PESEL ("graven image"; so rendered, with a few exceptions, in A. V. and R. V.):

Usually carved in wood, or hewn in stone, and called "massekah"; the ephod belonged to it as covering, as in the case of Gideon ("pesel of Gideon") and Micah (Judges xviii. 18 [xvii. 4, 5, Hebr.]). The worship of it was expressly forbidden (Ex. xx. 4; Deut. vii. 5). It is stated that Josiah, on destroying the other idols, had the "pesilim" also ground into powder and strewed on the graves of those who had worshiped them (II Chron. xxxiv. 4). "Pesilim" occurs in Judges iii. 19, 26, but is rendered in the Authorized and Revised Versions by "quarries" (margin, "graven images"). The story is there told how Ehud came from the "pesilim" at Gilgal, assassinated Eglon, King of Moab, and then escaped beyond the "pesilim" to Seirath.

According to the more recent commentaries there are three possible explanations concerning the nature of these "pesilim": (1) they may be identical with the stones which Joshua set up on crossing the Jordan; (2) they may have served to mark the boundary between Moab and Israel; (3) "Pesilim" may have been the name of a ford of the Jordan in the vicinity of Gilgal.

  • Budde, Das Buch der Richter, in K. H. C. ad loc.
J. S. O.
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