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Phylacteries is the plural of Phylactery. See also Tefillin and Tefillah.

Tefillin, which means "to guard or protect" is the plural form of tefillah. In Greek it is known as Phylacteries, the singular being Phylactery. These are the leather boxes which contain verses of Scripture written on parchment. It occurs in Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18. The meaning of the injunction to the Israelites, with regard to the statutes and precepts given them, that they should "bind them for a sign upon their hand, and have them as frontlets between their eyes," was that they should keep them distinctly in view and carefully attend to them. But soon after their return from Babylon they began to interpret this injunction literally, and had accordingly portions of the law written out and worn about their person. These they called tephillin, i.e., "prayers." The passages so written out on strips of parchment were these, Exodus 12:2; Exodus 13:11; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 11:18. They were then "rolled up in a case of black calfskin, which was attached to a stiffer piece of leather, having a thong one finger broad and one cubit and a half long. Those worn on the forehead were written on four strips of parchment, and put into four little cells within a square case, which had on it the Hebrew letter called shin, the three points of which were regarded as an emblem of God." This case tied around the forehead in a particular way was called "the tephillah on the head." (See PHYLACTERY.)

Phylactery - A small square box, made either of parchment or of black calfskin, containing slips of parchment or vellum on which are written the Scriptural passages (Exodus 13:2-9, Exodus 13:10-17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 6:13-22. They are worn by Jews on the head and left arm, on week-day mornings, during the time of prayer. Schaff-Herzog Encyc.

---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Phylacteries - (Gr. phulakteria ; i.e., "defenses" or "protections"), called by modern Jews tephillin (i.e., "prayers") are mentioned only in Matthew 23:5. They consisted of strips of parchment on which were inscribed these four texts: (1.) Exodus 13:1; (2.) Exodus 13:11; (3.) Deuteronomy 6:4; (4.) Deuteronomy 11:18, and which were enclosed in a square leather case, on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew letter shin, to which the rabbis attached some significance. This case was fastened by certain straps to the forehead just between the eyes. The "making broad the phylacteries" refers to the enlarging of the case so as to make it conspicuous. (See FRONTLETS.) Another form of the phylactery consisted of two rolls of parchment, on which the same texts were written, enclosed in a case of black calfskin. This was worn on the left arm near the elbow, to which it was bound by a thong. It was called the "Tephillah on the arm."


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