The following material is part of an unpublished paper entitled "Revelation
through Urim and Thummim" by Trevor Craigen which was presented to
the Post Graduate Seminar in September, 1978 at Grace Theological
URIM AND THUMMIM
by Trevor Craigen
The etymology of this phrase, of these terms, cannot be established with
any degree of finality. This has resulted in a wide variety of explanations
regarding both their nature and their use. It would also appear that the
etymology has been determined by the theory that is held, so that if these are
equated with lots, then the words are made to be opposites rather than
similarities. Nathan Isaacs makes a pertinent comment:
If we turn to etymology for assistance, we are not only
on uncertain ground, but when Bab. (sic) and other
foreign words are brought in to bolster up a theory about
anything so little understood as the Urim and Thummim,
we are on dangerous ground.1
Basically there are two main views which prevail.
(1) That MyriUx is derived from rUx, therefore meaning "lights," and that
Mym.iTu is derived from MT, thus meaning "Perfections." The translations
would then be "lights and perfections," or some similar sounding phrase.2
This, almost hendiadystic concept, appears in the Vulgate and Septuagint
translations as well.3 (2) That MyriUx is derived from rraxA "to curse" and
being thereby an antynonym to Mym>iTu.4 The arbitrary translations of the
various versions could best have been left as transliterations.5 We do not
know what the name meant in ancient times, nor what the objects looked
Direct Biblical References
Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8
Several facts can be dearly deduced from the text. (1) Moses was to put
them into (lx, NtAnA) the breastplate. The setting of the precious stones has
been described in the preceding verses. They are mounted on the
breastplate, whereas Moses put these "in" after Aaron was dressed in his
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 2
high-priestly garments.7 (2) That these are probably two separate objects.
The definite article and sign of the definite object are used with both nouns.
(3) That these were familiar terms and/or objects to Moses so that no further
explanation was called for, (4) that these were an essential part of the regalia
High-Priest when he entered the
presence of the Lord. Aaron now carries on his person "the judgment of the
denotes judgment both in the concrete sense of a verdict or decision and also
in the more abstract form of the process of making it.7a
Here Moses commissions Joshua as his successor: the new leader of the
nation. However Joshua was distinctly different from Moses in the
leadership role. Moses was the law-giver and absolute governor who had a
special relationship with God (cf. Deut. 34:10), whereas Joshua was to
operate through the High Priest in a way in which Moses did not have to do.
Leon Wood speaks of Joshua having to regularly consult Eleazar.8 Such an
inquiry was to be carried out "before the Lord" by the means of the Urim (an
obvious abbreviation for the compound term). The next phrase, yPi lfa
can refer to either Joshua, Eleazar, or God. This writer believes that the best
is that of Yahweh, the real king of
leader who would lead the people in and out like a shepherd the sheep (v.
17). Here was their leader moving at the Divine command! They followed
their duly appointed shepherd. One cannot help but think of the military
campaigns to conquer the Promised Land, and the various movements of the
nation as she entered into that Land. This dearly "intimates its use for the
Moses blessed the tribe of Levi, and spoke of the Urim and Thummim
(here inverted in order) as the right of Levi, who had stood loyally, as
represented in Aaron, by the side of Moses at Rephidim (Ex. 17:1-7; Num.
20:2-13), and who had demonstrated, collectively, their loyalty to the Lord
against the golden calf worship at Sinai (Ex. 32:26-29).
They could thus be classified as God's "holy one," a tribe set apart for
His service. Even though the Urim was only used by the High Priest, being
in his garment only, it could still be represented as the right of the tribe.
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 3
1 Samuel 28
The Lord did not answer Saul by any of the means through which His
discerned during that period of
be used as evidence for a "no" answer to an inquiry.10 Saul had already been
the king of
from him and had been given to David (1 Sam. 16). Furthermore the priests
slain on Saul's orders at the city of
High Priest, Abiathar, had escaped to David with the ephod.11
Saul's time and privilege of asking
guidance in leading
apparently come to an end. The parallel passage, 1 Chron. 10:14, states that
Saul did not inquire of the Lord, and died because he inquired of the
medium at Endor. His attitude, or motive in asking was of such a nature that
according to the Divine interpretation it was as though he had not inquired at
The Urim was definitely, according to this verse another form of God's
revelation to the leader of the theocratic nation.
Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65
Zerubbabel ruled that the question of the priests who had lost their
credentials for office could not be decided without the Urim. They were,
therefore, excluded from the performance of priestly duties.13 Zerubbabel's
words do suggest that he understood the Urim and Thummim to be a means
of discerning God's decision in matters about which the leaders could not
decide because of the lack of information. The matter of appointing priests
was a crucial one because according to the Law they must be of the tribe of
Levi. No civil leader could ever legislate in this respect, especially if they
were setting out to diligently obey His word. Why did he not ask of a
prophet? There is no immediate answer to that question. Further, why
make such a statement when the various accouterments and regalia for
There certainly was no possibility of a priest in the future standing up
with the Urim. It was Zerrubabel's way of stating that so far as they could
determine there was no other possible recourse than that those men should
be excluded from the priesthood.
Inquiries of the Lord
Besides these direct statements there are other passages in which the use
of the Urim, even though not specifically stated, is possible. It must be
noted that according to Moses' command Joshua was to inquire through the
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 4
High Priest who bore the Urim and Thummim, so that, at the least, these
two, the Priest and the Breastplate, must be present in such an inquiry. lxawA
occurs in a number of instances in which the leader, or in the absence of an
appointed leader, the people collectively, sought guidance from the Lord.
There is more of this activity on the part of David recorded in Scripture
than for any
other individual leader of any other period of
The High Priest and the ephod14
Abiathar, whose father, Ahimelech, had been slain by Doeg the Edomite
at the city
the legitimate high priest (1 Sam. 22).15 He had brought the ephod with him
to David. At Keilah David instructs Abiathar to bring the ephod to him, and
he proceeds to ask guidance and counsel of God in regard to the military
activity at Keilah and the threat of Saul's approach. The ephod should be
considered as identical with the breastplate of judgment because the
instructions for the binding of the breastplate to the ephod were such that the
breastplate was not to be parted from the ephod (garment) (Ex. 28:28;
39:21), so that the term "ephod" could quite conceivably come to embrace
the whole composite unit of ephod and the breastplate affixed to it. The
question of the man of God to Eli (1 Sam. 2:28) included in the list of
priestly duties the carrying of the ephod before Jehovah. This could only
mean the breastplate of judgment. So the presence of the priest and the
ephod (which includes the Urim and Thummim) leaves no alternative but to
classify these inquiries of David as using that God-appointed means of
consultation through the high priest. Furthermore, it is hard to conceive of
David as deliberately doing that which was in direct violation of the Law
and using an incorrect, unsanctioned instrument to discern the will of God.
There is no indication of rebuke for these inquiries conducted through the
ephod.16 David actually called for the ephod on two specific occasions
(1 Sam. 23:9f; 30:7f). However, all the inquiries of 1 Sam. 23 are carried
out in the context of the priest and ephod being present.17 Verse 6 is a
supplementary explanation relative to the inquiry of the Lord by David.
Thus, it is only the 2 Samuel passages which have no indication of the
presence of the high priest and the ephod. But the presence of the introductory
formula hvhyBi dUidA lxaw;y.iva would strongly suggest that a similar procedure
has taken place. This formula occurs every time, except in
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 5
the middle of the Keilah narrative. The account, after the command to
bring the ephod, continues with rmaxA which introduces the content of
David's prayer to God.18
There is only one instance of information sought which was not military
i.e. where should the new capital of
The beginning of his inquiries
When did David begin to make these inquiries of the Lord? The passages
mentioned above all occur after the arrival of the high priest into David's
camp. One passage, at first, seems to suggest that David was already
frequently asking of God through the high priest (1 Sam. 22:9f). The
emphasis is normally placed on the verb "begin" (llaHA and being rendered:
"Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him?" But that word
llaHA followed by a construct infinitive can have the emphasis on both the
verb and its succeeding infinitive--"Did I begin to inquire..."--not in the
sense of having done it already but with the sense of asking whether the king
believes that he had made a start of doing it then. Certainly one could wish
for a more direct and simple answer by Ahimelech. George Caird refers to
this syntactical format and calls it a common Hebrew idiom reinforcing the
main verb that follows so that it now means, "Have I indeed inquired of God
for him today?"19 This makes more sense in the light of what follows--"Far
be it from me!"
In effect he states, "I have not begun to inquire at all," which reads better
than, "Far be it from me to do this for the first time today." He also goes
further to categorically deny knowing anything of the charge leveled against
him. Doeg, the Edomite, convinced Saul of the conspiracy by adding what
the narrative in the previous chapter does not even hint at, namely, that
Ahimelech had inquired of the Lord for David. All the parties to the
interrogation knew the implication of the charge. If you inquired of God for
him then you are admitting that David is the king and Saul is not. Perhaps
this explains something of the fear which Ahimelech felt at the presence of
David, and the reason for his carefully worded answer. Henry Smith in the
ICC really separates the answer into two parts aimed at two parts of the
charge, i.e. the fact of the inquiry is not to be denied, but the intention of
conspiracy is to be strongly denied.20
However, Ahimelech does seem to have pinpointed the main thrust of the
indictment: the issue is not aid for David, which he could have given to him
seeing that he was a known official representative of the king (v. 14), but the
issue is the priestly recognition of kingship.
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 6
The position of David
According to 1 Samuel 16, God had rejected Saul as king and had anointed
His new king with the Holy Spirit. Samuel then on the instructions of the
Lord anoints David as the king in the presence of his brothers. He is the one
now empowered by the Spirit for the assigned task of ruling over God's
people. As such, God's guidance pertains to David and not to Saul.
Joshua and the elders were deceived by the Gibeonites because they had
"not asked for the counsel of the Lord" (9:14 ", UlxAw xlo hvAhy; yPi tx,v;21.
The only explanation is to look back to the charge given to Joshua--ask
through the Urim. This was a question of vital importance which had a
direct bearing on their properly fulfilling the commandments of God in
regard to the conquest of the land and the death of the inhabitants.
The question of Achan will be dealt with under lots.
In the Judges period
The sons of
the Canaanites (1:1-2). These men were close enough to the time of Joshua,
and under the influence of Phinehas, the high priest, that they would have
followed the procedure used by Joshua (cf. Josh. 24:31).
Later the sons of
Benjamin (20:18f), and as to who would lead them into the battle. The
following facts are obvious: (1) Phinehas, the high priest, fulfilled the
function of inquirer, even though the people are also spoken of as making
(2) the Ark of the covenant was at
positive answers: yet two military failures, and (4) the introductory formula
of hvhyBi lxawA is used on two occasions, but Myhilox<B, lxawA on the first
occasion of asking. Weeping, fasting, and offering of sacrifices were
necessary before they were promised victory.
A host of questions remain unanswered. Should they have asked if
victory was theirs despite their overwhelming numbers? Must there be an
attitude of repentance and humility? Does the change of the name of God
indicate anything? Was the accompanying activity, weeping, fasting, etc.,
an attempt to secure God's favor?22
The presence of the
Whom the high priest was to stand when making such an inquiry. After the
presence of the high priest with the ephod was apparently enough.23 For
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 7
the people in the judges period the
close at hand.
Besides the account in t Samuel 28 in which Saul sought revelation in
vain, 1 Samuel 14 is the only other instance of an attempted inquiry by him
as the king and before his rejection by God from that position. Saul here
commanded Ahijah, the high priest, to bring the "ark of God" to him, or to
that place (v. 18). The Septuagint retroverts as dOpxehA (prosa<gage to>
e]fou<d) and this has been taken as the correct reading, thus permitting
scholars to postulate the concept of sacred lots because Saul said to the priest
"Withdraw thy hand."24 A comparison with 1 Kings 2:26 does seem to make
"ephod" read as "ark" because Abiathar certainly did not carry the "ark" for
David while he was a refugee. However the MT also reads NOrxE at 1 Kings
2:26. One must wonder then whether Solomon was perhaps referring to that
move of the
mover over which Abiathar as the high priest would have presided.
is it possible that Saul had brought the
instead of going to where it was, and thus he was able to command it to be
brought to him?25 Whatever the answer, at least Saul knew that the symbol
of the right of the high priest to ask of God was a necessary prerequisite
before he could initiate that activity. The command to withdraw the hand
can be taken as a peremptory, "Cancel that order."26
Later in this same chapter, Ahijah advises Saul to inquire of the Lord, but
in vain. No answer.27 The mechanics of receiving an answer, or of knowing
that none was forthcoming, still remain shrouded in secrecy. Was this
silence the result of sin, as Saul intimates in vv. 38f, or was it the result of a
disregard for the proper procedure?
In addition, Saul had already caused the people to sin by his rashly
uttered oath which prevented them from eating so that now at the sight of
cattle they were driven to kill and eat the meat with the blood in it. Further,
Saul had already made up his mind to go and spoil the Philistines and only
the advice of the priest hold's him back to make the inquiry, he is perhaps
already exhibiting that attitude which was defined in 1 Chron. 10:14.28 One
thing is clear and that is that Saul understood that something was wrong.
The question of Urim and Thummim being equal to lots arises
fundamentally from this passage as it appears in the Septuagint, which reads
And Saul said unto Yahweh, God of Israel, "Why hast thou
not answered thy servant this day? If this inquiry is
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 8
in me or in my son Jonathan, Oh Yahweh, God of Israel,
give Urim; but if this iniquity is in thy people
Robertson, and others, favor this rendering and believe it gives credence
to the Urim and Thummim as being utilized to indicate "yes" or "no" to
specific questions.30 The answers are really the result of a sacred lot-casting.
The idea is that the Urim and Thummim were either thrown on the ground or
pulled out of the breastplate pouch.
The use of the verbs lyPihi and dkel.Ayi would be the first and only time
that they are used in the context of inquiring of the Lord. They do appear in
the contexts of lot-casting but never in those clear instances of Urim and
Thummim being used. Further, in every other clear instance of Urim and
Thummim the answers are more than that which is decided by lot-casting
(see below). Lindblom, interestingly enough, rejects the Septuagint version
and argues for the superiority of the MT, because he feels that Saul has
reverted from priestly lot-casting (which would be Urim and Thummim) to
civil lot-casting. He determines this on the basis of who was involved in the
It was not particular individual who performed the
lot-casting, it was a group; behind the procedure
stood the leaders of the army, i.e. a group of laymen.
The priest had no function at all.31
He therefore translates the controversial Mym.iTu hbAha as "give a true
decision."32 The same distinction can be used in another way. Saul did
inquire through the Urim and Thummim, but when no reply was
forthcoming he switched procedures to that of lot-casting, in order to isolate
the guilty party whom he felt had prejudiced his inquiry of the Lord. There
is no reason why he should not have prefaced this activity with a prayer,
especially as he considered it to be such a serious and solemn affair. Thus he
prayed for a true decision to be given by the lots. When bhayA is used as a
neuter adjective it is equal to a substantive, meaning "what is complete,
entirely in accord with truth and fact."33
The fact that the lots fell on Jonathan who was the guilty party can be
explained in terms of God's sovereignty (cf. Proverbs 16:33) and not
necessarily in terms of God responding to the prayer of Saul as though this
were the normal procedure in the land.
Admittedly this passage is a problem and any definitive conclusion must
try to take it into account. But a final conclusion on the nature and use of
the Urim and Thummim, at the same time, cannot rest solely on a textually
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 9
The nature of the answer given by the Lord in 1 Samuel 10:22 is more
suitable to Urim and Thummim than the casting of lots. Here, too, it was the
people who desired to know the whereabouts of their newly appointed king.
The procedure followed until this point of not being able to locate Saul had
been by lot (v. 20 dkel.Ayiv;: Each tribe, family, etc. was brought near, and
one from among them was taken. Now the language changes and that
introductory formula appears at the head of the people's question, hvhy
lxw but dOf inserted between those two words hvhyBi dOf UlxEw;y.av.
If this is an adverb expressing a continuance of the previous action then
there is a problem of having to make the process of lots be the same as
inquiring of the Lord, e.g. NASB translation, "Therefore they inquired
further of the Lord." But if the waw consecutive at the beginning, of v. 22 is
pleonastic35, then the resultant translation can avoid the problem: "Yet they
inquired of the Lord." Frankly, there does not appear to have been any need
to have made such an inquiry at all, for they could have sent for Saul and
brought him forward.
Lindblom concurs that v. 22 cannot be lot-casting and concludes that a
"cult-prophet" was speaking.36
Answers to Sacred Lots?
Leon Wood reasons that no occasion clearly depicts a message of greater
length than the mere affirmation.37 Although Wood does not accept the idea
of two marked stones representing a "yes" and "no" type reply, he,
nonetheless, prefers no audible reply through the priest, but argues for a
glowing of the stones if the reply was affirmative, otherwise the question
would be rephrased until the affirmative glow occurred.38 How long he went
on trying different variations of that question before deciding that it was in
vain just cannot be known. It would seem far more likely that the reply was
either immediate or not at all. There is no occasion of a negative answer in
The answers to all of the inquiries noted above are far more than that
which would be expected by way of a yes/no indication or by way of a yes-
only-and-rephrase-the question-type procedure (see appendix). Wood's
assessment appears to suggest that the words recorded in the text as being
the actual words of the Lord are a reworked version of an affirmative glow!
Consistently the passages record the words of the Lord, but always more
than just "yes."
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 10
The identification of the Urim and Thummim with the
sacred lots appears to have some possibility, but
there are serious difficulties with this view due
to the fact that the answers ascribed to the Urim and
Thummim are not always equivalent to a "yes" or "no"
Leon Wood also adds that the information given in 1 Sam.10:22
("Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage"') could have been given "by
affirmation to a few questions."40 H. Wheeler Robinson adds an interesting
little footnote to the effect that private communication with S. R. Driver
showed that the latter felt that Urim was connected with an Accadian u'uru
(to give an oracular response), but that he did not think of u'uru as ever
referring to lot-casting.41
This writer finds it difficult to accept the author of 1 and 2 Samuel, and of
Judges 8 introducing into the text a personal reply of Yahweh, in place of
some impersonal mechanically indicated answer. The words of J. Barton
Payne are most pertinent:
The judgment of the Urim would thus signify the personal
revelation that God granted to the one who wore the high
priestly breastplate. In such a way God would answer the
official questions that were brought in before the cloud
of His presence. Those who question the reality of such
supernatural communications generally consider the Urim
and Thummim to have been some kind of dice, a sort of
sacred lottery. It is true, of course, that lots were
distributions (Num. 26:55, 56). But dice-casting as a
regular means of divine guidance smacks of magic in a way
that is unworthy of God's word. 1 Samuel 28:6, moreover,
lists Urim in a category that is between dreams and prophets.
It suggests that urim is simply another form of God's personal
revelation, namely, that which is mediated through priests (cf. Deut.
There is no further mention of the Urim and Thummim after the time of
David until the post-exilic references in Ezra and Nehemiah. Several
which arise from an overview of
forward: (1) The increased activity on the part of the prophets, to whom the
kings, on more than one occasion, resorted for advice on the affairs of the
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 11
nation. Indeed the prophets became the "immediate spokesmen of God,
conveying the knowledge of His will to the king."43 (2) The silence of the
prophets in calling the leaders to make use of the Urim and Thummim, not
that they called all in
commandments of the Lord God, (3) the introduction of pagan idols into the
priesthood and/or rituals associated there with, (4) the God-given wisdom of
Solomon to rule over the people, no doubt, obviated his need of directing
revelation (cf. 1 Kings 3:5f), (5) the establishment of the kingdom,
historically, by David brought an end to that form of revelation which
guided the affairs of God's chosen nation through the chosen leaders at times
of national crises.44
(1) The Urim and Thummim, whatever their material likeness, were not
images or teraphim, because these were prohibited by God's own Law.
Wood's suggestion that these were precious stones because that would fit the
jewel motif of the ornate breastplate is plausible.45
(2) There is not sufficient evidence to support these being used as lots
cast on the ground, or utilized in some other way by being withdrawn from
the pouch formed by the doubled fold of the breastplate. It is acknowledged
that I Samuel 14 is a problem passage in this regard.
(3) The consistent pattern is an inquiry of the Lord through the high priest
who had the Urim and Thummim; understanding that ephod can be
identified with the breastplate.
(4) The persons who asked of God were all divinely-appointed leaders of
the theocratic nation. The judges period would be the exception in that the
people acted collectively in the absence of an appointed leader. Yoma 7:5 in
the Mishnah reads, "In these breastplate et al. were the Urim and the
Thummim inquired of, and they were not inquired of for a common person,
but only for the king, for the court and for one of whom the congregation
Indeed there is no evidence of these being used on behalf of a private
individual. The function of the priest as teachers of the Law, and the
establishment of proper procedure for appeal to the Central Sanctuary in the
event of a problem beyond the wisdom of the local priests, and the harsh
penalties for refusal to obey the decision handed down at the Central
Sanctuary, would definitely seem to support this idea (cf. Deut. 17:8-13).47
way successful and prosperous. The ordinary man did not need this type of
(5) The Urim and Thummim, being in the breastplate, which itself
symbolically represented the right of the high priest to stand before God on
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 12
behalf of His people, was also symbolical. It represented the right of this
same priest to request guidance for the leader, who could not approach God
directly but had to come via the God-ordained religious structure of the nation.
After Moses the leadership role functioned at a different level, i.e.
they were no longer the Lawgiver, but had to function within the context of
that Law, and could never be totally independent from it.
Whatever was done with the objects would have been symbolic
and complimentary to the whole process of inquiry. The
problem of the function of the objects, therefore, remains
unsolved until further archaeological data are forthcoming.48
(6) The content of revelation, the mode of which cannot be explained,
was precise and pointed, aimed at answering an immediate situation. "In no
sense did it embody principles of permanent validity applicable to later
situations or capable of reinterpretation."49 Thus it was a directing
(7) The replies were more than a simple "yes" and were, so far as can be
ascertained, the actual word of God given in reply. If "at His command" in
Exodus 28:30 does refer to Yahweh, then somehow the priest passed on the
direct command of God, receiving it in the same way as did the prophets.
Inquiries of the Lord
Ref. Question Reply
Judg. Who shall go up first for
1: 1-2 us against the Canaanites behold I have given
to fight against them? the land into his hand.
Judg. Who shall go up first for
20: 18 us to battle against the
sons of Benjamin?
1 Sam. Has the man come yet? Behold, he is hiding
10:22 himself in the baggage.
1 Sam. Shall I go up and attack Go, and attack the
23:2 the Philistines? Philistines, and deliver
1 Sam. Shall I go up and attack Arise, go down to
23:4 the Philistines? Keilah for will
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 13
(Repeated by David) give the Philistines
into your hand.
1 Sam. 0 Lord God of
23:10, servant has heard for cer-
11 tain that Saul is seeking
to come to Keilah to de-
stroy the city on my
account. Will the men of
Keilah surrender me into
his hand? Will Saul come
down just as thy servant
1 Sam. Will the men of Keilah They will surrender
23:12 surrender me and my men to you.
into the hand of Saul?
1 Sam. Shall I pursue this Pursue, for you
hand? Shall I over- shall surely rescue
take them? them all.
2 Sam. Shall I go up to one of Go up.
2:1 the cities of
Where shall I go up? To
2 Sam. Shall I go up against Go up, for I will
5:19 the Philistines? Wilt certainly give the
thou give them into my Philistines into
hand? your hand.
2 Sam. (Inquiry not stated) You shall not go
5:23 Troubled at the presence directly up; circle
of the Philistines in the around behind them
balsam trees. And it
shall be, when you
hear the sound of
marching in the
balsam trees, then
you shall act
promptly, for then the
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 14
Lord will have gone
out before you to
strike the army of
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 15
1 Nathan Isaacs, "Urim and Thummim," In the International Standard
Encyclopedia ed. by
James Orr et.al. (
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939), p. 3041.
2 Leon Wood, "Urim and Thummlm," Theolog, (Winter, 1964), p. 25. cf.
also Gustave Friednch Oehler, Theology of The Old Testament, (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.), p. 218, where he states that the
former term refers to the divine illumination and the latter term to the
unimpeachableness of the divine decision. cf. "Urim and Thummim," In
Cyclopedia of Biblical. Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. X,
ed. by John
McClintock and James Strong (
House, 1970, reprint), p. 676 for the various views and translations.
Eichrodt, Theology of the O.T., p. 113 fn. states that "light and truth" is the
easiest interpretation. et.al.
3 Vulgate reads doctrina et veritas (teaching and truth), and the LXX
dh<lwsij kai> a]lh<qeia (declaration/revelation and truth). But the LXX is
not consistent using dh<lwn Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; and 1 Sam. 28:6; and
fwti<zonsi in Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65, and telei<oij for Thummim in Ezra.
Similarly the Vulgate in this latter reference uses perfectus.
4 Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena
to the History of Ancient
Thummim," p. 3041, has "lights" and "darkness" inasmuch as there is a host
of Hebrew stems based on the root tm all indicating concealing, closing up,
and even darkness.
5 Roland de Vaux, Ancient
Israel, Vol. 2, (
Book Company, 1965), p.352.
6 Philip J. Hyatt, "Commentary on Exodus," In the New Century Bible,
ed. by Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black (hereinafter referred to as
"Exodus"), (London: Oliphants, 1971), p. 283. The fertile imagination of
men has produced a score of views on what the Urim and Thummim actually
were. Edward Robertson, "The Urim and Thummim: What were they?"
Vetus Testamentum, 14: 1 (January, 1964), p. 70 lists the following nine
views: (1) a necklace of gems (2) three antique stones which represented
three possible answers, affirmative, negative, and neutral (3) polished and
unpolished diamonds inscribed with the name of the Lord which the high
priest could cast upon the table thereby deducing God's answer based on
their final positions (4) revelation and truth, as interpreted by the Septuagint
(5) explanation and decision (6) light and right (7) light and salvation (8)
taking tmm as meaning "to be without fault" and 'rr "to curse," as opposites
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 16
and as the roots of Urim and Thummim. These then would indicate What
God would or would not permit (9) a message conveyed by inspiration to
the high priest who was wearing the breastplate and the ephod. Cf. also the
Bible dictionaries which all give some of the views put forward by the
7 The prepositions lx, and lfa are used several times in w. 22-30. lf is
used 12 times, 11 times locatively, and once combined with the preposition
Nmi (v. 28). lx, is used only 5 times, 3 times locatively when it explains
where the two gold rings were to be fastened on the breastplate, and twice
terminatively meaning "unto" or "into." See Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew
Syntax: An Outline, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), p. 51-52,
and comments made by Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 26. J. Barton
Theology of the Older Testament, (
Publishing House, 1962), p. 48. His suggestion that these can be identified
with the twelve stones of the breastplate cannot be substantiated. The twelve
stones are specifically said to be "set in gold filigree" or "interwoven with
gold in their settings" -NASB margin. A most difficult thing to do while
Aaron was wearing the breastplate.
7a Friedrich Buchsel and Herntrich Volkmar, "FPAw;me in the Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. III (hereinafter referred to as TDNT),
Gerhard Kittel, trans. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), p. 924.
8 Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 26.
9 Philip F. Taylor, "A Study of the Urim and Thummim," Unpublished
post-graduate seminar paper, O.T. History, Grace Theological Seminary,
1971, p. 6. cf. also "Urim and Thummim" in McClintock/Strong Cyclopedia,
p. 676 who state that the counsel was to determine the movements of the
10 cf. Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 27.
11 John J.
1970), p. 93.
12 Ibid., p. 92.
13 C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch, "Ezra," In Commentary on the Old
Testament in Ten Volumes, Vol 3, (hereinafter referred to as "Ezra") trans.
Company, 1976, reprint), p. 43. They state that the prohibition to not eat of
the most holy things is a reference to their exclusion from specific priestly
acts, e.g. approaching the altar of burnt offering, but not denying them a
general inclusion among the priestly order, or abolishing a claim to the
priestly revenues, so far as those were not connected with priestly functions.
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 17
14 This word transliterates from the Hebrew rmox, which is mentioned
numerous times in the O. T. but with different meanings to be determined by
the context. (1) linen priestly garment (2) solid object as image of deity (3)
object used to consult Yahweh. Hyatt, "Exodus," p. 280. cf. also Helmer
Ringgren, Israelite Religion, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), p. 205
who adds the special vestment of the high priest containing the Urim and
Thummim, and has the making of an inquiry separate from this; as quoted
Publishing House, 1976), p. 255.
16 Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 31 concurs by stating "But David
loved God and held His law in high esteem. Accordingly, he would have
been interested in knowing God's decision always, and so would have sought
counsel as we have seen." cf. E. F. de Ward, "Superstition and Judgment:
Archaic Methods of Finding a Verdict," Zeitschrift Fur Die
Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 89: 1 (1977), 1-19, who separates between
the ephod and the breastplate and associates it with divination, citing 1 Sam.
proof (?). Yehezkel Kaufmann, The Religion of
abridged by Moshe Greenberg (New York: Schocken Books, 1974), p. 88,
who distinguishes between these as well and makes the ephod a further
legitimate means of obtaining oracles. The identification is made by the
following: John J. Davis The Birth of a Kingdom, p. 82; Moshe Greenberg,
and Thummim," In the Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol 16 (
MacMillan Company, 1971), p. 8; G. L. Archer, "Ephod," in the Zondervan
Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol 2, ed. by Merrill C. Tenney, et.al.
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1975), p. 332, et.al.
17 The LXX expands 23:6 to overcome an apparent contradiction in the
chapter kai au]to>j Daui<d "and he went down with David;" Keil and
Delitzsch, "Samuel," in Commentary on the Old Testament In Ten Volumes,
Vol. 2 trans. by James Martin (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
1976, reprint), p. 229, have a pertinent comment: "The words 'to David at
Keilah' are not to be understood as signifying that Abiathar did not come to
David till he was in Kellah but that when he fled after David (ch. xxi 20) he
met with him as he was already preparing for the march to Keilah, and
immediately proceeded with him thither."
of the Bible, Vol. 4, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick,
Abingdon Press, 1962), p. 740 the use of hvhyb lxw is a technical term
introducing the inquiry. Keil and Delitzsch , "Samuel," p. 260, hvhyb lxw
the term usually employed to signify inquiring the will and counsel of God
through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest.
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 18
19 Schroeder, john C., George B. Caird, and Ganse Little, "The First and
Second Books of Samuel," In The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 4, (hereinafter
as "Samuel,"), ed. by George Arthur Buttrick, et.al. (
Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1953), p. 1002-1003.
20 Henry Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of
Samuel, (Hereinafter referred to as Samuel, ICC) in the International Critical
21 v. 7 indicates that the
plausible explanations given by the Gibeonites in w. 9-13 succeeded in
calming their fears and in deceiving them. The elders did know that peace
could be made with "far off nations, so that it seemed to be all "above
board" and honest.
22 Keil and Delitzsch, "Samuel," pp. 452-453, wherein they state, "The
congregation now discovered, from this repeated defeat, that the Lord had
withdrawn His grace, and was punishing them. Their sin, however, did not
consist in the fact that they had begun the war itself --for the law in Deut.
xxii. 22, to which they themselves had referred in v. 13, really required this,
--but rather in the state of mind with which they had entered upon the war,
their strong self-consciousness, and great confidence in their own might and
power. They had indeed inquired of God (elohim) who should open the
conflict; but they had neglected to humble themselves before Jehovah the
covenant God, in the consciousness not only for their own weakness and
sinfulness, but also of grief at the moral corruption of their brother-tribe."
23 cf. Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 28.
24 Mendelsohn, "Urim and Thummim," p. 740, et al.
years. Does this mean that it was never moved temporarily to the
battlefield? However the moving of the
that if Saul had done this, as e.g. Eli's sons In 1 Sam. 4-5, then the record
would no doubt have included it.
26 cf. Keil and Delitzsch , "Samuel," p. 141, "Leave off now."
27 Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 27 errs by classifying this as a "no"
answer. There is not a record of a "no" answer in the Bible. Either details
are given positively or nothing happens at all. Mendelsohn, "Urim and
Thummim," states that no answer is tantamount to a "no" answer!?
28 See p. 5 above.
29 D. R. Ap-Thomas, A Primer of Old Testament Text Criticism.
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), p. 49.
30 Robertson, "Urim and Thummim: What were they?" p. 68; Kaufmann,
the Books of Samuel, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 117;
Craigen: Urim and Thummim 19
Vriezen, An Outilne of Old Testament Theology (
Basil Blackwell, 1958), p. 269; Ap-Thomas, Primer of O.T. Text Criticism,
p. 49, who cites this as an example of homioteluton, the scribe's eye having
and thus writing down Immediately after the first
31 Lindblom, "Lot-casting In the O.T." p. 177.
33 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and
English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (herein-after referred to as BDB),
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), p. 1071.
34 Arguments are found for and against the LXX text. Refer to Lindblom,
"Lot-casting in the O.T." pp. 172-178; A. Toeg, "A Textual Note on 1
Samuel XIV 41,11 Vetus Testamentum, 19:4 (October, 1969), 493-498, who
concludes his study with the words "this sheds some light on one of the
of divination in ancient
35 Williams, Hebrew Syntax, p. 71.
36 Lindblom, "Lot-casting in the O.T." p. 165.
37 Wood, "Urim and Thummim." p. 27
38 Ibid.; de Ward, "Superstition and judgment," p. 2 also assumes that a
40 Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 28.
41 H. Wheeler Robinson, Inspiration and Revelation In the Old Testament
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 202 fn.
42 J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, p. 48.
43 Alva J. McClain, The
Greatness of the Kingdom (
Books, 1976), p. 115.
44 Ibid., who points out that after Solomon, kings were no longer directly
chosen by God, but take the throne either by inheritance or force. Cf. also
"Priestly Instruction in Pre-Exilic
23:1 (January, 1973), p. 3--"It seems therefore that this particular aspect of
priestly ministry disappeared with the establishment of the monarchy... "
45 Wood, "Urim and Thummim," p. 26.
46 Herbert Danby, trans. The
1933), p. 171.
47 Peter C. Craigie, 'The Book of Deuteronomy," in the New International
on the Old Testament, ed.
by R. K. Harrison (
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976), p. 251.
48 John J. Davis, Moses and
the Gods of
Books, 1973), p. 277.
49 Budd, "Priestly
Instruction in Pre-exilic