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phylactery

[fi-lak-tuh-ree] /fɪˈlæk tə ri/
noun, plural phylacteries.
1.
Judaism. either of two small, black, leather cubes containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses 4–9 of Deut. 6, 13–21 of Deut. 11, and 1–16 of Ex. 13: one is attached with straps to the left arm and the other to the forehead during weekday morning prayers by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men.
2.
(in the early Christian church) a receptacle containing a holy relic.
3.
an amulet, charm, or safeguard against harm or danger.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; < Late Latin phylactērium < Greek phylaktḗrion outpost, safeguard, amulet, equivalent to phylak-, stem of phylássein to protect, guard + -tērion noun suffix denoting place; replacing Middle English philaterie < Medieval Latin philatērium, for Late Latin, as above
Related forms
phylacteric
[fil-ak-ter-ik] /ˌfɪl ækˈtɛr ɪk/ (Show IPA),
phylacterical, adjective
phylacteried, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for phylacteries
  • The leather thongs may have also been used in the making of phylacteries.
British Dictionary definitions for phylacteries

phylactery

/fɪˈlæktərɪ/
noun (pl) -teries
1.
(Judaism) (usually pl) Also called Tefillah. either of the pair of blackened square cases containing parchments inscribed with biblical passages, bound by leather thongs to the head and left arm, and worn by Jewish men during weekday morning prayers
2.
a reminder or aid to remembering
3.
(archaic) an amulet or charm
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin phylactērium, from Greek phulaktērion outpost, from phulax a guard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for phylacteries

phylactery

n.

late 14c., "small leathern box containing four Old Testament texts," from Old French filatiere (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin philaterium, from Late Latin phylacterium "reliquary," from Greek phylacterion "safeguard, amulet," noun use of neuter of adjective phylakterios "serving as a protection," from phylakter "watcher, guard," from phylassein "to guard or ward off," from phylax (genitive phylakos) "guard," of unknown origin. Sometimes worn on the forehead, based on a literal reading of scripture:

Ye shall bind them [my words] for a sign upon your hands, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. [Deut. xi:18]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phylacteries in the Bible

(Gr. phulakteria; i.e., "defences" or "protections"), called by modern Jews tephillin (i.e., "prayers") are mentioned only in Matt. 23:5. They consisted of strips of parchment on which were inscribed these four texts: (1.) Ex. 13:1-10; (2.) 11-16; (3.) Deut. 6:4-9; (4.) 11:18-21, and which were enclosed in a square leather case, on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew letter shin, to which the rabbis attached some significance. This case was fastened by certain straps to the forehead just between the eyes. The "making broad the phylacteries" refers to the enlarging of the case so as to make it conspicuous. (See FRONTLETS.) Another form of the phylactery consisted of two rolls of parchment, on which the same texts were written, enclosed in a case of black calfskin. This was worn on the left arm near the elbow, to which it was bound by a thong. It was called the "Tephillah on the arm."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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