When you are come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.…
I. A STERN PROHIBITION OF CANAANITISH PRACTICES. The practice of magic is known to have been extensively developed in ancient Egypt and Chaldea. Numerous indications occur of its existence among the Canaanites (e.g. 1 Samuel 28:7-10). The lower kinds of magic are of rank growth in all barbarous and semi-civilized communities. The priests combine the functions of diviners, prophets, exorcists, thaumaturgists, physicians, and makers of idols and amulets. The magic of the ancients was distinguished as good or bad, according as it was exercised to conjure diseases and to combat demoniacal influences, or was abused to work harm. This last, which was avowedly diabolical in its character, was what was properly called "sorcery," and was universally regarded with horror. The noteworthy fact, however, is that the books of Moses make no distinction as to kind, but forbid absolutely the practice of every species of magical art. Moses recognizes no magic that is good; he classes all under the same category of "abominations." The text is in principle a prohibition of the use of all such arts, whether the pretender to magical power believes in its efficacy or not. It prohibits, further, resort to such as profess these arts. The "spiritualistic" delusions of our time in all their varieties (spirit mediums, rappings, planchettes, etc.), with "fortune-telling," and superstitious practices supposed to bring good or to avert evil "luck," are condemned by the passage.
II. A REASON FOR THIS PROHIBITION.
1. The nature of the practices as "abominations." They were:
Moses, as noticed above, recognizes no "good" magic. It is viewed either as imposture or, assuming its reality, as demonish (Satanic). It was connected with foolish and wicked rites.
2. The character of the people as "perfect (ver. 13). There could not be perfect love to God and communion with him, and trafficking with the devil at the same time. Love to God, faith in him, and entirety of devotion to him should preclude these superstitions. What he wills his people to know he will teach them by proper means; what he conceals they have no right to seek by means that are improper (Isaiah 8:19). - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.