The Israelites came from a people surrounded by idolatry, and addicted to sorcery. They appear to have believed for a long time in the reality of the gods of the heathen, considering them inferior, however, to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and were continually lapsing from the true faith into paganism and sorcery. During the hundreds of years that Jacob's descendants were in Egypt their faith was greatly corrupted; when Moses tarried long in the Mount, they compelled Aaron to make a golden image to represent God. Surrounded by the Egyptians, and in the midst of the Canaanites, who were not wholly driven out for centuries, their kings and many of their people frequently relapsed into witchcraft and idolatry.

Solomon, according to all the traditions of antiquity, as well as the testimony of the Bible, turned both to idolatry and magic. In DTsraeli's " Curiosities of Literature " (Rabbinical Stories) it is said, " He is a favorite hero of the Talmudists, and the Arabs also speak of him as a magician." The son of the godly Hezekiah, Manasseh, " practised augury, and used enchantments, and practised sorcery, and dealt with them that had familiar spirits, and with wizards." There never was a time in the history of Israel that among its people were not those who practised every form of divination, astrology, magic, and witchcraft.