O.T. superstitions

by behemot 3 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • behemot

    I read in a book (Near Eastern Religious Texts Relating to the Old Testament, by Walter Beyerlin, ed.) that fear of evil eye transpires from O.T. passages such as Deut. 28:54, 56; Prov. 6:13; 10,10; 16:30, while other texts (Zech. 14:20; Judges 8:21, 26; Isa. 3:18, 20) likely refer to charms worn to turn away evil influences.

    Is this confirmed either philologically or archeologically? Do you know of other instances of O.T. quotes where traces of superstition beliefs can be detected?


  • JCanon

    I'd have to find you specific references but don't have time right now. But in my research the "evil eye" was not always bad, but used to scare away evil spirits. So the "evil eye": probably is misleading. With so much emphasis on the "eye of Horus" though, that immediately comes to mind as being connected though I don't know that directly.

    The scriptura passages are too general to refer to the evil eye in pagan practice though, so I don't believe this is a specific reference to that artifact. If there is a general or specific connection to the eye of Horus or the eye at the top of the seeing eye pyramid, then it is considered the eye of Satan, epitomized as the height of knowledge and insight and wisdom, the ultimate "angel of light."

    Of course, I believe the Eye of Horus predates the Exodus so its use as a cultic omen to rid off evil spirits, etc. is quite possible. I don't know anything else specifically, and you will likely find lots of academic speculation as to exactly what the relevant history is, so enjoy!

    Just Google "evil eye" and follow the trails. My only casual knowledge is of the Greeks using it to ward off evil spirits and it got tagged the "evil eye" in relation to that, but the eye itself was not supposed to be evil.



  • Narkissos

    Hi behemot,

    There are many features in the Bible (OT and NT) which would qualify as "superstitions" from the modern perspective. Think of Jacob's shepherd "stratagem" in Genesis 30, of the ordeal in Numbers 5, or more generally the efficiency of sacrifice and ritual, and the practice of divination (ephod, etc.).

    However, in spite of the trans-cultural resemblance in wording, I'm not sure the "evil eye" qualifies, inasmuch as it can also be understood as a Hebrew idiom for "greed," "miserliness" or "avarice" -- cf. the contexts of the occurrences; imo this meaning is carried into the Synoptic (Q) Gospel sayings opposing the "simple eye" (generosity) to the "evil eye" -- with the added cognitive metaphor implying that the "simple" (= generous) eye sees right (light), while the "evil (greedy) eye" sees wrong (darkness). This, btw, is connected with a widespread ancient concept (which might also be called a "superstition" but may as well be understood poetically) according to which the eye produces its own light/vision and is also the "window of the body," allowing for "inner light").

  • behemot

    Thanks Narkissos,

    your explanation makes sense.


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