Laws of Idolatry | Mishneh Torah | Part Fifteen

Chapter 11 | Part Fifteen

Who is a necromancer? He who starves himself and then proceeds to lodge on the cemetery so as to bring the dead up in his dream and make known to him what he would ask him for. And there are others who clothe themselves with certain garments, utter certain words, and burn certain incense, and sleep alone so that a certain deceased person come to converse with him in his dream. As a general rule in this matter: Whosoever commits an overt act in order to have the dead come and give him information is striped, for it is said: “There shall not be found among you…. or a necromancer” (Deut. 18.10–11).

It is forbidden to consult a solicitor of ghosts or a solicitor of familiar spirits, for it is said: “There shall not be found among you…. or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit” (Ibid.). Find thyself instructed that a solicitor of ghosts or a solicitor of familiar spirits, themselves suffer the punishment of stoning, but their communicant violates an admonition who is punished after the manner of a rebel, unless he appointed his actions and did according to their charge, when he is striped.

A sorcerer is guilty of an offense punishable by stoning, provided he committed an overt act of witchery but if he merely deludes the eyes by make-believe action which in reality is but juggling he is punished after the manner of a rebel, seeing that the prohibitive commandment against sorcery is included in the charge of, “There shall not be found among you etc.” (Ibid.), which is a prohibitive devoted to admonish those who are put to death by a tribunal for the violation of which no stripes is inflicted, and that the punishment for an overt act is death is deducted from what it is said: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex. 22.17)

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