Divination by means of a hatchet or woodcutter’s ax. This was the divinatory method by which diviners predicted the ruin of Jerusalem as described in Psalm LXXIV. However as Francois De Tour-Blanche remarked, the psalmist’s description does not tell in what manner the hatchet was used by the diviners. It can only be speculated the tool was used in either one of the two ways which the ancients used it in divining and later used in the northern countries.
In the first method the tool was used to discover treasure. A round agate had to be procured. The head of the ax, also, had to be made red hot in a fire. The ax was positioned so that the head stood perpendicularly in the air. The agate had to be placed on the edge. If the agate did not roll off there was no treasure to be found. If it did roll off that indicated there was treasure. However, the agate must be replaced three times. If the agate rolled in the same direction each time it indicated the treasure was to be found in that direction. But, if the agate rolled in different direction each time then the treasure must be further looked for.
The second method was to detect robbers. It involved casting an ax to the ground. The head was to be downward with the handle perpendicular in the air. Those present had to dance around in a circle until the handle tottered and fell to the ground. The direction to which the handle fell indicated the direction in which the thief must be sought.
Some said this method would never work unless the ax was thrown into a round pot. De Blanche countered with the question as to how could this be done. How could a round pot be patched and sewed after an ax smashed it to pieces? A.G.H.