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In Judges lots were cast to see which tribe was to "go up first to battle against
children of Benjamin" (see Judges 20: 9, 18, 23, 28). In I Samuel the Lord did
answer Saul over the issue of the Philistines because sin had been committed by
people. The lot was used to determine the culprit, Jonathan (I Sam. 14: 24-42).
I.Chronicles we read of:
the divisions of the sons of Aaron by lot in 24 orders (I Chron. 24: 5, 7 and 31).
the number and offices of the singers and their divisions by lot into 24 orders
(25: 8, 9).
the divisions of the porters and the assignments of the gates by lot (26: 13-16).
In Nehemiah lots were used to select the people and the priest to bring the wood
offering (10: 34) and to determine who was to live in Jerusalem (11: 1). There are many
examples of how the people of Israel ascertained the will of the Lord by lots but . . . . .
how did it function? What did lots look like? How did the system work?
"The various names, dates, etc. for selection were marked on pieces of wood,
potsherd, etc., and these `lots' were then shaken together either in a vessel or in the fold
of a garment till one came out" (New and Concise Bible Dictionary).
"Lots: kleros, denotes an object used in casting or drawing lots, which consisted of
bits, or small tablets, of wood or stone (the probable derivation is from klao, to break;
these were sometimes inscribed with the names of persons, and were put into a receptacle
or a garment (a lap, Prov. 16:33), from which they were cast, after being shaken together;
he whose lot first fell out was the one chosen" (Vine).
However, The Companion Bible note on the word `fell' in Lev. 16: 9 seems to
disagree with this. That verse states "And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the
Lord's lot fell and offer him for a sin offering". The Companion Bible note is:
"fell: Hebrew `came up': i.e. out of the bag containing the Urim and Thummim. No
other means of taking Jehovah's lot or judgment."
The first occurrence of Urim and Thummim is found in Exod. 28: 30 and the
extended Companion Bible note there draws attention to the fact that in Josh. 18: 11
the lot `came up'; in Josh. 19: 1 it `came forth' and in Josh. 19: 17 it `came out'. The
claim is that the lot came `out' or `forth' from the bag of the ephod worn by the priest,
into which the Urim and Thummim were placed. But what did the priest wear? What
exactly were the Urim and Thummim? Exod. 28: 15-19 contains instructions about
the construction of the breastplate of judgment and this section concludes with the words:
"And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and Thummim . . . . . and
Aaron shall bear judgment of the children of Israel" (Exod. 28: 30).
But this is judgment neither in the sense of punishment and condemnation nor in the
sense of appraisal and reward. This is judgment in the sense of "giving a judicial
decision", as the N.I.V. translation of this verse makes clear:
"Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions--the work of a skilled craftsman . . . . .
And put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart
whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of