Prophets Instead of Witchcraft

Aug 16, 2015

כִּי אַתָּה בָּא אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ לֹא־תִלְמַד לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּתוֹעֲבֹת הַגּוֹיִם הָהֵם׃

When you enter the land that Hashem your God is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations.

KEE a-TAH BA el ha-A-retz a-sher a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha no-TAYN LAKH lo til-MAD la-a-SOT k'-to-a-VOT ha-go-YIM ha-HAYM

Deuteronomy 18:9

אֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר הַנָּבִיא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה וְלֹא־יִהְיֶה הַדָּבָר וְלֹא יָבוֹא הוּא הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־דִבְּרוֹ יְהֹוָה בְּזָדוֹן דִּבְּרוֹ הַנָּבִיא לֹא תָגוּר מִמֶּנּוּ׃

if the navi speaks in the name of Hashem and the oracle does not come true, that oracle was not spoken by Hashem; the navi has uttered it presumptuously: do not stand in dread of him.

Deuteronomy 18:22

Moses tells the people not to copy the practices of the nations which they will dispossess; namely, witchcraft and divination. Instead, God will raise for them prophets from among the people, as they told Moses at Sinai hearing God’s word directly was too overwhelming. Moses tells the people to adhere to the words of the faithful prophet, but be wary of the false prophet, which he defines as anyone who would claim to speak for God but steer the people away from His commandments.


The Israel Bible brings down an observation on the passage made by the Sages. The passage begins by saying, “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee…” This demonstrates that the land was promised to each and every person personally, and that it is up to each individual, then, to behave in a manner which earns them the right to remain in the land. For that reason Moses warns the people not to learn from the abominations of the nations which are being conquered.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

There is a debate among classical Rabbinic authorities whether witchcraft is forbidden because it is false or whether it has real power. What do you think and, based on the sources here, why?

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