Ezekiel 30 – Fetishes and Idols

Hmm, Ezekiel 30:13 in the JSB reads: “Thus said the Lord God: I will destroy the fetishes and make an end of the idols in Noph; and no longer shall there be a prince in the land of Egypt; and I will strike the land of Egypt with fear.” So they make a distinction between fetishes and idols! The NRSV (HarCol) and ESV both render that passage: “I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis…” So then are we to take that fetish means image, and that being distinct from an idol? What exactly is the difference?

Considering the words involved, I was somewhat hesitant to search Google for more information. I found, though, that by searching for two words, “fetish idol,” I came up with a couple useful links: One to the Catholic Encyclopedia, and the other to a helpful Wikipedia article that links back to the other. Neither of these clearly explains the distinction between a fetish and an idol, but after reading a few things I get the impression that the differences are minute. In everyday language the words can likely be used interchangeably without being far off.

So then, most likely God via Ezekiel is here using repetition to emphasise that idolatry will be terminated. He probably does not refer to two different things, but uses two words to describe the same thing.