Deuteronomy 18:10 KJV

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,

This term is a little bit confusing seeing this could be also applied to the Jewish nation. Paul actually points it out to the Galatians(Galatians 4) as a practice under Judaism.

Why does the KJV use this term?

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    First use a modern translation, then consult a theological dictionary. As it stands, this question lacks research effort.
    – user2672
    Mar 20, 2019 at 6:11
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    @KeelanDid crosscheck but was interested in the KJV, why they used it seeing this could also have referred to the Jewish nation Mar 20, 2019 at 7:19
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    Which verse in Galatians? I couldn't make the connection.
    – user17080
    Mar 20, 2019 at 19:35
  • You seem to be answering the question already. Galations 4:10 accuses some Christians of doing exactly the same pagan activities that that were forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:10. It would make sense that the KJV translators would use similar terminology in the two verses. Feb 13, 2023 at 1:56

2 Answers 2


The word in question in the MT is מעונן, m'onen. The question is, if Gesenius translates this as someone who "clouds", covers, or uses dark arts, then why does the KJV translate as "observer of times"? There appears to be no connection.

Furthermore, what is an "observer of times"?

The answer, as is often the case in things KJV, is that the KJV is translating according the mainstream Jewish tradition as represented by RASHI. RASHI interprets the word מעונן in this verse not as a form of ענן, anan, cloud, but as a form of ענה, onah, meaning a period of time or season, as in "the football season". So RASHI's interpretation is that a m'onen, מעונן, is someone who "seasons", that is, someone who determines via astrology or similar arts that particular times are ripe for for doing particular actions or making particular decisions.

Now the question is why does RASHI read מעונן as someone who "seasons", which sound a little stretched, instead of the more likely reading as someone who "clouds", that is, someone who uses smoke screens or ruses to do some unspecified thing. The two answers to this question are that a) that the "clouds" reading doesn't tell us the specific nature of the activity that is prohibited, which is unsatisfying to someone like RASHI who reads the text as a manual to live by, and b) the "clouds" reading does not provide a clear enough distinction from the last word in the verse, מכשף, mechashef, a practitioner of witchcraft, so it sounds redundant.

For reference, RASHI's actual comment on this word in this verse is a quotation from a midrashic commentary:

רבי עקיבה אומר אלו נותני עונות, שאומרים עונה פלונית יפה להתחיל. וחכמים אומרים אלו אוחזי העיניים

Rabbi Akiva says, these are [people] who give seasons, who say, "this time is a good time to start [something]". And the sages say, "these [people] are holders of the eyes (deceivers)".

As an aside note, when RASHI uses a midrashic commentary, it usually means that he doesn't have a more straightforward linguistic answer, or that the linguistic answer is somehow unsatisfactory.


KJV uses “observer of times". Other Bibles use "observer of clouds", “fortune-telling”, “interpret omens”, “practice augury”, etc.

What they all are addressing is reading into the future. No one is to read into the future.


In Galatians 4, “times” has a different definition. Paul wrote there about “the elements of the world” and what Jesus dealt with when He came out of eternity, “made of a woman”. He stepped aside of eternity and dealt with our "times", merely a measurement tool to help human beings living on earth. As Paul mentioned that, he told the Galatians “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. (Galatians 4:10 KJV)

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