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It is a well known fact that the Bible contains many verses where magick is forbidden. Some examples are Exodus 22:18 and Deuteronomy 18:9-12. However, I find also in the Bible many verse that indicate Prophet Moses and his brother, Prophet Aaron, to have performed magic as well. The following verses are some of the examples:

Exodus 7:10-12:

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

Exodus 7:20:

And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

Exodus 8:17:

And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 9:23:

And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.

Exodus 10:13:

And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Exodus 10:22:

And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.

Exodus 17:5-6

And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee … thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exodus 17:9-11:

And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

Numbers 17:6-8:

And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

So did Prophets Moses and Aaron really performed magick or is this a mistranslation? If they did practice magick, why did they do it when it is forbidden or does it mean magick can be white?

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  • @bradimus But I thought there isn't anything called white magick in Christianity.
    – user35637
    Sep 20, 2017 at 16:54
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    You seem to conflate the ideas of magic and miracles. There is no basis for this.
    – bradimus
    Sep 20, 2017 at 17:02
  • Definitely there isn't anything called "magick" of any colour in Christianity; there is magic, which is condemned in Judaism and thus in Christianity, too, and there are miracles, which are recognised in Judaism and thus in Christianity, too. The difference between the two is that a miracle is created by God, not by a prophet or saint or anything else. Magic is created by a person or, more likely, an unclean spirit (demon).
    – Wtrmute
    Sep 20, 2017 at 17:20
  • @Wtrmute but tell me this is Qabbalah not magick?
    – user35637
    Sep 20, 2017 at 17:34
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    @bradimus what is the rod then? Isn't it a wand?
    – user35637
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:52

3 Answers 3

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Scott B. Noegel's article Moses and Magic: Notes on the Book of Exodus, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society argues in great detail that Moses and Aaron's miracles are distinct from magic used by Pharaoh's magicians, and the nature of the miracles were challenges to the Egyptian understanding of magic.

In his conclusion, he writes:

While Moses and Aaron do not employ magic of any kind, the miracles they perform do have Egyptian analogs, suggesting that the Exodus writer made a deliberate effort to allude to Egyptian magical praxis in order to polemicize against it. Such allusiveness bespeaks the literary and polemical sophistication of the ancient author.

Noegel has made the full article available online, which is worth reading for anyone who is interested in understanding how Moses' miracles would have been perceived by contemporary Egyptians.

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The verses that forbid the Israelites to practice magic prohibit acts, the power of which to do them has its source outside of the power of God. The difference between this and the verses you cite lies in the fact that the power in these verses sources from the power of the Almighty God. Because it is sourced from God, it is not magic.

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The author of Acts indirectly says that Moses was a magician.

Acts 7:22 (KJV) 22

And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

Acts 7:22 (NIV)

Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

This verse is clearly saying that Moses’ Egyptian education was responsible for his powerful words and miracles. ‘All the wisdom of the Egyptians’, includes magick.

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    Moses might have known Egyptian magic, but if that is what he used against the Egyptians he would have been on the same level as them, which was clearly not the case. God was behind Moses and his power was (and is) clearly superior to the Egyptians spiritual power. Sep 22, 2017 at 12:50
  • I agree with your last sentence. But God being behind Moses and his power doesn’t mean that Moses didn’t use Magick. There are several times that Moses performed ‘miracles’ (the result of magick) without Gods help or instructions. Striking the rock with his wand to get water is one example. God told Moses to speak to the rock to get water. But Moses decided to use his own magical methods instead. The author of Exodus is showing that Moses’ magick and God was superior to that of the Egyptians.
    – brewpixels
    Sep 22, 2017 at 17:20
  • I disagree. Moses used the same method as he did the first time. The problem was that God had given him a new directive, which Moses seemed to have forgotten when he got to the rock. God let this happen for a symbolic reason, that concerns the law, on the one hand, and the spirit on the other. Sep 22, 2017 at 23:12