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and I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
and you shall have no more soothsayers;
I will cut off, he says, the sorcerers, כשפים, cashephim 155155 From כשף. “In Arabic,” says Parkhurst, “the verb signifies to discover, disclose, reveal, and is always in the Hebrew Bible applied to some species of conjuring.” The Septuagint render the word here φαρμακα, drugs or charms. They were enchanters or sorcerers, who applied drugs to magical purposes. See 2 Chronicles 33:6. — Ed. Some render the word jugglers, and others, augurs or diviners. We cannot know of a certainty what kind of superstition it was, nor the other which immediately follows: 156156 The word here is מעוננים, from ענן, a cloud. Parkhurst renders it cloudmongers, who looked upwards to the clouds either on the flight of birds, or on the stars, or on meteors, and thereby pretended to foretell future things. Αποφθεγγομενους — oraclers — Sept. Theodoret renders it μαντεις — soothsayers; and Cyril ψευδομαντεις — false prophets. Some derive it from ענה, to answer; and others from עין, the eye; and hence, eyers or observers, either of times, or dreams, or of stars, or of birds. — Ed. for the Prophet mentions here two words which mean nearly the same thing. There is no doubt but that some, in that age, were called augurs or diviners, and others called jugglers or astrologers who are now called fortune-tellers. But on this subject there is no necessity of much labor; for the Prophet simply shows here that the people could not be preserved by Gods unless they were cleansed from these defilements. These superstitions, we know, were forbidden and condemned by God’s Law: but the Law was not able to restrain the wickedness of that people; for they continually turned aside to these evils. God then here shows, that until they had purged the Church, it could not continue safe. Now, in these words, the Prophet reminds the Jews, and also the Israelites, for their benefit, that it was, and had been, through their own fault, that they labored under constant miseries and were not helped by the hand of God. — How so? Because there was no room, as God shows here, for the exercise of his favor; for they were full of auguries and divinations, and of other diabolical arts. “How,” he says, “can I help you, for I have no agreement with Satan? As you are wholly given to wicked superstitions, my favor is rejected by you.” 157157 “Many of them depended much upon the conduct and advice of their conjurors, diviners, and fortune-tellers, and these God will cut off, not only as weak things, and insufficient to relieve them, but as wicked things, and sufficient to ruin them.” — Henry.
One thing is, that the Prophet intended to humble the people, so that every one might know that it had been through their fault, that God had not brought them help as they wished: but there is another thing, — God promises a cleansing, which would open a way for his favor, — I will take away, he says, all the diviners Let us then know, that it ought to be deemed the greatest benefit when God takes away from us our superstitions and other vices. For since a diminution, however hard and grievous it may be at first, is useful to us, as we see, when we willfully and openly drive away God from us; is it not a singular favor in God when he suffers us not to be thus separated from him, but prepares a way for himself to be connected with us, and has ever his hand extended to bring us help? Thus much as to these two kinds of impediments.