The Hebrew word ʼit·timʹ is used in Isaiah 19:3 to refer to “charmers” of Egypt. The Hebrew word cheʹver (rendered ‘spell’) refers to a magical formula spoken, sung, or written as a spell in order to ‘bind’ a person. (Ps 58:5; Isa 47:9, 12) “The ornamental humming shells” possessed, and no doubt worn, by the daughters of Zion were evidently charms, the Hebrew word designating them (lecha·shimʹ) being drawn from a root meaning “whisper; charm.” (Isa 3:20; compare 2Sa 12:19; Ps 58:5.) Such spiritistic practices were among “the detestable things” that Jehovah forbade his people to indulge in. (De 18:9-11) The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and others were notorious for their trust in charms and the casting of spells.—Isa 19:3; 47:9, 12.
Snake Charming. So-called snake charming can be a form of spiritism and is a survival of the ancient cult of serpent worshipers. The charmer is supposed to cast a spell over the serpent, often a hooded cobra, so it appears enchanted with the playing of music, usually on a flute or pipe instrument. Snakes are not deaf or hard of hearing, as some may think, but as Psalm 58:4, 5 implies, they are able to hear the voice of charmers as well as the music. One might think that it is a mere trick of training the snake as one would train an animal or bird, by placing it in a basket with a lid, playing soft music, quickly dropping the lid if any attempt is made to escape, until the snake finally learns to raise itself upright in obedience to the music without trying to escape. While this may be true in some instances, spiritistic forces are often apparently involved in snake charming.