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Frontlets and Phylacteries

The English word frontlet is used to translate the Hebrew word (pronounced) to-faw-faw which means to go around, or to bind. The word was used in the Scriptures for how The Lord told the Israelites to regard His Law, "for frontlets between thine eyes," meaning foremost on their minds. After the people of Judah (i.e. the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and Levi - see When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah") returned from exile in Babylon (see Why Babylon?), they vowed to never again bring God's wrath upon themselves for disobedience to His Law, which was very good. But, as a means toward that end, they added and invented many of their own laws and traditions that were intended as a way (which eventually became their own way) of keeping God's Law, or so they believed. The fact that they were again later conquered and exiled, by the Romans, indicates that they again fell far short of their professed goal; otherwise they would have been invincible as a nation (see also The Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.).

One of the many things added after their return from Babylon was to interpret "frontlets between thine eyes" literally, and so began the Jewish practice (the traditions that were added after the return from Babylon were unknown and unobserved by the "lost ten tribes" - or even of Moses himself) of wearing the now-familiar small case, which contains selected verses of the Law, written on strips of parchment, on the forehead, between the eyes. In the New Testament, the word phylacteries, from the Greek word (pronounced) foo-lak-tay-ree-on, meaning a protective case, is used for them.

Frontlets and Phylacteries

Frontlets and Phylacteries After the Exodus, The Lord made plain how He expected the Israelites to regard His Law, His Holy Days, and all the blessings that He provided for them - as foremost in their thoughts and deeds.

"And it shall be when The Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey [see also "Land On Which You Had Not Labored"], that thou shalt keep this service in this month."

"Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to The Lord. Unleavened Bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters."

"And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which The Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that The Lord's Law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath The Lord brought thee out of Egypt."

"Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year ... 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." (Exodus 13:5-9,10,16 KJV)

Again, The Lord made plain how He expected the Israelites to regard His Law - as foremost in their thoughts and deeds:

"That thou mightest fear The Lord thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged ... And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." (Deuteronomy 6:1-8 KJV)

Jesus Christ taught in a very concise manner (He well knew that, for the vast majority of people, "the point" must be made quickly and cleanly - a factor that is even more important in today's rapid-paced world), including His teaching on the use of phylacteries. While He did not oppose the use of phylacteries among His fellow Jews (unconverted Jews that is, Christian Jews didn't use them), He strongly rebuked those who merely wore them for show:

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not ... But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues" (Matthew 23:1-3,5-6 KJV)

The Messiah also warned about the dangers of replacing God's Law, or attempting to obey God's Law, with one's own laws and traditions:

"This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men ... Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." (Matthew 15:8-9,13 KJV)

"And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple [see "My Father's House"]: and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1-2 KJV)

Fact Finder: How did Abraham become "righteous Abraham"?
See Abraham And The "Tradition Trap"


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