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Frontlets and Phylacteries
by Wayne Blank
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
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."
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)
Fact Finder: How did Abraham become "righteous Abraham"?