Amulets

AMULETS. Isaiah (3:20) speaks of the women of his day as wearing charms. The Hebrew word, lāhash, is used in Eccl.10.11 and Jer.8.17 specifically of snake-charming (cf. the related verb in Ps.58.4-Ps.58.5). At root it means “a whisper.” Isaiah sees the existence of those “instructed in whispering” (i.e., holding whispered communication with the dead, with spirits, or making whispered communication purporting to come from “the other side”) as evidence that society is about to collapse. The same word (Isa.3.20) also means objects, personal ornaments, into which some magic charm has been whispered, supposed therefore to afford protection or some other “lucky” benefit to the wearer. Archaeology has revealed such practices all over the ancient world. The same Hebrew word is used in Isa.26.16 without any overtones of superstition or magic to mean “whisper a prayer.”