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Must We Destroy Idols?

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

For August 13th 2022

Verse 5

כִּֽי־אִם־כֹּ֤ה תַעֲשׂוּ֙ לָהֶ֔ם מִזְבְּחֹתֵיהֶ֣ם תִּתֹּ֔צוּ וּמַצֵּבֹתָ֖ם תְּשַׁבֵּ֑רוּ וַאֲשֵֽׁירֵהֶם֙ תְּגַדֵּע֔וּן וּפְסִילֵיהֶ֖ם תִּשְׂרְפ֥וּן בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

"Instead, this is what you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred posts, and consign their images to the fire." It is important to note that the total destruction of idols is a mitzvah for Jews and especially in the Holy Land of Israel.

A person who is not Jewish is only obligated to destroy actual idols that come into his or her own possession or nulify them. In other words, if the Gentile wants to use the physical object of the idol for some personal benefit (rather than destroying it), he or she must first nullify the idol. This means that it must be damaged in some way that makes it unfit to be worshipped by the idolaters (e.g., breaking off the nose of a human statue).

A person who is not Jewish (even a righteous Noahide) can destroy an idol for his own use or for the use of someone else who is not Jewish.

What to do with an idolatrous book? You can throw these away, shred them, burn them in any way you want.

What to do with the Bible. As long as your version of the Bible does not have 1 of the 7 special Names of God written out of Hebrew you can also throw it away, shred it, or burn it any way you want. Translated names of God have no sanctity as they have been used for idolatrous purposes.

When in doubt about your Old Testament bury it in your garden. Just as you should do with texts or books containing Holy Names of God that you can no longer keep for any reason.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate.

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