Click here to learn more!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
( קֶסֶם ke'sem, a lot [see below], or some kindred term; Gr. μαντεία [but Πυθών, Pytho, in Acts 16:16]; used in the verb form קָסִם, kasam', only of false prophets, etc., e.g. of the Hebrews, Deuteronomy 18:10; Deuteronomy 18:14; Micah 3:6-7; Micah 3:11; of necromancers, 1 Samuel 28:8; of foreign prophets, as of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 6:2, and Balaam, Joshua 13:22; and specifically of the three kinds of divination common among the Shemitic nations, viz. arrows, entrails, and Teraphim, Ezekiel 21:21) is a general term descriptive of the various illusory arts anciently practiced for the discovery of things secret or future. The curiosity of mankind has devised numberless methods of seeking to accomplish this result. By a perversion and exaggeration of the sublime faith which sees God everywhere, men have laid everything, with greater or less ingenuity, under contribution, as means of eliciting a divine answer to every question of their insatiable curiosity: e.g. the portents of the sky and sea (Plutarch, De Superstitione, passim); the mysteries of the grave (νεκρομαντεία and σκιομαντεία ); the wonders of sleep and dreams (thought to be emanations from the gods, Homer, Il. 1:63; Hymn in Mercur. 14; Virgil, AEn. 5:838); the phenomena of victims sacrificed (deities were supposed to be specially interested or near at hand; comp. the ἱερομαντεία in Potter's Gr. Ant. 2:14); the motions and appearances of the animal creation (such as the flight of birds, a copious source of superstition in the — ρνιθοσκοπία of the Greeks and the auguriumn of the Latins, and the aspect of beasts); and the prodigies of inanimate nature (such as the ἐνόδια σύμβολα, omens of the way, upon which whole books are said to have been written; the κληδόνες, ominous voices); and the long list of magic arts, which may be found in Hoffmann's Lexicon, 2:97, and Potter on the Occult Sciences (in the Encycl. Metropol. part 5, which contains some thirty names ending in many, or compounds of μαντεία, all branches of the magic art). Nor have these expedients of superstition been confined to one age or to a single nation. The meteoric portents, for instance, which used to excite the surprise and fear of the old Greeks and Romans, are still employed among the barbarians of Africa (e.g. musana of the Manika tribe, Krapf's Trav. in E. Africa, page 115 sq.); and as the ancients read fearful signs in the faeces of animals (Virgil, Georg. 1:469), the savage Bakmains indicate the presence of the terrible alligator with their boleo ki bo, "there is sin" (Livingstone's Trav. in S. Africa, page 225). (See SUPERSTITION).
This art "of taking an aim of divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations" (Bacon, Ess. 17), accordingly has been universal in all ages and all nations, alike civilized and savage. It arises from an impression that, in the absence of direct, visible guiding Providence, the Deity suffers his will to be known to men, partly by inspiring those who from purity of character or elevation of spirit were susceptible of the divine afflatus (θεομάντεις, ἐνθουσιασταί, ἐκστατικοί ), and partly by giving perpetual indications of the future. which must be learned by experience and observation (Cicero, Div. 1:18; Pliny, 30:5).
(a.) The first kind of divination was called natural (ἄτεχνος, ἀδίδακτος ), in which the medium of inspiration was transported from his own individuality, and became the passive instrument of supernatural utterances (Virg. AEn. 6:47; Ovid, Met. 2:640, etc.). As this process involved violent convulsions, the word, μαντική, soothsaying, is derived from μαίνεσθαι, to rave, and alludes to the foaming mouth and streaming hair of the possessed seer (Plato, Tim. 72, B, where the μάντις is carefully distinguished from the προφήτης ). But even in the most passionate and irresistible prophecies of Scripture we have none of these unnatural distortions (Numbers 23:5; Psalms 39:3; Jeremiah 20:9), although, as we shall see, they were characteristic of pretenders to the gift. (See SOOTHSAYER).
(b.) The other kind of divination was artificial (τεχνική ), and probably originated in an honest conviction that external nature sympathized with and frequently indicated the condition and prospects of mankind-a conviction not in itself ridiculous, and fostered by the accidental synchronism of natural phenomena with human catastrophes (Thucyd. 3:89; Josephus, War, 6:5, 3; Foxe's Martyrs, 3:406, etc.). When once this feeling was established the supposed manifestations were infinitely multiplied, and hence the numberless forms of imposture or ignorance called capnomancy, pyromancy, arithmomancy, libanomancy, botanomancy, cephalomancy, etc., of which there are abundant accounts in Cicero, De Div.; Cardan, De Sapientia; Anton. 5. Dale, De Orig. Idol.; Fabricius, Bibl. Antiq. pages 409-426; Carpzov, App. Crit. pages 540-549; Potter's Antiq. 1, chapter 8 sq. Indeed, there was scarcely any possible event or appearance which was not pressed into the service of augury; and it may be said of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as of the modern New Zealanders, that, "after uttering their karakias (or charms), the whistling of the wind, the moving of trees, the flash of lightning, the peal of thunder, the flight of a bird, even the buzz of an insect, would be regarded as an answer" (Taylor's New Zealand, page 74; Bowring's Siam, 1:153 sq.). A system commenced in fanaticism ended in deceit. Hence Cato's famous saying that it was strange how two augurs could meet without laughing in each other's face. But the supposed knowledge became in all nations an engine of political power, and hence interest was enlisted in its support (Cicero, De Legg. 2:12; Livy, 6:27; Sophocles, Antig. 1055; comp. Micah 3:11). It fell into the hands of a priestly caste (Genesis 41:8; Isaiah 47:13; Jeremiah 5:31; Daniel 2:2), who in all nations made it subservient to their own purposes. Thus in Persia, Chardin says that the astrologers would make even the shall rise at midnight and travel in the worst weather in obedience to their suggestions. (See ASTROLOGER).
The invention of divination is ascribed to Prometheus (AEschylus, Pr. Vinct. 492), to the Phrygians and Etrurians, especially sages (Cicero, De Div. 1; and Clem. Alex. Strom. 1:326, where there is a great deal more on the subject), or (as by the fathers generally) to the devil (Firmic. Maternus, De Errore, Prooem; Lactant. 2:16; Minuc. Felix. October 27). In the same way Zoroaster ascribes all magic to Ahriman (Nork, Bram. und Rab. page 97). Similar opinions have prevailed in modern times (Sir Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errors, 1:11). (See MAGIC).
Egypt, the cradle of arts and sciences, if she did not give it birth, seems to have encouraged the practice of divination at an early age; and, whether any of its forms had become objects of popular superstition, or were resorted to for the purposes of gain in the days of Joseph, it is well known that at the time of the Hebrew Exodus there were magicians in that country whose knowledge of the arcana of nature, and whose dexterity in the practice of their art, enabled them, to a certain extent, to equal the miracles of Moses. By what extraordinary powers they achieved those feats, how they changed their rods into serpents, the river water into blood, and introduced frogs in unprecedented numbers, is an inquiry that has occasioned great perplexity to many men of learning and piety. (See JANNES (AND JAMIBRES).)
It is reasonable to suppose that as Moses never had been in any other civilized country, all the allusions contained in his writings to the various forms of divination were those which were practiced in Egypt; and: indeed, so strong a taste had his countrymen imbibed there for this species of superstition, that throughout the whole course of their history it seems to have infected the national character and habits. Nor was it confined to the vicinity of Palestine, for as early as the time of Balaam (q.v.) we find it practiced by professional characters to the very banks of the Euphrates (Numbers 22:5; Numbers 22:7; see Biedermann, De mercede divinitoria, Vitemb. 1717). The diviners, who abounded both amongst the aborigines of Canaan and their Philistine neighbors (Isaiah 2:6), proved a great snare to the Israelites after their settlement in the promised land; and yet, notwithstanding the stern prohibitions of the law, no vigorous efforts were made to put an end to the crime by extirpating the practitioners of the unhallowed art until the days of Saul, who himself, however, violated the statute on the night previous to his disastrous fall (1 Samuel 28). But it was Chaldmea to which the distinction belongs of being the mother-country of diviners. (See CHALDAEAN). Such a degree of power and influence had they attained in that country, that they farmed the highest caste and enjoyed a place at court; nay, so indispensable were they in Chaldaean society, that no step could be taken, not a relation could be formed, a house built, a journey undertaken, a campaign begun, until the diviners had ascertained the lucky day and promised a happy issue. A great influx of these impostors had at various times poured from Chaldaea and Arabia into the land of Israel to pursue their gainful occupation, more especially during the reign of the later kings (Isaiah 8:19), and we find Manasseh not only their liberal patron, but zealous to appear as one of their most expert accomplices (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6). The long captivity in Babylon spread more widely than ever among the Jews a devoted attachment to this superstition; for after their return to their own country, having entirely renounced idolatry, and, at the same time, no longer enjoying the gift of prophecy or access to the sacred oracles, they gradually abandoned themselves, as Lightfoot has satisfactorily shown, before the advent of Christ, to all the prevailing forms of divination (Comment. on Matt.). (See EXORCISM).
Superstition not unfrequently goes hand in hand with skepticism, and hence, amid the general infidelity prevalent through the Roman empire at our Lord's coming, imposture was rampant, as a glance at the pages of Tacitus will suffice to prove. Hence the lucrative trades of such men as Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), Bar-jesus (Acts 13:6; Acts 13:8), the slave with the spirit of Python (Acts 16:16), the vagabond Jews, exorcists (Luke 11:19; Acts 19:13), and other mountebanks (γόηες, 2 Timothy 3:13; Revelation 19:20, etc.), as well as the notorious dealers in magical writings (Ε᾿φέσια γράμματα ), and the jugglers (περίεργα ) at Ephesus (Acts 19:19). Among the Jews these flagrant impostors (ἀπατεῶνες, Josephus) had become dangerously numerous, especially during the Jewish war; and we find them constantly alluded to in Josephus (War, 6:5, 1, 2; comp. Matthew 24:23-24; Tacit. Hist. 5:12; Joseph. Ant. 20:5, 1, etc.). As was natural, they, like most Orientals, especially connected the name of Solomon with their spells and incantations (Joseph. Ant. 8:2). The names of the main writers on this wide and interesting subject will be found mentioned in the course of this article, and others are referred to in Fabricius, Bibl. Antiq. cap. 12, and Bottcher, De Inferis, page 101 sq. (See CURIOUS ARTS).
Against every species and degree of this superstition the sternest denunciations of the Mosaic law were directed (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-11), as fostering a love for unlawful knowledge (comp. the Koran, chapter 5; Cato, De Re Rust. 5; "vana superstitione rudes animos infestant;" Columell. 2:1); because prying into the future beclouds the mind with superstition, and because it would have been (as indeed it proved to be, Isaiah 2:6; 2 Kings 21:6) an incentive to idolatry; indeed, the frequent denunciations of the sin in the prophets tend to prove that these forbidden arts presented peculiar temptations to apostate Israel (Hottinger, Juris Hebr. leges, pages 253, 254). But God supplied his people with substitutes for divination, which would have rendered it superfluous, and left them in no doubt as to his will in circumstances of danger, had they continued faithful. It was only when they were unfaithful that the revelation was withdrawn (1 Samuel 28:6; 2 Samuel 2:1; 2 Samuel 5:23, etc.). According to the Rabbis, the Urim and Thummim lasted until the Temple; the spirit of prophecy until Malachi; and the Bath-Kol, as the sole means of guidance from that time downwards (Maimonides, de Fundam. Leg. cap. 7; Abarbanel, Prolegg. in Daniel.). See below.
How far Moses and the Prophets believed in the reality of necromancy, etc., as distinguished from various forms of imposture, is a question which at present does not concern us. But even if, in those times, they did hold such a belief, no one will now urge that we are bound to do so at the present day. Yet such was the opinion of Bacon, Bishop Hall, Baxter, Sir Thos. Browne, Lavater, Glanville, Henry More, and numberless other eminent men. Such also was the opinion which led Sir M. Hale to burn Amy Duny and Rose Cullenden at Bury in 1664 and caused even Wesley to say, that "to give up a belief in witchcraft was to give up the Bible." (For a curious statute against witchcraft [5 Eliz. cap. 15], see Collier's Eccl. Hist. 6:366.) Much discussion, moreover, has been carried on by learned men to determine the question whether the ancient tribe of diviners merely pretended to the powers they exercised, or were actually assisted by daemoniacal agency. The latter opinion is embraced by almost all the fathers of the primitive Church, who appeal, in support of their views, to the plain language of Scripture; to the achievements of Jannes and Jambres in the days of Moses; to the divine law, which cannot be chargeable with the folly of prohibiting crimes that never existed; and to the strong presumption that pretensions to interpret dreams, to evoke the dead, etc., would never have met with credit during so many ages had there not been some known and authenticated instances of success. On the other hand, it has been maintained with great ability and erudition that the whole arts of divination were a system of imposture, and that Scripture itself frequently ridicules those who practiced them as utterly helpless, and incapable of accomplishing anything beyond the ordinary powers of nature (Isaiah 47:11-13; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 14:14; Jonah 2:8). (See WITCHCRAFT).
I. Of the many instances of divination which occur in Holy Scripture, some must be taken in a good sense. These have accordingly been classed by J. C. Wichmannshausen (Dissert. de Divinat. Babyl. [ed. Hichius et Messerer.],Viteb. 1720 sq.) as truly "divine." (See Peucer, De praecipuis divinationum generibus, Zerbst. 1591; F.a.M. 1607.) (See INSPIRATION).
1. Cleromancy (κληρομαντεία ), divination by lot. This mode of decision was used by the Hebrews in matters of extreme importance, and always with solemnity and religious preparation (Joshua 7:13). The land was divided by lot (גּוֹרָל, κλῆροι, sors; Numbers 26:55-56; Joshua 14:2); Achan's guilt was detected by lot (Joshua 7:16-19); Saul was elected king by lot (1 Samuel 10:20-21); and, more remarkable still, Matthias was chosen to the vacant apostleship by solemn lot, and invocation of God to guide the decision (Acts 1:26). This solemnity and reverence it is which gives force to such passages as Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18. (See Augustine, De Doctr. Christ. 1:28; Thom. Aquin. 2:2, qu. 95, art. 8.) Under this process of גּוֹרָל, or lot, were appointed the interesting ordinances of the scape-goat and the goat of the sin-offering for the people (Leviticus 16:8-10). (See LOT).
2. Oneiromancy (— νειρομαντεία ), divination by dreams (Deuteronomy 13:2-3; Judges 7:13; Jeremiah 23:32; Josephus, Ant. 17:6, 4). The interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams by the divinely-gifted Joseph (Genesis 41:25-32), and the retracing and interpretation of those of Nebuchadnezzar by the inspired prophet (Daniel 2:27, etc. and again Daniel 4:19-28), as opposed to the diviners of false dreams (Zechariah 10:2), are very prominent cases in point; and, still more, the dreams themselves divinely sent (as those in Genesis 20:6; Judges 7:15; 1 Kings 3:5; so those in Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:12-13; Matthew 2:19; Matthew 2:22), must he regarded as instances of divination in a good sense, a heavenly oneiromancy (comp. Mohammed's dicta: "Good dreams are from God;" "Goodd reams are one of the great parts of prophecy," Lane's Arab. Nights, 1:68). This is clear from Numbers 12:6 (where dreams [to the sleeping] and visions [to the awake] are expressly mentioned as correlative divinations authorized by God), compared with 1 Samuel 28:6. Many warnings occur in Scripture against the impostures attendant on the interpretation of dreams (Zechariah 10:2, etc.). We find, however, no direct trace of seeking for dreams such as occurs in Virgil, AEn. 7:81; Plautus, Curcul. 1:1, 2, 61. (See DREAM).
3. The Urim and Thummim (Numbers 27:27), which seem to have had the same relation in true divination that the Teraphimn (q.v.), or idolomnncy, had in the idolatrous system (see Hosea 3:4). (See URIM AND THUMMIM). Similar to this was divination by means of the Ephod (q.v.).
4. Phonomancy, by means of the Bath-Kol (בִּת קוֹל, daughter of the voice, i.e., direct vocal communication), which God vouchsafed especially to Moses (see Deuteronomy 34:10). Various concomitants of revelation were employed by the Deity: as the Rod-Serpent (Exodus 4:3); the Leprous Hand (Exodus 4:4); the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:4); the Plagues (Exodus 3:7-12); the Cloud (Exodus 16:10-11); but most instances are without phenomena (Deuteronomy 4:15; 1 Kings 19:12-13; 1 Kings 19:15, and perhaps Matthew 3:13). This, the true Bath-Kol, must not be confounded with the fabulous one of the Rabbis, which Dr. Lightfoot calls "a fiction of their own brain to bring their doctors and their doctrines into credit" (Works, 3:132). (See BATH-KOL).
5. The Oracles: first, of the Ark of the Testimony, or Covenant (הָעֵדוּת אֲרוֹן ), described in Exodus 25:22, and 1 Kings 6:16-31 (comp. Psalms 28:2); secondly, of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, or Testimony (אֹחֶל הָעֵדוּת ), described in Exodus 29:42-43. In the account of the Temple, both in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles, the word דְּבַיר is used fifteen times to designate the "Oracle," i.e., the Holy of Holies (see 1 Kings 6:16), in which was placed the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 6:19), whose golden cover, called the Mercy-seat, was the actual situs oraculi (Hottinger, Thes. Philip. page 366). That there were several oracles of heathen gods known to the Jews we may infer both from the mention of that of Baal-zebub at Ekron (2 Kings 1:2-6), and from the towns named Debir. "Debir quod nos oraculum sive responsunz possumus appellare, et ut contentiosius verbum exprimamus e verbo λαλητήριον, vel locutorium dicere" (Jerome, ad Ephesians 1). The word "oracles" is applied in the N.T. to the Scriptures (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2, etc.). On the general subject of oracles, see Anton. 5. Dale, De oraculis; Smith, Dict. of Class. Ant. art. Oraculum; Potter's Antiq. 1:286-326; Sir T. Browne, Tract 11, and Vulg. Err. 7:12, etc. (See ORACLE).
6. The Angelic Voice, דְּבִר מִלְאָךְ (e.g. Genesis 22:15; Judges 13:3; Judges 13:13). (See ANGEL).
7. The Prophetic Institution (נְבוּאָה, see Buxtorf, Lex. Rabb. col. 1286). This was the most illustrious and perfect means of holy divination (as the oracular system in the heathen world was the most eminent perversion and imitation of it), and was often accompanied with symbolical action (2 Kings 13:17; Jeremiah 51:63-64). We may learn the importance of the place it was designed to occupy in the Theocracy as a means of divination, by the express contrast drawn between it, on the one hand, and the divinations of idolatry on the other. Comp. Jeremiah 51:14 with Jeremiah 51:15 of Deuteronomy 18 :(See Michaelis's Laws of Moses, art. 36.) Under this head of prophecy we must, of course, include the רוּחִ חִקּדֶשׁ, as the Jews call the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The revelations of the Old Testament are most suitably included in these heavenly utterances, Λόγια Θεοῦ . (See Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11.) Such are the chief modes of divine communication to men, or inspired divination: they are referred to in Hebrews 1:1. The antithesis there points to the Son of God as the Ultimate Oracle (the Logos of John), the fulfiller of the promise, which Moses gave when he prohibited all spurious divination. (See PROPHET).
8. Before we close our notice of divination in a good sense, we must adduce two instances of the Hebrew word at the head of this article, קסם (ksm). Of the thirty-one occurrences of this expressive term in the O.T., no less than twenty-nine bear an evil meaning. In Proverbs 16:10, and Isaiah 3:2, we claim for it a good sense. In the former of these passages the noun קֶסֶם (Sept. μαντεῖον; Vulg. divinatio) is rendered in the A.V. a divine sentence [marg. "divination"], and denotes "sagacity such as of diviners" (Poli Synops. in loc. Melancthon, as quoted by bishop Patrick in loc., refers to the acute wisdom of Solomon in his celebrated judgment, and of Gonzaga in his sentence on the governor of Milan, as instances of this קסם; we might add the case supposed by Solomon himself of the sagacious poor man who successfully defended the city against the mighty invader, Ecclesiastes 9:15). In Isaiah 3:2, the word occurs in the Poel form, קסֵם (Sept. στοχαστής; Vulg. ariolus), and is rightly rendered in the A.V. prudent; the company in which the term is found requires for it a good signification. See above.
9. It only remains under this head to allude to the fact that great importance was peculiarly attached to the words of dying men. Now although the observed fact that "men sometimes, at the hour of their departure, do speak and reason above themselves" (Relig. Medici, 11), does not, of course, take away from. the death-bed prophecies of Scripture their supernatural character (Genesis 49; 2 Kings 13, etc.), yet it is interesting to find that there are analogies which resemble them (Il. 22:355; and the story of Calanus; Cicero, De Div. 1:30; Shaksp. Rich. Il. 2:1; Daniell, Civil Wars, 3:62, etc.).
II. Forms of divination expressly forbidden in Scripture. Allusion has already been made in this article to Deuteronomy 18:10-12. As these verses contain the most formal notice of the subject, we will first take the seven or eight kinds of diviners there denounced in the order in which they are mentioned.
1. At the very outset we encounter in the phrase קֹסֵם קְסָמַים, kosem' kesamim', one divining divinations (Sept. μαντευόμενος μαντείαν, Vulg. qui ariolos sciscitatur, A.V. "that useth divination"), the same word which we have just noticed in a good sense. The verb קָסִם, like the Arabic equivalent, primarily signified to cleave or divide (Meier, Hebr. Wiirtzelworterbuch, page 344; Fü rst, Hebr. Worterb. 2:322; Hottinger, Lex. Heptagl. 44:1); thence it acquired the sense of deciding and determining, and became a generic phrase for various kinds of divination. Rabbi David de Pomis says, "It is a word of large signification, embracing many specific senses, such as geomancy, necromancy, oneiromancy, cheiromancy, and others." Maimonides (in his treatise : וכו 88 הלכות עבודת כוכבים, cap. 11, § 6) includes besides these methods, gastromancy, lithomancy, and catoptromancy; and Rashi (on Deuteronomy 18:10) makes קסם mainly concerned with the process of rhabdomancy. Amid the uncertainty arising from this generic sense of the word, the Sept. has rendered it by the general phrase μαντεύεσθαι μαντείαν, to divine a divination; wherein it is followed by the Targum of Jonathan, as well as by the Syriac and Arabic versions (J. Clodius, Dissert. de Magia Sagittar. [Viteb. 1675] 1:5; and Wichmannshausen, Dissert. 1:4). The word is used of Balaam (Joshua 13:22), of the Philistine soothsayers (1 Samuel 6:2), of the Hebrew false prophets (Mical 3:3, 6, 7, 11, and in other passages), without specifying any mode of divination. We therefore regard this as a general phrase introductory to the seven particular ones which follow. The absence of the copulative ו, which is prefixed to every other word but מעונּן, confirms this view. As the word, however, involves the notion of "cutting," some connect it with the Chald. גָּזְרַין (from גָּזִר, to cut), Daniel 2:27; Daniel 4:4, etc., and to be taken to mean astrologers, magi, genethliaci, etc. (Juv. 6:582 sq.; Diod. Sic. 2:30). Others refer it to the κληρομάντεις (Schol. ad Eur. Hipp. 1057), since the use of lots was very familiar to the Jews (Gataker on Lots, ad init.); but it required no art to explain their use, for they were regarded as directly under God's control (Numbers 26:55; Esther 3:7; Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18). Both lots and digitorum micatio (odd and even) were used in distributing the duties of the Temple (Otho, Lex. Rab. s.v. Digitis micando). See above.
2. מְעוֹנֵן, meö nen'. This word is variously derived and explained. In our A.V. it is, in two out of seven times of its occurrence (besides the praet. and fut.), rendered "observer of times" (as if from עוֹנֶה, a set time, Fuller, Misc. Sac. 1:16, after Rashi). The idea is, the assigning certain times to things, and distinguishing by astrology lucky from unlucky days, and even months (as when Ovid [Fasti] says, "Mense malum maio nubere vulgus ait") and years (Maimonides, Aboda Sarac cap. 9; Spencer, De Leg. Hebr. 1:387). So perhaps in Job 3:5; just as the Greeks and Romans regarded some days as candidi, others as atri (Hesiod. Opp. et D. 770; Sueton. Aug. 92, etc.). It is not necessary to refer Galatians 4:10 to this superstition; the Mosaic institution of sacred seasons is itself there prohibited, as being abrogated to Christians (Selden, De ann. civil. vet. Jud. c. 21; and Alford, in loc.). The Sept. version, by the verb and part. κληδονίζεσθαι (in four places), and the noun κληδονισυός, (in two others), refers to divination by words and voices (Suidas, κληδινισμοί, αί διά τῶν λόγων παρατηρήσεις ). Festus derives omen itself (quasi oramen), because it proceeds from the mouth (qua fit ab ore). Words of ill omen (δυσφημἱαι, which Horace calls nale omninata verba, and Plautus obscenata [prob. obscaevata]), were exchanged for bona nomina, as when Cicero reported to the Senate the execution of Lentulus and others by the word "vixerunt," they have ceased to live, instead of "mortui sunt," they are dead. So Leotychides embraced the omen of Hegesistratus (Herodot. 11:91). Hebrew instances of this observing of words occur in Genesis 24:14, and 1 Samuel 14:9-10, where a divine interposition occurred; in 1 Kings 20:33, the catching at the word of the king of Israel was rather a human instinct than a παρατήρεσις, or marking, in its proper (superstitious) sense. Akin to and arising from this observance of verbal omens arose the forms of biblomancy called Sortes Homericae, Virgiliance, Bibliae, etc. The elevation of Severus is said to have been foretold by his opening at Virgil's line, "Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, rhemento. "Most remarkable were the responses which it is said Charles I and Lord Falkland obtained, when they consulted their Virgils before the civil war. The former opened AEneid 4, where Dido predicts a violent death to AEneas, while the latter, chanced upon AEneid 11, at Evander's lamentation over his son. According to Nicephorus Gregoras, the Psalter was the best book for the Sortes Biblicae, but Cedrenus informs us that the N.T. was more commonly used (Niceph. Greg., 8, Aug. Ep. 119; Prideaux, Connect. 2:376, etc.; Cardan, De Varietate, page 1040). This superstition became so rife that it was necessary to denounce it from the pulpit as forbidden by the divine precept, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." The Moslems consult the Koran in similar manner, but they take their answer from the seventh line of the righthand page (see Occult Sciences, page 332). A belief in the significance of chance words was very prevalent among the Egyptians (Clem. Alex. Strom. 1:304; Plutarch, De Isaiah 14), and the accidental sigh of the engineer was sufficient to prevent even Amasis from removing the monolithic shrine to Sais (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 4:144). The universality of the belief among the ancients is known to every scholar (Cicero, De div. 1; Herod. 2:90; Virgil, AEn. 7:116, etc.). (See BIBLOMANCY).
Another origin for מעונן is found by some (comp. Vitringa, Comment. ad Isaiah 2:6) in the noun עִיַן, the eye, the root of which occurs once only (1 Samuel 18:9) as a verb, "Saul eyed David." This derivation would point to fascination, the Greek βασκανία and the Latin fascinum. Vossius derives these words from φάεσι καίνειν, to kill with the eyes. Pliny (Holland's transl. 1:155) says: "Such like these are among the Triballians and Illyrians, who with their very eiesight can witch (effascinent), yea, and kill those whom they looke wistly upon any long time" (comp. Aul. Gell. 9:4, 8; Plutarch, Sympos. 5:7). Reginald Scot speaks of certain Irish witches as "eyebiters" (Discovery of Witchcraft, 3:15). Whole treatises have been written on this subject, such as the De Fascino, by the Italian Vairus in 1589; the Opusculum de Fascino, by Gutierrez, a Spaniard, in 1563; and the Tractatus de Fascinatione in 1675, by a German physician called Frommann. (See also Shaw, Trav. page 212.) In Martin's Description of IV. Isles of Scotland, "Molluka beans"' are mentioned as amulets against fascination. Dallaway (Account of Constantinople as quoted in Occult Sciences, page 210) says that "nothing can exceed the superstition of the Turks respecting the evil eye of an enemy or infidel. Passages from tne Koran are painted on the outside of houses, etc., to divert the sinister influence." A belief in the "evil eye," — φθαλμὸς βάσκανος (עִיַן רָע ), was universal, and is often alluded to in Scripture (Deuteronomy 23:3; Matthew 20:15; Tobit 4:7, μὴ φθονησάτω σου ὁ — φθαλμός; 1 Samuel 18:9, "Saul eyed David"). The passages of the ancients on the subject are collected in Potter's Ant. 1:383 sq. (See EYE).
But the derivation of מעונן which finds most favor with modern authorities deduces the word from עָנָן, a cloud, so that the diviner would ply his art by watching clouds, thunders, lightnings (Meier, Hebr Wurzelwb. 5:6, page 92; Fü rst, Worterb. 2:167, who, however, finds room for all the derivations; and Gesenius, s.v. ענן, leans to the figurative sense of to cloud, viz. to use covert arts). Rosenmü ller, Scholia in Leviticus 19:26, follows Aben Esra, who thinks this diviner obtained his omens from observation of the clouds. The notion that the terms קֶדֶם east, אָחֹר west, יָמַין, south, שְׂמאֹל, north, were derived from the position of the Planetarius as he faced the east, taking his celestial observations (Goodwin's Moses and Aaron, 4:10), is rejected by his annotator Carpzov with the greatest disgust. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:2) clearly refers to this divination, which had its counterpart in Greek and Latin literature (e.g. in Il. 2:352, Nestor speaks of right-hand flashes as being lucky (see also Odys. 15:304). Diodorus Siculus (3:340, ed. Bipont.) mentions the divination by means of thunder (κεραυνοσκοπία, and the αἱ ἐν τοῖς κεραυνοῖς διοσημεῖαι ) of the Etrurians (comp. "fulguratores hi fulgurum inspectores," Cato, De Mor. Claud. Neron.; Nonius, 63:21; Cicero, De Div. 2:53. [In Orelli. 2301, fuiguriator.]) Pliny, in 2:43, treats of the physical, and in 2:54, of the oracular qualities of thunder, lightning, etc.; as does L.A. Seneca in Natur. Quast. 2:41. Statius mentions the winds for purposes of divination (Thebaid. 3:512-538). See Humboldt, Kosmos, 2:135, for the probable scientific adaptations by the Etrurians of their divining arts. To this class we must refer "the astrologers" ( שָׁמִיַם חֹבְרֵי here only found); "the star-gazers, or rather star-prophets" (בִּכּוֹכָבַים
הִחֹזַים ); and "the monthly prognosticators," or rather they that make known at the new moons what will happen to thee (מֵאֲשֶר יָבאֹוּ עָלָיַךְ מוֹדַיעַים לֶחַדָשַׁים; see Rosenmiller, in loc.), which are all mentioned in the sublime challenge of God to the Chaldee sorcerers in Isaiah 47:13. Astrology retained a long hold even on the minds of astronomers; e.g. Stoffler from its evaluation predicted a deluge for 1524; Cardan his own death: Wallenstein was a great amateur of astrology; Tycho Brahe studied and practiced it; so did Morinus; Kepler supposed that the planets by their configurations exercised certain influences over sublunary nature; Lord Bacon, moreover, thought that astrology needed only to be reformed, not rejected (Arago, Pop. Astron. [by Smyth and Grant] 2:8; Brewster, Martyrs of Science, 150, 211). (See PROGNOSTIGATOR).
In Judges 9:37, the expression "oak of Meonenim (enchantments)" refers not so much to the general sacredness of great trees (Homer, Od. 14:328, as to the fact that (probably) here Jacob had buried his amulets (Genesis 35:4; Stanley, Sin. and Pal. Page 142). (See MEONENIM).
3. The next word in our list (Deuteronomy 18:10) is מְנִחֵשׁ, menachesh', "an enchanter," (Sept. οἰωνιζόμενος; Vulg. qui observat auguria). In Genesis 44:5; Genesis 44:15, this somewhat general word is used of divining by the cup, or cylicomancy (κυλικομαντεία ). Primitively this was the drinking-cup which contained the libation to the gods (Potter). This divination prevailed more in the East and in Egypt. The κόνδυ, used in the Sept. to designate Joseph's cup, resembles both the Arabic adn: and the Hindu kundi, sacred chalice: (Schleusner, Lex. V.T. s.v.; Kitto, Bib. Illus. 1:398). One of the Assyrian kings, in the sculptures from Nimroud, holds a divining-cup in his right hand (Bonomi's Nineveh, etc. page 306). The famous cup of Jemshid, which is the constant theme of the poetry and mythology of Persia, was said to have been discovered full of the elixir of immortality, while digging to lay the foundation of Persepolis. It possessed the property of representing the whole world in its concavity, and all things good and bad then going on in it. Homer describes Nestor's cup in similar manner; and Alexander the Great had a mystic cup of a like kind. In the storming of Seringapatam the unfortunate Tippoo Saib retired to gaze on his divining-cup; after standing a while absorbed, he returned to the fight and soon fell. The "great magitien" Merlin's cup is described (Spenser's Faerie Queene, 3:2, 19), "Like to the world it'selfe, it seem'd a world of glas." In Norden's Travels in Egypt, and Capt. Cook's Voyages, the use of divining-cups in modern Nubia and at Tongataboo, one of the Friendly Islands, is mentioned (compare Kitto, Daily Bible Illustrat. 1:424). The Orientals ascribe much of Solomon's wisdom to his possession of a sacred cup; a Giamschid, or vase of the sun (D'Herbelot, s.v. Giam, Occult Sciences, page 317). Parkhurst and others, denying that divination is intended, make it a mere cup of office (Bruce's Travels, 2:657), "for which he would search carefully." But in all probability the A.V. is right. The Nile was called the cup of Egypt, and the silver vessel which symbolized it had prophetic and mysterious properties (Havernick, Einl. z.d. Pentat.). The divination was by means of radiations from the water, or from magically- inscribed gems, etc., thrown into it (a sort of ὑδρομαντεία, κατοπτρομαντεία, or κρυσταλλομαντεία Cardan, De rerum Variet. cap. 93), like the famous mirror of ink (Lane, Mod. Eg. 2:362), and the crystal divining-globes, the properties of which depend on a natural law brought into notice in the recent revivals of Mesmerism. Jul. Serenus (De Fato, 9:18) says that after certain incantations a daemon was heard in the water. For illustrations of Egyptian cups, see Wilkinson, 3:258. This kind of divination is not the same as cyathomancy (Suidas, s.v. κοτταβίζειν ), which consists in drawing omens from a common drinking-cup; much like the vulgar practice, still prevalent, of reading fortunes in the fantastic forms assumed by the grounds in a teacup. (See CUP).
But the versions of the Sept. and Vulg. give quite a different turn to our מנחשׁ, and point to that part of the augurial art which consisted of omens from birds, i.e., ornithomancy (— ρνιθομαντεία, οἰωνισμός, — ρνιθοσκοπική ). The Syriac and Arabic versions favor this view (augurari ab animali alato). Birds in their flight over the earth were supposed to observe men's seeret actions, and to be cognizant of accidents, etc. (comp. Ecclesiastes 10:20). Aristophanes (Birds) says, "None but some bird, perhaps, knows of my treasure:" so that the birds assume prerogatives of deity; "We are as good as oracles and gods to you," etc. The notes, the flight, and the feeding of birds were the main phenomena (Bochart, ed. Leusd. 2:19). Homer is full of this divination (Il. 12:310; Od. 15:160, et passim). So the Latin classics; see Servius, Virg. zn. 3:361 ("aves oscines, praepetes"); also Cicero, Fam. 6:6, 13; De Divin. 2:72, etc.; and Livy, 10:40 (tripudium solistimum). For qualities of various birds, see Potter, 15, and Occult Sciences, pages 142, 143. This divination was much in vogue in the East also; so Philostratus (Vit. Apollon. 1:14) and Porphyry (De Abstin. Animal. 3) say. Rabbinical doctors discover augury among King Solomon's attainments, in such passages as Ecclesiastes 10:20, and 1 Kings 4:30. Rashi comments חכם בלשון העוּפות, learned in the tongue of birds; so Kimchi and the Mid. bar Rabba, 19. (See ENCHANTER). The root נחשׁ : has the primary sense of a low hissing, whispering sound; from this arises the derivative נָחָשׁ, a serpent, of frequent occurrence in the O.T. Gesenius, Thes. page 875; Lex. by Robinson, page 665; and Furst, Hebr. Worterb. page 31, prefer to derive from the primary sense (q.d. divinare vel augurari as general terms); but Bochart, 2:21, 22, peremptorily derives from the secondary sense of the serpent, and discovers in this מְנִחֵשׁ the divination called ophiomancy (— φιομαντεία ). Fü rst admits this as "tolerable." Classical instances of divining by serpents occur in Iliad, 2:308; AEneid, 5:84; Cicero, De Div. 1:18,36; Valer. Maxim. 1:6, 8; Terent. Phorm. 4:4, 26; Clem. Alex. Strom. 7; Horace, Carm. 3:27, 5. (According to Hesychius, s.v. οἰωνός, and Suidas, s.v. οίωνιστική, omens from serpents as well as from birds formed a usual branch of the augur's art; hence probably the general phrase employed in the Sept. and other versions.) Serpent-charming, referred to in Psalms 58:5, and Jeremiah 8:17. is a part of this divination. Frequent mention of this art also occurs in both ancient and modern writers. (See Kalisch on Exodus 7:12, who refers to AElian, Hist. Anim. 17:5; Sil. Italic. 3:300; Strabo, 12:814; Gellius, Noct. Attic. 16:11; Shaw, Travels, page 354; Niebuhr, Travels, 1:189; Bochart, Hieroz. 3:162; Description de l'Egypte 8:108; 18:1, 333 [in 1:159, there is a description of the feats of some Cairo jugglers with the serpent Haje]; Quatremere, Mem. sur l'Egypte, 1:202; Minutoli, Travels, page 226; Hengstenberg, Mos. and Egypt, pages 97- 103; Lane, Mod. Egypt, 2:230). The serpent was the symbol of health and healing (Plin. 24:4, 22); Moses's brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9), which was a symbol of deliverance (Wisdom of Solomon 16:6; comp. John 3:14), was at length made an object of idolatrous worship. Hezekiah, to destroy the charm, reduced-its name to its mere material ( נְחִשׁ הִנְּחשֶׁת =נְחֻשְׁתִּן ), 2 Kings 18:4. (See NEHUSHTAN). These menacheshim, therefore, were probably ophiomants-people who, like the ancient Psylli (Pliny, H.N. 7:2; 18:4) and Marmaridae (Sil. Ital. 3:301), were supposed to render serpents innocuous and obedient (Exodus 7:9; Jeremiah 8:17; Ecclesiastes 10:11), chiefly by the power of music (Nicand. Meriac. 162; Lucan, 9:891; AEn. 7:753), but also, no doubt, by the possession of some genuine and often hereditary secret (Lane, Mod. Egypt, 2:106 sq.; Arnob. adv. Gent. 2:32). They had a similar power over scorpions (Francklen's Tour to Persia). (See CHARMER).
4. מְכִשֵׁ, mekashsheph' (Sept. φαρμακός; Vulg. maleficus; Auth. Vers. "witch"). This word has always a bad sense in the Old Test. in the twelve instances in which the verb [always Piel] and the noun are used. The Syriac, however (kasap), bears the good sense of prayer and public service to God .( δέησις, λειτουργία, in Acts 4:31;
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Divination'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/divination.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.