Many modern fundamentalist churches condemn the practices of divination, fortune-telling, and magic. It is said that these powers derive from Satan. On multiple occasions, the Bible does condemn dark magic, power used to undermine the work of God. However, the Bible does not condemn all practices of magic outright, just those which cause harm against others.
Hebrew priest often used divination stones known as Urim and Thummim to communicate with God. Modern scholars believe that Urim and Thummim is a form of cleromancy, in which an outcome is interpreted by the random placement of stones as a message from God.
In the breastpiece of judgement you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord; thus Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Israelites on his heart before the Lord continually.
Cleromancy was practiced in many different forms throughout the history of the Jews. Though we are unsure as to the specific practices, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that not all forms of casting lots was banned by scripture.
The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is the Lord’s alone.
– Proverbs 16:33
In multiple places in the Bible, a Ephod (believed to be some type of spiritual clothing) was used in conjunction with the Urim and Thummim for divination purposes.
When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
– 1 Samuel 28:6
In many instances, those who were not prophets often consulted HaShem for guidance through the use of some mystical medium. Only prophets possessed the gift of vision to communicate with God; therefore, it is believed that the average person would have used a divination tool to seek guidance.
The King of Babylon recognized Daniel as an accomplished magician. Though Christians have attributed this as wielding the power of God, what is a prophet but not a magician by any other name?
…Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made [David] chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners
– Daniel 5:11
When Moses was before the Pharaoh, he and Egyptian magicians engaged in a witch war, casting spells and performing tricks to outwit the other.
When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a wonder”, then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a snake.”’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs.
– Exodus 7: 9-12
It is more likely than not that the term “wise men” most likely implied magicians of some sort. The Greek word used to describe the three “wise men” is magi (μάγοι). Our modern term, magician, is derived directly from this word. During this time period, the terms for magician and astrologer were synonymous with scholar or scientist. Any person who sought to understand the world also studied mysticism.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’
– Matthew 2: 1-2
The Bible does not condemn those who practice magic for the purposes of “good” intentions, only those who practice with evil intentions. Several instances throughout the Bible applaud the magical acts of magicians.