Deuteronomy 18:11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,

What is a charmer in Deuteronomy 18:11?


The operative word here is H2266. chabar


[חָבַר] verb unite (usually intransitive), be joined, tie a magic knot or spell, charm ...
1 unite, be joined ...
2 tie magic knots, charm

Deuteronomy 18:11 New International Version

or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

At https://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/18-11.htm, 13 versions use "charmer" or "charm"; 14 versions use "spells" or "spell".

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

weaving spells, spell-binder; either of the tying of knots as malignant charms, common among Semites and other races

It was one of the occult practices forbidden by God.


The prophet הוֹשֵׁ֙עַ֙ Hoshea explained חֶבֶר "Chever" as a [Clever Band] of evildoers = "Gang" in Hoshea 6:9.

Hoshea הוֹשֵׁ֙עַ֙ | "Hosea" 6:9

And as a man gathers fish, so do bands; a [gang] of priests murder on the way in one group, for they devised a plot. ( וּכְחַכֵּ֨י אִ֜ישׁ גְּדוּדִ֗ים חֶבֶר כֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים דֶּ֖רֶךְ יְרַצְּח֣וּ שֶׁ֑כְמָה כִּ֥י זִמָּ֖ה עָשֽׂוּ )

Hoshea's Clever "Gang" is the same type of "Charmer(s)" חבר referenced in Deuteronomy 18:11 where Moshe states :

Devarim | "Deuteronomy" 18:11

"Or a [Charmer], or one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, or one who inquires of the dead." ( וְחֹבֵ֖ר חָ֑בֶר וְשֹׁאֵ֥ל אוֹב֙ וְיִדְּעֹנִ֔י וְדֹרֵ֖שׁ אֶל־הַמֵּתִֽים )


It might be useful to supplement the above answers which primarily use a linguistic approach with a legal approach. Maimonides in his great code, Laws of Idolatry, Chapter 11, defines from a legal perspective all the terms used in Deut. 18:11. Paragraph 10 defines the Chover:

A person who utters nonsense-syllabuls as a means of averting some bad consequence and holds a key or stone during the utterances.

Note: This can be defended linguistically since Chever means to unite and is used to denote sewing type activities; in this case the person weaves together a sequence of nonsense syllables which is suppose to have magical properties to save.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.