Leviticus 19:31 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(31) Regard not.—Better, Turn ye not unto, as the Authorised Version renders this very phrase in Lev. 19:4.
Them that have familiar spirits.—This phrase represents the single word oboth in the original, and the translators of our Authorised Version by adopting it implied that those who practised this craft were supposed to be attended by an invisible spirit who was subject to their call to supply them with supernatural information. According to the authorities during the second Temple it denotes one who has a spirit speaking from under his arm-holes, or chest, with a hollow voice, as if it came out of a bottle, which is the meaning of ob in Job. 32:19. They identified it with the spirit of Python, by which the ancient Chaldee Version renders it.
Neither seek after wizards.—The expression “wizard,” which in old English denotes “wise man,” “sage,” is almost the exact equivalent of the word in the original. These cunning men pretended to tell people their fortunes, where their lost property was to be found, &c. According to ancient tradition, these wizards took in their mouth a bone of a certain bird called yaduâ, burned incense, thus producing fumes which sent them off into an ecstacy, and then foretold future events. Hence their name, yidonee, as it is in the original. It occurs eleven times in the Bible, and always together with the word translated “familiar spirit.”
Consult other comments:
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.