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Holman Bible Dictionary

Incantations

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Chants used by magicians to control evil spirits and thus heal the sick or afflict enemies. No Palestinian incantations survive from the biblical period. Babylonian incantations had three parts, (1) an invocation of the names of the great gods, (2) identification of the spirit causing the illness, and (3) the call for the demon to leave. Compare Acts 19:13 where Jewish exorcists invoked the superior name of Jesus. Mosaic law prohibited the casting of spells ( Deuteronomy 18:11 ). The complaint that the wicked are like a snake immune to the cunning enchanter perhaps refers to the futility of incantations (Psalm 58:4-5 ). The Babylonians hoped to gain success and terrorize their enemies by means of incantations (Isaiah 47:12 ). Isaiah warned their incantations would be of no avail (Isaiah 47:9 ). The tongue muttering wickedness perhaps refers to incantations (Isaiah 59:3 ). The books of magic of Acts 19:19 were likely collections of incantations. See Blessing and Cursing ; Imprecation; Magic.


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Incantations'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/i/incantations.html. 1991.

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