Isaiah 8:19

19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Read Isaiah 8:19 Using Other Translations

And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
And when they say to you, "Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?
Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?

What does Isaiah 8:19 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Isaiah 8:19

And when they shall say unto you
These are the words of Christ continued, as making his appearance in Israel; and are an address to his people among them, even to his children, disciples, and followers, advising them what they should do, when those among whom they dwelt should press them to seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards, that
peep, and that mutter;
meaning the Scribes and Pharisees, the doctors among the Jews, who sat in Moses's chair, and who were very much given to sorcery, and the magic art, and used enchantments, which were performed by "muttering"; hence we read of muttering over a wound for the healing of it; and muttering over serpents and scorpions at the driving of them away F25; and of such a Rabbi muttering in the name of such an one F26; and of such and such a doctor skilled in wonders or miraculous operations: (See Gill on Matthew 24:24) yea, even such as were chosen into the sanhedrim, or great council, were to be skilled in the arts of soothsayers, diviners, and wizards, and the like, that they might know how to judge them F1; now the Jews would have had the disciples of Christ to have applied to these men to direct their judgments in religious affairs, and be determined by them concerning the Messiah and other things: should not a people seek unto their God?
"to" Christ, who is the Lord God omniscient and omnipotent, who knows all things, and whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Angel of the great council; and who is able to give the best counsel and direction in matters of moment and consequence, and able to do everything for his people they stand in need of; and who being present with them, God manifest in the flesh, it would be egregious folly to apply to any other, and especially such as are here described; see ( John 6:68 ) : for the living to the dead?
that is, should men seek to such who are no other than dead men, for the sake or on the account of such who are living? The disciples of Christ, the children that God had given him, were quickened and made alive by the grace of God, had principles of grace and spiritual life implanted in them, had passed from death to life, lived by faith on Christ, lived holy lives, and were heirs of eternal life; and therefore it does not become them, nor any of them, to consult persons dead in trespasses and sins, who knew no more, and were no more capable of judging of spiritual things, than dead men are. See ( 1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:15 ) .


F25 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 101. 1.
F26 T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4.
F1 Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 1.
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