If you have been following along then you are ready for this new series as we count the omer toward Shavuot.
Recently while studying the book of Daniel I noticed something that I had missed before, Daniel is described as “Master of Magicians” (Dan. 4:6(9); 5:11), how can this be?
Daniel was an uncompromising prophet of YHWH. He refused to eat unkosher food from the King’s table (Dan. 1:8) and he put his life on the line in order to pray to Yahweh three times a day (Dan. 6:4-11). So why would he allow himself to be made “Master of Magicians”? Why did he not say “I refuse to be master of any such damned thing!”?
The Aramaic word commonly translated “Magicians” here is KHARTUMEY or in Hebrew KHARTUMIM. Nowhere in the Torah is this word used to describe a forbidden practice (although it is the same term used to describe Pharaoh’s “magicians” in Exodus 7). The term is commonly translated in English with our word “magician” which is built upon the root word “magic” which itself is derived from “Magi” referring to the false Magian religion of the Persians. But there is no association in the Aramaic between this word KHARTUM (“magician”) and the Magian religion.
Another part of this problem is the perception of the English word “magic” which has some ambiguity. The English word “magic” according to Webster’s dictionary means:
1. Any art that invokes supernatural powers.
2. An illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers.
But because it is derived from the root “Magi”, there is a tendency among some to read witchcraft into the word “magic” while others would distinguish “witchcraft” as “BLACK magic” as opposed to “white magic”. By dictionary definition of the words the working of miracles as described in the Scriptures could also be called “magic”.
This brings us to a root problem, the pagan origins of many English words. Words like: good, echo, luck, lucky, circle, circumvent, circumference, curriculum, circumcision, circus etc. originate from roots that are of pagan origin, but their meanings in English are not related to paganism.
Now this word is not listed among the forbidden practices in Torah (Deut. 18:10-13). In part 2 we will discuss these practices in the original Hebrew and contrast them with the ones Daniel was "master of" in the original Aramaic of Daniel 5:11.
“magician” KHARTUM – The term is taken from the Hebrew KHERET which was stylus used for engraving letters, thus some translate KHARTUM as “sacred scribe”, but a KHARTUM is more than just a “sacred scribe”. Scholars recognize that a KHARTUM was some type of “occultist” who made use of engraving letters, but beyond this they do not know what a KHARTUM was.
In fact a KHARTUM engraved the Hebrew letters and then permutated them in order to do things with them in this world. This permutation of Hebrew letters is known as TZERUF and is described by Paul as follows:
For he who speaks in a tongue
does not speak to the sons of men but to Eloah,
for no man understands a thing that he speaks;
yet in the spirit he speaks a mystery.
If I were to pray in a tongue, my spirit prays,
but my understanding is without fruit.
The Sefer Yetzirah describes the process of the formation of the world as follows:
Twenty-two Foundation letters: He engraved them,
He carved them, He permuted (TZIRUF) them,
He weighed them, He transformed them,
And with them, He depicted all that was formed
and all that would be formed.
(Sefer Yetzirah 2:2)
Aryeh Kaplan comments on this passage as follows:
First the letters are “engraved” out of nothingness.
Then they are “carved” out and separated. They are
then “permuted,” so that a given combination appears
in different sequences…. Each letter represents a
different type of information. Through the various
manipulations of the letters, God created all things….
This section can also be read in the imperative: “Engrave
them, carve them, permute them… When interpreted
in this manner, this section is teaching a technique…
The initiate must first depict the letters "engraving"
them in his mind. Then he must "carve" them out,
making them fill his entire consciousness. After this
he can permute them in various ways.
(Sefer Yetzirah; the Book of Creation in Theory and Practice; Revised Edition; by Aryeh Kaplan p. 100-101)
The Talmud describe this process this way:
Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: Bezalel knew how
to combine (TZIRUF) the letters by which the heavens
and earth were created. It is written here, And He hath filled
him with the spirit of God, in wisdom and in understanding,
and in knowledge (Ex. 35:31), and it is written elsewhere,
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding
He established the heavens (Prov. 3:19), and it is also written,
By His knowledge the depths were broken up (Prov. 3:20).
The Zohar gives a more detailed explanation saying:
R. Eleazar began here with the verse, “Ask thee
a sign [Hebrew: OT “sign” or “letter”] of the Lord thy God,
ask it either in the depth or in the height above” (Isa. 7:11).
He said: ‘We have compared the former with the latter
generations, and found that the former were conversant with
a higher wisdom by which they knew how to combine
(TZIRUF) the letters that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai,
and even the sinners of Israel knew a deep wisdom contained
in the letters and the difference between higher and lower
letters, and how to do things with them in this world.
For every letter that was transmitted to Moses used to
ascend as a crown upon the heads of the holy celestial
Hayyoth, who with them flitted through the ether which is
under the refined and unknowable supernal ether. There
were large letters and small letters; the large letters came
from the most high and hidden Temple (hekhal) and the
smaller letters from another lower Temple; and both kinds
were transmitted to Moses on Sinai, along with their
Notice that the Zohar says “even the sinners of Israel knew a deep wisdom contained in the letters and the difference between higher and lower letters, and how to do things with them in this world.”
This is why Pharaoh’s magicians are also called KHARTUMIM (plural of KHARTUM) in the Hebrew of the Torah. They also made use of this knowledge to perform “magic”, but since YHWH was not behind them their “magic” was not as powerful as Moshe’s “miracles”. Like Daniel, Moshe had YHWH behind him, making him not just a KHARTUM but a RAB KHARTUMIM (“Master of Magicians”).
Daniel was a master of KHARTUMIM, he not only spoke in tongues, permuting (TZARAF) the Hebrew letters into various combinations and even performing miracles (KHAILA) with them through the empowerment of the Ruach HaKodesh.
Now having discusses the meaning of KHARTUM. Now lets look at the other areas over which Daniel was called “master” in Daniel 5:11.
Daniel is also called master of the ASHAF (KJV: “astrologers”) The word is most often translated “enchanter” but its exact meaning is difficult to determine. It may come from an Assyrian word meaning “to conjure”.
Daniel is also called master of the “Chaldeans”. It is difficult to be certain just what this means. The Chaldeans were an ethnic group, i.e. Babylonians, thus the passage may only refer to Daniel’s governmental office.
Finally Daniel is called master of G’ZAR (KJV: “soothsayers”). This word is related to the Hebrew word “decree” and indicates one who foretells what is decreed for the future.
Now let us contrast these with the practices forbidden in the Torah in Deut. 18:10-12
10: There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
11: Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
12: For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
(Deut. 18:10-12 KJV)
one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire,
or that useth divination,
or an observer of times,
or an enchanter,
or a witch,
Or a charmer,
or a consulter with familiar spirits,
or a wizard,
or a necromancer.
One that uses divination, literally “divines divination” KOSEM K’SAMIM
“Observer of times” M’ONEN from the Hebrew word for “cloud” refers to one who reads the future in the shapes of clouds.
“Enchanter” NAWCHASH from Hebrew: NAWCHAWSH meaning “serpent”. One who performs “magic” through consulting the Serpent HA-SATAN.
“Witch” KASHAF (also in Ex. 22:18) one whose “spells” were the result of prayers articulated to false gods.
“Charmer” KHOVER one who cast spells by tying magic knots.
“Consulter with familiar spirits” SHAUL OV one who asks questions of the python.
“Wizards” YIDONI literally “knower” always used to refers to followers of false gods.
“necromancer” DORESH HA-M’TIM literally “interrogator of the dead”.
We should also take a closer look at KOSEM “divination”. One might think from the above mention, that KOSEM “divination” was forbidden altogether, yet this is not the case in Scripture.
Yet in Proverbs 16:10 Solomon writes “A divine sentence is in the lips of the king” (KJV) the word for “divine sentence” in the Hebrew is actually KOSEM otherwise translated “divination”. And should there be any questions to what Proverbs means by “divination” the point is clarified in 16:33 “The lot is cast in the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of YHWH”. Here Solomon refers to seeking the will of YHWH through casting lots, and refers to this as KOSEM “divination”. Again in Proverbs 18:18 we read “The lot causes contention to cease, and parts between the mighty.”
We see “casting of lots” (i.e. rolling the dice) used to poll the will of YHWH throughout Scripture. In Lev. 16 it is used to determine which goat is appointed for YHWH and which for Azzazel. In 1Chron. 24:5 the duties of priests were determined by casting lots. And in Acts 1:15-26 a replacement member of the Twelve Emissaries is determined by casting lots. Moreover it is generally accepted that the use of the Urim and the Thummim was some form of “divination”.
So what is the common factor? What makes some such practices permitted while others are forbidden? The difference is the calling upon false gods.
Daniel never called upon false gods, he always called upon YHWH. Just as Solomon’s “divination” in casting lots was seeking the will of YHWH and not consultation of false gods.
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