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Isaiah 8:19

    Isaiah 8:19 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And when they shall say to you, Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek to their God? for the living to the dead?

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living'should they seek unto the dead?

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And when they say to you, Make request for us to those who have control of spirits, and to those wise in secret arts, who make hollow bird-like sounds; is it not right for a people to make request to their gods, to make request for the living to the dead?

    Webster's Revision

    And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living'should they seek unto the dead?

    World English Bible

    When they tell you, "Consult with those who have familiar spirits and with the wizards, who chirp and who mutter:" shouldn't a people consult with their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?

    Clarke's Commentary on Isaiah 8:19

    Should not a people seek "Should they seek" - After ידרש yidrosh, the Septuagint, repeating the word, read הידרש hayidrosh: Ουκ εθνος προς Θεον αυτου εκζητησουσι; τι εκζητησουσι περι των ζωντων τους νεκρους; Should not a nation seek unto its God? Why should you seek unto the dead concerning the living? and this repetition of the verb seems necessary to the sense; and, as Procopius on the place observes, it strongly expresses the prophet's indignation at their folly.

    Barnes' Notes on Isaiah 8:19

    And when they shall say - When the people, instead of putting confidence in God, shall propose to apply to necromancers. In the time of Ahaz the people were, as they were often, much inclined to idolatry; 2 Kings 16:10. In their troubles and embarrassments, instead of looking to Yahweh, they imitated the example of surrounding nations, and applied for relief to those who professed to be able to hold converse with spirits. That it was common for idolatrous people to seek direction from those who professed that they had the power of divining, is well known; see Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 29:4. It was expressly forbidden to the Jews to have recourse to those who made such professions; Leviticus 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-11. Yet, notwithstanding this express command, it is evident that it was no uncommon thing for the Jews to make application for such instructions; see the case of Saul, who made application to the woman of Endor, who professed to have a familiar spirit, in 1 Samuel 28:7-25. Among pagan nations, nothing was more common than for persons to profess to have contact with spirits, and to be under the influence of their inspiration. The oracle at Delphi, of this nature, was celebrated throughout Greece, and throughout the world. Kings and princes, warriors and nations, sought of the priestess who presided there, responses in undertaking any important enterprise, and were guided by her instructions; see the Travels of Anacharsis, vol. ii.376ff.

    Seek unto - Apply to for direction.

    That hath familiar spirits - Hebrew, אבות 'obôth. The word 'familiar,' applied to spirit, is supposed to have been used by our translators to imply that they were attended by an invisible spirit that was subject to their call, or that would inspire them when they sought his direction. The Hebrew word is used to denote a necromancer, a conjuror; particularly one who was supposed to have power to call up the dead, to learn Of them respecting future events; see 1 Samuel 28:7-19; Deuteronomy 18:11. The word is most commonly applied to women; as it was almost entirely confined to women to profess this power; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; 1 Samuel 28. The idea was, that they could call up the spirits of the dead who were supposed to have seen objects invisible to the living, and who could, therefore, inform them in regard to things which mortals on earth could not see. The Vulgate renders this by 'Pythons and diviners.' A Python, among the Greeks and Romans, denoted one that had the spirit of prophesying, and was particularly applied to the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. The Septuagint renders the place thus: 'And if they say to you, Seek the "ventriloquists," ἐγγαστριμύθους engastrimuthous, and those speaking from the earth, and speaking vain things, who speak from the belly,' οἵ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας φωνοῦσιν hoi ek tēs koilias phōnousin. From this it is evident, that the art of the ventriloquist, so well known now, was known then; and it is highly probable that the secret of the art of soothsayers consisted very much in being able to throw the voice, with various modifications, into different places, so that it would seem to come from a grave, or from an image of a dead person, that was made to appear at the proper time.

    And unto wizards - The word used here - ידענים yidde‛ônı̂ym - is derived from the verb ידע yâda‛ to know; and means a wise man, a soothsayer, a magician, or one possessed with a spirit of divination. The arts of the magician, or soothsayer, were often the arts of one skilled in natural magic; acquainted somewhat with the laws of chemistry; and able, therefore, to produce appearances among an ignorant people that would surprise them; see Brewster's Natural Magic, where this art is fully explained.

    That peep - This word is properly used of young birds, and means to chirp, to pip; and also to make a small noise by the gentle opening of the mouth. It is then applied to the gentle whispering which the ancients ascribed to departed spirits; the small, low, shrill voice which they were supposed to use, and which, probably, those attempted to imitate who claimed the power of raising them to the earth. It was believed among all the ancient nations, that departed spirits did not speak out openly and clearly, but with an indistinct, low, gentle, suppressed voice. Thus, in Virgil:

    - Pars tollere vocem

    Exiguam.

    AEneid, vi. 492.

    - gemitus lachrymabilis imo

    Auditur tumulo, et vox reddita ferter ad aures.

    AEneid, iii.39.

    Thus Horace:

    continued...

    Wesley's Notes on Isaiah 8:19

    8:19 And when they - The Israelites, who are fallen from God, into superstition and idolatry. You - My children, whom the prophet arms against the common temptation. Mutter - That speak with a low voice, as these two words signify, which they affected to do, speaking rather inwardly in their bellies, than audibly with their mouths. Should not - This answer the prophet puts into their mouths, doth not every nation, in cases of difficulty, seek to their gods? Much more should we do so, that have the only true God for our God. For the living - That is, for living men to enquire of the living God, is proper and reasonable; but it is highly absurd for them to forsake him, and to seek dead idols, either to the images, or to the spirits of dead men, which are supposed to speak in them.