A spirit of divination (pneuma puthōna). So the correct text with accusative (apparition, a spirit, a python), not the genitive (puthōnos). Hesychius defines it as daimonion manikon (a spirit of divination). The etymology of the word is unknown. Bengel suggests puthesthai from punthanomai, to inquire. Python was the name given to the serpent that kept guard at Delphi, slain by Apollo, who was called Puthios Apollo and the prophetess at Delphi was termed Pythia. Certainly Luke does not mean to credit Apollo with a real existence (1Co 8:4). But Plutarch (a.d. 50-100) says that the term puthōnes was applied to ventriloquists (eggastrimuthoi). In the lxx those with familiar spirits are called by this word ventriloquists (Lev 19:31; Lev 20:6, Lev 20:27, including the witch of Endor 1Sa 28:7). It is possible that this slave girl had this gift of prophecy “by soothsaying” (manteuomenē). Present middle participle of manteuomai, old heathen word (in contrast with prophēteuō) for acting the seer (mantis) and this kin to mainomai, to be mad, like the howling dervishes of later times. This is the so-called instrumental use of the circumstantial participles.
Brought (pareichen). Imperfect active of parechō, a steady source of income.
Much gain (ergasian pollēn). Work, business, from ergazomai, to work.
Her masters (tois kuriois autēs). Dative case. Joint owners of this poor slave girl who were exploiting her calamity, whatever it was, for selfish gain, just as men and women today exploit girls and women in the “white slave” trade. As a fortune-teller she was a valuable asset for all the credulous dupes of the community. Simon Magus in Samaria and Elymas Barjesus in Cyprus had won power and wealth as soothsayers.