aid her husband’s escape (1 Samuel 19). It appears this large idol was already  in her house. No explanation for its presence is given in the text, although  some commentators conjecture that Saul had already forsaken the Lord and had  turned to idols by this time. Michal could have smuggled the idol from her  father’s house into David’s when she came to live there.

Interestingly,  in both cases, the wife of a godly man continued to be influenced by pagan  spiritual practices that carried over from her father’s family. This goes to  show that parents exhibit a powerful spiritual influence over their children  that often extends into later life. In Rachel’s case, this influence led to a  dangerous situation.

Idols are not to be part of a Christian’s life in  any form. Scripture is clear that there is only one God, and He alone is to be  served. Any image or statue that is used today as a good-luck charm is an  example of modern-day teraphim.  An image of St. Joseph used to sell a  house, an image of St. Christopher used to protect travelers in a car, an image  of Our Lady of Guadalupe used to impart grace—these are all modern household  idols. They are a throwback to paganism and should not be a part of a Christian  household.

Advertisements