Once upon a time in the Ancient Near East–going way, way back–people used to use human skulls or mummified heads as objects of worship. The Gauls in Western Europe did the same, and the ancient Irish might have. The picture above shows how these skulls were preserved and decorated.
In Genesis 31, as Jacob finally terminates his long servitude to Laban, his wife Rachel, unbeknownst to him, steals her father’s “gods.” The Hebrew word in the Bible is teraphim–an ancient word whose meaning has grown obscure over the centuries. It might be pagan idols. It might mean images of God Himself–which of course you’re not supposed to have, but there’s some evidence that Israelites sometimes broke the law in that regard. It might refer to some kind of wartime or political trophy.
Teraphim were often made of gold or silver, so they’d be valuable objects. They must have come in many sizes. The ones Rachel stole were small enough to be hidden in a rolled-up camel blanket. In I Samuel, when Saul tries to have David murdered in his bed, David’s wife Michal fools the assassins by hiding a teraphim under the covers and saying it’s David. (David, of course, came hundreds of years after Jacob: whatever they did with teraphim, it was a persistent custom.) And the “image” in Chapter 18 of Judges was made out of a woman’s life savings in silver.
We don’t believe in idols nowadays. We have Smartphones. We wouldn’t dream of worshiping idols. We have celebrities.
It shouldn’t surprise us when the Bible shows that God’s people, just like everybody else, have a perpetual temptation to worship other gods than God, even the work of their own hands, the creations of their own minds.
I wonder what He sees in us.
But He sent His only begotten Son to be our savior, so He must see what we can’t see.