Isaiah 8:19
New International Version
When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

New Living Translation
Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?

English Standard Version
And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

Berean Study Bible
When men tell you to consult the spirits of the dead and the spiritists who whisper and mutter, shouldn’t a people consult their God instead? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

King James Bible
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

New King James Version
And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?

New American Standard Bible
When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should a people not consult their God? Should they consult the dead in behalf of the living?

NASB 1995
When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

NASB 1977
And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Amplified Bible
When the people [instead of trusting God] say to you, “Consult the mediums [who try to talk to the dead] and the soothsayers who chirp and whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Christian Standard Bible
When they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the spiritists who chirp and mutter,” shouldn’t a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When they say to you, “Consult the spirits of the dead and the spiritists who chirp and mutter,” shouldn’t a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

American Standard Version
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living'should they seek unto the dead?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And when they will say to you, “Inquire from Necromancers and from Soothsayers who shriek and murmur” they are not the people of God, those who ask the dead about life

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And if they should say to you, Seek those who have in them a divining spirit, and them that speak out of the earth, them that speak vain words, who speak out of their belly: shall not a nation diligently seek to their God? why do they seek to the dead concerning the living?

Contemporary English Version
Someone may say to you, "Go to the fortunetellers who make soft chirping sounds or ask the spirits of the dead. After all, a nation ought to be able to ask its own gods

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when they shall say to you: Seek of pythons, and of diviners, who mutter in their enchantments: should not the people seek of their God, for the living of the dead?

English Revised Version
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?

Good News Translation
But people will tell you to ask for messages from fortunetellers and mediums, who chirp and mutter. They will say, "After all, people should ask for messages from the spirits and consult the dead on behalf of the living."

GOD'S WORD® Translation
People will say to you, "Ask for help from the mediums and the fortunetellers, who whisper and mutter." Shouldn't people ask their God for help instead? Why should they ask the dead to help the living?

International Standard Version
"So when they advise you, 'Ask the mediums your questions, and quiz the spiritists who chirp and mutter,' shouldn't a people instead be consulting their God— and not the dead— on behalf of those who are living

JPS Tanakh 1917
And when they shall say unto you: 'Seek unto the ghosts and the familiar spirits, that chirp and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living unto the dead

Literal Standard Version
And when they say to you, “Seek to those having familiar spirits, And to wizards, who chatter and mutter,” Does a people not seek to its God? To the dead on behalf of the living?

NET Bible
They will say to you, "Seek oracles at the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, from the magicians who chirp and mutter incantations. Should people not seek oracles from their gods, by asking the dead about the destiny of the living?"

New Heart English Bible
When they tell you, "Consult with the spirits of the dead and familiar spirits who chirp and who mutter. Shouldn't a people consult with their gods, by consulting the dead on behalf of the living?"

World English Bible
When they tell you, "Consult with those who have familiar spirits and with the wizards, who chirp and who mutter:" shouldn't a people consult with their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Young's Literal Translation
And when they say unto you, 'Seek unto those having familiar spirits, And unto wizards, who chatter and mutter, Doth not a people seek unto its God? -- For the living unto the dead!

Additional Translations ...
Context
Darkness and Light
19When men tell you to consult the spirits of the dead and the spiritists who whisper and mutter, shouldn’t a people consult their God instead? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.…

Cross References
Acts 16:16
One day as we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl with a spirit of divination, who earned a large income for her masters by fortune-telling.

Genesis 41:24
And the thin heads of grain swallowed the seven plump ones. I told this dream to the magicians, but no one could explain it to me."

Leviticus 19:31
You must not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out, or you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:6
Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists to prostitute himself with them, I will also set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.

1 Samuel 28:8
So Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes, and he set out with two of his men. They came to the woman at night, and Saul said, "Consult a spirit for me. Bring up for me the one I name."

2 Kings 21:6
He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did great evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger.

2 Kings 23:24
Furthermore, Josiah removed the mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. He did this to carry out the words of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had found in the house of the LORD.


Treasury of Scripture

And when they shall say to you, Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek to their God? for the living to the dead?

seek

Isaiah 19:3
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

Leviticus 20:6
And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

Deuteronomy 18:11
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

that peep

Isaiah 29:4
And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

should not

1 Samuel 28:16
Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

2 Kings 1:3
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?

2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

for the living

Psalm 106:28
They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.

Jeremiah 10:10
But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

1 Thessalonians 1:9
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;









(19) And when they shall say unto you . . .--This then was the temptation to which the disciples of Isaiah were exposed, and to which they were all but yielding. Why should not they do as others did, and consult the soothsayers, who were in such great demand (Isaiah 2:6), as to the anxious secrets of the coming years. The words point to some of the many forms of such soothsaying (Deuteronomy 18:10). The "familiar spirit" (the English term being a happy paraphrase rather than a translation), is closely connected, as in the case of the witch of Endor (1Samuel 28:1-20), with the idea of necromancy, i.e., with the claim to have a demon or spirit of divination (Acts 16:16), on the part of the wizards (comp. Hom. Il. xxiii. 10; Virg. ?n., vi. 492) that "peep" (old English for "pipe," "chirp," "whisper") "and mutter." This peculiar intonation, thrilling each nerve with a sense of expectant awe, seems to have been characteristic of the soothsayers of Isaiah's time (Isaiah 29:4).

Should not a people seek unto their God? . . .--That, the prophet says, is the only true pathway to such knowledge as is good for man. The latter part of the question is abruptly elliptical: Are men to seek on behalf of the living to the dead? What ground, he seems to ask, have we for thinking that the spirits of the dead can be recalled to earth, or, if that were possible, that they know more than the living do? May it not even be that they know less? The prophet views the state of the departed as Hezekiah views it (Isaiah 38:18), as one, not of annihilation, but of dormant or weakened powers. . . .

Verses 19-22. - ISAIAH RECOMMENDS LOOKING TO GOD AND THE REVEALED WORD RATHER THAN TO NECROMANCY. AFFLICTION WILL BRING ISRAEL TO GOD. Isaiah returns, in ver. 19, to the consideration of his disciples. In the terrible times impending, they will be recommended to have recourse to necromancy; he urges that they should look to God and the Law. He then further suggests that, in the coming affliction which he describes (vers. 21, 22), men will generally turn for relief to the same quarter (ver. 20). Verse 19. - Seek unto them that have familiar spirits. In times of great distress the Israelites seem always to have been tempted to consult those among them who pretended to magic and divination. So Saul in the Philistine war resorted to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-20); Manasseh, threatened by Esar-haddon, "used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards" (2 Kings 21:6). Israel generally, oppressed by Syria and Assyria, "used divination and enchantments" (2 Kings 17:17). There was the same inclination now on the part of many Jews. The vexed question of the actual powers possessed by such persons cannot be discussed within the limits of a footnote. It has, moreover, already been treated in the present Commentary, in connection with Leviticus 19:31. Wizards that peep, and that mutter; rather, that chirp and mutter. Tricks of the ventriloquists, probably, who disguised their voices, and represented that they were the voices of ghosts (comp. Isaiah 29:4). The natural speech of some tribes has been compared to the "chirping of birds" (Herod., 4:183; Hornemann, 'Travels,' p. 119). Should not a people, etc.? Very abrupt and elliptical Isaiah means to say, "Do not attend to them; but answer, Should not a people," etc.? For the living. This may either mean "instead of the living," or "on behalf of the living seek to the dead?" or, Would not that be plainly preposterous?

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
When
וְכִֽי־ (wə·ḵî-)
Conjunctive waw | Conjunction
Strong's 3588: A relative conjunction

men tell
יֹאמְר֣וּ (yō·mə·rū)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine plural
Strong's 559: To utter, say

you
אֲלֵיכֶ֗ם (’ă·lê·ḵem)
Preposition | second person masculine plural
Strong's 413: Near, with, among, to

to consult
דִּרְשׁ֤וּ (dir·šū)
Verb - Qal - Imperative - masculine plural
Strong's 1875: To tread, frequent, to follow, to seek, ask, to worship

the spirits of the dead
הָאֹבוֹת֙ (hā·’ō·ḇō·wṯ)
Article | Noun - masculine plural
Strong's 178: A bottle (made from animal skin), a necromancer

and the spiritists
הַיִּדְּעֹנִ֔ים (hay·yid·də·‘ō·nîm)
Article | Noun - masculine plural
Strong's 3049: A knowing one, a conjurer, a ghost

who whisper
הַֽמְצַפְצְפִ֖ים (ham·ṣap̄·ṣə·p̄îm)
Article | Verb - Piel - Participle - masculine plural
Strong's 6850: To chirp, peep

and mutter,
וְהַמַּהְגִּ֑ים (wə·ham·mah·gîm)
Conjunctive waw, Article | Verb - Hifil - Participle - masculine plural
Strong's 1897: To moan, growl, utter, speak, muse

shouldn’t
הֲלוֹא־ (hă·lō·w-)
Adverb - Negative particle
Strong's 3808: Not, no

a people
עַם֙ (‘am)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 5971: A people, a tribe, troops, attendants, a flock

consult
יִדְרֹ֔שׁ (yiḏ·rōš)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 1875: To tread, frequent, to follow, to seek, ask, to worship

their God [instead]?
אֱלֹהָ֣יו (’ĕ·lō·hāw)
Noun - masculine plural construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's 430: gods -- the supreme God, magistrates, a superlative

Why consult the dead
הַמֵּתִֽים׃ (ham·mê·ṯîm)
Article | Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine plural
Strong's 4191: To die, to kill

on behalf of
בְּעַ֥ד (bə·‘aḏ)
Preposition
Strong's 1157: In up to, over against, at, beside, among, behind, for

the living?
הַחַיִּ֖ים (ha·ḥay·yîm)
Article | Adjective - masculine plural
Strong's 2416: Alive, raw, fresh, strong, life


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OT Prophets: Isaiah 8:19 When they tell you Consult with those (Isa Isi Is)
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