Deuteronomy 18:11

11 or a charmer or 1a medium or a necromancer or 2one who inquires of the dead,

Deuteronomy 18:11 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 18:11

Or a charmer
That pretends to cure diseases by charms, or a charmer of serpents; according to Jarchi, one that gathers together serpents and scorpions, and other animals, into one place; with which agree the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem,

``which bind serpents and scorpions, and all kind of creeping things;''

but, according to Aben Ezra, one that says certain words to gather demons together:

or a consulter with familiar spirits;
or the inquirer of "Ob", or the bottle, which the Jews interpret of Python, or one that has the spirit of Python; see ( Acts 16:16 ) , a ventriloquist, one that spoke or seemed to speak out of his belly, or from under his armpits; so it is said in the Misnah F8 of Ob, this is Python, one that speaks out of his arm holes; agreeably to which, Jarchi says, this is that sort of witchcraft which is called Python, and he speaks from his arm holes, and brings up the dead thither: of Baal Ob, or the master of the bottle, say some Jewish writers, one way he uses is, he takes the skull of a dead man, the flesh of which is consumed from it, and he hides it and burns incense to it, and mutters words by it, and hears from it, as if from a dead man F11: or a wizard: a knowing one, as the word signifies, such an one as we call a cunning man; (See Gill on Leviticus 19:31)

or a necromancer that inquiries of the dead,
or seeks instruction from them, as the Targum of Jerusalem. Aben Ezra describes him as one that goes to burying grounds, and takes the bone of a dead man, and because of his wild imagination there appears to him the likeness of forms; or as Maimonides F12, better still, he is one that fasts and sleeps in graveyards, and utters words; and, according to his imagination, sees future things in dreams.


F8 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 7.
F11 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F12 In ib.

Deuteronomy 18:11 In-Context

9 "When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer
11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,
12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you.
13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God,

Cross References 2

  • 1. See Leviticus 19:31
  • 2. [1 Samuel 28:7]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.