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I2. Pursuing the Occult.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to pursue, engage in, or utilize anything that is occult.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 22:17(18)
You are not to permit a sorceress to live.

Leviticus 19:26 (RN32, RN33; Meir MN165, MN166; Chinuch C249, C250)
Do not eat anything with blood. Do not practice divination or fortune-telling.

Leviticus 19:31 (Maimonides RN8, RN9; Meir MN170, MN171; Chinuch C255, C256)
Do not turn to spirit-mediums or sorcerers; don't seek them out, to be defiled by them; I am ADONAI your God.

Leviticus 20:6
The person who turns to spirit-mediums and sorcerers to go fornicating after them - I will set myself against him and cut him off from his people.

Leviticus 20:27 (Maimonides RN9; Chinuch C256)
A man or woman who is a spirit-medium or sorcerer must be put to death; they are to stone them to death; their blood will be on them.

Deuteronomy 4:19
For the same reason, do not look up at the sky, at the sun, moon, stars and everything in the sky, and be drawn away to worship and serve them; ADONAI your God has allotted these to all the peoples under the entire sky.

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (Maimonides RN31-38; MN167-169, MN172-174; Chinuch C249, C250, C510-513, C515)
When you enter the land ADONAI your God is giving you, you are not to learn how to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There must not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through fire, a diviner, a soothsayer, an enchanter, a sorcerer, a spell-caster, a consulter of ghosts or spirits, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is detestable to ADONAI, and because of these abominations ADONAI your God is driving them out ahead of you.

*Job 5:23 (Chinuch C514 (There is no Torah scripture reference for C15; see Classical Commentators section below))
... for you will be in league with the stones in the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you.

Acts 13:8-12
... but the sorcerer Elymas (for that is how his name is translated) opposed them, doing his best to turn the governor away from the faith. Then Sha'ul, also known as Paul, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, stared straight at him and said, "You son of Satan, full of fraud and evil! You enemy of everything good! Won't you ever stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? So now, look! The hand of the Lord is upon you; and for a while you will be blind, unable to see the sun." Immediately mist and darkness came over Elymas; and he groped about, trying to find someone to lead him by the hand. Then, on seeing what had happened, the governor trusted, astounded by the teaching about the Lord.

Acts 19:18-19
Many of those who had earlier made professions of faith now came and admitted publicly their evil deeds; and a considerable number of those who had engaged in occult practices threw their scrolls in a pile and burned them in public. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, it came to fifty thousand drachmas.

Galatians 5:19-21
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency; involvement with the occult and with drugs; in feuding, fighting, becoming jealous and getting angry; in selfish ambition, factionalism, intrigue and envy; in drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you now as I have warned you before: those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God!

Supportive Scriptures

1 Samuel 15:23
For rebellion is like the sin of sorcery, stubbornness like the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of ADONAI, he too has rejected you as king.

1 Samuel 28:3
Now Sh'mu'el was dead; all Isra'el had mourned him and buried him in his city, Ramah. Also Sha'ul had expelled from the land those who tell the future by communicating with the dead or with a demonic spirit.

2 Kings 17:17b-18
They used divination and magic spells. And they gave themselves over to do what was evil from ADONAI's perspective, thereby provoking him; so that ADONAI, by now very angry with Isra'el, removed them from his sight. None was left except the tribe of Y'hudah alone.

2 Kings 21:6
He made his son pass through the fire [as a sacrifice]. He practiced soothsaying and divination and appointed mediums and persons who used spirit guides. He did much that was evil from ADONAI's perspective, thus provoking him to anger.

2 Kings 23:24
Yoshiyahu got rid of the mediums and the people using spirit guides, as well as the household gods, the idols and all the disgusting things spotted anywhere in Y'hudah and Yerushalayim. He did this in order to establish the words of the Torah written in the scroll Hilkiyahu the cohen had found in the house of ADONAI.

Isaiah 2:6
For you have abandoned your people the house of Ya'akov. Now they are filled from the east, full of sorcerers, like the P'lishtim; even the children of foreigners are enough for them!

Isaiah 8:19-20
So when they tell you to consult those squeaking, squawking mediums and fortune-tellers; [you are to answer], "Shouldn't a people seek their God? Must the living ask the dead for teaching and instruction?" For they will indeed give you this unenlightened suggestion.

Isaiah 19:3
The courage of Egypt will ebb away within it, I will reduce its counsel to confusion. They will consult idols and mediums, ghosts and spirits.

Isaiah 47:12-15
So for now, keep on with your powerful spells and your many occult practices; from childhood you have been working at them; maybe they will do you some good, maybe you will inspire terror! You are worn out with all your consultations - so let the astrologers and stargazers, the monthly horoscope-makers, come forward now and save you from the things that will come upon you! Look, they will be like straw! The fire will consume them. They will not save even themselves from the power of the flame. It will not be coals for warming oneself, not a fire to sit beside! So much for your [wizards], with whom you have worked all your life! Each will wander off in his own direction, and nobody will save you.

Jeremiah 10:2
Here is what ADONAI says: "Don't learn the way of the Goyim, don't be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them

Jeremiah 27:9-10
You, therefore, don't listen to your prophets, diviners, dreamers, magicians or sorcerers, when they tell you that you won't be subject to the king of Bavel; for they are prophesying lies to you that will result in your being removed far from your land, with my driving you out, so that you perish.

Ezekiel 13:18a
... tell them that Adonai ELOHIM says, 'Woe to the women who sew magic pads for all arm joints and put veils over people of all sizes, in order to hunt human lives!'

Micah 5:11(12)
I will cut off sorceries from your land; you will no longer have soothsayers.

Zechariah 10:2
For the household gods talk nonsense, the diviners have seen a lie; their dreams convey delusions, and the comfort they offer is in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep in distress from lack of a shepherd.

Malachi 3:5
"Then I will approach you for judgment; and I will be quick to witness against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers; against those who take advantage of wage-earners, widows and orphans; against those who rob the foreigner of his rights and don't fear me," says ADONAI-Tzva'ot.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14
So Sha'ul died for the transgression he committed against ADONAI, because of the word of ADONAI that he did not keep and because he sought the counsel of a spirit instead of consulting ADONAI. Therefore ADONAI put him to death and turned the rulership over to David the son of Yishai.

2 Chronicles 33:6
He made his children pass through the fire [as a sacrifice] in the Ben-Hinnom Valley. He practiced soothsaying, divination and sorcery; and he appointed mediums and persons who used spirit guides. He did much that was evil from ADONAI's perspective, thus provoking him to anger.

Acts 8:9-23
But there was a man named Shim'on in the city who for some time had been practicing magic and astonishing the nation of Shomron, claiming to be somebody great. Everyone gave heed to him, from the lowest to the highest, saying, "This man is the power of God called 'The Great Power'." They followed him because for a considerable time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they came to believe Philip, as he announced the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Yeshua the Messiah, they were immersed, both men and women. Moreover, Shim'on himself came to believe; and after being immersed, he attached himself closely to Philip; and he was amazed as he saw the miraculous signs and great works of power that kept taking place. When the emissaries in Yerushalayim heard that Shomron had received the Word of God, they sent them Kefa and Yochanan, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Ruach HaKodesh. For until then he had not come upon any of them; they had only been immersed into the name of the Lord Yeshua. Then, as Kefa and Yochanan placed their hands on them, they received the Ruach HaKodesh. Shim'on saw that the Spirit was given when the emissaries placed their hands on them, and he offered them money. "Give this power to me, too," he said, "so that whoever I place my hands on will receive the Ruach HaKodesh." But Kefa said to him, "Your silver go to ruin - and you with it, for thinking the free gift of God can be bought! You have no part at all in this matter; because in the eyes of God, your heart is crooked. So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord. Perhaps you will yet be forgiven for holding such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are extremely bitter and completely under the control of sin!"

Acts 16:16-18
Once, when we were going to the place where the minyan gathered, we were met by a slave girl who had in her a snake-spirit that enabled her to predict the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes. This girl followed behind Sha'ul and the rest of us and kept screaming, "These men are servants of God Ha'Elyon! They're telling you how to be saved!" She kept this up day after day, until Sha'ul, greatly disturbed, turned and said to the spirit, "In the name of Yeshua the Messiah, I order you to come out of her!" And the spirit did come out, at that very moment.

Revelation 9:20-21
The rest of mankind, those who were not killed by these plagues, even then did not turn from what they had made with their own hands - they did not stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they turn from their murdering, their involvement with the occult and with drugs, their sexual immorality or their stealing.

Revelation 18:22-23
The sound of harpists and musicians, flute-players and trumpeters will never again be heard in you. No worker of any trade will ever again be found in you, the sound of a mill will never again be heard in you, the light of a lamp will never again shine in you, the voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. For your businessmen were the most powerful on earth, all the nations were deceived by your magic spell.

Revelation 21:8
But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars - their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death.

Revelation 22:14-15
How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! Outside are the homosexuals, those involved with the occult and with drugs, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.


This Mitzvah commands against seeking, engaging in, or utilizing occult supernatural powers. The term "occult" covers a wide range of prohibited activities that include (but are not limited to) divining, fortune-telling, sorcery, astrology, magic, wizardry, witchcraft, enchanting, soothsaying, spell-casting, or consulting the dead or communicating with spirits other than the Spirit of God. This Mitzvah is relevant today because many (if not all) of the occult practices mentioned in Scriptures are still practiced in certain quarters. Some more recent occult activities that are not mentioned in Scripture are hexing, water witching, numerology, Kabbalah, voodoo, new age spiritism, mindreading, channeling, energy healing (and there are others). It is not necessary to know the definitions of each of these or how each is different from the others. All that one needs to know is that it is a serious sin to attempt to communicate with any spirit other than the Holy Spirit, or to seek power from any source other than from God.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch each wrote ten mitzvot that collectively express the principle of this Mitzvah. Curiously and uncharacteristically, HaChinuch's mitzvah C514 (having to do with a kind of wizardry) that is analogous to Maimonides' mitzvah RN37 and Meir's mitzvah MN173, does not reference a Scripture from the Torah, but only tractate Kil'ayim (viii, 4) of the Jerusalem Talmud, and Job 5:23 (see * above) that seemingly speaks to an unrelated subject.


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