Deuteronomy 18:11
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
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(11) Charmer.—Literally one who ties knots, used here for the first time in Old Testament.

Consulter with familiar spirits.—Literally, one who consulteth ôb (see Leviticus 19:31).

A Wizard.—One who knows or pretends to know the secrets of the unseen world. (See Leviticus 19:31.)

Necromancer.—One who inquires of the dead. Four of the above practices are ascribed to king Manasseh in 2Chronicles 33:6. It is hardly possible that all of them were mere imposture and deceit.

Deuteronomy 18:11. Or a charmer — One that charmeth serpents or other creatures. Or rather, as the Hebrew חבר חבר, chober chaber, seems to mean, an astrologer, or such as, by the conjunction of the planets, pretended to foretel the events of men’s lives, or other future things. It must be observed that the eastern people were much addicted to divination of all kinds, and undertook no enterprise of importance without consulting their soothsayers; and therefore Moses uses these sundry expressions that he might prohibit it in all its forms. A consulter with familiar spirits — The original words שׁאל אוב, shoel ob, are here rendered by the Seventy, εγγαστριμυθος, one that speaks out of his belly: but literally, it is one that consults or inquires of Ob. This word originally means a bottle, and was the name which the Hebrews gave to the spirit which was supposed to agitate these ventriloquists, because their bodies were violently distended, like leather bottles full of wine and ready to burst. See Doddridge on Acts 16:16, where both St. Paul and St. Luke evidently consider the girl spoken of as being really possessed by what is there termed πνευμα πυθωνος, a spirit of python, or divination, because the Greeks supposed it to be an inspiration from their god Apollo, whom they termed Pythius.

A wizard — Hebrew, A knowing man; who by any forbidden ways undertakes the revelation of secret things. The Seventy render the word τερατοσκοπος, an observer of prodigies. A necromancer — Hebrew, One that seeketh unto the dead; that calleth up and inquires of them, as the witch of Endor is represented to have done. Dr. Waterland, after the Seventy, renders it, very properly, one that consults the dead. Their manner of doing this is stated to have been by visiting their graves in the night, and there lying down and muttering certain words with a low voice, by which means they pretended to have communion with them by dreams, or by the dead appearing to them. To this Isaiah has been thought to allude, Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 29:4.18:9-14 Was it possible that a people so blessed with Divine institutions, should ever be in any danger of making those their teachers whom God had made their captives? They were in danger; therefore, after many like cautions, they are charged not to do after the abominations of the nations of Canaan. All reckoning of lucky or unlucky days, all charms for diseases, all amulets or spells to prevent evil, fortune-telling, &c. are here forbidden. These are so wicked as to be a chief cause of the rooting out of the Canaanites. It is amazing to think that there should be any pretenders of this kind in such a land, and day of light, as we live in. They are mere impostors who blind and cheat their followers.A charmer - i. e., one who fascinates and subdues noxious animals or men, such as the famous serpent-charmers of the East Psalm 58:4-5.

A consulter with familiar spirits ... a wizard - Compare Leviticus 19:31 note.

Recromancer - literally, "one who interrogates the dead." The purpose of the text is obviously to group together all the known words belonging to the practices in question. Compare 2 Chronicles 33:6.

De 18:9-14. The Abominations of the Nations Are to Be Avoided.

9-14. thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations—(See on [152]Le 18:21; [153]Le 19:26; [154]Le 19:31; [155]Le 20:4). In spite of this express command, the people of Canaan, especially the Philistines, were a constant snare and stumbling block to the Israelites, on account of their divinations and superstitious practices.

A charmer; one that charmeth serpents or other cattle, Psalm 58:5; or, a

fortune-teller, that foretelleth the events of men’s lives by the conjunctions of the stars, &c. See Poole "Leviticus 19:31"; See Poole "Leviticus 20:6".

A consulter with familiar spirits, whom they call upon by certain words or rites to engage them in evil designs.

A wizard, Heb. a knowing or cunning man, who by any superstitious or forbidden ways undertakes the revelation of secret things:

A necromancer; one that calleth up and inquireth of the dead, 1 Samuel 28:8 Isaiah 8:19. Or a charmer,.... That pretends to cure diseases by charms, or a charmer of serpents; according to Jarchi, one that gathers together serpents and scorpions, and other animals, into one place; with which agree the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem,"which bind serpents and scorpions, and all kind of creeping things;''but, according to Aben Ezra, one that says certain words to gather demons together:

or a consulter with familiar spirits; or the inquirer of "Ob", or the bottle, which the Jews interpret of Python, or one that has the spirit of Python; see Acts 16:16, a ventriloquist, one that spoke or seemed to speak out of his belly, or from under his armpits; so it is said in the Misnah (h) of Ob, this is Python, one that speaks out of his arm holes; agreeably to which, Jarchi says, this is that sort of witchcraft which is called Python, and he speaks from his arm holes, and brings up the dead thither: of Baal Ob, or the master of the bottle, say some Jewish writers, one way he uses is, he takes the skull of a dead man, the flesh of which is consumed from it, and he hides it and burns incense to it, and mutters words by it, and hears from it, as if from a dead man (k): or a wizard: a knowing one, as the word signifies, such an one as we call a cunning man; See Gill on Leviticus 19:31.

or a necromancer that inquiries of the dead, or seeks instruction from them, as the Targum of Jerusalem. Aben Ezra describes him as one that goes to burying grounds, and takes the bone of a dead man, and because of his wild imagination there appears to him the likeness of forms; or as Maimonides (l), better still, he is one that fasts and sleeps in graveyards, and utters words; and, according to his imagination, sees future things in dreams.

(h) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 7. (k) Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (l) In ib.

Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
11. a charmer] With Sam. LXX omit or: the name is in apposition to the preceding. Heb. ḥober heber, weaving spells, spell-binder; either of the tying of knots as malignant charms, common among Semites and other races (Campbell Thompson, Sem. Magic 162–173, Frazer, Golden Bough i. 394 ff.; mentioned in the Korân, Sur. cxiii, ‘the mischief of women blowing on knots’; also practised in Europe, cp. the French ‘nouer l’éguillette’), or of the weaving of incantations and spells (W. R. Smith), so LXX ἐπαείδων ἐπαοιδήν. In Psalm 58:5 (6) of charming serpents. For spell-makers in Arabia, see Doughty i. 258, 333, 464 f.

a consulter with a ghost or familiar spirit] Heb. sho’el’ôb weyiddeonî; ’ôb was the spirit of a dead person, also applied to the medium, whose body it inhabited, speaking out from this in a chirping, twittering voice (probably imitated from the sound of bats haunting sepulchres), LXX ἐνγαστρίμυθος; see Leviticus 20:27, 1 Samuel 28:3; 1 Samuel 28:7; 1 Samuel 28:9, Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 29:4, 2 Kings 22:6; 2 Kings 23:24. Yiddeonî means either instructor (the form may be causative) or knower (cp. Scot. wise = with powers of magic, wise-wife = witch, wise-folk = fairies) or acquaintance, familiar (W. R. Smith). LXX, τερατοσκόπος.

a necromancer] Heb. enquirer of, or resorter to (doresh, see on seek, Deuteronomy 12:5), the dead: a general description of the consulter of ghosts and familiar spirits. With Sam. LXX omit or.The reason for the right accorded to the priests was the choice of them for the office of standing "to minister in the name of Jehovah," sc., for all the tribes "In the name of Jehovah," not merely by the appointment, but also in the power of the Lord, as mediators of His grace. The words "he and his sons" point back quite to the Mosaic times, in which Aaron and his sons held the priest's office.
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