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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Divination

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Ezekiel 13:7. Used in Scripture of false systems of ascertaining the divine will, such as are allied to idolatry: as necromancy, which evoked the dead (1 Samuel 28:8); prognostication by arrows (Ezekiel 21:21). The arrows marked with names of places to be attacked were shaken (for "He made His arrows bright," translated, "He shook") together in a quiver; whichever came out first intimated the place selected; or else threw them in the air to see in alighting which way they inclined, toward Jerusalem or Ammon. Inspecting entrails. The healthy or unhealthy state of the sacrificial entrails intimated success or failure. In the Nineveh sculptures the king is represented with a cup in his right hand, his left hand resting on a bow, also two arrows in the right hand, possibly for divination. The "magicians" of Egypt in Genesis 41:8, (chartumim , from cheret "a style" or pen,) were sacred "scribes" of the hieroglyphics, devoted to astrology, magic, etc.; else from Egyptian chertom, "wonder workers," or cher-tum, "bearers of sacred spells."

Daniel was made "master of the magicians" (Daniel 5:11); chokmim , wise men, our wizards (Exodus 7:11);" sorcerers" (mekaskphim ), "mutterers of magic formulae" (Isaiah 47:9-12). Jannes or Anna in Egyptian means "scribe," a frequent name in papyri of the time of Rameses II. Jambres, the other name of an Egyptian magician preserved by Paul (2 Timothy 3:8), means "scribe of the south." The earliest prohibition of witchcraft is Exodus 22:18, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Witchcraft was an appeal to a power alien from God. So it was accounted rebellion against Jehovah. Saul's disobedience and rebellion against God's will led him, though zealous to extirpate witches so long as God's law did not interfere with his impatient self-will, at last to consult the witch of Endor; Samuel's words as to his disobedience in the case of Amalek proving prophetic, "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:23; compare 1 Samuel 28:3-20).

"So Saul died for his transgression (Hebrew shuffling evasion of obedience) ... and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it" (1 Chronicles 10:13). "Wizards," yid'oniym , from yaada "to know" (Leviticus 19:31). Consulters of "the dead," 'oboth (Leviticus 20:6), "those having familiar spirits" which they consulted to evoke the dead; literally, "bottles" (leather) inflated by the spirit; compare Job 32:19, "my belly is as wine which hath no vent ... ready to burst like new bottles." The pythonesses (margin of Acts 16:16) spoke with a deep voice as from the belly; by ventriloquism (Septuagint so translated "them that have familiar spirits," ventriloquists) they made a low voice sound ("peep and mutter") as from the grave or departed person's spirit (Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 29:4).

Scripture has written for all ages (Isaiah 8:19-20):"when they shall say, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits; and unto wizards that peep and that mutter, should not a people seek unto their God? (should they seek) for the (good of) the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony ... if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." This tests and condemns modern spiritualism, the sign of "the latter times and the last days" (1 Timothy 4:1), "seducing spirits and doctrines suggested by demons" (2 Timothy 3:1-8). The phenomena seem supernatural and Satanic, and the communications often lying, as was to be expected from "the father of lying" (John 8:44). The Angekoks, Esquimaux sorcerers, when converted, have declared that their sorceries, when they were heathen, were not mere impostures, that they were acted on by a power they could not control; but when they believed in Jesus they had neither the will nor the power to do what they used in their pagan state.

Brainerd states the same as to the Indian diviners, namely, that all their former powers of divination departed the moment the word of God entered their souls. Satan's design in spiritualism is, judging from the alleged spirit communications, to supersede Scripture with another authority (namely, spirit communications) in matters of faith. Satan and his demons are the real speakers in these pretended communications from the spirits of the dead. The "associate spirit" of spiritualism answers to the Scripture "familiar spirit" of the wizards. The pythoness and the witch of Endor were each a "medium" between the consulters and the powers of darkness. The consulters are put en rapport with the latter, not really with the departed dead. Scripture (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, "the dead know not anything ... neither have they any more a portion forever in anything done under the sun"; 2 Kings 2:9; Luke 16:19-31) implies that it is not the spirits of the dead that make the alleged communications, though these communications assert that it is; this assertion is from a lying spirit, such as was in Ahab's prophets (1 Kings 22:22).

The dead do not return, they are personated by evil spirits. Spiritualism is virtually condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6. "Sorcerers" are especially mentioned as about to abound with "lying wonders," and to be adjudged to damnation, at the Lord's coming again (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; Malachi 3:5; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15). The three frog-like demons out of the mouths of the anti-trinity, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, shall "work miracles" to tempt the ten kings under Antichrist to the last battle for the kingship of the world, against Christ, in "the great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:13-14; compare Zechariah 13:2; Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:14-15). Paul was "grieved," so far was he from seeking and welcoming like spiritualists the pythoness' testimony to him (Acts 16:17-18); for the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of divination cannot dwell together in the same soul.

God condemns those who "remain among the graves and lodge in the monuments" (Isaiah 65:4) for necromancy, to consult the dead. The warning in Isaiah 8:19-20; Mark 5:3, applies to all times. The witch of Endor was "mistress of a spirit by which the dead are conjured up" (1 Samuel 28:7, ba'alath 'owb ). Saul's request, "bring me him up whom I shall name," explains the previous "divine (qacomi ) unto me by the familiar spirit." The witch's recognizing Saul as soon as Samuel appeared proves that her art was not mere jugglery: "Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul"; she was in a state of clairvoyance. On the other hand, her "crying with a loud voice," startled at the sight of Samuel, shows that his appearance differed essentially from anything she had ever by demon art effected before. She tells Saul, "I saw gods (a supernatural being) ascending out of the earth ... an old man covered with a (prophet's) mantle" (me'il ).

Saul apparently did not see Samuel's person, but recognized the "mantle." Saul's inconsistency is convicted by Samuel: "wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?" If God was departed from him he should have been the more afraid to increase Jehovah's displeasure by breaking the laws in consulting the dead, as if they were less under God's control than the living. Abject superstition never reasons. Samuel's prophecy of his and his sons' death on the morrow, and Israel's defeat by the Philistines, proves Samuel's appearance to have been of God, and not by demoniac agency nor an illusion (Sirach 46:20). God for special reasons awakened His servant out of his repose ("why hast thou disquieted me," etc.) to appear, not at a conjuring call which He forbids, but to show the witch and the king the terrible penalty of disobedience and witchcraft, as he (Samuel) had long ago declared in more general terms when alive (1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 28:17-19).

Jehovah's principle is (Ezekiel 14:4; Ezekiel 14:7-8), "every man that setteth up his idols in his heart and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him that cometh, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart ... I will answer him by Myself" (by My own special interposition), answering the fool according to his folly, making the sinner's sin his own punishment. In Egypt books containing magic formulae belonged exclusively to the king, the priests and wise men, who formed a college, being called in by Pharaoh when needful. The qecem divined the future by any mode of taking omens, from a root "to cut." But the kashaph , mekashphim , "sorcerers" above, used fascinations and magic charms (Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:18; Daniel 2:2; Deuteronomy 18:10). The me'oneen (2 Kings 21:6),"an observer of times," from 'aanan "to cover," using covert arts; or else from 'on , "time," "fixed time"; those who define the exact auspicious time to travel, to traffic, etc.; or else "astrologers," who judge by the stars auspicious and inauspicious days.

The Septuagint explain it of "observers of words," so as to decide by them whether success will attend an undertaking or not (Genesis 24:14; 1 Samuel 14:9-10; 1 Kings 20:33). Others take it from ''Αyin , "the eye," "one fascinating with the eyes" (Matthew 20:15). "Monthly prognosticators" (mod'im ), who every new moon professed by observations of it to foretell the future (Isaiah 47:13). Μenachashim , "charmers of serpents," from naachaash , "serpent," "to augur." Ηobreb shamaim , "dividers of the heavens," watching conjunctions and oppositions of the stars; in casting a nativity they observed the sign which arose at the time of one's birth, the mid heaven, the sign in the west opposite the horoscope, and the hypogee.

Divination by rods is alluded to in Hosea 4:12, "their staff declareth unto them"; a rod stripped of bark on one side, not on the other, was thrown up; if the bore side alighted uppermost it was a good omen, otherwise a bad omen. The Arabs mark one rod God bids, the other God forbids; whichever came out first from the case decided the issue. Consultation of idols' oracles is referred to in 2 Kings 1:2-6. The only true "oracle" (debir ) was the holy of holies (1 Kings 6:16; Psalms 28:2); previously, consultation of the Lord through the priest with the ephod (2 Samuel 2:1; 2 Samuel 5:23). Our "oracles" are the Holy Scriptures (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2). Of dealings in magic in the New Testament instances occur: Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-11); Elymas Bar Jesus (Acts 13:6; Acts 13:8); the pythoness (Acts 16:16's margin); the vagabond Jews, exorcists (Acts 19:13; Acts 19:19), the Ephesian books treating of "curious arts"; Galatians 5:20, "witchcraft"; Revelation 9:21, "sorceries."


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Divination'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/d/divination.html. 1949.

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