lots. The casting of lots was an ancient method of making a choice, settling a dispute, or determining a course of action. In biblical times lots were cast to determine the will of God (it is believed that the Urim and Thummim, mysterious sacred objects carved on the breastplate of the high priest, were originally used for casting lots and determining a course of action), to discover the guilty, to select officials, and in numerous other instances. The lot, probably a stone, die, or other object, was cast upon the ground, the manner of its fall determining the question in doubt; in other cases, lots were cast into a receptacle and drawn from it. It is possible that dice originated not as a game but as a device for casting lots.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.