Divination

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

(belonging to a god). In Scripture, the false use of means to discover the divine will; by rods (Hos. 4:1212My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. (Hosea 4:12)); arrows (Ezek. 21:2121For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver. (Ezekiel 21:21)); cups (Gen. 44:55Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. (Genesis 44:5)); the liver (Ezek. 21:2121For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver. (Ezekiel 21:21)); dreams (Deut. 13:33Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:3); Zech. 10:22For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)); consulting oracles (Isa. 41:21-24; 44:721Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together. 24Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you. (Isaiah 41:21‑24)
7And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them. (Isaiah 44:7)
). Faith in divination forbidden (Lev. 19:2626Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times. (Leviticus 19:26)).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

The numerous references in scripture to the various forms of occult science, as it is now called, and the strong denunciations against the Israelites having anything to do with it, show that it was a dangerous reality, however much deception might at times have been associated with it. We read of it first in Genesis 41:88And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:8), when Pharaoh called for all the magicians, chartummim, of Egypt and the wise men, to interpret his dream. All their resources failing, God’s man in the prison was called forth to show the dream, and this proved the occasion of working out God’s purposes respecting Joseph. Doubtless the above class of men were eminent for their learning, as those were at the court of Babylon, over whom Daniel was made chief (Dan. 4:7,97Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. (Daniel 4:7)
9O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. (Daniel 4:9)
).
Among those in Egypt there were some at least who were able to exercise powers beyond what they obtained by human learning. When Moses was endeavoring by means of signs to convince Pharaoh of the power of God, the magicians of Egypt were able to turn their rods into serpents, and to simulate the first two plagues with their enchantments (Ex. 7:2222And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:22); Ex. 8:77And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. (Exodus 8:7)). These plagues were “turning the water into blood,” and “bringing up frogs upon the land.” This was beyond mere human power, and certainly the magicians did not work by the power of God; it must therefore have been by the power of Satan. We know not the nature of the enchantments used, the word is lat, and signifies “secret, magic arts.” Satan can suggest what incantations to employ, if man is willing, and can exercise his powers as far as permitted by God. After the first two plagues the power was stopped, and the magicians had to own, when lice were produced, “This is the finger of God.”
1. DIVINATION, qesem, “prediction.” A remarkable passage in Ezekiel 21:21-2221For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver. 22At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint battering rams against the gates, to cast a mount, and to build a fort. (Ezekiel 21:21‑22) gives some instances of how the heathen divined. The king of Babylon had come to two roads, and wanting to know whether he should take the road to Rabbath or to Jerusalem, resorted to divination. First “he shook his arrows” (as it should be translated). Doubtless two or more arrows were marked each with the name of one of the cities, and shaken in the quiver, whichever arrow was taken by the right hand decided which road was to be taken. Jerusalem fell to the right hand. Perhaps the king was doubtful, so he consulted with images, teraphim; it is not known how these were used for divination (compare Zech. 10:22For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)). The king still sought another guide: “he looked in the liver.” By certain set rules the intestines of a sacrifice were said to be propitious or the reverse. The king using three sets of prognostications shows that he had no great confidence in his divinations: he may have been often deceived by them previously. How different from an answer from God vouchsafed to Israel!
Other means of divination are named, as, “divining by the cup” (Gen. 44:5, 155Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. (Genesis 44:5)
15And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? (Genesis 44:15)
). This was practiced by the Egyptians and Persians and is thus described: small pieces of metal and stones, marked with signs, were thrown into the cup, and answers gathered from the marks as they fell. Sometimes the cup was filled with water, and, as the sun fell upon the water, images were seen or fancied on its surface. Another reference is “My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them” (Hos. 4:1212My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. (Hosea 4:12)). The Arabs used two rods, on one of which was written God bids, and on the other God forbids, these were shaken together, and the first that fell, or was drawn, was taken for the answer; or one rod was thrown up and the direction in which it pointed when it fell was the answer. It will be seen here that a “stock” or god was invoked that what the staff declared should be controlled by him. So in all divination, incantations were used, and the gods invoked to let the replies given be the most favorable. Behind all this we know there were demons who controlled the results given, so as to work out the purposes of Satan.
In the Acts we find a damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, or of Python. This was the prophetic oracle at Delphi, held to be the center and focus of Gentile divination. An evil spirit connected with that oracle possessed this young woman. The testimony of the evil spirit to the servants of the most high God is remarkable: it may have been compelled to speak thus when brought face to face with the power of God (as the demons owned Christ): but the apostle could not tolerate commendation from such a source—the spirit was cast out by a superior power. Her soothsaying or divination was stopped, and her master lost the source of his evil gains (Acts 16:16-1916And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, (Acts 16:16‑19)).
2. OBSERVER OF TIMES, or, as others translate it, “a practicer of augury:” it may have included both. The Hebrew word is anan, which is also translated “enchanter, soothsayer, and sorcerer.” An observer of times had his lucky and unlucky days, and nothing must be set on foot without the gods being consulted. We have an instance of this in Esther, when Haman wanted to find a lucky day on which his plans against the Jews should be carried out. They resorted to the lot, but doubtless invoked their god to give it success. Others practiced augury for the like purpose of ascertaining the will of their god. Thunder, lightning, observing the clouds, the flight of birds, or the appearance of certain birds, answered their questions.
3. ENCHANTER, nachash, “a whisperer.” This seems to refer to the songs sung or charms muttered as a preliminary to obtaining a response from the spirits they wished to consult. It was one of the things that Manasseh resorted to (2 Kings 21:66And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6)).
4. WITCH or SORCERER. The Hebrew word is kashaph, and refers to the practice of magical arts, with the intent to injure man or beast, or to pervert the mind; to bewitch. It may be that they had no power to injure another unless that person, out of curiosity or friendship, was a willing listener to the incantations used. Manasseh practiced also this wickedness (2 Chron. 33:66And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Chronicles 33:6)). Nineveh is compared to a well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts (Nah. 3:44Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. (Nahum 3:4)). The woman at Endor is usually called a witch.
5. CHARMER, from chabar, “to join together, to fascinate.” It is associated with another word, lachash, “to speak in a soft gentle manner,” and then is applied to the charming of serpents (Psa. 58:55Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. (Psalm 58:5)). In like manner man is deceived and disarmed of his aversion to intercourse with evil spirits until he finds himself under their sway. In Isaiah 19:33And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. (Isaiah 19:3) another word, ittim, is translated “charmer” with a similar meaning, as giving a gentle sound in the incantations of the sorcerers.
6. CONSULTER WITH FAMILIAR SPIRITS. The Hebrew word is ob, which signifies “a leathern bottle or skin,” and is supposed to imply that the persons alluded to were professedly inflated with a spirit. It occurs sixteen times and is translated in all the places as above. As an example of the meaning of this word we have the woman at Endor whom Saul consulted: she is said to have had a familiar spirit. Saul at once said to the woman, “Bring me him up whom I shall name unto thee.” The woman, as soon as her life was secured by an oath, replied, “Whom shall I bring up unto thee?” Apparently it was her profession to call up departed spirits, but on this occasion she recognized the work of a superior power, for when she saw Samuel she cried with a loud voice. Samuel told Saul that he and his sons on the morrow would be with him. Whether having the power to call up departed spirits is always implied in the above word is not known. A remarkable thing, in connection with those who have a familiar spirit, is that apparently there is a voice heard “out of the ground” (Isa. 29:4).
7. WIZARD, from yiddeoni, “a knowing, wise one.” The only thing said in scripture concerning such is that they “chirp and mutter” (Isa. 8:1919And 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? (Isaiah 8:19)). This was doubtless a part of their incantations, used to bewilder those who came for advice, and needful perhaps to arouse to action the spirit they wished to consult. The counsel may have been good at times in order the more effectually to draw the deluded ones under the influence of the evil spirits.
9. ASTROLOGERS, habar shamaym, “dividers of the heavens” for astrological purposes (Isa. 47:1313Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. (Isaiah 47:13)). The word for “astrologers” throughout Daniel is a different word, ashshaph, and does not imply any connection with the heavens, but is rather “sorcerers” or “enchanters,” as we read with reference to Babylon in Isaiah 47:9,129But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. (Isaiah 47:9)
12Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. (Isaiah 47:12)
, where a multitude of sorceries and great abundance of enchantments are spoken of. Along with the Babylonish astrologers in Isaiah 47:1313Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. (Isaiah 47:13) are associated STAR-GAZERS, who may have prognosticated events from the altered positions of the planets in respect to the stars. To this is added MONTHLY PROGNOSTICATORS, who probably drew their deductions from the moon. Connected with Babylon is also the word SOOTHSAYER, gezar, “to divide, determine fate or destiny” by any pretended means of predicting events.
In the New Testament, besides the case referred to of the damsel possessed by a spirit of Python, we read of others, such as Simon who used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria for a long time (Acts 8:9-119But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. (Acts 8:9‑11)); and Elymas the sorcerer, a Jew who was met with in Cyprus, who perverted the right ways of the Lord (Acts 13:6,86And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: (Acts 13:6)
8But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. (Acts 13:8)
). These used magical arts (called “curious arts” in Acts 19:1919Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:19)) and bewitched the people. Another Greek word is used for sorceries in the Revelation, θαρμακεία, which refers to drugs, “to stupefy with drugs,” and then for any system of sorcery by incantations (Rev. 9:2121Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:21); Rev. 18:2323And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (Revelation 18:23); compare Rev. 21:88But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8); Rev. 22:1515For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)). Sorcery is classed with the grossest of sins, and is also applied to the professing church in mystical Babylon. The same word is translated “witchcraft” in Galatians 5:2020Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (Galatians 5:20).
The above is a brief glance at the subtle power of Satan in the unseen world, by which he deludes mankind, at least where man is the willing victim. Is it not clear that divination should not be confounded with mere jugglery? However much that may be associated with it, the real power of Satan is behind it. Some sorcerers converted in modern times in various parts of the earth have confessed that they were controlled by a power beyond their own; but that it ceased entirely on their believing and confessing Christ. It is important to see that this power is of Satan, because of the great increase in the present day of attempting to have intercourse with the spirits of the dead, to which even Christians may be, and indeed have been, drawn out of mere curiosity. “Let no man beguile you of your reward....intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Col. 2:1818Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Colossians 2:18)).

“195. Various Kinds of Divination” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The word divination (kosem kesamim, “divining divinations”) may here be taken as a generic term, of which the seven terms following represent the species. This might be more clearly shown by a slight change in the punctuation, and an omission of the word or, which was supplied by the translators; for example, “that useth divination; an observer of times, or an enchanter.”
By divination, as the term is used in the text, we understand an attempt to penetrate the mysteries of the future by using magical arts, or superstitious incantations, or by the arbitrary interpretation of natural signs. Its practice was very prevalent in the time of Moses among all idolatrous nations, as indeed it is to this day. We have occasional illustrations of it in Christian lands. It became necessary, therefore, to warn the Hebrews against the fascinating influence of this ungodly habit. God provided certain lawful means by which his will was revealed, such as by urim and thummim, by dreams, by prophecies, and by several other modes, so that there was no excuse for resorting to the practices of the heathen. These are spoken of under the following heads.
1. An observer of times, “meonen:” one that distinguishes lucky from unlucky days, recommending certain days for the commencement of enterprises, and forbidding other days; deciding also on the good or bad luck of certain months, and even of years. This sort of diviners often made their predictions by noticing the clouds. Some would refer this to divination by means of words, of which we have illustration in more modern times in bibliomancy, that is, opening a book at random and taking, for the will of God, the first words seen. Still others suppose that meonen has reference to fascination by means of “the evil eye.”
2. An enchanter, “menachesh.” This may refer to divination by the cup, as already explained in the note on Genesis 44:55Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. (Genesis 44:5) (#90), in which passage the word nachesh is used. The Septuagint translators supposed it to mean divination by watching the flight of birds; while some later interpreters refer it to the divination by means of serpents, which were charmed by music.
3. A witch, “mekashsheph.” This word is used in the plural in Exodus 7:1111Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. (Exodus 7:11), to denote the “magicians” of Pharaoh, who were well versed in the arts of wonder-working. In Exodus 22:1818Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (Exodus 22:18) the word is used in the feminine, and is translated witch, as in the text. Maimonides informs us that the greater number of works of divination were practiced by women.
4. A charmer, “chober:” (from the root chabar, to bind.) This was one who used “a species of magic which was practiced by binding magic knots.”Gesenius. Some think it may have been one who practiced a kind of divination which drew or bound together noxious creatures for purposes of sorcery; others, that it was one who used a magic ring for divination.
5. A consulter with familar spirits, “shoel ob.” This may have reference to a species of divination in which ventriloquism was used. The primary meaning of the word ob is a leathern bottle, which has led some authorities to think that this divination was one which called up departed spirits, and that the use of the word ob “probably arose from regarding the conjuror, while possessed by the demon, as a bottle, that is, vessel, case, in which the demon was contained” (Gesenius). Or, the word may have been used because these necromancers inflated themselves in the act of divination, like a skin bottle stretched to its utmost capacity (see Job 32:1919Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. (Job 32:19)) as if they were filled with inspiration from supernatural powers. See Wordsworth on Leviticus 19:3131Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:31). The woman of Eudor who was consulted by Saul when the Philistines were about to attack him belonged to this class. Saul asked her to divine to him by the ob: (“the familiar spirit.”) (1 Sam. 28:7-87Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. 8And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. (1 Samuel 28:7‑8)).
6. A wizard, “yiddeoni: “ (the knowing one.) This may have indicated any one who was unusually expert in the various magical tricks of divination.
7. A necromancer, “doresh el hammethim:” (one who seeks unto the dead.) The necromancers had various modes of divination by the dead. They sometimes made use of a bone or a vein of a dead body; and sometimes poured warm blood into a corpse, as if to renew life. They pretended to raise ghosts by various incantations and other magical ceremonies.

“578. Three Modes of Divination” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Three modes of divination are here mentioned as having been practiced by the king of Babylon when he came to the junction of two ways and was unable to decide which to take.
1. Belomancy, or divination by arrows. Kilkal bachitsim, “he made his arrows bright,” is literally, “he shook the arrows,” alluding to the mode of using the arrows for the purpose of divination. According to Jerome, in the case referred to in the text, each arrow to be used had on it the name of some town to be attacked. The arrows so marked were put into a quiver and shaken together, after which they were drawn one by one. The cities were to be attacked in the order in which the arrows were drawn. As “Jerusalem” was on the arrow first drawn, thither the king proceeded. Another old writer says that the arrows were thrown up to see which way they would fall, and in this manner the course to be taken was indicated.
Some of the sculptured slabs at Nimroud are supposed to represent divination of this sort, the king being seen with arrows in his hand.
This superstition was much practiced by the Arabs, notwithstanding it is prohibited in the Koran: “It is likewise unlawful for you to make division by casting lots with arrows. This is an impiety” (Koran, chap. 5, Sale’s translation; see also Mr. Sale's Preliminary Discourse, § 5).
The Arabs were in the habit of consulting their arrows before anything of importance was undertaken. These arrows were parti-colored, were without heads or feathers, and were kept in some sacred place. Seven of them were kept in the temple at Mecca. In divination the Arabs generally used but three, though sometimes they used four. On one of the arrows was written, in Arabic, “My Lord hath bidden me”; on the second, “My Lord hath forbidden me”; the third was blank. If the first was drawn, the proposed enterprise was carried out; if the second was drawn, the project was abandoned; if the third was brought out, the arrows had to be again mixed and drawn until a decided answer was obtained.
2. Consultation of the teraphim. “He consulted with images.” The Hebrew word is teraphim. Fairbairn says: “This is the only place where the use of teraphim is expressly ascribed to a heathen, though in 1 Samuel 15:2323For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23), it is stigmatized as of an essentially heathen and, consequently, obnoxious character: Stubbornness is as iniquity and teraphim” (Commentary in loco). The Hebrews were very much addicted to this form of divination. See note on Genesis 31:1919And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. (Genesis 31:19) (#60).
3. Hepatoscopy, or inspection of the liver. This is a branch of splanchnomancy, or divination by inspection of the viscera, and is often referred to by classic writers. It is said that among the Lusitani the livers were obtained, not only from animals offered in sacrifice, but also from prisoners taken in war!
The Orientals considered the liver to be the most valuable of the viscera because they thought it most concerned in the formation of the blood, and they believed that in the blood is the life. The ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans, and some other nations, supposed the liver to be the seat of the passions. In like manner the Arabs of the present day regard the liver as the seat of courage; and among the Malay peoples the liver is considered the seat of all moral impressions and feelings. One names another caressingly, “My liver!” “My liver is sick” is, in other words, “I am angry.” “My liver is anxious,” “my liver wishes,” is absolutely equivalent, in other words, to “my heart,” “my soul.” See Delitzsch's System of Biblical Psychology, p. 316.
This widely-diffused idea of antiquity, traces of which are still to be found, may account for the fact that the liver was considered the most important of the viscera for divining purposes. The lower part of the liver was the portion which was used in divination, and there were certain signs which were considered to be of good or bad omen. If the liver was of good size, sound, and without spot or blemish, prosperity and success were expected. If it was too dry, and had blisters, pustules, or any corrupt humors; if it was parched, thin, hard, or of an ugly black color, disappointment and adverse fate were looked for.
This revolting mode of divination was practiced not only by the Babylonians, as indicated in the text, but by the Creeks and Romans also. There is no evidence, however, of its existence among the Jews.

“597. Divination by Rods” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Some commentators suppose that two distinct classes of divination are here referred to, represented by the words “stocks” and “staff.” If this be so, the former would probably allude to the consultation of teraphim.
See note on Genesis 31:1919And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. (Genesis 31:19) (#60). If but one mode of divination be intended, it is more definitely indicated by the latter word “staff,” and doubtless refers to rhabdomancy, or divination by rods. According to Cyril of Alexandria, this custom had its origin among the Chaldeans. It was also practiced by the Scythians, Persians, Assyrians, and Arabians. In more recent times it has been found among the Chinese, the Africans, and the New Zealanders. Henderson, in his Commentary on Hosea, suggests that the Runic wands of the Scandinavian nations, on which were inscribed mysterious characters, and which were used for magical purposes, originated in this custom. Traces of it may also be found in England and in America in the occasional use of willow rods for discovering hidden treasure, or for finding mines of gold or silver, or wells of petroleum.
There were various methods of using the rods in divination, the mode differing in different countries. Herodotus states that, among the Scythians, the soothsayer brought a large bundle of rods and laid it on the ground.
Then, while muttering over his prophecy, he untied the bundle and placed each wand in a position by itself, after which he gathered the rods together and tied them up again into a bundle. A divine power was supposed to rest in the rods, and to communicate wisdom to the magician. The Scythians used willow sticks, the Persian Magi used tamarisk, and carried the magical bundle with them on all occasions of ceremony. The rods were of different length, and varied in number, three, five, seven, or nine, an odd number in every instance.
Another mode of using the rods was for the magician to hold one of them in his hand while asking his questions, and then to stoop toward the ground as if to get an answer from some invisible source. This answer was always inaudible, and was supposed to be made known to the magician in spirit. Sometimes he leaned on the staff while making his consultations.
At other times the person consulting measured the rod by spans, or by the length of his finger, saying as he measured, “I will go,” or “I will not go”; or else, “I will do,” or “I will not do”; varying the phrase to suit the circumstances. In the way that the last span indicated, so he decided.
Some used this method of divination by taking a rod which was peeled on one side and throwing it at a distance. As the one or the other side fell uppermost, so the decision was made. In the Abbott Collection of Egyptian Antiquities are seven pieces of wood, which were found in a tomb at Sakkarah. Each stick is peeled in the manner above stated. Mr. Abbott supposed them to have been used by children in some ancient game, similar to one now played by the young Egyptians. The sticks are tossed in the air, and according to the way in which they fall the game is won or lost. These ancient sticks may, however, have been used for divination, and the modern game may thus have had its origin. Lane describes a game very common among the lower classes of Egyptians in which sticks are thrown, one side white and the other black. The game is called “tab” (See Modern Egyptians, vol. 2, pp. 59, 63).