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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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fa -mil´yar : Is found as an adjective qualifying "friend" and "spirit."

(1) Used, in a number of Old Testament passages, of spirits which were supposed to come at the call of one who had power over them. אוב , 'ōbh , literally, something "hollow"; compare אוב , 'ōbh , "bottle" (Job 32:19 the King James Version); because the voice of the spirit might have been supposed to come from the one possessed, as from a bottle, or because of the hollow sound which characterized the utterance, as out of the ground ( Isaiah 29:4 ); or, as some have conjectured, akin to אוּב , 'ūbh , "return" (νεκρόμαντις , nekrómantis ). Probably called "familiar" because it was regarded as a servant (famulus ), belonging to the family (familiaris ), who might be summoned to do the commands of the one possessing it. The practice of consulting familiar spirits was forbidden by the Mosaic law (Leviticus 19:31 ; Leviticus 20:6 , Leviticus 20:27 ; Deuteronomy 18:11 ). King Saul put this away early in his reign, but consulted the witch of Endor, who "had a familiar spirit" (1 Samuel 28:3 , 1 Samuel 28:7 , 1 Samuel 28:8 , 1 Samuel 28:9 ; 1 Chronicles 10:13 ). King Manasseh fell into the same sin (2 Kings 21:6 ; 2 Chronicles 33:6 ); but Josiah put those who dealt with familiar spirits out of the land (2 Kings 23:24 ).

It seems probable, however, that the practice prevailed more or less among the people till the exile (Isaiah 8:19 ; Isaiah 19:3 ). See "Divination by the 'Ôb " in Expository Times , IX, 157; ASTROLOGY , 1; COMMUNION WITH DEMONS .

(2) "Familiars," "familiar friend," from ידע , yādha‛ , "to know," hence, "acquaintance," one intimately attached (Job 19:14 ); but more frequently of 'ĕnōsh shālōm , "man of (my or thy) peace," that is, one to whom the salutation of peace is given (Psalm 41:9 ; Jeremiah 20:10 ; Jeremiah 38:22 ; also in Obadiah 1:7 , rendered "the men that were at peace with thee").

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Familiar'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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