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Did sorcerers have genuine power or were people simply gullible. Perhaps they discovered things like electricity or magnetism that people of that time would think were magical. However I'm thinking of the Egyptian magicians duplicating the first few plagues and the witch of Endor resurrecting Shmuel for example.
As well as Tenach, the Talmud has lots of stories of rabbis performing miracles and Rabbi Akiva being worried about a sorcerer telling him his would die. If it was all nonsense, Rabbi Akiva would not have cared.

  • It was probably a mix. Some were charlatans, some did real optical illusions and some had genuine evil power. – Schmerel Dec 25 '19 at 20:09
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    The best answer I know to this question is that if magicians and curses had no power, why would Hashem have stopped Bilhaam from cursing Am Yisrael? – Josh K Dec 25 '19 at 20:15
  • Does this answer your question? Black Magic by Pharaoh's Magicians – Josh K Dec 25 '19 at 20:16
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/110427/13438 – Alex Dec 25 '19 at 20:39
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    @Alex Isn't a major flaw in Ibn Kaspi's logic the fact that Jews had no idea about Balak and Bilaam until Moshe told them about it in chumash Devarim? They came, they tried, they went home. No Jews knew about it so no place to claim subjective attribution of curses. – user6591 Dec 25 '19 at 21:34

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