Drawing of lots is a lottery in which participants blindly choose objects (such as stones, straws, coins, or dice) in order to make a random decision. It is won by luck, akin to tossing a coin.
For example, if there is a task that must be done but has no volunteers, a group may decide who is to perform the task by casting lots. In a group of five, four dark-colored stones and one light-colored stone would be placed in an opaque
bag. Each person would pick a stone, and it does not matter the order in which this occurs. The person who chose the single light-colored stone would be responsible for performing the task in question.
- Casting lots has been referred to in the book of Proverbs: "The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
- According to the Bible, the guards at Jesus's death cast lots to divide up his clothes: "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
- In 1662, Flemish physician Jan Baptist van Helmont suggested drawing lots to perform a clinical trial regarding bloodletting. Half of the patients were to be treated using bloodletting and the other half were to be treated by other methods. The method by which patients would be assigned to each trial was drawing lots.