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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Enchantment

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stands in the Authorized Version as the representative of several Hebrews words: usually some form of נָחִשׁ, nachash' (2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; Numbers 23:23; Numbers 24:1), literally to whisper a spell, hence to practice divination in general; לָחִשׁ, lachash' (Ecclesiastes 10:11), of cognate form and signification, especially incantation; לוּט , lut, literally to muffle up, hence to use magic arts (Exodus 7:13; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7; Exodus 8:18); עָנִן, anan', literally to cover with a cloud, hence to practice sorcery (Jeremiah 27:9); and חָבִר, chabar', to bind, i.e., with a spell, to charm (Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12). The following are the specific forms which the black art assumed among the Hebrews. (See AMULET); (See DIVINATION).

1. לָטַים, latim', or לְהָטַים, lehatim', Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:7; Sept. φαρμακίαι (Grotius compares the word with the Greek λιται ); secret arts, from וּט l, to coves; though others incorrectly connect it with לִהִט flame, or the glittering blade of a sword, as though it implied a sort of dazzling cheironomy which deceives spectators. Several versions render the word by "whisperings," insusurrationes, but it seems to be a more general word, and hence is used of the various means (some of them no doubt of a quasi-scientific character) by which the Egyptian chartummim imposed on the credulity of Pharaoh. (See MAGICIAN).

2. פְּשָׁפַים ., keshaphim'; Sept. φαρμακείαι, φάρμακα (2 Kings 9:22; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4); Vulg. veneficia, maleficia; "maleficae artes," "praestigiae," "muttered spells." Hence it is sometimes rendered by ἐπαοιδαί, incantations, as in Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12. The belief in the power of certain formulae was universal in the ancient world. Thus there were carmina to evoke the tutelary gods out of a city (Macrob. Saturnal, 3:9), others to devote hostile armies (Id.), others to raise the dead (Maimon. De Idol. 11:15; Senec. (Edip. 547), or bind the gods (δεσμοὶ θεῶν) and men (AEsch. Fur. 331), and even influence the heavenly bodies (Ovid, Met. 7:207 sq.; 12:263; "Te quoque Luna traho," Virg. Ecclesiastes 8:1-17; AEn. 4:489 Hor. Epod. 5:45). They were a recognized part of ancient medicine, even among the Jews, who regarded certain sentences of the law as efficacious in healing. The Greeks used them as one of the five chief resources of pharmacy (Pind. Pyth. 3:8, 9; Soph. Aj. 582), especially in obstetrics (Plat. Theaet. page 145) and mental diseases (Galen, De Sanitattuenda, 1:8). Homer mentions them as used to check the flow of blood (Od. 19:456), and Cato even gives a charm to cure a disjointed limb (De Re Rust. 160; comp. Plin. H. N. 28:2). The belief in charms is still all but universal in uncivilized nations; see Lane's Modern AEgypt. 1:300, 306, etc.; 2:177, etc.; Beeckman's Voyage to Borneo, chapter 2; Meroller's Congo (in Pinkerton's Voyages, 16, pages 221, 273); Huc's China, 1:223; 2:326; Taylor's New Zealand, and Livingstone's Africa, passim, etc.; and hundreds of such remedies still exist, and are considered efficacious among the uneducated. (See INCANTATION).

3. לְחָשַׁים , lechashim' (Ecclesiastes 10:11), Sept. ψιθυρισμός, is especially used of the charming of serpents, Jeremiah 8:17 (comp. Psalms 58:5; Sirach 12:13; Ecclesiastes 10:11; Lucan, 9:891 a parallel to "cantando rumpituranguis," and "Vipereas rumpo verbis et carmine fauces," Ov. Metam. l.c.). Maimonides (De Idol. 11:2) expressly defines an enchanter as one "who uses strange and meaningless words, by which he imposes on the folly of the credulous. They say, for instance, that if one utter the words before a serpent or scorpion it will do no harm" (Carpzov, Alnot. in Godwynumn, 4:11). An account of the Marsi, who excelled in this art, is given by Augustine (ad Genesis 9:28), and of the Psylli by Arnobius (ad Nat. 2:32); and they are alluded to by a host of other authorities (Pliny, 7:2; 28:6; AElian, H.A. 1:5; Virg, AEn. 7:750; Sil. Ital. 8:495. They were called Ο᾿φιοδιώκται ). The secret is still understood in the East (Lane, 2:106). (See CHARM).

4. The word נְחָשַׁים, nechashim', is used of the enchantments sought by Balaam (Numbers 24:1). It properly alludes toophiomancy, but in this place has a general meaning of, endeavoring to gain omens (Sept. εἰς συνάντησιν τοῖς οἰωνοῖς ). (See SOOTHSAYER).

5. חֶבֶר, che'ber, is used for magic (Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12). It means generally the process of acquiring power over some distant object or person; but this word seems also to have been sometimes used expressly of serpent charmers, for R. Sol. Jarchi, on Deuteronomy 17:11, defines the חוֹבֶר חֶבֶר to be one "who congregates serpents and scorpions into one place." (See MAGIC).

Any resort to these methods of imposture was strictly forbidden in Scripture (Leviticus 19:26; Isaiah 47:9, etc.), but to eradicate the tendency is almost impossible (2 Kings 17:17; 2 Chronicles 33:6), and we find it still flourishing at the Christian aera (Acts 13:6; Acts 13:8; Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11, γοητεία ; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21). (See WITCHCRAFT).

The chief "sacramenta daemoniaca" were a rod, a magic circle, dragon's eggs, certain herbs, or "insane roots," like the henbane, etc. The fancy of poets, both ancient and modern, has been exerted in giving lists of them (Ovid and Hor. l.c); Shakspeare's Macbeth, Acts 4:1; Kirke White's Gondoline; Southey's Curse of Kehama, Song of Solomon 4:1-16, etc.). (See SORCERY).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Enchantment'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/e/enchantment.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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