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Old 11-02-2000, 04:38 PM
Gr8Kat Gr8Kat is offline
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I've spent quite a bit of time at Shantell Powell's site The Witching Hours: Medieval Through Enlightenment Period European Witch History and have found it very educational, except I have a question about a piece of information she presents as fact:

According to this page, Exodus 22:18 originally said "Thou shall not suffer a poisoner to live," but King James I, because of his phobia of witches (he believed a pair tried to kill him and his wife by causing a storm to sink their ship), had it changed to "witch" when he had the KJV Bible published.

I was curious to see if this deliberate mistranslation (if this page is telling the truth) had been corrected in subsequent versions of the Bible, but all the versions at http://bible.gospelcom.net/ say witch. So then I looked for the Tanach on-line to see what the original text says, but the only English version I could find also said witch.

Did King James alter Exodus 22:18 to fit his prejudices or is Ms. Powell mistaken?
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Old 11-02-2000, 04:40 PM
Gr8Kat Gr8Kat is offline
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Geez, I have to learn to preview--a whole chunk of the first paragraph is missing. The site is called The Witching Hours and the url for the home page is http://shanmonster.bla-bla.com/witch/

However, the page I have a question about is at http://shanmonster.bla-bla.com/witch/hunters/james.html

I hope this makes sense. Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-02-2000, 04:53 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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The translation "witch" (or "sorcerer," the word "witch" is, these days, applied specifically to women and has come to include nature-worshipping pagans...the verse refers to actual practicioners of sorcery, of either sex) is correct.

The Hebrew word used is "MeKhashefah." The root of this is "Kh-Sh-F", which, in Hebrew, means a certain form of magic (there are about ten different forms of magic named, and forbidden, in the Torah).
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Old 11-02-2000, 04:54 PM
barker barker is offline
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Revised Standard Version says: "You shall not permit a sorceress to live."


The Jerome's Latin Vulgate has it as: maleficos non patieris vivere. That is pretty close to witch.
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Old 11-02-2000, 05:01 PM
SuaSponte SuaSponte is offline
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And the natural follow-up question is ...

Where did the BL (Biblical Legend) that "witch" was a mistranslation, and that "poisoner" was the correct term come from?
Sua
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Old 11-02-2000, 05:04 PM
barker barker is offline
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By the way "maleficos" was (is) gender neutral.

For some additional info this is a decent site: www.postfun.com/pfp/misogyny.html#bible
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Old 11-02-2000, 05:12 PM
jmullaney jmullaney is offline
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so it should be "sorcerperson" ot be PC about it.
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Old 11-02-2000, 05:13 PM
Gr8Kat Gr8Kat is offline
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Re: And the natural follow-up question is ...

Quote:
Originally posted by SuaSponte
Where did the BL (Biblical Legend) that "witch" was a mistranslation, and that "poisoner" was the correct term come from?
Sua
I don't know. Ms. Powell's source for that statement appears to be:

Farrington, Karen.
Dark Justice: A History of Punishment and Torture. Toronto: Reed
Consumer Books Limited. 1996.

On this page http://shanmonster.bla-bla.com/witch/misogyny.html she says:

Quote:
No witches could be spared their lives. This much was made clear by the Bible and by Nicholas Rémy's 1595 publication Daemonolatria: showing mercy to witches "is like sparing mad dogs, that everyone knows are incurable" (Wedeck 259). Until the mid-1500s, the much-quoted scripture Exodus 22:18 had used the gender-neutral maleficos for the word "witch." By the mid-sixteenth century, the new Bible translations were feeding the fires of gynocide.

The so-called "Luther's Bible" appeared in German. For women, this Bible was a setback. The approval for extermination of witches was given wider circulation than ever before, now that more men could read and understand the Bible including the passage from Exodus 22:18: "Die Zauberinnen soltu nicht leben lassen" (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.) (Williams 55).

In this translation, the word for witch refers to females alone. In La Saincte Bible , published in 1566 Lyon, the word chosen for witch is intentionally in the feminine form. An annotation to the scripture states, "This law applies equally well to men guilty of this crime as to women. But the woman is specified, because this sex by its weakness is more readily deceived by Satan into undertaking such behavior" (Williams 55).
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Old 11-02-2000, 05:23 PM
Gr8Kat Gr8Kat is offline
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Barker, we cited the same thing. Your URL is a mirror of Shantell Powell's Witching Hours site
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Old 11-02-2000, 07:10 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Quote:
Where did the BL (Biblical Legend) that "witch" was a mistranslation, and that "poisoner" was the correct term come from?
In the Greek concordance to Galatians 5:20 the word "pharmakeia" occurs, being translated in the KJV as "witchcraft". Clearly, this particular word for witchcraft does have something to do with drugs (or poisons), with the idea presumably being that practitioners of black magic use various potions and what not. Note, however, that this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the Hebrew word found in Exodus 22:18, or O.T. conceptions of witchcraft/sorcery in general--in the story of the "witch of Endor" in 1 Samuel 28 the emphasis seems to be on keeping "familiar spirits", not on using potions or drugs--and note also that the New Testament doesn't always use "pharmakeia" for witchcraft or sorcery--in Acts 13:6, for example, the word "magos" is used to mean sorcerer.
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Old 11-02-2000, 07:45 PM
ricksummon ricksummon is online now
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An excellent discussion of what the Bible means by "witchcraft" can be found at http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_bibl.htm. As cmkeller already stated, the Bible forbids a number of specific kinds of magic practices, not just "witchcraft" in general. The article lists the following:
Quote:
In the original Hebrew manuscript, the author used the word m'khashepah to describe the person who should be killed. The word means a woman who uses spoken spells to harm others - e.g. causing their death or loss of property. Clearly "evil sorceress" or "woman who does evil magic" would be the most accurate phrases in current common English usage for this verse.
Quote:
Interpretation of 19 translations of Deuteronomy 18:10-11

The original wording of these verses condemned individuals who followed practices defined by these 8 Hebrew words:

yid'oni: knowers; wizards; persons who make contact with spirits who are not of God. (Some Wiccans have engaged in spiritism and have attempted to contact the dead. However, this is not necessarily an integral part of the Wiccan religion)
sho'el 'ov: making forbidden contact with the dead. (Ditto)
qosem q'samim: predicting the future by using lots or a similar system. (Many Wiccans as well as Christians sometimes use tarot cards, runes, scrying etc. to foretell the future, but this is not an integral part of the Wiccan religion)
m'onen: predicting the future by interpreting signs in nature. (Ditto)
m'nachesh an enchanter (perhaps a snake charmer, because "nachash" means snake. We have never heard of Wiccan snake charmers)
chover chavar: use of knot-tying to perform magic. (Wiccans sometimes engage in knot-tying, but only for positive healing magic. Again, it is a practice that some engage in and is not an integral part of their religion)
m'khaseph: an evil sorcerer (as in Exodus 22:18); a person using spoken spells to harm others. (Wiccans do not engage in this activity; they are specifically prohibited from doing so by their Wiccan Rede.)
doresh 'el hametim: a person who makes contact with the dead - probably by another method than sho'el 'ov. (Again, there are some Wiccans who engage in spiritism, but it is not necessarily an integral part of their religion).
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  #12  
Old 11-02-2000, 09:18 PM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
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Quote:
Where did the BL (Biblical Legend) that "witch" was a mistranslation, and that "poisoner" was the correct term come from?
An Englishman named Reginald Scot made this argument in 1584, in a remarkable book called The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Scot was surely one of history's great ignorance-fighters. He set out to prove that "witches" could not possibly be guilty of the crimes of which they were accused, and proceeded to pick apart the logical holes in classical and contemporary witchcraft cases. His book also includes detailed descriptions of the sleight-of-hand tricks contemporary magicians used to simulate supernatural phenomena; imagine a sixteenth-century James Randi.

I don't know whether he was the first to argue that these Bible verses refer to poisoning rather than what we would understand as witchcraft, but he was certainly one of the first. He was a fascinating guy, in any case, and deserves to be better known.
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Old 11-02-2000, 10:01 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Quote:
chover chavar: use of knot-tying to perform magic. (Wiccans sometimes engage in knot-tying, but only for positive healing magic. Again, it is a practice that some engage in and is not an integral part of their religion)
While I appreciate that modern Wiccans don't go around and cast destructive spells on people (although as a staunch materialist I don't think it would make much difference if they did) I'm not sure that would get them off the hook as far as Biblical prohibitions on witchcraft. As the ReligiousTolerance.org site about the Bible and Wicca/Witchcraft notes, "The Bible contains many religiously intolerant passages". I suspect that the idea that witches or sorcerers cast harmful spells was only part of the rationale behind the prohibition on those practices; they were also prohibited because they were seen as involving appeals to false gods or attempts to usurp the powers of God. So, even "positive healing magic" would probably have gotten you stoned.
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Old 11-02-2000, 10:30 PM
lawoot lawoot is offline
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Re: And the natural follow-up question is ...

Quote:
Originally posted by SuaSponte
Where did the BL (Biblical Legend) that "witch" was a mistranslation, and that "poisoner" was the correct term come from?
Sua
I don't know about ORIGINALLY, but I first read it in 'Job: A Comedy of Justice' by Robert Heinlein.
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Old 11-03-2000, 09:06 AM
barker barker is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gr8Kat
Barker, we cited the same thing. Your URL is a mirror of Shantell Powell's Witching Hours site
Sorry about that, but I wasn't able to access your first link. As soon as you reposted I saw it was a mirror.
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