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Chapter 18: 9,10,11,12

18:9-12: "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

This text focuses on Israel as God warns them not to put their trust in witchcraft or sorcery, but to put their trust in him.

After 400 years of slavery in Egypt the Israelites were not prepared for the mysterious beliefs and customs they were to encounter outside of their protected province of Goshen in Egypt. God gives warning to them that when they enter into he land of promise that they were to reject the fanaticism of the Canaanites who had stooped to all manner of superstitions to guarantee themselves good crops and to discover their immediate futures.

The range of activities covered in this text involve: Divination, or practicing evil magic, Observer of Times, those who claimed to call up evil spirits from the dead; Enchanters, mediums who purported to talk to the dead; and witches, those who specialized in the dark magic arts that included, fortune telling, hexes, spells and evil incantations.

Once in the promised land Israel ignored the command of God. Too often they quickly learned the ways of their neighbors and involved themselves in witchcraft and sorcery. Saul the first King of Israel found the practice of consulting witches and mediums so widespread that he immediately issued an order the arrests of all witches and mediums (1 Samuel 28:3). Soon after he ordered the witches he disguised himself and consulted a witch himself (1 Samuel 28:7).

Though God blessed Israel tremendously, the nation continued to put its trust in witchcraft, sorcery, and magic. Jezebel was condemned in 2 Kings 9:22 from promoting witchcraft as queen of Israel. King Manasseh openly practice witchcraft. He sacrificed his own children as burnt offerings and consulted fortune tellers, witches and wizards (2 Chronicles 33:6). Even when Judah was under siege by the Babylonians and their destruction was imminent the people turned to the witches and diviners and sorcerers for answers, prompting Jeremiah to warn them not to listen to false prophets and witches (Jeremiah 27:9)

There was no doubt that God was opposed to utilizing witchcraft, sorcery and fortune tellers. The Mosaic law repeatedly placed heavy penalties on offenders.

"You shall not practice augury or witchcraft" (Lev. 19:26 RSV). "A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be upon them" (Lev. 20:27 RSV).

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