|Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia|
COMMUNION WITH DEMONS; DEVILS
I. Use of Term:
The actual expression "communion with demons" (koinonoi ton daimonion) occurs but once in Scripture (1 Corinthians 10:20) where its figurative meaning is evident, but it is implied in the English version of a number of passages by the terms "one who has" or "those who have" "familiar spirits" (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, 27 Deuteronomy 18:11 1 Samuel 28:3, 7, 8, 9; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24 1 Chronicles 10:13 2 Chronicles 33:6 Isaiah 8:19; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 29:4). These passages seem to be somewhat incongruous with Paul's statement, but are in reality so intimately related to it as to give and receive light through the connection.
II. Teaching of Scripture.
To begin with, we may safely say, in general, that there is no ground for asserting that the Bible admits the possibility of conscious and voluntary communion with spirits. This is an essential element of popular demonology in all ages, but it is absent from Scripture. Even in the passages mentioned above which refer to necromancers and wizards, while, as we shall see, the words indicate that such practitioners professed to rely upon spirits in their divinations, the Scriptures carefully refrain from sanctioning these claims, and a number of features in the various passages serve to indicate that the true scriptural view is quite the opposite. As this is not a prevalent opinion, we should do well to examine the passages with some little care.
1. The New Testament:
(1) We may first deal with the New Testament. In the Gospels the demoniacs are consistently looked upon and treated as unconscious and helpless victims (see DEMON, DEMONOLOGY). The frequent use of this term "demonized" (daimonizomenoi) together with all that is told us of the methods of treating these eases adopted by our Lord and His apostles (see EXORCISM) indicates the belief of the New Testament writers that the control of demons over men is obtained outside of or below the region of conscious volition and that the condition of the sufferers is pathological.
(2) The same must be said of the Lydian maiden whose cure by Paul is recorded in Acts 16:16. This is the one instance in the New Testament where divination is connected with spirits. The account emphasizes the excitable neurosis of the patient; and the belief on the part of the apostles and of the writer of Acts that the girl was not the conscious accomplice of her masters, but their unfortunate victim through her mysterious malady, is clear. She was treated, as the other eases recorded in the New Testament, not as a conscious wrongdoer, but as a sick person to be healed.
2. The Old Testament:
(1) Turning now to the Old Testament, the instance which requires the most careful treatment, because it holds the key to all the rest, is the narrative of Saul's visit to the Witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28:3-25. The Hebrew word 'obh which is usually translated "one who has a familiar spirit" (see list of passages at beginning of article) occurs in this narrative four times (verses 3, 7 twice, 8). According to the ordinary interpretation it is used in three different senses, two of which occur here. These three senses are
(a) a person who controls a spirit,
(b) the spirit controlled,
(c) the power to control such a spirit.
This meaning appears to be altogether too broad. Omitting to translate the word we have: (verse 3) "Saul had put away 'obhoth, and yidh`onim"; (verse 7), a woman, a mistress of an 'obh; (verse 8) "Divine unto me. by the 'obh." It is extremely unlikely that the same word should be used in two senses so far apart as "person who has a spirit" and the "spirit itself" in the same context. In the last passage mentioned (verse 8) there is a double indication that the word 'obh cannot have either signification mentioned. Saul says: "Divine unto me by the 'obh and bring me up whomsoever I shall name unto thee." The expression "divine by" clearly points to some magical object used in divination. Control of a spirit through some magical object is familiar enough. The rest of Saul's statement confirms this view. The result of the divination is the calling up of a spirit. A spirit would hardly be used to call up another spirit. This conclusion is confirmed by the etymology. The word 'obh is supposed to mean "one who has a familiar spirit," from its root-significance of hollow and its primary meaning of wineskin. According to this derivation the word is applied to a necromancer on the supposition that the spirit inhabits his body and speaks from within. The transference to spirit is extremely unlikely and the explanation is not consistent with primitive ideas on spirit manifestation (see Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 'owb end).
(2) We, therefore, hold with H. P. Smith (International Critical Commentary, "Samuel" in the place cited.), though partly on different grounds, that the word 'obh has the same meaning in all the passages where it occurs, and that it refers to a sacred object or fetish by which spiritistic divination was carried on.
The significance of this conclusion is that the misleading expression "familiar spirit" disappears from the text, for Dr. Driver's interpretation of the companion word yidh`onim (see International Critical Commentary, Commentary on Deuteronomy in the place cited.) will scarcely be maintained in the face of this new meaning for 'obh. The prohibition contained in the law (Leviticus 20:27) against 'ohboth, and those using them, places them in the same catalogue of offense and futility with idol-worship in general.
(3) This opinion is confirmed by two separate items of evidence.
(a) In the Witch of Endor story Samuel's appearance, according to the idea of the narrator, was due to a miracle, not to the magic power of the feeble and cheating old woman to whom Saul had resorted. God speaks through the apparition a stern message of doom. No one was more startled than the woman herself, who for once had a real vision (1 Samuel 28:12). She not only gave a loud cry of astonishment and alarm but she described the figure which she saw as "a god coming up out of the each." The story is told with fidelity and clearly indicates the opinion that the actual appearance of a spirit is so violently exceptional as to indicate the immediate power and presence of God.
(b) In Isaiah 8:19 the 'obhoth and yidh`onim are spoken of as those who "chirp and mutter." These terms refer to the necromancers themselves (Septuagint translates 'obhoth by eggastromuthoi = ventriloquists) who practiced ventriloquism in connection with their magical rites. In Isaiah 29:4 it is said "Thy voice shall be as an 'obh, out of the ground." Here 'obh is usually interpreted as "ghost," but it is far more probable (see Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament sub loc.) that it refers as in 8:19 to the ventriloqustic tricks of those who utter their oracles in voices intended to represent the spirits which they have evoked. They are stamped in these passages, as in the Witch of Endor narrative, as deceivers practicing a fraudulent article. By implication their power to evoke spirits with whom they were in familiar intercourse is denied.
3. The Meaning of Idol-Worship:
This leaves the way clear for a brief consideration of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:20 in connection with cognate passages in the Old Testament.
(1) He argues that since idol-worship is really demon-worship, the partaking of heathen sacrifice is a communion with demons and a separation from Christ. It is usually taken for granted that this characterization of heathen worship was simply a part of the Jewish-Christian polemic against idolatry. Our fuller knowledge of the spiritism which conditions the use of images enables us to recognize the fact that from the viewpoint of heathenism itself Paul's idea was strictly correct. The image is venerated because it is supposed to represent or contain an invisible being or spirit, not necessarily a deity in the absolute sense, but a super-human living being capable of working good or ill to men.
(2) In the King James Version the term devils is used in four Old Testament passages (Leviticus 17:7 Deuteronomy 32:17 2 Chronicles 11:15 Psalm 106:37). In the Revised Version (British and American) "devils" has disappeared from the text-the word he-goats appears in Leviticus 17:7 and 2 Chronicles 11:15, while "demons" appears in Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37. The translation of se`irim as "he-goats" is literally correct, but conveys an erroneous conception of the meaning. The practice reprobated is the worship of Satyrs (see SATYR) or wood-demons supposed to be like goats in appearance and to inhabit lonely places. The same word is used in Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14. The word translated "demons" in the Revised Version (British and American) is shedhim, a term used only twice and both times in connection with the rites and abominations of heathen worship. It is interesting to note that the word shidu is applied to the beings represented by the bull-colossi of Assyria (Driver, Deuteronomy in the place cited.). Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament holds that the word shedhim is an Assyrian loan-word, while Briggs (ICC, Psalm 106:37) holds that shedhim were ancient gods of Canaan. In either case the word belongs to heathenism and is used in Scripture to describe heathen worship in its own terminology. The interpretation of these beings as evil is characteristic of Biblical demonism in general (see DEMON, etc.). The worship of idols was the worship of personal beings more than man and less than God, according to Jewish and Christian ideas (see Driver op. cit., 363). Septuagint translates both the above words by daimonia.
The term "communion with demons" does not imply any power on the part of men to enter into voluntary relationship with beings of another world, but that, by sinful compliance in wrongdoing, such as idol-worship and magical rites, men may enter into a moral identification with evil powers against which it is their duty to fight.
The Dictionaries and Commentaries dealing with the passages quoted above contain discussions of the various aspects of the subject. Jewish superstitions are ably treated by Edersheim, Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (8th edition), II, 771, 773.
Louis Matthews Sweet
Devils (48 Occurrences)
Matthew 4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. (KJV)
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (KJV)
Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: (KJV)
Matthew 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. (KJV)
Matthew 8:31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. (KJV)
Matthew 8:33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. (KJV)
Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. (KJV)
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (KJV)
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (KJV)
Matthew 12:27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. (KJV)
Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (KJV)
Mark 1:32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. (KJV)
Mark 1:34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. (KJV)
Mark 1:39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. (KJV)
Mark 3:15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: (KJV)
Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. (KJV)
Mark 5:12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. (KJV)
Mark 6:13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. (KJV)
Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. (KJV)
Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. (KJV)
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (KJV)
Luke 4:41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. (KJV)
Luke 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, (KJV)
Luke 8:27 And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. (KJV)
Luke 8:30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. (KJV)
Luke 8:33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. (KJV)
Luke 8:35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. (KJV)
Luke 8:36 They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. (KJV)
Luke 8:38 Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, (KJV)
Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (KJV)
Luke 9:49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. (KJV)
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. (KJV)
Luke 11:15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. (KJV)
Luke 11:18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. (KJV)
Luke 11:19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. (KJV)
Luke 11:20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (KJV)
Luke 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. (KJV)
1 Corinthians 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (KJV)
1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. (KJV)
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (KJV)
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (KJV)
Revelation 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: (KJV)
Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (KJV)
Revelation 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. (KJV)
Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. (KJV)
Deuteronomy 32:17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. (KJV WBS)
2 Chronicles 11:15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. (KJV WBS)
Psalms 106:37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, (KJV)