Augury
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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
AUGURY

o'-gu-ri o'-gur-i: This word occurs in the Revised Version (British and American) in Leviticus 19:26 Deuteronomy 18:10, 14 2 Kings 21:6, and the parallel in 2 Chronicles 33:6. In all these cases the verb "practice augury" is in the King James Version "to observe times." The verb thus translated is `onen, which means probably to utter a low croaking sound as was done in divining. See DIVINATION.

I. Definition.

The derivation of "augur" is doubtful, but that it means strictly to divine from the flight of birds is suggested by its likeliest etymology (avis, gur) and especially from the fact that in early Latin the augur was called auspex (= avi spex). But both words came to be applied to all forms of divining from omens.

II. Augury among the Romans.

The Roman augur was a government official, paid to guide the councils of the nation in times of peace and of war. The principal signs from which these augurs deduced their omens were these:

(1) celestial signs, chiefly lightning and thunder, the direction of the former (right to left a good sign, and vice versa);

(2) signs from the flight, cries and feeding of birds;

(3) signs from the movements and audible sounds of animals, including serpents;

(4) signs from the examination of the entrails of animals;

(5) belomancy, or divination by arrows;

(6) sortilege, or divination by lot. Among the Romans as among other nations (Babylonians, etc.), a sacrifice was offered before omens were taken, so as to propitiate the gods.

III. Augury among the Greeks.

Almost the only kind of divination practiced or even known among the Romans was that by signs or omens, though Cicero (de Div. i.1) notices another kind which may be called divining by direct inspiration from the gods. It is this higher and more spiritual mode of divining that obtained most largely among the Greeks, whose chief word for diviner implies this. Yet the lower kind of divination known as augury was to some extent practiced among the Greeks.

IV. Augury among the Hebrews.

In general it may be said that the religion of Israel set itself steadfastly and consistently against augury; a very remarkable fact when one remembers how rife it was among the surrounding peoples-Arabs, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, etc. Surely there is in this evidence of special Divine guidance, for those ancient Hebrews are not fit to be compared with the Babylonians or Egyptians or Romans for achievements in art and general secular literature. For the attitude of the Old Testament toward augury see the passages enumerated in the opening of this article. Several kinds of augury are mentioned in the Old Testament, and in some eases without explicit condemnation.

1. Belomancy:

Belomancy was a method of divination by arrows, a number of which were marked in certain ways, then mixed and drawn at random. We have a reference to this in Hosea 4:12: `My people ask counsel from their wood [literally, "tree"] and their staff [i. e. "arrow"] tells them (their oracles)'; and also in Ezekiel 21:21: `For the king of Babylon. used divination, shaking the arrows to and fro.' The first passage shows that belomancy was practiced by Israelites though the prophet condemned it. The second is interesting as showing how the Babylonian used his arrows. It is to be noticed that the prophet Ezekiel records the incident without making any comment on it, favorable or otherwise. He would, however, had he spoken, almost certainly have condemned it. Mohammed forbade this use of arrows as "an abomination of Satan's work" (Koran, Sur. 5 92).

2. Hydromancy:

Hydromancy, or divination by water, was practiced by Joseph (Genesis 44:3-5) without any censure on the part of the writer. There were among the Romans and other ancient nations, as among modern Arabs, etc., many modes of divining by means of water. Generally a piece of silver or gold or a precious stone was thrown into a vessel containing water: the resulting movements of the water and the figures formed were interpreted according to certain fixed signs. See August., de Civ. Dei, vii0.31; Strabo xvi0.110.39; Iamblichus, de Myst., iii0.4.

3. Sortliege:

Of sortliege, or divination by lot, we have instances in Leviticus 16:8 Matthew 27:35 1 Chronicles 25:8; Jonah 1:2; Acts 1:26, etc. The Urim and Thummim was simply a case of sortilege, though in this case, as in the cases enumerated above, God was supposed to control the result. A proper translation of 1 Samuel 14:41, based on a text corrected according to the Septuagint of Lucian, is the following: "And Saul said, O Lord the God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If the iniquity be in me or in Jonathan my son, give Urim; and if thou sayest thus, The..." It iniquity is in the people, give Thummim. seems almost certain that these words refer to two balls put into the high priest's ephod and drawn by him at random, the one divining one answer, and the other the contrary.

4. Other Methods:

We meet with several other signs. The prophet Elisha directs King Joash to throw two arrows through the window in order to find out whether the king will be victorious or not (2 Kings 13:14-19). If Gideon's fleece were wet and the ground dry this was to be a sign of coming victory over the Midianites. There is nothing in the narrative disapproving of the course taken (Judges 6:36-40). In 1 Samuel 14:8 Jonathan is represented as deciding whether or not he is to attack the Philistines by the words he will hear them speak. See further Genesis 24:12-19 2 Kings 20:9.

5. Dreams:

Dreams are very commonly mentioned in the Bible as a means of forecasting the future. See Genesis 20:3, 6 (Abimelech); 31:10-13 (Jacob); 37:05:00; 40:3 (Joseph), and also Judges 7:13 1 Kings 3:5; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:12; 27:19, etc. The part of the Pentateuch ascribed by Wellhausen, etc., to Elohist abounds with accounts of such significant dreams.

6. Astrology:

That omens were taken from the heavenly bodies by the Babylonians, and other ancient nations is matter of definite knowledge, but it is never countenanced in the Old Testament. Indeed the only explicit reference to it in the Hebrew Scriptures occurs in Isaiah 47:13 where the Exilic author mockingly urges Babylon to turn to her astrologers that they may save her from her threatened doom.

Several cuneiform inscriptions give lists of celestial omens by which Babylonian augurs prognosticated the future. In Matthew 2 the wise men received their first intimation of the birth of the child Jesus from a bright star which they saw in the East.

V. Higher Character of Hebrew Prophecy.

Though Old Testament prophecy in its lowest forms has features in common with heathen divination, it stands on an infinitely higher level. The prophet speaks under a strong impulse and from a sense of duty. The heathen diviner plied his calling for money. The Greek mantis worked himself into a state of frenzy, thought to imply inspiration, by music and certain drugs. The prophet believed himself directly guided by God. See ASTROLOGY, 1; DIVINATION.

LITERATURE.

T. Witton Davies, Magic. Divination and Demonology among the Hebrews, 1898, 72; articles on "Divination" in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes) (Jevons); Encyclopedia Biblica (T. Witton Davies), and on "Augury" in Jewish Encyclopedia (Blau), valuable as giving the rabbinical side as well.

T. Witton Davies

Strong's Hebrew
4738. miqsam -- divination
... Word Origin from the same as qesem Definition divination NASB Word Usage divination
(2). divination. From qacam; an augury -- divination. see HEBREW qacam. ...
/hebrew/4738.htm - 6k

5173. nachash -- divination, enchantment
... enchantment. From nachash; an incantation or augury -- enchantment. see HEBREW
nachash. 5172, 5173. nachash. 5174 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/5173.htm - 6k

Library

Of the Falsity of the Augury by which the Strength and Stability ...
... Book IV. Chapter 29."Of the Falsity of the Augury by Which the Strength and
Stability of the Roman Empire Was Considered to Be Indicated. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/augustine/city of god/chapter 29 of the falsity of.htm

But Besides, if Birds of Augury Converse with one Another...
... Chapter XCI. But besides, if birds of augury converse with one another´┐Ż
But besides, if birds of augury converse with one another ...
/.../origen/origen against celsus/chapter xci but besides if.htm

And Wishing to Show at Greater Length that Even the Thoughts of ...
... not only among the Greeks, but also among the Barbarians, who have either discovered
or learned from certain demons some things about birds of augury and other ...
/.../origen/origen against celsus/chapter lxxxviii and wishing to.htm

Concerning Felicity, whom the Romans, who Venerate Many Gods, for ...
... Therefore, if it is thought they can be consulted by augury, or in any other way,
the gods themselves should be consulted about this thing, whether they may ...
/.../augustine/city of god/chapter 23 concerning felicity whom the.htm

Whether we Ought to Distinguish Several Species of Divination?
... the movements and cries of birds or of any animals, or the sneezing of men, or the
sudden movements of limbs, this belongs in general to "augury," which is so ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether we ought to distinguish.htm

First Tractate.
... Augury, it is urged, is able from these indications to foretell what is to happen
not merely to the universe as a whole, but even to individuals, and this not ...
//christianbookshelf.org/plotinus/the six enneads/first tractate 3.htm

The Greeks Claim, Without Reason, the Invention of the Arts.
... invented the art of divining by dreams; the Carians, that of prognosticating by
the stars; the Phrygians and the most ancient Isaurians, augury by the flight ...
/.../tatian/tatians address to the greeks/chapter i the greeks claim without.htm

The Folly of this Heresy it Dissects and Mutilates the Deity. ...
... [6655] And in this we have the first augury of our victory; because even merely
to point out that which is concealed with so great an outlay of artifice, [6656 ...
/.../tertullian/against the valentinians/chapter iii the folly of this.htm

On the Government of God
... Assyrians, 198, 206. Asylum, 150. Athens, 230. Athletes, 162. Attic wisdom, 221.
Attila, 140. Augury, 161. Augustine, St., 21, 22, 43; Bon. coniug., 221n; Contra ...
//christianbookshelf.org/salvian/on the government of god/index 2.htm

Argument: Moreover, God not Only Takes Care of the Universal World ...
... I pass over the Persians who gathered the augury for their chieftainship from the
neighing of horses; [1766] and I do not quote that absolutely dead fable of ...
/.../the octavius of minucius felix/chapter xviii argument moreover god not.htm

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The art or practice of foretelling events by observing the actions of birds, etc.; divination.

2. (n.) An omen; prediction; prognostication; indication of the future; presage.

3. (n.) A rite, ceremony, or observation of an augur.

Thesaurus
Augury (5 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. AUGURY. ... But both words came to be applied to
all forms of divining from omens. II. Augury among the Romans. ...
/a/augury.htm - 17k

Augur's
... o'-gurs' ok: If we translated the Hebrew verb `onen, "to practice augury" (see AUGURY)
we should in Judges 9:37 for "the oak of Meonemm" render "the augurs' oak ...
/a/augur's.htm - 8k

Enchantment (4 Occurrences)
... They included enchantment, sorcery, witchcraft, sooth-saying, augury, necromancy,
divination in numberless forms, and all kinds of magic article Nine varieties ...
/e/enchantment.htm - 16k

Oak (22 Occurrences)
... o'-gurs' ok: If we translated the Hebrew verb `onen, "to practice augury" (see AUGURY)
we should in Judges 9:37 for "the oak of Meonemm" render "the augurs' oak ...
/o/oak.htm - 33k

Soothsaying (4 Occurrences)
... Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall
ye use enchantments, nor practise augury. (See JPS NAS). ...
/s/soothsaying.htm - 8k

Divined (6 Occurrences)
... 2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practised augury,
and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with ...
/d/divined.htm - 8k

Practised (13 Occurrences)
... 2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practised augury,
and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with ...
/p/practised.htm - 10k

Astrology
... 1. Methods of Soothsaying: The forms of soothsaying mentioned in this catalogue
are as follows: "One that practiceth augury" (me`onen) is of uncertain etymology ...
/a/astrology.htm - 38k

Divination (25 Occurrences)
... 2. (n.) An indication of what is future or secret; augury omen; conjectural presage;
prediction. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. DIVINATION. ... See AUGURY. ...
/d/divination.htm - 45k

Practise (52 Occurrences)
... (ASV). Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall
ye use enchantments, nor practise augury. (See JPS ASV DBY). ...
/p/practise.htm - 22k

Bible Concordance
Augury (5 Occurrences)

Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantments, nor practise augury.
(ASV RSV)

Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer,
(ASV)

Deuteronomy 18:14 For these nations, that thou shalt dispossess, hearken unto them that practise augury, and unto diviners; but as for thee, Jehovah thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
(ASV)

2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son to pass through the fire, and practised augury, and used enchantments, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger.
(ASV RSV)

2 Chronicles 33:6 He also made his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom; and he practised augury, and used enchantments, and practised sorcery, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke him to anger.
(ASV RSV)

Subtopics

Augury

Related Terms

Augur's

Enchantment (4 Occurrences)

Oak (22 Occurrences)

Soothsaying (4 Occurrences)

Divined (6 Occurrences)

Practised (13 Occurrences)

Astrology

Divination (25 Occurrences)

Practise (52 Occurrences)

Omen (6 Occurrences)

Ore (5 Occurrences)

Decision (174 Occurrences)

Meonenim (1 Occurrence)

Practiseth (4 Occurrences)

Augur (1 Occurrence)

Augustan (1 Occurrence)

Soothsayers (16 Occurrences)

Soothsayer (4 Occurrences)

Library

Dreamer (4 Occurrences)

Dream (82 Occurrences)

Subapostolic

Sub-apostolic

Omens (3 Occurrences)

Diviner (3 Occurrences)

Divine (39 Occurrences)

Belomancy

Auguries (4 Occurrences)

Arrows (59 Occurrences)

Nineveh (23 Occurrences)

Literature (2 Occurrences)

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