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Echoes of Divine Communication: Exploring the Connection between the Ephod and Ifa Traditions

This study does not endorse divination, as we can now directly communicate with the father through prayer. Its purpose is to demonstrate that the ancient Israelites' cultural practices, as described in the Old Testament, are still observed in Africa. It's important to engage in conversations about how our heritage persists on the African continent, acknowledging that it may have been influenced by the pagan traditions once followed by our nation. Nevertheless, it's crucial to recognize that we now have a new high priest and mediator between humanity and Yah, Messiah Yahshua, also known as Jesus Christ.


Urim and Thummim


The Urim and Thummim are mentioned in the Bible as objects used for divination and are associated with the High Priest of Israel. The exact nature and use of these objects are not described in detail in the biblical texts, which has led to a variety of interpretations among scholars and religious traditions. However, we can gather some insights from specific passages.

  1. Association with the High Priest's Breastplate: The Urim and Thummim were placed in the breastplate of judgment worn by the High Priest. This breastplate was part of the sacred vestments prescribed for the High Priest during rituals. Exodus 28:30: "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually."

  2. Used for Divine Decision-Making: The Urim and Thummim were used to determine Yah's will in certain situations, especially those involving national importance or when seeking divine guidance in decisions. Numbers 27:21: "And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation."

  3. Saul's Inquiry: In 1 Samuel, King Saul seeks guidance from the LORD through the Urim and Thummim when Yah is not answering him through dreams, prophets, or the Urim. 1 Samuel 28:6: "And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets."

These passages suggest that the Urim and Thummim were considered sacred objects that only the High Priest could use to communicate with Yah on behalf of the Israelites, especially in matters requiring divine judgment or guidance. The method by which the Urim and Thummim were used or how they provided answers is not described in the biblical texts, leading to various interpretations and theories. Some suggest they were a form of lots or stones that were cast or drawn to reveal Yah's will, while others propose they involved a more complex ritual or supernatural manifestation.

 

 

Casting lots

Casting lots is a method used throughout various cultures and religious traditions, including the Bible, to make decisions or determine divine will. This practice is mentioned several times in the Bible and was used to resolve disputes, distribute land, make decisions, or discern Yah's guidance in specific situations. The method involves using objects such as stones, sticks, or pieces of pottery, which are thrown, drawn, or cast in some way to produce a decision that is considered to be divinely guided.


Biblical Examples of Casting Lots

  • Joshua 18:10: When the land of Canaan is being divided among the tribes of Israel, lots are cast to determine the allocation of land to each tribe.

  • 1 Samuel 14:41-42: Saul uses lots to determine guilt among the people.

  • Jonah 1:7: The sailors cast lots to find out who is responsible for the storm, and the lot falls on Jonah.

  • Acts 1:26: In the New Testament, the apostles cast lots to determine Judas' replacement among the disciples, and the lot falls on Matthias.

Similarities to the Urim and Thummim

The casting of lots and the use of the Urim and Thummim share a common purpose in seeking divine guidance or decision-making. Both practices involve a physical action or ritual to reveal Yah's will or judgment in situations where human wisdom is insufficient or when a direct answer from Yah is sought. The key similarities include:

  1. Divine Intervention: Both practices are based on the belief that Yah intervenes in the process to guide the outcome, ensuring that the decision is just and according to divine will.

  2. Sacred Context: They are used in sacred contexts and often involve the participation or oversight of religious leaders, such as priests or prophets.

  3. Decision-Making Tools: Both serve as means to make decisions or discern Yah's guidance in matters that are uncertain or of significant importance to the community or individuals involved.

Despite these similarities, the Urim and Thummim are distinct in their association with the High Priest and their place within the sacred vestments, suggesting a unique and possibly more formalized method of divination than casting lots. The Urim and Thummim's use is specifically linked to the priesthood and the sanctuary, indicating a higher level of ritual significance compared to the more broadly applied practice of casting lots. However, the lack of detailed descriptions of the procedures and interpretations of the Urim and Thummim leaves room for speculation on how similar or different the actual practices were in terms of mechanics and spiritual significance.

  

Why Did The Apostles Cast Lots

The episode where the Apostles cast lots to choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot, which is described in Acts 1:15-26, occurs at a unique transitional moment in the early Israelite community, just after Yahshua' ascension and before the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples. This context is essential for understanding their actions.


The Casting of Lots

The practice of casting lots was an accepted method in Israelite tradition to discern Yah's will in situations where human judgment might be insufficient or biased. It was seen as a way to allow Yah to guide decisions directly. The casting of lots by the Apostles to choose between Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas (Justus) as the new twelfth Apostle was the method they used to ensure that the selection was according to Yah's will, not personal preference.


The Role of Prayer

It's important to note that the Apostles did not rely solely on casting lots; they coupled this action with prayer. Before casting lots, they prayed, asking Yah to show which of the two candidates He had chosen to take over the apostolic ministry from Judas (Acts 1:24-25). This indicates that they sought divine guidance and wanted to align their decision with Yah's will, acknowledging that Yah knows the hearts of all.


Transitional Period

This event occurred during a transitional period for the early assembly:

  • Before the Pentecost: The Holy Spirit had not yet been given to the disciples in the way Yahshua promised, which would empower and guide them in their mission (Acts 2). The casting of lots happened in this interim period.

  • After Yahshua' Ascension: They were following the practices they knew, waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Yahshua had taught them to pray and rely on Yah, but the specific guidance through the Holy Spirit was yet to be fully realized in their community.

Interpretation

The use of lots in this instance is seen as the last recorded instance in the New Testament, with the Pentecost event shortly afterwards marking the beginning of a new era in which the Holy Spirit would play a central role in guiding the assembly. After Pentecost, there are no further instances of casting lots in the New Testament. Instead, the narrative shifts towards a more direct guidance through the Holy Spirit, as seen in the numerous accounts in Acts and the Epistles where decisions and directions are attributed to the Spirit's influence.

Therefore, the casting of lots to replace Judas can be understood as a unique and context-specific action that bridged the gap between the Ascension and Pentecost, reflecting both the Apostles' reliance on Israelite traditions and their earnest desire to submit their decisions to Yah's will, anticipating the new way of living and decision-making that would be characterized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Casting of lots was no longer used once Pentecost arrived.


Yoruba Ifa Traditions

In the Old Testament, the High Priest wore the EPHOD (pronounced: ay-fode') as a means to communicate with Yah. This concept bears resemblance to the Yoruba tradition of Ifa, which serves a similar purpose. It's interesting to note the phonetic similarity between the names "Ephod" and "Ifa."

The Ifá tradition in Yoruba culture is a complex system of divination that involves the interpretation of patterns and symbols derived from the casting of sixteen palm nuts or a divination chain called "Opele." This system is central to the religious and philosophical traditions of the Yoruba people of West Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. Ifá divination is used to access wisdom and guidance from Orunmila, the Yoruba deity of wisdom, knowledge, and divination, who is believed to have an understanding of the destiny and fate of humans and can offer guidance through the Ifá priests or diviners known as "Babalawos" for males and "Iyanifas" for females.

The process of Ifá divination involves the creation of one of 256 possible patterns (Odu Ifá) through the casting of the divination instruments. Each Odu has a vast array of poems and stories (PSALMS) (called "Ese Ifá") associated with it, which the diviner interprets to provide guidance, resolve issues, or give insight into the future to the person seeking divination. The advice and wisdom derived from these sessions are deeply rooted in Yoruba ethics, philosophy, and worldview, guiding individuals on a path that aligns with their destiny and the community's wellbeing.

Comparatively, in the Old Testament of the Israelite traditions, divination and seeking guidance from a divine source were also practiced, albeit within a different context and set of methods. One notable example is the Urim and Thummim, which were used by the Israelites to seek Yah's guidance on various matters. These objects were part of the high priest's breastplate and were used to ascertain Yah's will in certain situations, though the exact method of how they were used is not detailed in the scriptures. Like Ifá, the purpose was to seek divine wisdom and guidance, although the methods and interpretations were specific to the cultural and religious context of the Israelites.

Both traditions underscore a human inclination towards seeking divine or supernatural guidance in making decisions or understanding one's path in life. While the methods and specific beliefs surrounding these practices differ, they reflect a common desire for connection with the divine and a belief in a higher power's ability to guide and influence human affairs.

 

IGBO

The Igbo diviners call their divination practice "Afa," "Ifa," or sometimes "Fa." This traditional practice is similar in some aspects to the Yoruba's Ifá but is indigenous to the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. Afa divination involves the interpretation of signs and symbols derived from the casting of divination seeds, cowries, or other objects, depending on the specific regional practices within Igbo culture.

The diviner (Prophet), known as a "Dibia" or "Afa" (depending on the context and specific function), interprets these signs to reveal insights, offer guidance, solve problems, or predict future events. The practice is deeply rooted in Igbo cosmology, spirituality, and philosophy, serving as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds. It is used to communicate with the divine, ancestral spirits, and deities to seek guidance on personal, familial, or community matters.

Afa divination is an integral part of Igbo society, reflecting the people's beliefs in fate, destiny, and the interconnectedness of all things. It is often sought for guidance on issues related to health, fertility, success, and spiritual matters, highlighting the central role of spirituality and divination in Igbo life and culture.


Conclusion

In conclusion, divination practices such as the Yoruba Ifá and the Igbo Afa offer profound insights into the rich spiritual traditions of West African cultures. These practices, deeply embedded within the societal fabric of the Yoruba and Igbo peoples, respectively, serve not only as means of seeking guidance from the divine but also as vehicles for understanding one’s place in the universe. Despite the differences in methodology and interpretation, both Ifá and Afa share a common goal: to bridge the human and the spiritual realms, providing counsel, foresight, and wisdom to those who seek it.

These divination systems underscore the significance of spirituality, ethics, and community in African societies. They are reflective of a worldview that sees the divine as integral to the resolution of human concerns, whether personal or communal. The practices of Ifá and Afa, much like the divination methods found in the Old Testament of the Israelite tradition, highlight a universal human quest for guidance in the face of uncertainty and the desire for a connection with a higher power.

The resemblance between Israelite customs and those found among Niger Congo peoples in Africa is not mere coincidence. Our discussions have repeatedly shown that Israelite practices are deeply rooted in Africa. This observation is not meant to endorse divination, as those practices have faded into history, replaced by the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. Our mediator and High Priest now is Messiah Yahshua, allowing us direct access to The Most High (TMH), who is our Father, with the Messiah serving as our God and King.  While some may misinterpret my words, it is intended for the insightful to grasp that we are the descendants mentioned in the scriptures, and the Bible is fundamentally an African Israelite book.


 


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3 Comments


This was a great article which clearly shows an obvious connection. Along with your teaching and the included video (where it was noted that even the language sounds much like Yiddish), there is little to object that this information is intentionally being misconstrued to hide the truth...We The People!

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Is needed in this time of awakening. On spot. Thank you Teotw Ministries. APTTHM HalelluYah.


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Excellent read ,accurate and I learned a lot thanks Teotw Ministries.

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