WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT
Interpretation of Deuteronomy 18:10-11
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 in 19 English translations of the Bible:
The word Witchcraft in the New International Version's translation of
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 is a significant problem for Wiccans. Many Evangelical Christians
naturally assume that it refers to followers of the Wiccan faith, since they are the only
sizable group who identifies themselves as Witches. This verse is often quoted near
Halloween; it has sometimes been used as the text of sermons that have triggered hatred,
verbal attacks and even physical attacks on Wiccans.
The first part of Verse 10 apparently prohibits the ancient Israelites from engaging in
child sacrifice. The Pagan tribes around Israel allegedly murdered children by casting them into
a fire. Many theologians believe that this refers to some sort of a trial by fire that
would not usually result in a death. Various translations render the remainder of
Verse 10 and Verse 11 as:
- American Standard Version: There shall not be found with thee any one...that
useth divination, one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, | or a
charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
- Amplified Bible: There shall not be found among you anyone who... uses
divination or is a soothsayer or an augur or a sorcerer, | or a charmer, or a medium or a
wizard or a necromancer.
- The Answer: Don't let anyone use magic or witchcraft, or try to explain the
meaning of signs. | Don't let anyone try to control others with magic, and don't let them
be mediums or try to talk with the spirits of dead people."
- Good News Version: ...and don't let your people practice divination or look
for omens or use spells | or charms and don't let them consult the spirits of the dead.
- James Moffatt Translation: There must be none among you... who practices
divination or soothsaying, no augur, no sorcerer, | no one who weaves spells, no medium or
magician, no necromancer.
- Jerusalem Bible: There must never be anyone among you who ... practices
divination, who is a soothsayer, augur or sorcerer, | who uses charms, consults ghosts or
spirits, or calls up the dead.
- King James Version: There shall not be found among you anyone ....that useth
divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch, or a charmer, or a
consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
- Living Bible: No Israeli may practice black magic, or call on the evil spirits
for aid, or be a fortune teller, | or be a serpent charmer, medium, or wizard, or call
forth the spirits of the dead..
- Modern Language Bible: There must not be found among you anyone... practicing
divination, or soothsaying, observing omens, applying sorcery, | a charmer, a medium, a
wizard, or a necromancer.
- New American Bible: Let there be not be found among you anyone [who is]...a
fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, | or caster of spells, no one who consults
ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.
- New American Standard Bible: There shall not be found among you... one who
uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer,
| or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
- New Century Version: Don't let anyone use magic or witchcraft. No one should
try to explain the meaning of signs, | don't let anyone try to control others with magic.
Don't let them be mediums or try to talk with the spirits of dead people. .
- New International Version: Let no one be found among you who ... practices
divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, | or casts spells, or who
is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
- New Living Translation: Do not let your people practice fortune-telling or
sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, | or cast spells or
function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
- New Revised Standard Version: No one shall be found among you who practices
divination, or is a soothsayer or an augur, or a sorcerer, | or one who cast spells or who
consults ghosts and spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead.
- New World Translation: There shall not be found in you anyone ... who employs
divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer | or one who
binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional
foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead.
- The Promise: Contemporary English Version: ..don't try to use any kind of
magic or witchcraft to tell fortunes, or to cast spells or to talk with spirits of the
- Revised Standard Version: There shall not be found among you...
| anyone who
practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a
medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
- Revised English Bible: Let no one be found among you who
makes his son or daughter pass through fire, no... an augur or
soothsayer or diviner or sorcerer, | none who cast spells or traffics with ghosts and
spirits, and no necromancer.
The original wording of these verses condemned individuals who followed practices
defined by these 8 Hebrew words:
- yid'oni: knowers; wizards; persons who make contact with spirits who are not of
God. (Some Wiccans have engaged in spiritism and have attempted to contact the dead.
However, this is not necessarily an integral part of the Wiccan religion).
- sho'el 'ov: making forbidden contact with the dead. (Ditto) .
- qosem q'samim: predicting the future by using lots or a similar system. (Many
Wiccans as well as Christians sometimes use tarot cards, runes, scrying etc. to foretell
the future, but this is not an integral part of the Wiccan religion) .
- m'onen: predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature. (Ditto)
- m'nachesh an enchanter (perhaps a snake charmer, because "nachash"
means snake. We have never heard of Wiccan snake charmers) .
- chover chavar: use of knot-tying to perform magic. (Wiccans sometimes engage in
knot-tying, but only for positive healing magic. Again, it is a practice that some engage
in, but is not an integral part of their religion).
- m'khaseph: an evil sorcerer (as in Exodus 22:18); a person using spoken spells to
harm others. (Wiccans do not engage in this activity; they are specifically prohibited
from doing so by their Wiccan Rede).
- doresh 'el hametim: a person who makes contact with the dead - probably by
another method than sho'el 'ov. (Again, there are some Wiccans who engage in
spiritism, but it is not necessarily an integral part of their religion).
These verses would seem to prohibit a number of modern day activities:
|Harming or killing people through the use of:|
|evil sorcery intended to harm others.|
|knot magic (tying and untying knots while cursing someone).|
|Engaging in methods of foretelling the future by
|studying nature (e.g. whether the winter will be unusually cold by studying the size of
caterpillars or whether spring will be delayed by studying the actions of a groundhog).|
|casting sticks (e.g. I Ching or perhaps runes).|
|Raising ghosts or spirits through the use of spiritism (a.k.a.
spiritualism) by a medium.|
|Channeling; this is a New Age practice in which a spirit speaks
through a person.|
Wiccans are prohibited from harming, dominating, manipulating or
controlling people by any means. Some use various methods of
foretelling the future, as do members of other religions. Some engage in spiritism, so do
followers of other faiths. The latter two practices are not necessarily an integral part of their
In our opinion, none of the eight Hebrew words should be translated as Witch or Witchcraft.
None of the eight words refers to the religion of Wicca. Precise terms that accurately describe the activity should be used. We suggest:
- yid'oni: acting as a medium;
- sho'el 'ov: communicating with the dead;
- qosem q'samim: predicting the future using lots;
- m'onen: predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature;
- m'nachesh snake charming;
- chover chavar: using knot-tying to perform magic;
- m'khaseph: evil sorcery;
- doresh 'el hametim: channeling.
- Alexi Kondratiev "Suffer a Witch to Live",
Enchanté, the Journal for
the Urbane Pagan, Mabon & Vinalia (1994), P. 11-15
- Paul Hume, "Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live,"
Copyright © 1997 to 2001 incl. and 2003 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2003-JUN-2
Author: B.A. Robinson