Bible Q&A: What Exactly is a Graven Image?

What exactly is a graven image?

The term “graven image” (Ex. 20:4) comes from the Hebrew term pecel which literally means “idol” or “carved image.”  As noted in the previous question about Buddha, idolatry comes in many forms.  One of the most common forms of idolatry in biblical times was the worshiping of gods manifested in statues or images carved out of wood or stone by man.  This was done in all of the pagan cultures surrounding Israel during Old Testament times.  God did not want them to fall away from worshiping Him to worship a false god.  Thus, the very first commandments He gave to them in the Law of Moses were to “have no other gods before Me” and “not make for yourself a graven (carved) image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:3-5).

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