Magic is "the science or practice of evoking spirits, or educing the occult powers of nature to produce effects apparently supernatural." It formed an essential element in many ancient religions, especially among the Persians, Chaldeans and Egyptians. The Hebrews had no magic of their own. It was so strictly forbidden by the law that it could never afterward have had any: recognized existence, save in times of general heresy or apostasy and the same was doubtless the case in the patriarchal ages. The magical practices which obtained among the Hebrews were therefore borrowed from the nations around. From the first entrance into the land of promise until the destruction of Jerusalem we have constant glimpses of magic practiced in secret, or resorted to not alone by the common but also as the great. It is a distinctive characteristic of the Bible that from first to last it warrants no such trust or dread. Laban attached great value to, and was in the habit of consulting, images. (Genesis 31:30,32) During the plagues in Egypt the magicians appear. (Exodus 7:11; 8:18,19) Balaam also practiced magic. (Numbers 22:7) Saul consulted the witch of Endor. An examination of the various notices of magic in the Bible gives this general result: They do not, act far as can be understood, once state positively that any but illusive results were produced by magical rites. (Even the magicians of Egypt could imitate the plagues sent through Moses only so long as they had previous notice and time to prepare. The time Moses sent the plague unannounced the magicians failed; they "did so with their enchantments," but in vain. So in the case of the witch of Endor. Samuel appearance was apparently unexpected by her; he did not come through the enchantments.--Ed.) The Scriptures therefore afford no evidence that man can gain supernatural powers to use at his will. This consequence goes some way toward showing that we may conclude that there is no such thing se real magic; for although it is dangerous to reason on negative evidence, yet in a case of this kind it is especially strong. [Divination]
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