M’kashefa – Witch

Cosmic Reference Library Source Sheet

Whatever is effective as a remedy is not witchcraft

Talmud: Shabbat 67a

SHOROSHIM THE ULTIMATE AND UNIQUE ENGLISH THESAURUS OF HEBREW VERB ROOTS To bewitch, charm, enchant, practice magic: כשפ

Ulpan – How to say “witchcraft” in Hebrew
Whereas a not-very-nice term in English to describe a not-very-nice woman likens her to a dog, one such term in Hebrew likens her to a witch – מכשפה (more commonly pronounced with an ah vowel at the beginning of the word – מַכשפה ).
The root of מכשפה is כ.ש.פ , the same root as that of witchcraft: כישוף or מעשה כשפים – literally, an act of sorcery.For example: פעם היו יותר אנשים שהתעסקו בכישוף.
Once there were more people who dealt in sorcery.While a מכשפה is a witch, a מכשף is her male counterpart (only in fame, not in infamy), a sorcerer.

Strong’s Concordance

  • kashaph: to practice sorcery
  • Original Word: כָּשַׁף
  • Part of Speech: Verb
  • Transliteration: kashaph
  • Phonetic Spelling: (kaw-shaf’)
  • Definition: to practice sorcery

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

  • sorcerer, use witchcraft
  • A primitive root; properly, to whisper a spell, i.e. To inchant or practise magic — sorcerer, (use) witch(-craft).

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Blue Letter Bible
Strong’s Definition: כָּשַׁף kâshaph, kaw-shaf’; a primitive root; properly, to whisper a spell, i.e. to inchant or practise magic:—sorcerer, (use) witch(-craft).

Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon entry on word כָּשַׁף
  • Realities of Jewish Magick
    Lecture has interesting take on word M’kashephatranslate “a witch” to this ~ 47:00 in  https://archive.org/details/RealitiesOfJewishMagicPart2
  • Witchcraft  – Jewish Encyclopedia
    An obscure class of soothsayers was called “mekashshefim” (comp. the “nomen abstractum” “kesha”; see Deut. xviii. 11; II Kings ix. 22; Mic. v. 12; Nah. iii. 4). W. R. Smith (l.c. p. 125) argues that the root “kashaf” means “to use magical appliances, or drugs”; and many interpreters follow him. Those who doubt the correctness of this explanation are unable to suggest an alternative. This interpretation receives some support from the facts that the Septuagint in Nah. iii. 4 gives φάρμακα, and that the belief in the use of drugs or herbs is very old, as is shown by the mention of mandrakes in Gen. xxx. 14-19. In the oldest code capital punishment is ordained for this class of sorcerers (comp. Ex. xxii. 18).

  • Magic (כשפים) – Jewish Encyclopedia
    The pretended art of producing preternatural effects; one of the two principal divisions of occultism, the other being Divination. The effects produced may be either physical (as a storm or death under conditions insufficient to explain its occurrence, or any phenomenon impossible in the ordinary course of nature) or mental, and the latter either intellectual (as preternatural insight or knowledge) or emotional (as love or hate arising or disappearing in obedience to the arbitrary will of the magician). The methods of producing these effects include on the one hand actions of various sorts, and on the other incantations, invocations, and the recitation of formulas. Even in the Talmud the act and the results produced by it are regarded as the criteria of magic, and these two factors appear in all forms of witchcraft as essential characteristics. Closely connected with magic are Superstition and Demonology. In so far as gods are invoked (demons frequently being degraded gods), magic is akin to idolatry, and, in a certain sense, to Astrology.In the Bible. (more at JewishEncyclopedia.com)

From blog “A Little Perspective” (Christian)This source is very problematic, but this was such an interesting take on this that I thought it was worth including.
Sorcerers is Strong’s H3784 כשף kashaph, a primitive root meaning, “to pray, to offer prayers or worship;” Gesenius’ says its usage in Hebrew is restricted only to the worship of idols, thus “to use enchantment.” The ancient pictographs are kaph + shin + pey.

  • kaph כ, ך = the open palm, thus bend, open, allow, tame
  • shin ש = two front teeth, thus sharp, press, eat, two, again
  • pey פ, ף = the mouth, thus open, blow, scatter, edge

Opened palms (kaph) lifted up in worship while whispering (as the breath passes through the teeth, shin) with the mouth (pey), i.e. to pray; however only used of false idols, thus, to mutter enchantments.

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