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What Does the Bible Say About … CASTING LOTS?

How Biblical is casting lots?

Casting lots is quite Biblical. The word “lots” appears 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament.

It was used by priests to separate the scapegoat from the one being sacrificed: Lev 16:8 “He is to cast lots for the two goats–one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.” NIV

It was used to divide the promised land among the Israelites: Num 26:55 “Be sure that the land is distributed by lot.” NIV

Several functions in the Temple were determined by lots: 1 Chron 24:5 “They divided them impartially by drawing lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar.” NIV

The sailors on Jonah’s boat determined who was responsible for that terrible storm by casting lots (notice that the guilty party was discovered that way!): Jonah 1:7 “Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” NIV

When the apostles met after Jesus ascended to heaven they determined who would replace Judas by casting lots: Acts 1:26 “Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” NIV

None of the Biblical illustrations of casting lots had to do with games of chance. Every time it was used, the Israelites depended on the Lord 100% to reveal to them His will. It was an impartial way to find God’s will when choices had to occur. This concept is still applicable today. In all our decisions we should impartially depend on God and search for His decisions.

However, the book of Proverbs indicate some neat things about casting lots:

Prov 18:18 “Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.” NIV

Prov 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” NIV

My friend, do you depend on yourself when making decisions? Are you tired of making so many wrong decisions? Would you like to experience true inner peace in your life? Come to Jesus at and invite Him into your life. He will give meaning and direction in your life. He is so awesome!

Rob Chaffart


Casting lots is very “Biblical”. It is documented in the Bible many times in various ways, from choosing to throw Jonah overboard to choosing a replacement for Judas. But, now we can talk to God directly as long as Jesus is in charge of our life. No longer is it necessary to find a prophet or a priest. We can now each be a member of the holy priesthood. It is very dangerous to use a die or dice or a fleece or short straw or any of the like to make a decision. Personally, I would even go so far as to say that now that God is so readily available–even inside you as the Holy Spirit— that casting lots for decision making is turning your back on God!

Todd Shilt


Casting of lots in the Bible l discovered it was a very important means of knowing what to do. It appears 36times in 33 verses of the scripture. Lev16:8, Josh18:6, 8:10; 1Sam14:42, 1Kg3:16; 1chr24:31; 25:8; 26:13; 26:14 Neh. 10:34; 11:1; Psalm 22:18; Pro 29:3 Jer. 5:7 ; Eze. 27:8; 27:27; 27:29 Hos. 4:14; Joel 3:3 Obadiah 1:11; Jonah 1:7 Nahum 3:10 Matt. 21:31 ; 21:3 2; 27:35 Marks 15:24 Lk. 15:30; 23:24 Jn. 19:24; Acts 1:26

Abulatan Susannah


Actually a friend was just asking me about that this week. My answer is that casting lots is NOT Biblical now. While this was commonly done in Old Testament Days and during the early part of the New Testament, it is no longer the way we determine God’s will. People during that period of time didn’t have the Holy Spirit, a completed Bible, nor a personal relationship with God. We have (or can have) all of these by placing our trust in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior from sin. With the Holy Spirit and the Bible to guide us we do not need to cast lots, lay out fleeces, or draw straws to determine God’s will for us. In fact, doing so might be considering “tempting” the Lord which we are cautioned not to do.



Casting lots is Biblical only in the sense that it is mentioned a number of times in the Bible. But it was a form of gambling, so it is not a Biblical principle to be upheld.

Thank you for this lovely newsletter. This is my first, and I truly enjoyed it.

May our Lord continue to bless you, Denise DiPalma


Casting lots was extensively used in Old Testament times to determine God’s will in a matter. The following verses give some examples.

Leviticus 16:8-AV And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

Joshua 18:6-AV Ye shall therefore describe the land [into] seven parts, and bring [the description] hither to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

Joshua 18:10-AV And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD: and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.

1Chronicles 26:13-AV And they cast lots, as well the small as the great, according to the house of their fathers, for every gate.

Jonah 1:7-AV And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil [is] upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Whilst it may be said that perhaps the laws of chance were used in these cases to determine the matter, the reference from Jonah certainly points to divine intervention. Another reason for casting lots, especially to divide something between people, was fairness.

Proverbs 18:18-AV The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.

Lots were also used for gambling.

Psalms 22:18-AV They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Joel 3:3-AV And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.

Obadiah 1:11-AV In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou [wast] as one of them.

Nahum 3:10-AV Yet [was] she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

Matthew 27:35-AV And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

So the casting of lots is quite biblical in the sense that it was widely used as described above. If the question means is it all right to gamble the answer is NO!

Lance Wearmouth


I was a bit surprised when I did a little research on this week’s question about “how biblical is casting lots?” There appears to be quite a lot(!) of use made of casting lots:

CASTING LOTS To get a decision from God (Lev 16:8; Jos 18:6-10; 1Sa 14:42; 1Ch 24:31; 26:13-14; Jnh 1:7; Ac 1:26). To set a date (Est 3:7). To settle disputes (Pr 18:18). In divination (Eze 21:21). In gambling (Job 6:27; Ps 22:18; Mt 27:35). The decision is from the LORD (Pr 16:33).

The casting of lots was a custom widely practised in the ancient Near East. The precise method is unclear, though it appears that, for the most part, sticks or marked pebbles were drawn from a receptacle into which they had been cast.”


(Lev.16:8-10) This refers to the casting of lots by Aaron for the two goats–one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.

(Joshua 18:6-10) This was when Joshua cast lots for the disbursement of the land portions, except for the Levites, because their priestly service of the LORD is their inheritance.

(1Sam 14:41-42) Saul prayed to the LORD, and said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.”

(Jonah 1:7) “The sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah”.


(Esther 3:7) “In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, they cast the pur (that is, the lot) in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.”


(Pr 18:18) “Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.”


(Eze 21:21-22) “For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works.”


(Mt 27:35) “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

Others – Job 6:27; Ps 22:18.


(Pr 16:33) “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

So, the answer to your question “How biblical is casting lots?” is that there is a fair amount of Biblical evidence supporting the use of casting of lots.

Bill Nicholson