Exodus 20:4?


“**You shall not make for yourself a 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. **

I understand the first part of this verse, but not the last part…Why would making graven images of aquatic life be wrong?


have you heard of the fish god Dagon? I think knowing the context behind the verse and knowing Middle Eastern paganism at the time makes it easier to understand. Of course I’m never going to understand everything in the Bible and I’m fine with that, but that’s the best I got for right now


Because man’s fallen nature is always going to try to find a loophole somewhere.:smiley:


Some of the gods of ancient Egypt resembled water creatures, like crocodiles, such as Sobek, and hippos, such as Taweret.


As an example, the bronze serpent (nə·ḥaš) from Numbers 21:9 is different that an idol (p̄e·sel) of Exodus 24:4. But that serpent was destroyed later because the use of it changed: 4 Kings 18
4 He destroyed the *high places, and broke the statues in pieces, and cut down the groves, and broke the brazen serpent, **which Moses had made: for till that time the children of Israel burnt incense to it: and he called its name Nohestan.

Haydock commentary:
Ver. 4. Groves. The people were now more obedient, being terrified at the chastisement of Israel, (Calmet) though Samaria was not taken till the sixth year of this good king; who carried his reform rather than most of his predecessors, (Haydock) in destroying the high places which had been unlawfully (Calmet) retained, as consecrated to the true God. See ver. 22. (Haydock)

— Yet Josias had still some to remove. (Menochius)

— Nohestan; that is, their brass, or a little brass. So he called it in contempt, because they had made a god of it. (Challoner)

— Before, this image had been treated with due respect. When any relic or image becomes the occasion of abuse in the Catholic Church, it is thus taken away, or the error is otherwise corrected. See St. Augustine, City of God x. 8., Ser. 14., de Verb. Ap., &c. (Worthington)

— Some of the ancients assert, that Ezechias suppressed many books of Solomon, on account of similar abuses. But this seems not to be well attested. We know that he made a collection of some of some of his sentences, Proverbs xxv. 1.


Look at what happened at that time - Moses wasn’t even gone 40 days and they were building a golden calf saying the golden idol led them out of the land of Egypt - could you insult God more. God was being very clear. When I read Exodus I am always amazed that they would turn from God at every opportunity.Thats why he marched them around the desert for 40 years on a trip that should of taken a week , God needed to make sure they did not enter the promised land and even then they did not do what God asked and were corrupted by Idolatry - even sacrificing their own children to idols.It was more to do with those times but even today idol worshiping continues and in some cases is being revived. Santa muerte as an example and I am sure there is lots more probably even to the old idol baal again. If God did not mention creature in the sea - then idols of creatures of the sea would of been worshiped.

Take God out of the picture and people will come up with an Idol - there seems to be a deep need in us to worship God but if we don’t know God it gets twisted very quickly.
The new Idol is materialism , which is a form of idolatry.

I don’t understand the posters Question - isn’t it pretty obvious why graven images of sea creatures should not be made and worshiped?


It wasn’t the carvings in themselves that were offensive to God, but the reason for which they were carved. It was their bowing down and serving them - elevating them to gods - that was offensive to God and roused His “jealousy”.
*Exodus 20:4-5 You shall not make for yourself a graven 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,

Lev. 26:1 “You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no graven image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to them; for I am the Lord your God.


but the carvings/ statues are representative of the particular ‘gods’, the people did not believe the golden calf was ACTUALLY the god being itself, it represented him. The same can be said of every other carved idol that people worship, its representative…if that was true, the same would be true for carved statues of Christ, Mary, etc then too, (things that are in heaven above)…Christians do not believe the carved statue to be the actual ‘god’, instead it represents them…right?


Catholic Encylopedia

The specific note of idolatry is its direct opposition to the primary object of Divine worship; it bestows on a creature the reverence due to God alone. It does so in several ways. [LIST]*]The creature is often represented by an image, an idol. “Some, by nefarious arts, made certain images which, through the power of the devil, produced certain effects whence they thought that these images contained something divine and, consequently, that divine worship was due to them.” Such was the opinion of Hermes Trismegistus. ]Others gave Divine honours not to the images but to the creatures which they represented. Both are hinted at by the Apostle (Romans 1:23-25), who says of the first: “They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts and of creeping things”; and of the second: “They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator”. These worshippers of creatures were of three kinds.[LIST=1]]Some held that certain men were gods, and these they honoured through their statues, e.g., Jupiter and Mercury. ]Others opined that* the whole world was one God**, God being conceived of as the rational soul of the corporeal world. Hence they worshipped the world and all its parts, the air, the water, and all the rest; their idols, according to Varro, as reported by St. Augustine (City of God VIII.21-22), were the expression of that belief. *]Others again, followers of Plato, admitted one supreme God, the cause of all things; under Him they placed certain spiritual substances of His creation and participating in His Divinity; these substances they called gods; and below these they put the souls of the heavenly bodies and, below these again the demons who, they thought, were a sort of aerial living beings (animalia). Lowest of all they placed the human souls, which, according to merit or demerit, were to share the society either of the gods or of the demons. To all they attributed Divine worship, as St. Augustine says (City of God VIII.14)[/LIST][/LIST].

Wilhelm, J. (1910). Idolatry. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. newadvent.org/cathen/07636a.htm


Hi, Mike!

…the key is: “graven” image.

Graven image is an image (regardless of its origin) for idol worship.

Note that the Command is it is not against image but against graven image.

Conversely, this applies to all sorts of idol-worship: people, pets, things… when the image becomes subject of idolatry/worship (as a woman’s beauty or money or power or offspring…) we have made it into a graven image.

Maran atha!



Hi, Mike!

I think you are confusing terms… while it is true that some have proposed that the golden calf was some “representation” of Yahweh God’s Strength, the fact remains that that was not the intent:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 And the people seeing that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, gathering together against Aaron, said: Arise,** make us gods**

, that may go before us: for as to this Moses, the man that brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has befallen him. (Exodus 32:1)
…the Hebrew people were quick to disown Moses, along with his Yahweh God, and wanted, following the culture of the Egyptians, to have images of gods that they could worship and keep amongst them.

…in their frenzy they proclaimed the golden calf as their true god, giving to it Yahweh God’s Glory:

4 And when he had received them, he fashioned them by founders’ work, and made of them a molten calf

. And they said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:4)
…and they proceeded to have festivities and sacrifices to this molten calf:

5 And when Aaron saw this, he** built an altar before it**

, and made proclamation by a crier’s voice, saying: To morrow is the solemnity of the Lord. 6 And rising in the morning, they offered holocausts, and peace victims, and the people sat down to eat, and drink, and they rose up to play. (Exodus 32:5-6)

The comparison you make also false short of the truth since the Catholic Church has never Taught that Icons and Sacramentals are to be Worshipped as God or instead of Yahweh God; rather, these are held in the same manner as the various images Yahweh God Commanded to be created for the purpose of Worship (the Ark of the Covenant, the Cherubs, the various instruments/utensils, curtains, and Priestly garments).

Maran atha!




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