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Bible Dictionaries

Easton's Bible Dictionary


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Of false prophets (Deuteronomy 18:10,14; Micah 3:6,7,11 ), of necromancers (1 Samuel 28:8 ), of the Philistine priests and diviners (1 Samuel 6:2 ), of Balaam (Joshua 13:22 ). Three kinds of divination are mentioned in Ezekiel 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 (Isaiah 2:6; 1 Samuel 28 ). At a later period multitudes of magicians poured from Chaldea and Arabia into the land of Israel, and pursued their occupations (Isaiah 8:19; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6 ). This superstition widely spread, and in the time of the apostles there were "vagabond Jews, exorcists" (Acts 19:13 ), and men like Simon Magus (Acts 8:9 ), Bar-jesus (13:6,8), and other jugglers and impostors (19:19; 2 Timothy 3:13 ). Every species and degree of this superstition was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26,31; 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10,11 ).

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.

  • There was divination by lot, by which, when resorted to in matters of moment, and with solemnity, God intimated his will (Joshua 7:13 ). The land of Canaan was divided by lot (Numbers 26:55,56 ); Achan's guilt was detected (Joshua 7:16-19 ), Saul was elected king (1 Samuel 10:20,21 ), and Matthias chosen to the apostleship, by the solem lot (Acts 1:26 ). It was thus also that the scape-goat was determined (Leviticus 16:8-10 ).

  • There was divination by dreams (Genesis 20:6; Deuteronomy 13:1,3; Judges 7:13,15; Matthew 1:20; 2:12,13,19,22 ). This is illustrated in the history of Joseph (Genesis 41:25-32 ) and of (Daniel 2:27; 4:19-28 ).

  • By divine appointment there was also divination by the Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:21 ), and by the ephod.

  • God was pleased sometimes to vouch-safe direct vocal communications to men (Deuteronomy 34:10; Exodus 3:4; 4:3; Deuteronomy 4:14,15; 1 Kings 19:12 ). He also communed with men from above the mercy-seat (Exodus 25:22 ), and at the door of the tabernacle (Exodus 29:42,43 ).

  • Through his prophets God revealed himself, and gave intimations of his will (2 Kings 13:17; Jeremiah 51:63,64 ).

    Copyright Statement
    These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Divination'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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