Chapter 13:17-23 (ESV) - And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. Prophesy against them and say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, therefore you shall no more see false visions nor practice divination. I will deliver my people out of your hand. And you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Question to consider: Why do you think people can be deceived by magic bands and the casting of spells?
In the nineties, a form of Jewish mysticism called Kabbalah became popularized among women and girls by celebrities like Madonna and Britney Spears. The talisman they used in their expression was a red string tied around the left wrist which was meant to ward off the evil eye and evoke protection from the universe. The evil eye is a sideways glance given by someone who is envious of or wishes harm upon another. Apparently, it was rooted in a tradition that after Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, a red string was tied seven times around her tomb and was given mystical powers. It was then cut up and tied with seven knots. It was worn around the left wrist which was thought to be the receiving side of the body, and a prayer was given called the Ben Porat for protection.
I’m not sure whether this tradition was around when Ezekiel wrote of “sewing magic bands around all wrists”, but it certainly was a similar type of sorcery. God called these practices out as lies to His people who were susceptible to such lies. It’s interesting that God held them responsible for “putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live.” Maybe under the guise of prophecy they declared guilt or innocence of people.
Even though women were held in higher regard among the Israelites than in pagan nations, the headship of the household, congregation and society were given to men. Being known for this kind of sorcery was a means in which women could obtain power and influence. Even though there were false prophets declaring “Peace,” when there was no peace, people on some level knew that they were not going to be protected within the city walls. It would not have been difficult to convince them to engage in this superstition.
Ultimately, God prophesied against these women because like the false prophets, their actions caused the righteous to fall away from God and kept the wicked from turning back to God in repentance. He promised to put an end to their false visions. As much as I hope this meant these women would forsake their evil practices and turn to the Lord, it most likely resulted in their lives being taken during the siege.
Dear heavenly father, please help us focus on You, the author of life, rather than the superstitions of this world. Thank You for giving all who belong to Christ an opportunity to bring our requests to You in prayer regardless of whether we are poor or weak or powerless in this world. Amen.