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Biblical Judaism

The Oracle

In the Bible there is a reference to Oracle in II Chronicles 5:7-9 “And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim: For the cherubim spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day.”
The term “oracle” is also applied in other  parallel religious  institutions of divination or paganism  in other cultures. (Temple of Apollo is where the Oracle of Delphi made her predictions and gave advice) . Specifically, it is used in the context of general Christianity for the concept of divine revelation, and in the context of Judaism for the Urim and Thummim breastplate, and in general any utterance considered prophetic.
The Book of Daniel contains narratives about a seer named Daniel, and prophecies also appearing in his name, but the man himself–if he is only one man–nevertheless remains elusive
Urim and Thummim in Judaism 
Urim  and Thummim:  were  a sort of Oracle worn by the High Priest (Num. 27:21). The High Priest’s breastplate had twelve stones on which the names of God and of the Twelve Tribes were engraved. Answers were conveyed to the questions of the king or of the head of the Sanhedrin by letters of these names being lit up. The Urim and Thummim ceased to be used when the First Temple was destroyed (Dictionary of Jewish Lore & Legend, p. 203-204).

After the original association of the term “oracle” with the Urim and Thummim, in process of time other definitions were added, and the usage of “oracle” became expanded.  The Hebrew word for “oracle” is d’bar which simply means “word,” as in the expression, “the word (d’bar) of the Lord,” used many times throughout Holy Scripture. Thus, any message received by Moses and the other Prophets came to be defined as “oracle,” because every message from YEHOVAH God was viewed as being a form of “the word (oracle — d’bar) of the LORD.”

By the time of the First Century A.D., “oracle” had a very expanded meaning, and included many aspects of the Jewish culture, especially of the legal and theological culture. Around 250 B.C., the Jewish Elders who made the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used the Greek term “logeion” in Exodus 28:15 to describe the High Priest’s breastplate (see: Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 144, vol. 3). “Logeion” (also, “logion”) is derived from the Greek word “logos” — the same term used for the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God in John 1:1, i.e., Word. So, it was the Shekinah Glory that answered through the Urim and Thummim worn by the High Priests of ancient Israel.

Also, when we translate the Hebrew term d’bar (“word”) into New Testament Greek we get “logion,” which is the exact Greek term translated “oracle(s)” in Romans 3:2 (“logia” used in Romans 3:2 is the plural form of “logion”).

On pages 143-144, volume 3, in his aforementioned dictionary, Greek scholar W. E. Vine states:

ORACLE: LOGION: a diminutive of logos, a word, narrative, statement, denotes a Divine response or utterance, an oracle; it is used of (a) the contents of the Mosaic Law, Acts 7:38; (b) all the written utterances of God through O.T. writers, Rom. 3:2; (c) the substance of Christian doctrine, Heb. 5:22; (d) the utterances of God through Christian teachers, I Pet. 4:11. Note: Divine oracles were given by means of the breastplate of the High Priest, in connection with the service of the Tabernacle, and the Sept. uses the associated word logeion in Ex. 28:15 to denote the breastplate.

It was the “oracle of God” which came through the High Priest’s breastplate, i.e., it was the “word of God” or Shekinah Glory that came through the High Priest’s breastplate.

The “oracles of God” are simply “the words of YHWH ” as projected by YHWH’s Shekinah Glory to “the fathers by the prophets”!
What Are the “Oracles of God”?

Just what are the “oracles of God” mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 3:2? Why is there so much controversy, today, over the meaning of this expression? What did Paul mean when he said the Jew has an “advantage,” in fact, “much every way”? A study into the original Greek helps answer these provocative questions.

At the present time, some persons are causing controversy about Paul’s remarks in Romans 3:1-2. Paul wrote: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” The controversy surrounds exactly what Paul meant by the term “oracles” used in this verse 2. Let us examine Paul’s words, and determine specifically to what he was referring.

First of all, we need to realize the impact of the Greek words translated in the KJV as “Much every way” in Romans 3:2. “Much every way” is translated from the Greek words, “Pialu kata piento tropion,” which literally reads as, “Much, according to every mode” (The Emphatic Diaglatt, p. 517). According to Hebrews 1:1, there were any number of “modes” by which YHWH  produced “oracles”: “God, who at sundry (different) times and in divers (various) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” The Greek here for “manners” is “Opiolutrapios” meaning literally “in many ways” or “in many modes.” It is a plural form of the words used in Romans 3:2. The “oracles” were all the many “modes” by which YHWH  spoke to the “fathers by the prophets.” What were some of these many modes which comprised “the oracles of God”?  The Scripture shows clearly  that originally the term “oracles” applied to the Urim and Thummim worn on the High Priest’s Breasplate.


About D. M.

Anni Orekh (which translated from Hebrew means: I m an editor (Publisher). That it is one the online pen-names of author and Managing Director of DM Enterprises.


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