The Urim and Thumim – Doug Bookman

Episode: For this episode of the OnScript Biblical World podcast, co-host Mary Buck is joined by Dr. Doug Bookman, Professor of Bible Exegesis at Shepherds Theological Seminary. Though Dr. Bookman‘s research extends across a variety of topics including the Life of Christ and church perspectives of Israel in his recent book Forsaking Israel, his dissertation was focused on the topic of the Urim and the Thumim. In this episode Dr. Bookman walks through the biblical evidence available for the Urim and the Thumim, the Rabbinic views of what this instrument may have been, and provides his own conclusions about what the Urim and the Thumim were (or “was” in his view) and how it was distinct from the “sacred lot.”
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Image: By SuperJew – Own work. This panorama was created with Canon PhotoStitch (stitched images may differ from reality)., CC BY-SA 3.0,

5 Replies to “The Urim and Thumim – Doug Bookman”

  1. Robert Coyle

    I am curious as to why it is stated (38 minute mark) that the Urim and Thummim didn’t work in 1 Samuel 14. It seems to me that it worked quite well, identifying Jonathan as the one responsible because he ate the honey. The punishment promised by Saul was stopped, not because the Oracle failed, but because the soldiers offers up counter evidence (Jonathan had led them to victory).

    • Matt

      (From Doug) Both oracular devices are employed in that drama. First of all, Saul is so excited about the victory that he determines to continue to chase the Philistines after sundown, which is something armies never did in antiquity. But his soldiers demurred and so the priest suggested checking with the Commander in Chief via the Urim – “Let us draw near to God here!”(14.36). Saul asked counsel of God (14:37 – the high priest + the verb sha-al), but – 14:37b- “He did not answer Him that day.” So King Yahweh refused to answer by means of the Urim, and thus Saul turned to the more dependable Oracle, the binary “sacred” lot, which did answer Saul’s 2nd question- “who sinned (violated my vow)?

      • Rob Coyle

        Thank you. Perhaps there is a textual discrepancy here. The LXX states that they are using the Urim & Thummim in vs 41, but it seems the Hebrew sources simply say “give us a perfect decision.” In all, a fascinating text. Very odd. Thank you for talking about this.

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