Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Phylacteries

From volume 12 of the work.

(Phulachterion - safeguard, amulet, or charm).

The word occurs only once in the New Testament (Matthew 23:5), in the great discourse of Our Lord against the Pharisees whom He reproaches with ostentation in the discharge of their religious and social duties: "For they make their phylacteries broad and enlarge their fringes." By the Jews the phylacteries are termed tephillin, plural of the word tephillah, "a prayer," and consist of two small square cases of leather, one of which is worn on the forehead, the other on the upper left arm. The case for the forehead holds four distinct compartments, that for the arm only one. They contain narrow strips of parchment on which are copied passages from the Pentateuch, viz., Exodus 13:1-10; and Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21. The practice of wearing the phylacteries at stated moments is still regarded as a sacred religious duty by the orthodox Jews.

KLEIN, Die Totaphoth nach Bibel und Tradition in Jahrbuecher f. Prot. Theol. (Berlin, 1881), 666-689; VIGOUROUX, Dict. de la Bible, s.v. Phylacteres.

James F. Driscoll.