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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament


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The one exception noticed above is 1 Samuel 15:23, where we read that 'rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft;' but it would be better to say 'the sin of divination.' The word used is Kasam (קסם , LXX μαντεύω). It stands for Joseph's divining cup. The original meaning of the word seems to be 'to divide' or 'partition out.' Its first appearance is where the elders of Moab go to Balaam with 'the rewards of divination in their hand' (Numbers 22:7), and where the seer announces that 'there is no divination against Israel' (23:23). Balaam is directly called a diviner (A. V. soothsayer) in Joshua 13:22. We meet with it among the list of similar practices in Deuteronomy 18:10; Deuteronomy 18:14, where we are given to understand that it was common among the Canaanites.

The Philistines had their diviners (1 Samuel 6:2), and the witch of End or was asked 'to divine by the familiar spirit' (1 Samuel 28:8) in Isaiah 44:25, it is said of God that He 'frustrateth the significant tokens of liars (i.e. their false miracles), and maketh diviners mad;' and in Jeremiah 14:14, false prophets 'prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought and the deceit of their heart.' See also Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8; Ezekiel 12:24; Ezekiel 13:6-7; Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 13:23; Ezekiel 21:29; Ezekiel 22:28; Micah 3:6-7; Zechariah 10:2.

In Isaiah 3:2 the word is rendered 'prudent;' and in Proverbs 16:10 we read that 'a divine sentence,' i.e. a word of divination, ' is in the lips of the king.' The diviners were doubtless shrewd men, well acquainted with the affairs of those whom they had to do with, and able to deliver their prognostications in oracular and enigmatical language.

Three special modes of divination are alluded to in Ezekiel 21:21, 'The king of Babyl on stood at the parting of the way, at the head of two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows (or knives) bright, he consulted with his images (or seraphim), he looked in the liver.'

The ordinary word for a diviner in the LXX is μάντις, a seer or soothsayer. this art is only once referred to in the N.T., namely, in Acts 16:16, where we read of the Philippian damsel that she got for her masters much gains by divining (μαντευομένη).

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Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Divination'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.
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