magic and sorcery
- Magic is a means by which human beings manipulate deity to obtain a benefit; the appropriate formula and substance (metal or animal, etc.) is essential, otherwise disaster may ensue. There are stories in both OT and NT which approximate to magic, where physical contact with a man of God acted as the channel for power from God to people—e.g. Elijah healed the son of the widow of Zarephath by lying on the child three times (1 Kgs. 17:17–24). Or the contact may be quite indirect—Paul's handkerchiefs (Acts 19:11–12) or Peter's shadow (Acts 5:15).Related to magic is divination—a non-rational process for learning about the future.It was held among Hebrews that God revealed the future by dreams or by Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:30) or through calling up the dead (1 Sam. 28). King Joash expected a victory in the light of the flight of an arrow (2 Kgs. 13:18). Nevertheless magic and divination were condemned (e.g. by Isa. 8:19) for we do not need such intermediaries between us and God (Jer. 27:9). The condemnation is reaffirmed in the NT (Acts 8:9–24).
Dictionary of the Bible.
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