Lots

LOTS, divination by lot, or sortilege. In the history of the Bible, the casting of lots was used to determine the will of God. The method is not clearly defined. Some scholars believe that the Urim and Thummim (Exod 28:30; Deut 33:8; Ezra 2:63) were objects, possibly small round pebbles, which were placed in the ephod of the high priest. One signified “Yes,” and the other, “No.” When the priest reached blindly into the ephod and took out one stone, the question was answered either affirmatively or negatively by the stone which he found in his hand. There were, however, many instances recorded where lots were cast without the use of the Urim and Thummim.


The same usage persisted in NT times. The soldiers at the foot of the cross cast lots for the clothing of Jesus (Matt 27:35), thus fulfilling an OT prophecy (Ps 22:18). Within the Church also the successor of Judas Iscariot among the apostles was selected by lot (Acts 1:26). In the latter instance the choice was preceded by prayer. There is no indication that this procedure was approved by God, and it never appears in the later activities of the Church. The guidance of the Spirit seems to have been manifested in other ways.

See also

  • Divination