The history of the Jewish Head-Tefillin (Shel rosh) and the hand Tefillin (Shel yad) is quite mysterious to say the least. The Jews who followed the Torah believed that God 'meant' to tie these leather straps with a box around their head and hand. They take this from
Deuteronomy 6:8 which says about God's commands "And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and as frontlets between thine eyes."If you read that verse does it say ANYWHERE that you are TO wrap them physically around your head and arm? Nay, God said AS frontlets. So we see clearly that God said AS frontlets. So just what IS a frontlet? Where does it come from? Is it mentioned again in scripture? Does God give us a description of how to make a frontlet? Do we find Tefillin (frontlets) in the Bible?
Here are the other verses about frontlets.
"And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."
"And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes."
"Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes."
The Hebrew word for frontlet is Towphaphah, a feminine noun, pronounced "to-faw-faw'" meaning: bands, phylacteries, frontlets, marks
The Tefillin is the equivalent to this towphaphah and it originated in Egypt. It also is described as a phylactery.
The phylactery is also spoke of in scripture when Jesus was rebuking the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-6, "1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,"
Jesus very clearly stated NOT to do the same WORKS. He rebuked their Egyptian customs openly! I found that it originated in Egypt as I discovered them original phylactery and Tefillin from a Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, page 638, regarding Exodus 13
"and … frontlets between their eyes" - for bands or fillets, particularly strips of parchment, containing sentences from the Mosaic law, which the Israelites wound round the forehead. Perhaps Moses meant the metaphorical language in the eighth verse to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation."Now maybe this commentary has some truth and some false information so I decided to keep researching.
I found the definition of frontlet (plural frontlets)
1. (obsolete) The forehead.
2. The forehead of an animal, especially of a deer or stag (including the antlers)
3. An ornament worn on the forehead, sometimes as a phylactery
Next I looked up phylactery:Etymology:
Middle English philaterie, from Medieval Latin philaterium, alteration of Late Latin phylacterium, from Greek phylaktērion amulet, phylactery, from phylassein to guard, from phylak-, phylax guard
The word amulet shocked me in this description, since we know that amulets are pagan. The definition for amulet is:Latin amuletum : a charm (as an ornament) often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil (as disease or witchcraft)
Now here is the Jewish description of the Tefillin: Tefillin are the cube-shaped black leather boxes, containing four scriptural passages, attached to the head and arm and worn during the morning prayers. It is purely coincidental that the word tefillin so closely resembles the word for prayer, tefillah, since, although eventually the tefillin were only worn for the morning prayer, in Talmudic times they were worn all day and had no special association with prayer.
Something else about the Jewish tefillin is that it is only for men to wear, not women. A young boy may begin practicing wearing a Tefillin just before his Bar Mitzva. Yet this custom(ritual) is NOT found in the Bible, at all! God's Word commands ALL of us to obey His Word and have it in our hearts, not just the men or young teen boys.
So just what DID God say about His Word?
Exodus 13:16 "And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt." I believe God was telling them to REPLACE their pagan ways WITH HIS WORD.
Deuteronomy 6:8 "And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." I believe God wanted HIS WORD to be BETWEEN their eyes, in their minds. In the FOREFRONT of their life. As the Head, which is Christ, leads us. Bound to Christ, God, by abiding in Him. Just as He promised to write them IN us and ON us in Jeremiah 31:33, "33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Deuteronomy 11:18 "Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes." I believe God is VERY serious about HIS WORD, not ritualistic customs that are done in vain. Psalm 119: 34, "Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart."
So how do we make sure we are observing this command? Read, study, memorize, meditate, and live in God's Word.
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