Urim And Thummim In The Bible

The Urim and Thummim (Hebrew: – light and perfections; also spelled urim ve-thummin or urim v’erufim or urim ve-thomby) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, an object that was used for divination as part of the high priest’s vestments when inside the Tabernacle or Temple in Jerusalem.

Urim and Thummim (also rendered as Urim and Thummin) was a divinatory device used by the ancient Hebrews to receive answers from a deity. Urim and Thummim consisted of two objects (one of the only examples of material vestments in the Bible). While there is no clear reference for their appearance in the bible, scholars have provided various descriptions based on textual analysis. There is also debate regarding the translation of the words Urim and Thummim.

Urim and Thummim are two words in the Bible that are mentioned several times. The Urim and Thummim can be found in the Old Testament, which is also called the Tanakh or Hebrew Scriptures.

Ever since the Book of Mormon was translated, everyone who has thought about it has had some thoughts about the ancient interpreters. They have been named, at various times and by various parties, the “interpreters” and the “spectacles” of translation. The name “Urim and Thummim” was taken from biblical tradition (Exodus 28:30), as far as we know.

Urim And Thummim In The Bible

The terms “Urim” and “Thummim” have traditionally been understood as “light(s)” and “perfection(s)” or as “perfect light.” The Urim and Thummim were a means of revelation entrusted to the high priest. No description of them is given. This oracular means apparently consisted of a material object or objects since it was physically stored in the breastpiece of the high priest ( Exod 28:30 ; Lev 8:8 ). Most scholars today think that the Urim and Thummim were a lot oracle, but this is by no means certain.

Besides being mentioned by their full name ( Exod 28:30 ; Lev 8:8 ; Ezra 2:63 ; Neh 7:65 ; in reverse order with possessives, Deut 33:8 ), the Urim and Thummim could also be referred to by Urim alone ( Num 27:21 ; 1 Sam 28:6 ). Sometimes the mention of the ephod (on which the breastpiece housing the Urim and Thummim were fastened) includes a reference to the Urim and Thummim ( 1 Sam 23:9-12 ; 30:7-8 ). Also the verb “inquire of” followed by “the Lord” or “God” when no means of revelation is specified refers to a usage of the Urim and Thummim.

The Urim and Thummim were used at critical moments in the history of God’s people when special divine guidance was needed. The civil leader was expected to make use of this means for all important matters for which he needed direction. Although referred to in ezr 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65, there is no convincing evidence that the Urim and Thummim were used after the time of David.

The reason for the demise of the Urim and Thummim is not explicitly given. Since the Urim and Thummim, in whatever way they functioned, were a physical means of revelation, it appears that God was taking his people away from the easy certainty inherent in a mechanical means of revelation to the more consistent use of prophecy and the Word alone. This would require the more difficult application of the norms for true and false prophecy ( Deut 13:1-4 ; 18:20-22 ) and thus necessitate a faithful teaching priesthood ( Deut 33:10 ; Mal 2:7 ).

Urim And Thummim In The Bible

The Urim (“lights”) and Thummim (“perfections”) were gemstones that were carried by the high priest of Israel on the ephod / priestly garments. They were used by the high priest to determine God’s will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes / no and true / false.

It is unclear whether the Urim and Thummim were on, by, or in the high priest’s ephod. No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information. References to the Urim and Thummim are rare in the Bible. They are first mentioned in the description of the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8). When Joshua succeeded Moses as leader over Israel, he was to receive answers from God by means of the Urim through Eleazar the high priest (Numbers 27:21). The Urim and Thummim are next mentioned in Moses’ dying blessing upon Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8). The following Scriptures likely also speak of the Urim and Thummim: Joshua 7:14-18; 1 Samuel 14:37-45; and 2 Samuel 21:1.

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