The Hamsa Hand As an Amulet
The Hamsa Hand (see image), which has many variations, is a popular image on jewelry and clothing. This symbol is considered an amulet. An amulet is an object believed to have protective powers. It is similar to a talisman, which is believed to bring good fortune (like a four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot). The Hamsa Hand is also viewed as a talisman. These are beliefs from the occult but also popular in the New Age and in the culture at large.
The Hamsa Hand, also known as the Hand of God and the Hand of Miriam, originally goes back to the Middle East as a protective symbol from what is known as the Evil Eye. Amulets protecting from the Evil Eye go back at least 3,300 years (sources are here by Quinn Hargitai and here by Stellene Volandes).
One site gives this information:
The word “hamsa” or “hamesh” means five. There are five digits on the hamsa hand, but the number five has additional symbolic meaning in the Jewish and Islamic traditions. Five (hamesh in Hebrew) represents the five books of the Torah for Jews. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Heh”, which represents one of God’s holy names. It symbolizes the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunnis, and the Five People of the Cloak for Shi’ites.
In the Jewish religion, the Jewish hamsa hand also symbolizes the Hand of God. Many Jews believe the hamsa pendant symbolizes the Hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. In the Islamic faith, the hamsa hand symbolizes The Hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed….Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol, which is a powerful talisman against the Evil Eye. From this article
The allegation that it is connected to Judaism does not mean it is connected to biblical Judaism. Rather, it is a cultural belief that was blended with Judaism, which occurs in many cultures that absorb occult ideas and practices. This kind of blending with the culture is common and is often the basis for folk tales, myths, and superstitions.
As reported in the excerpt above and from other sources examined by this writer, the Hamsa Hand originated as a way to protect what is called the Evil Eye. Such symbols take on additional meanings drawn from various sources over time. This is the nature of symbols which are often cross-cultural and even change in meaning.
The Evil Eye
The concept of the Evil Eye is found in many pagan cultures. It is a belief that one can be cursed by a malicious glare, especially one inspired by envy (article by Hargitai). Amulets that supposedly protect one from the Evil Eye are often themselves called Evil Eye charms, although they are not actually the Evil Eye. These amulets are shaped like an eye or have an eye or eyes depicted on them. The belief is that if one gains riches or does well, he or she will attract envy and the Evil Eye.
Beliefs that the eyes can wield a supernatural power and/or put someone under a curse are at odds with God’s word. Nobody has power in their stare, glare, or eyes, nor does anyone have the power to supernaturally curse. No one needs protection from this, not that an object can bring protection anyway.
The Bible and the Evil Eye
One article cites Proverbs 23:6 in the King James Version as referring to an Evil Eye:
Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an Evil Eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats.
The Bible does not give validity to superstition and occult concepts so we know that is not referring to a power. Other translations render the Proverbs verse differently and more accurately:
Do not eat the bread of a selfish person; Or desire his delicacies (NAS)
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies (ESV)
Don’t eat a stingy person’s bread, and don’t desire his choice food (CSB)
The meaning of the term translated Evil Eye in the King James version is a stingy and/or covetous person, and the commentaries bear this out. The main meaning seems to be envy:
benignus oculo, denotes the pleasantness and joy of social friendship; so here (cf. Deuteronomy 15:9; Matthew 15:15) malignus oculo, the envy and selfishness of egoism seeking to have and retain all for itself. From Bible Hub
This meaning is thought by some to be behind the words of Jesus in Matthew about a bad or Evil Eye, which seems to be an idiom:
The eye is the lamp of the body; so then, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23
One of the meanings for the word translated as bad is envious. Gill comments:
But if thine eye be evil,…. If thou art of a sordid disposition, of an avaricious temper, if the sin of covetousness prevails over thee. Gill on Bible Hub
This makes sense considering that the context of this statement by Jesus in the preceding passage is about not storing up treasures on earth (v. 19ff); and the directive from Jesus in verse 24 is that one cannot serve both God and wealth. There are hints of this elsewhere, as in Proverbs 27:20 where it states that the eye of man is never satisfied. We see with our eyes and that only amplifies our desires for more.
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20
Hades, the world of the dead, and Destruction (Death, the destroying power, personified) have been at all times and in all countries thought of as all-devouring, insatiable (compare the marginal reference). Yet one thing is equally so, the lust of the eye, the restless craving which grows with what it feeds on, Ecclesiastes 1:8. From Bible Hub
This echoes part of the first temptation in the Garden, when Eve decided that the forbidden tree was a delight to the eyes (Gen. 6:3a).
No doubt the myth of the Evil Eye arises from fears of what could happen if someone who envied and coveted one’s wealth or success tried to jeopardize it.
It is a stinging truth that while some fear the Evil Eye, God tells man that men’s eyes are evil in the natural state, looking with greed and envy at others, and craving things he desires.
The Futility of Amulets and Charms
It is supremely ironic that the amulets meant to protect against the Evil Eye usually have eyes painted or carved on them, or they are shaped like an eye, thereby resembling the Evil Eye itself. When man seeks protection from evil by an evil means, it reveals his lack of faith in the true God and defaults to idolatry.
Many articles read in researching this topic give accounts of people who wear an amulet against the Evil Eye and believe in its protective powers. I have noticed more jewelry with the Evil Eye on it over the past several years.
No Christian should wear something like this (or wear/use so-called good luck charms like a rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover), not because there is evil in the object, but because it sends the wrong message to others and is a bad witness for Christ. At the same time, Christians should not give power to symbols. Symbols only represent a belief or idea and are not intrinsically evil (see CANA article on symbols).
There is no biblical support for the validity of an Evil Eye, and the Bible is against belief in objects having magical powers such as amulets. It is a form of idolatry to give power to mere matter because it ascribes godlike power to inanimate objects, which is an occult and animistic belief.
If You Use An Amulet….
If you use amulets or charms or something similar, and have not realized Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, please consider this:
* All of us are naturally against God because we want our will over God’s will even though God knows best because he created us.
* We need to admit we are against God and need forgiveness and redemption.
* Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for sins and bodily rose the third day, conquering death and the grave.
* The only way to receive forgiveness and redemption is to trust in the only Mediator between God and man, the God-man Jesus Christ.
Jesus said this to Martha on his way to raise Lazarus from the dead:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.” John 11:25-26
Jesus gives eternal life with God to one who believes in him.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12