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BIBLICAL ANTHROPOLOGIST
Sunday, 23 October 2011
WITCHCRAFT IN THE BIBLE
Topic: Witchcraft

Witchcraft is a very debated word, particularly today.  Anthropologically speaking, it refers to an individual who practices a spirituality converse to accepted religious behavior in a given society.  Examples of this surely exist in the Bible.  Here are some terms and references to help you in your study.

Witch Occurs only in Exo 22:18, as the rendering of mekhashshepheh, the feminine form of the word, meaning "enchantress" (R.V., "sorceress"), and in Deu 18:10, as the rendering of mekhashshepheth, the masculine form of the word, meaning "enchanter."

 Witchcraft (Sa1 15:23; Kg2 9:22; Ch2 33:6; Mic 5:12; Nah 3:4; Gal 5:20). In the popular sense of the word no mention is made either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture. The "witch of En-dor" (1 Sam. 28) was a necromancer, i.e., one who feigned to hold converse with the dead. The damsel with "a spirit of divination" (Act 16:16) was possessed by an evil spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered, "having a spirit, a pithon." The reference is to the heathen god Apollo, who was regarded as the god of prophecy.

Divination Of false prophets (Deu 18:10, Deu 18:14; Mic 3:6, Mic 3:7, Mic 3:11), of necromancers (Sa1 28:8), of the Philistine priests and diviners (Sa1 6:2), of Balaam (Jos 13:22). Three kinds of divination are mentioned in Eze 21:21, by arrows, consulting with images (the teraphim), and by examining the entrails of animals sacrificed. The practice of this art seems to have been encouraged in ancient Egypt. Diviners also abounded among the aborigines of Canaan and the Philistines (Isa 2:6; 1 Sam. 28). At a later period multitudes of magicians poured from Chaldea and Arabia into the land of Israel, and pursued their occupations (Isa 8:19; Kg2 21:6; Ch2 33:6). This superstition widely spread, and in the time of the apostles there were "vagabond Jews, exorcists" (Act 19:13), and men like Simon Magus (Act 8:9), Bar-jesus (Act 13:6, Act 13:8), and other jugglers and impostors (Act 19:19; Ti2 3:13). Every species and degree of this superstition was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses (Exo 22:18; Lev 19:26, Lev 19:31; Lev 20:27; Deu 18:10, Deu 18:11). But beyond these various forms of superstition, there are instances of divination on record in the Scriptures by which God was pleased to make known his will. (1.) There was divination by lot, by which, when resorted to in matters of moment, and with solemnity, God intimated his will (Jos 7:13). The land of Canaan was divided by lot (Num 26:55, Num 26:56); Achan's guilt was detected (Jos 7:16), Saul was elected king (Sa1 10:20, Sa1 10:21), and Matthias chosen to the apostleship, by the solemn lot (Act 1:26). It was thus also that the scape-goat was determined (Lev 16:8). (2.) There was divination by dreams (Gen 20:6; Deu 13:1, Deu 13:3; Jdg 7:13, Jdg 7:15; Mat 1:20; Mat 2:12, Mat 2:13, Mat 2:19, Mat 2:22). This is illustrated in the history of Joseph (Gen 41:25) and of Daniel (Dan 2:27; Dan 4:19). (3.) By divine appointment there was also divination by the Urim and Thummim (Num 27:21), and by the ephod. (4.) God was pleased sometimes to vouchsafe direct vocal communications to men (Deu 34:10; Exo 3:4; Exo 4:3; Deu 4:14, Deu 4:15; Kg1 19:12). He also communed with men from above the mercy-seat (Exo 25:22), and at the door of the tabernacle (Exo 29:42, Exo 29:43). (5.) Through his prophets God revealed himself, and gave intimations of his will (Kg2 13:17; Jer 51:63, Jer 51:64).

Necromancer (Deu 15:11), i.e., "one who interrogates the dead," as the word literally means, with the view of discovering the secrets of futurity (Compare Sa1 28:7). 

Sorcerer From the Latin sortiarius , one who casts lots, or one who tells the lot of others. In Dan 2:2 it is the rendering of the Hebrew mekhashphim, i.e., mutterers, men who professed to have power with evil spirits. The practice of sorcery exposed to severest punishment (Mal 3:5; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15).  


Posted by Professorburton at 4:04 PM CDT

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