THE WAY BINARY ORACLES WORK -- PART ONE
מא וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל, אֶל-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--הָבָה תָמִים; וַיִּלָּכֵד יוֹנָתָן וְשָׁאוּל, וְהָעָם יָצָאוּ.
מב וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל--הַפִּילוּ, בֵּינִי וּבֵין יוֹנָתָן בְּנִי; וַיִּלָּכֵד, יוֹנָתָן.
Saul then said to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Show Thammim.” Jonathan and Saul were indicated by lot, and the troops were cleared. And Saul said, “Cast the lots between my son and me”; and Jonathan was indicated.
1 Samuel 14:41-42
"Romans may have used 20-Sided die almost two millennia before D&D, but people in ancient Egypt were casting icosahedra even earlier. Pictured above is a twenty-faced die dating from somewhere between 304 and 30 B.C., a timespan also known as Egypt's Ptolemaic Period."
Some use the I Ching. When I first visited Michael Bertiaux, the greatest living magus IMHO, to my astonishment, he - like me - had D&D dice on his altar. So much suddenly fell into place for me at that moment. I too, had D&D dice on my magical Workspace. (See "The Magick of Michael Bertiaux, below.)
Urim and Thummim
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the Hebrew Bible, the Urim and Thummim (Hebrew: האורים והתומים, Standard haʾUrim vəhaTummim Tiberian hāʾÛrîm wəhatTummîm) are associated with the hoshen (High Priest'sbreastplate), divination in general, and cleromancy in particular. Most scholars suspect that the phrase refers to specific objects involved in the divination.
Name and meaning
Thummim (תוּמִים) is widely considered to be derived from the consonantal root תתּוּמִים (t-m-m), meaning innocent, while Urim (אוּרִים) has traditionally been taken to derive from a rootmeaning lights; these derivations are reflected in the Neqqudot of the Masoretic Text. In consequence, Urim and Thummim has traditionally been translated as lights and perfections (byTheodotion, for example), or, by taking the phrase allegorically, as meaning revelation and truth, ordoctrine and truth (it appears in this form in the Vulgate, in the writing of Jerome, and in theHexapla).
However, although at face value the words are plural, the context suggests they are pluralis intensivus—singular words which are pluralised to enhance their apparent majesty. The singular forms—ur and tumm—have been connected by some early scholars with the Babylonian terms urtuand tamitu, meaning oracle and command, respectively. Many scholars now believe that אוּרִים (Urim) simply derives from the Hebrew term אּרּרִים (Arrim), meaning curses, and thus that Urim and Thummim essentially means cursed or faultless, in reference to the deity's view of an accused—in other words Urim and Thummim were used to answer the question innocent or guilty.
Form and function
1 Samuel 14:41 is regarded by biblical scholars as key to understanding the Urim and Thummim; the passage describes an attempt to identify a sinner via divination, by repeatedly splitting the people into two groups and identifying which group contains the sinner. In the version of this passage in the Masoretic Text, it describes Saul and Jonathan being separated from the rest of the people, and lots being cast between them; the Septuagint version, however, states that Urim would indicate Saul and Jonathan, while Thummim would indicate the people. In the Septuagint, a previous verse uses a phrase which is usually translated as inquired of God, which is significant as the grammatical form of the Hebrew implies that the inquiry was performed by objects being manipulated; scholars view it as evident from these verses and versions thatcleromancy was involved, and that Urim and Thummim were the names of the objects being cast.
The description of the clothing of the Hebrew high priest in the Book of Exodus portrays the Urim and Thummim as being put into the sacred breastplate, worn by the high priest over the Ephod. Where the biblical text elsewhere describes an Ephod being used for divination, scholars presume that it is referring to use of the Urim and Thummim in conjunction with the Ephod, as this seems to be intimately connected with it; similarly where non-prophets are portrayed as asking HaShemfor guidance, and the advice isn't described as given by visions, scholars think that Urim and Thummim were the medium implied. In all but two cases (1 Samuel 10:22 and 2 Samuel 5:23), the question is one which is effectively answered by a simple yes or no; a number of scholars believe that the two exceptions to this pattern, which give more complex answers, were originally also just sequences of yes/no questions, but became corrupted by later editing. There is no description of the form of the Urim and Thummim in the passage describing the high priest's vestments, and a number of scholars believe that the author of the passage, which textual scholars attribute to the priestly source, wasn't actually entirely aware of what they were either, Nevertheless, the passage does describe them as being put into the breastplate, which scholars think implies they were objects put into some sort of pouch within it, and then, while out of view, one (or one side, if the Urim and Thummim was a single object) was chosen by touch and withdrawn or thrown out; since the Urim and Thummim were put inside this pouch, they were presumably small and fairly flat, and were possibly tablets of wood or of bone. With the view of scholars thatUrim essentially means guilty and Thummim essentially means innocent, this would imply that the purpose of the Urim and Thummim was an ordeal to confirm or deny suspected guilt; if the Urim was selected it meant guilt, while selection of the Thummim would mean innocence.
According to Islamic sources, there was a similar form of divination among the Arabs before the beginning of Islam. There, two arrow shafts (without heads or feathers), on one of which was written command and the other prohibition or similar, were kept in a container, and stored in the Kaaba at Mecca; whenever someone wished to know whether to get married, go on a journey, or to make some other similar decision, one of the Kaaba's guardians would randomly pull one of the arrow shafts out of the container, and the word written upon it was said to indicate the will of the god concerning the matter in question. Sometimes a third, blank, arrow shaft would be used, to represent the refusal of the deity to give an answer. This practice is called rhabdomancy, after the Greek roots rhabd- "rod" and -mancy ("divination").
According to classical rabbinical literature, in order for the Urim and Thummim to give an answer, it was first necessary for the individual to stand facing the fully dressed high priest, and vocalise the question briefly and in a simple way, though it wasn't necessary for it to be loud enough for anyone else to hear it. The Talmudic rabbis argued that Urim and Thummim were words written on the sacred breastplate. Most of the Talmudic rabbis, and Josephus, following the belief that Urimmeant lights, argued that divination by Urim and Thummim involved questions being answered by great rays of light shining out of certain jewels on the breastplate; each jewel was taken to represent different letters, and the sequence of lighting thus would spell out an answer (though there were 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and only 12 jewels on the breastplate); two Talmudic rabbis, however, argued that the jewels themselves moved in a way that made them stand out from the rest, or even moved themselves into groups to form words.
History of use
A passage of the Books of Samuel mentions three methods of divine communication - dreams, prophets, and the Urim and Thummim; the first two of these are also mentioned copiously in Assyrian and Babylonian literature, and such literature also mentions Tablets of Destiny, which are similar in some ways to the Urim and Thummim. The Tablets of Destiny had to rest on the breast of deities mediating between the other gods and mankind in order to function, while the Urim and Thummim had to rest within the breastplate of the priest mediating between God and mankind Marduk was said to have put his seal on the Tablets of Destiny, while the Israelite breastplate had a jewelled stone upon it for each of the Israelite tribes, which may derive from the same principle. Like the Urim and Thummim, the Tablets of Destiny came into use when the fate of king and nation was concerned. According to a minority of archaeologists, the Israelites emerged as a subculture from within Canaanite society, and not as an invading force from outside, and therefore it would be natural for them to have used similar religious practices to other Semitic nations, and these scholars suspect that the concept of Urim and Thummim was originally derived from the Tablets of Destiny.
The first reference to Urim and Thummim in the Bible is the description in the Book of Exodus concerning the high priest's vestments; the chronologically earliest passage mentioning them, according to textual scholars, is in the Book of Hosea, where it is implied, by reference to the Ephod, that the Urim and Thummim were fundamental elements in the popular form of the Israelite religion, in the mid 8th century BC. Consulting the Urim and Thummim was said to be permitted for determining territorial boundaries, and was said to be required, in addition to permission from the king or a prophet, if there was an intention to expand Jerusalem or the Temple in Jerusalem; however, these rabbinical sources did question, or at least tried to justify, why Urim and Thummim would be required when a prophet was also present. The classical rabbinical writers argued that the Urim and Thummim were only permitted to be consulted by very prominent figures such as army generals, the most senior of court figures, and kings, and the only questions which could be raised were those which were asked for the benefit of the people as a whole.
Although Josephus argues that the Urim and Thummim continued to be used until the era of theMaccabees, Talmudic sources are unanimous in agreeing that the Urim and Thummim were lost much earlier, when Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians. In a passage from the part of the Book of Ezra which overlaps with the Book of Nehemiah, it is mentioned that individuals who were unable to prove, after the Babylonian captivity had ended, that they were descended from the priesthood before the captivity began, were required to wait until priests in possession of Urim and Thummim were discovered; this would appear to confirm the Talmudic view that the Urim and Thummim had by then been lost. Indeed, since the priestly source, which textual scholars date to a couple of centuries prior to the captivity, doesn't appear to know what the Urim and Thummim looked like, and there is no mention of the Urim and Thummim in the deuteronomic history beyond the death of David, scholars suspect that use of them decayed some time before the Babylonian conquest, probably as a result of the growing influence of prophets at that time.
In popular culture
In accordance with the view that Urim and Thummim could be translated as "Light and Truth", the Latin equivalent Lux et Veritas has been used for several university mottoes. Lux et Veritas is the motto of Indiana University and the University of Montana; similarly, Northeastern University's motto is Lux, Veritas, Virtus (Light, Truth, Virtue). Though Urim and Thummim itself is emblazoned across the open book pictured on the Yale University coat of arms, Lux et Veritasappears below on a banner.
The Urim and Thummim are also afforded some value as artifacts in some modern fiction:
Thomas Mann has elaborated greatly on the definition of this term in "Joseph the Provider", the fourth book of his tetralogy "Joseph and His Brothers".
A treasure hunt for the Urim and Thummim forms the central plot of the John Bellairs novel The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost
Their apparent desecration by an unknown vandal is a theme in the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "The Jew's Breastplate".
In the Christian fiction novel The Face of God, by Bill Myers, the pastor Daniel Lawson and terrorist Ibrahim el-Magd race to find the Urim and Thummim, as well as the twelve stones of the sacred breastplate, in order to hear God's voice.
In the novel The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, page 30 the king of Salem gives the main character Santiago two stones that the king calls Urim and Thummim. One of the stones is black, which is said to signify yes, and the other is white, said to signify no; a significance applicable when the stones are asked an appropriate question and drawn from a bag. The king himself had removed the stones from his shining golden breastplate.
Urim and Thummim were the names given to two objects of mystical technology in the Prosopopeia transmedia series, culminating in the International Emmy Award-winning participatory drama series The Truth About Marika by SVT The company P.
The traditional rabbinical descriptions of the function of Urim and Thummim—transmitting messages by glowing—have been claimed by some proponents of paleocontact hypothesis to be evidence in support of that hypothesis.
[extracted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urim_and_Thummim]
Divination through created events (in the Tanakh)
from A Jewish Perspective on Divination
By Rabbi Robert dos Santos Teixeira, L.C.S.W.
Let us now take a look at forms of divination in the Tanakh that require the diviner to interpret created events, a sequence of created events, for the purpose of providing information or answering questions. In every instance, the events were created by the diviner through the use of a divinatory device. Again, a form of divination can be understood as a language and divining as conversing or talking.
Divining through Urim and Thummim. We begin by turning our attention to the Urim and Thummim, the most celebrated and mysterious divinatory device mentioned in the Tanakh. We first encounter the Urim and Thummim in Exodus 28:30 and then again in Leviticus 8:8.
We read in Exodus, "Inside the breastpiece of decision you shall place the Urim and Thummim, so that they are over Aaron's heart when he comes before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall carry the instrument of decision for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord at all times" (28:30). And in Leviticus, "He [Moses] put the breastpiece on him, and put into the breastpiece the Urim and Thummim" (8:8).
As an officially-sanctioned divinatory device, the Urim and Thummim were used by the Levites (Deuteronomy 33:8) for the purpose of making decisions
(Numbers 27:21). It is clear that priests, other than the high priest, possessed them (I Samuel 23:9; Ezra 2:63; and Nehemiah 7:65).
Apparently, the Urim and Thummim were "lots" (I Samuel 14:41-42, 23:9-12) used to answer yes-no questions (14:37). Those who utilized the Urim and Thummim practiced cleromancy, a form of divination that requires the diviner to interpret lots, such as pieces of bone. I Samuel 14:41 gives us a good idea how they were used. In the Septuagint, this verse reads, "Why have you not responded to your servant today? If this inquity was due to my son Jonathan or to me, O Lord, God of Israel, show Urim; and if You say it was due to Your people Israel, show Thummim (14:41)." Urim indicates yes and Thummim no.
The meaning of I Samuel 14:41-42 (in the New Jewish Publication Society Version of the Tanakh), which, as previously mentioned, speaks of the Urim and Thummim being used as lots, now becomes clearer. "Jonathan and Saul were indicated by lot, and the troops were cleared" (14:41)â€”Urim (yes), guilt rests on Jonathan and Saul; Thummim (no), it does not rest on the troops. "And Saul said, 'Cast the lots between my son and me;' and Jonathan was indicated" (14:42)â€”Thummim (no), Saul is not guilty; Urim (yes), Jonathan is guilty of eating food when it was forbidden to do so.
Divining through liquid. In Genesis 42:8, Joseph, now the vizier of Egypt, comes face to face with his brothers, who fail to recognize him. According to the story, Joseph commands his house steward to plant his silver goblet in the bag of his youngest brother, Benjamin. The text twice states that Joseph uses this very goblet for divination (44:5, 15). Joseph instructs his steward to confront his brothers over the missing goblet and to say to them, "It is the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination" (44:5). And when his brothers are brought before him, Joseph asks them, "Do you not know that a man like me practices divination?" (44:15).
Joseph, with the aid of a divinatory device, a silver goblet (filled partially or completely with one or more liquids), would create phenomena (events) to be interpreted. As to the form of the divination he practiced, that would have depended on what he actually did with the goblet: he may have interpreted patterns formed by wine clinging to the goblet's walls (oinomancy); he may have interpreted the patterns formed by oil floating on the liquid's surface (lecanomancy); he may have interpreted the ripples and sounds of objects (such as gemstones) dropped into the liquid (hydromancy); or he may have interpreted the images he was able to make out inside of the filled goblet (scrying).
Daniel, another renowned biblical figure, was highly adept at divination and others crafts. In an attempt to comfort King Belshazzar of Babylon, frightenend over the appearance of writing on a wall, his mother / wife speaks very favorably of Daniel.
She says: "There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him; in your father's time, illumination, understanding, and wisdom like that of the gods were to be found in him, and your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, exorcists, Chaldeans, and diviners (11). Seeing that there is to be found in Daniel (whom the king called Belteshazzar) extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and understading to interpret dreams, to explain riddles and solve problems, let Daniel now be called to tell the meaning [of the writing]" (12) (Daniel 5:11-12).
If Daniel possessed "the spirit of the holy gods" as well as their qualities and attributes ("extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and understading to interpret dreams, to explain riddles and solve problems") and if he was "chief of the magicians, exorcists, Chaldeans, and diviners," he surely engaged in, if not excelled at, the same crafts as these practitioners.
His having "understading to interpret dreams" suggests that he, like Joseph (Genesis 37 and 40-41), explained their meaning, a form of divination known as oneiromancy.
Divining through sticks. Interpreting the appearance and / or movement (interaction) of sticks is a form of divination known as rhabdomancy or xylomancy. We find an example in Numbers, where Moses, at the Lord's command, instructs the twelve chieftains of the ancestral houses to carve their names on their staffs, which he then places before the Pact so one of them can sprout. "The next day," according to the text, "Moses entered the Tent of the Pact, and there the staff of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted: it had brought forth sprouts, produced blossoms, and borne almonds" (17:23). The sprouting of Aaron's staff confirmed that the Lord had chosen him and his sons to serve as priests.
This short account, similar to the one involving Gideon and the troops who stop to drink, is compelling for several reasons. The Lord tells Moses, just as he told Gideon, to practice this form of divination in public for the benefit of the community. And he explains to him, just as he explained to Gideon, what to look for and how to interpret it.
We also find a possible reference to this form of divination in Hosea. There, the prophet says, referring to Israel, "It consults its stick, its rod directs it!" (Hosea 4:12). If we are interpreting this verse correctly, the stick and the rod
function as divinatory devices. Rhabdomancy, by the way, is closely related to another form of divination known as dowsing, which requires the practitioner to use a forked stick (divining rod) to find something beneath the ground, such as a source of water.
Divining through music. The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, unable to locate a source of water while in pursuit of their common enemy (the king of Moab), seek out a prophet of the Lord for assistance. They turn to Elisha son of Shapput who abruptly says to them, "Now then, get me a musician" (II Kings 3:15). "As the musician played," says the text, "the hand of the Lord came upon him [Elisha]" (3:16). The prophet goes on to identify the wadi that would yield an abundance of water and to forecast victory for the kings.
Though a prophet of the Lord, Elisha clearly relies on music to achieve a state of awareness conducive to providing this information. A similar occurrence can be found in I Samuel 10:5, where Saul encounters a "band of prophets," who, "preceded by lyres, timbrels, flutes and harps," are "speaking in ecstasy." Elisha and others, however, may have been more dependent on music than it appears at first glance. They may have interpreted the musical notes (in order to provide the information), which would have made the musical instruments into divinatory devices.
In Ezekiel, in the "third oracle concerning the sword," we learn that the king of Babylon engaged in three forms of divination, two of which Israel also practiced. "For the king of Babylon," the text states, "has stood at the fork of the road, where two roads branch off, to perform divination: He has shaken arrows, consulted teraphim, and inspected the liver" (Ezekiel 21:26). As we will see, in the practice of divination, arrows, teraphim, and the liver of an animal can all function as divinatory devices.
Divining through arrows. Shaking arrows refers to a form of divination known as belomancy, which requires the practitioner to interpret the way arrows fall or land. In II Kings 13:15-19, the prophet Elisha, while on his deathbed, instructs King Joash of Israel to shoot an arrow and then to strike a bunch of arrows on the ground, which he does.
The prophet interprets the shooting and striking of the arrows, allowing him to forecast the king's future performance in battle:
Elisha said to him, "Get a bow and arrows;" and he brought him a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, "Grasp the bow!" And when he had grasped it, Elisha put his hands over the king's hands. "Open the window toward the east," he said; and he opened it. Elisha said, "Shoot!" and he shot. Then he said, "An arrow of victory for the Lord! An arrow of victory
over Aram! You shall rout Aram completely at Aphek." He said, "Now pick up the arrows." And he picked them up. "Strike the ground!" he said to the king of Israel; he struck three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said to him, "If only you had struck five or six times! Then you would have annihilated Aram; as it is, you shall defeat Aram only three times" (15- 19).
Just as Isaiah leads Hezekiah and the Lord leads Gideon and Moses to practice divination, step by step, Elisha leads King Joash. Hezekiah and Joash were more instruments than assistants, unlike Gideon and Moses.
Divining through teraphim. Consulting teraphim refers to theomancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret the communication of an oracle. The teraphim, the oracles, were more than likely figures or statues that were believed to speak (Zechariah 10:2). They were small enough for Rachel, who had stolen them from her father Laban (Genesis 31:19), to conceal inside of the camel cushion on which she sat (31:34), and at least one of them was large enough for Michal to place in a bed and disguise as her husband David, which facilitated his escape (I Samuel 19:13).
It is noteworthy and understandable that Rachel, one of the four matriarchs of Israel, while in the process of fleeing and embarking upon a completely new and uncertain life with her husband Jacob, had need of her father's teraphim (Genesis 31:19); perhaps Laban's practice of divination, to which he admits (30:27), involved these very teraphim. It is also noteworthy that David and Michal possessed teraphim (I Samuel 19:13) even though both were born long after the Law (containing the anti-divination prohibitions of Leviticus 19: 26, 31 and Deuteronomy 18:10-11) had been given to Israel at Sinai.
In the story of Micah (Judges 17 and 18) we learn that teraphim and the ephod are kept at the same location, within the same sacred space. The text tells us that Micah constructed a "house of God" (17:5) and then hired a Levite to serve as his priest (17:10). His shrine contains an ephod, teraphim, a sculptured image, and a molten image, all of which are eventually stolen by the Danites (tribe of Dan) (18:17-18) who go on to make use of the sculptured image (18:30-31).
If this particular ephod was similar to the one created for Aaron (Exodus 28), over it may have lay a breast piece of decision in which were placed Urim and Thummim. The ephod itself, apart from Urim and Thummim, was associated with the asking of yes-no questions (I Samuel 23: 2-6 and 9-12).
Micah's shrine, it seems, contained two divinatory devices, teraphim and the ephod. Eventually, use of teraphim was loudly condemned (I Samuel 15:23) and prohibited (II Kings 23:24).
Divining through the liver. Inspecting the liver, if you will, refers to a form of divination known as hepatoscopy, which requires the practitioner to interpret the appearance and movement of the liver as it is removed from a recently-slain animal. The king of Babylon's inspecting the liver is the only instance of hepatoscopy contained in the Tanakh.
What does the Talmud say about divination?
The Babylonian Talmud, like the Tanakh, communicates mixed messages about divination. It makes mention of rabbis who engaged in divination, which shouldn't surprise us when we consider that it also speaks of rabbis who practiced magic, such as Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Oshaia, who, while studying together on Shabbat, used the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), an ancient mystical work (focused on the creative power of the Hebrew alphabet), to create a calf to eat (Sanhedrin 65b and 67b).
Definition of Divination / Illicit Divination. Rav, in tractate Hullin (95b), says, "An omen which is not after the form pronounced by Eliezer, Abraham's servant, or by Jonathan the son of Saul, is not considered a divination!" In our discussion of what the Bible says about divination, we examined the stories of Eliezer (Genesis 24:14-27) and Jonathan (I Samuel 14:8-15), instances of divining through the speech of others, to which Rav refers.
As pointed out, in Rav's view, it was entirely permissible for Eliezer and Jonathan to regard the words spoken to them as omens; ascribing those words to the Lord and then allowing them to be the single determinant of their behavior was another matter. Rav did not object to the form of divination, which he failed to even recognize as divination, but to the way in which Eliezer and Jonathan practiced it, to the conclusions they reached. Both engaged in divination, that is, illicit divination, because they CLAIMED TO KNOW THE WILL OF THE DIVINE THROUGH THEIR INTERPRETATIONS OF PHENOMENA AND ACTED SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF THEIR INTERPRETATIONS.
Divination through naturally-occcuring events (in the Talmud)
Let us now examine forms of divination in the Talmud that require the diviner to interpret naturally-occurring events for the purpose of providing information or answering questions. Once again, a form of divination can be understood as a language and divining as conversing.
Divining through final outcomes. In tractate Hullin (95b), Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar tells us that the outcome of one's building a house, having a child, or getting married can point to the success or failure of future endeavors. "R. Simeon b. Eleazar says," according to the text, "Although a house or a child or a marriage must not be used for divination, they may be taken as a sign. R. Eleazar added, Provided it was established so on three occasions." Rabbi Eleazar cautions that all three outcomes must be positive or negative for them to have any predictive value.
Divining through the movement of a ferry boat. In the same tractate (Hullin, 95b), we find Rav interpreting the movement of a ferry boat, a form of divination for which there is no known name. "Rab," the text tells us, "was once going to his son-in-law R. Hanan when he saw a ferry-boat coming towards him. Said he to himself, "When the ferry-boat comes to meet one it is a good omen." His words literally mean, "it will be a good day in there," that is, "at the place where he proposed to go."
Rav, it seems, was familiar with a particular sequence of events that consistently pointed to a favorable outcome: If one, while traveling toward a destination, encounters an oncoming ferry, the circumstances surrounding one's arrival at that destination will be pleasant. Rav acted inside of the Law by interpreting the oncoming ferry boat as indicative of a favorable outcome for his journey. If, however, he had not seen the ferry boat and had gone on to say, "The Lord wills that I must not go beyond this point," and had proceeded to stop, to end his journey, he would have acted outside of the Law.
Divining through the speech of others. In tractate Megillah (32a), Rabbi Shefatiah, repeating a teaching of Rabbi Johanan, tells us if, while reading from the Torah, one hears a man repeat himself or a woman repeat herself, especially if she is in a place where she isn't normally, it is permissible to look for a connection between what is being read (from the Torah) and what is being said (by that person). Says Rabbi Shefatiah, "Whence do we know that we may avail ourselves of a chance utterance [as an omen]? Because it says, And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying. This applies, however, only if one hears the voice of a man in town and of a woman in the country, and only if it says, yes, yes, or no, no" (Megillah 32a).
The meaning behind words of Torah, then, can be elucidated or enhanced by the words spoken by a person in an unrelated place and situation. Here, we have another example of cledonomancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret the remarks of another person; we encountered cledonomancy in Genesis 24:14-27 and I Samuel 14:8-15.
Divining through created events (in the Talmud)
Divining through books. In tractate Hullin (95b), we encounter Rabbi Johanan, who, before setting out to visit his colleague Samuel, engages in bibliomancy or stichomancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret words, lines, or passages of a book, often the Bible. The same tractate tells us that Samuel himself practiced this form of divination; he regarded a randomly selected "passage from a book" as a "sign" (95b).
Says Rabbi Johanan, "'It is clear that I have a Master in Babylon; I must go and see him.'" And the text continues, "So he said to a child, 'Tell me the verse you have learnt.' He answered, 'Now Samuel was dead.' Said [R. Johanan], 'This means that Samuel has died.' But it was not the case; Samuel was not dead then, and [this happened] only that R. Johanan should not trouble himself" (95b).
Interestingly, Rabbi Johanan did not practice divination, that is, illicit divination, as defined by Rav. The text does not state whether he regarded setting out or not setting out on his journey as reflecting the Divine will or whether he proceeded onward or remained behind (upon hearing the child quote I Samuel 28:3). Rabbi Johanan simply interpreted the event, and it so happens that he interpreted it incorrectly; he believed his colleague Samuel had died instead of concluding that it may not be an opportune time for him to receive visitors.
In tractate Horayoth (12a), Rabbi Ammi endorses three particular forms of divination, although he does not recognize any of them as divination. He mentions divining through flames, divining through the behavior of a rooster, and divining through shadows and then describes, as if providing instructions, what exactly the practitioner of each must do.
Divining through flames. Says Ammi: "He who wishes to ascertain whether he will live through the year or not shall, during the tens days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, kindle a lamp in a house wherein there is no draught. If the light continues to burn he may know that he may live throughout the year." He clearly describes pyromancy, pyroscopy, or lampadancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret the movement of flame or fire.
Divining through the behavior of a rooster. Continues Ammi: "He who desires to engage in business and wishes to ascertain whether he will succeed or not, let him rear up a cock [rooster]; if it grows plump and fine he will succeed." He refers to alectromancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret the behavior of a rooster, particularly the way in which it feeds; the words "plump and fine" say something about the rooster's behaviorâ€”it eats and appears in every way to be healthy. Alectromancy can be described as a very distinct type of zoomancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret the behavior of animals.
Divining through shadows. Says Ammi: "He who desires to set out on a journey and wishes to ascertain whether he will return home again or not, let him station himself in a dark house; if he sees the reflection of his shadow he may know that he will return home again." Here, we have another example of sciomancy, a form of divination that requires the practitioner to interpret shadows; we encountered sciomancy in II Kings 20: 8-11.
[extracted from -http://stayblessedandbewell.com/jewish_perspective_on_divin…
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