Thursday, January 14, 2010

Biblical Teachings About Divination

Biblical Teachings About Divination Cover There are many verses in the Bible that prohibit certain methods for foretelling the future by the ancient Israelites. These include Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:26-26; 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; Isaiah 8:19 and Malachai 3:5. Of these, Deuteronomy 18 is perhaps the most important. They forbade the Israelites from engaging in eight specific practices. Various translations of the Bible use various ambiguous terms or phrases here: augur, black magic, calls up the dead, charmer, consults with spirits, divination, enchanter, fortune teller, interpret omens, look for omens, magician, medium, necromancer, observer of times, sorcerer, soothsayer, spiritist, weaves or casts spells, witchcraft, and wizard. The terms magician, sorcerer, spiritist, and witch have many different meanings.

Clearly, translators have had a great deal of difficulty selecting unique English words or short phrases to translate the Hebrew text. Returning to the original Hebrew words:

1. yid'oni: Making contact with spirits who are not of God. Some Christians may suggest that this clause might forbid the New Age practice of channeling. However, New Agers themselves are generally convinced that the spirits with which they deal are from God.
2. sho'el 'ov: Making contact with the dead. This would probably prohibit a medium from contacting the dead, as in Spiritualism.
3. qosem q'samim: Foretelling the future by using lots. This would probably condemn casting runes, using the I Ching or a similar divination system.
4. m'onen: Predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature. (e.g. predicting the harshness of a winter by looking at moss on trees, or fur thickness on animals in the wild, or whether the groundhog sees his shadow).
5. m'nachesh: Enchanting (perhaps related to nachash, a snake; i.e. snake charming).
6. chover chavar: Casting evil spells by magical knot tying.
7. m'khaseph: Evil sorcery; using spoken spells to harm other people.
8. doresh 'el hametim: Literally "One who asks the dead", probably via another method of contacting dead people than is used in sho'el 'ov.

People differ in their beliefs about whether injunctions from the Hebrew Testament are applicable to-day:

* Most Jews believe that they only apply to fellow Jews
* Some Christians (e.g. Christian Reconstructinists, House of Yahweh) believe that they still apply to Christians today.
* Other Christians believe that they still apply to Christians unless rejected by passages in the Christian Scriptures.
* Liberal and Progressive Christians in particular generally reject certain laws and regulations in the Hebrew Scriptures as being profoundly immoral and not representing the Will of God. These might include: committing genocide, implementing human slavery, transferring guilt and punishment from the guilty to the innocent, burning some hookers alive, whipping children with a rod, raping female prisoners of war, execution of non-virgin brides, executing people who work on the Sabbath, executing sexually active persons with a homosexual orientation, executing religious minorities, etc.

So, when Wiccans reject many of the commands and regulations in the Hebrew Scriptures, they are agreeing with at least some Christians.

Divination techniques are used by many, but not all, Wiccans. They typically utilize only a few of those listed above:

* #3 prohibits runes, perhaps tarot cards, the I Ching.
* #4 prohibits prediction of the future by interpreting natural signs.

The Biblical passages appear to apply to persons who are directly engaged in the various practices (e.g. mediums, channelers, astrologers, etc.); they do not seem to refer to people who simply observe the activity being done by others.

On the other hand, there are a number of instances in the Bible where respected leaders were involved in divining the future, apparently without any condemnations by God. Some are:

* In Genesis 44:5, Joseph's household manager refers to a silver drinking cup " which my lord drinketh and whereby indeed he devineth". Later, Joseph accuses his brothers of stealing the cup, saying "that such a man as I can certainly divine [the identity of the thieves]". These passages show that Joseph engaged in scrying to foretell the future.
* The Urim and Thummim were two objects mentioned in Numbers 27:21 and 1 Samuel 28:6 of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were apparently devices (perhaps in the form of flat stones) that the high priest consulted to determine the will of God. They might have worked something like a pair of dice.
* The prophet Daniel was employed for many years in Babylon as the chief occultist to the king. He was supervisor "... of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers." See Daniel 5:11.

Conclusion: Wiccans could avoid the relatively few divination techniques that are forbidden. They could:

* Use those methods that Joseph, the priests and Daniel used.
* Use techniques and devices that are not specifically prohibited, like Ouija boards.
* Merely observe the divinations being performed by others.

Wiccans could also ignore the prohibitions -- as many Christians do -- as being no longer binding on non-Jews. Or Wiccans could simply not engage in divination, which is not a core theological belief in Wicca.

Books in PDF format to read:

Marcus Cordey - Magical Theory And Tradition
Anonymous - Teachings Of The Odin Brotherhood
Alan Wallace - Lucid Dreaming And Meditation
Max Heindel - Teachings Of An Initiate