A supposed method of obtaining information. Divination was widely practised in the ancient world. In 5th–4th cent. BCE Greece the priestess, called Pythia, uttered oracles at Delphi after inhaling the vapour believed to contain the revelations of the god Apollo. Other divinations were made by observing the flight of birds or scrutinizing the liver of slaughtered animals. Paul and Silas encountered a slave girl who had a spirit of divination (‘soothsayer’, NJB) at Philippi (Acts 16: 16 ff.). In Greek, the girl is said to be possessed by ‘a spirit, a python’; she may have even been a ventriloquist, or possibly she gave utterances while in a state of trance.

Forms of divination were certainly practised in Israel, as when the people ‘enquired of the Lord’ after the death of Joshua (Judg. 1: 1), and Urim and Thummim were the means of communication of oracles. The disclosure of the divine will by dreams is common in both OT and NT, but divination is strongly condemned both in the OT (e.g. 1 Sam. 15: 23) and in the NT (Acts 19: 19). The reason is that believers have immediate access to God and have no need of intermediaries or magical devices to discover what his will is. (Divination pretends to ascertain the future or the deity's will; magic to change it.)