3

When the witch at Endor conjured up a spirit through her sorcery to speak with King Saul, the Holy Bible actually stated thus:

"Then Samuel said to Saul, 'Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? Saul answered, 'I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do" (1 Sam. 28:15).

From the discussion in the referenced verse, it does appear that King Saul actually had a discussion with the spirit of Samuel who had died before this time. My question therefore is: Did that witch actually bring up the real spirit of Prophet Samuel, the holy man of God, from the land of the dead?

3

There are two possibilities to explain what happened when Saul consulted the witch of Endor. Either:

  1. This was a demonic deception using the witch as a medium, or,
  2. This was actually Samuel who delivered a message from God.

There are numerous clues in the story as to which of these is more credible, namely:

  • For the last several years of his life, King Saul could not get any divine instruction because he had rejected all previous advice from Samuel and Urim and Thummim (1 Sam 28:6, 15). It is inconceivable that his consultation of a spiritualistic medium would suddenly bring results when this was an act more heinous than his previous arrogance.
  • The medium is said to have been "brought up" Samuel (1 Sam 28:11, 15) suggesting Samuel arrived from the underworld. If this had been truly Samuel he would have arrived from heaven.
  • Since spiritualistic mediums were made illegal in the Torah (Lev 20:6) and by Saul (1 Sam 28:3), it would be inconsistent for a spirit to obey the bidding of such a conspicuously ungodly (almost anti-God) medium.
  • While alive, the Prophet Samuel would not speak to Saul after the Amalekite destruction (1 Sam 15:34, 35). Why would he suddenly want to talk to Saul who wanted advice under such sinful and illegal circumstances?
  • The task of prophet like Samuel was to communicate the will and message of God. Samuel, a very righteous man would not respond, and God would not communicate any message via such a wicked situation. Further, 1 Chron 10:13, 14 specifically says that this was NOT of the LORD and so could not have been Samuel.
  • The OT teaching about death is clear - the dead are unconscious (Job 14:2, 21) and know nothing and do not engage in anything (Eccl 9:5, 6 10). Even the Kind David was said to lie dormant and remained in the grave (Acts 2:29, 30, 34).

Therefore, of the two options above, the only conclusion consistent with the facts of the story is that the witch was involved in a demonic deception which Saul all-to-willingly believed despite 1 Chron 10:13, 14.

  • I agree with you Dr. McGowan. I don't see how the spirit of a holy man like Samuel will respond to the invitation of a witch and a Holy God sending a message to Saul through such a filthy means. A – Ere Oludiya Oct 24 '18 at 14:51
  • "arrived from the underworld. If this had been truly Samuel he would have arrived from heaven" No, he would be in sheol. Or what the New Testament identifies specifically as the Bosom of Abraham. – Sola Gratia Oct 24 '18 at 15:48
  • The Bosom of Abraham is the underworld or hades? – user25930 Oct 24 '18 at 20:06
2

The Bible states the at death all life and existance ends:-

Ecclesiastes 9:5 NWT "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all,"

If the dead "know nothing" then they cannot be contacted, thus it was not Samuel.

You noted it was a "witch" thus she would have been in touch with the Demons as noted at:-

Acts 16:16 NWT "Now it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a servant girl with a spirit, a demon of divination, met us. She supplied her masters with much profit by fortune-telling."

The witch used divination, as in Acts, thus contacted a Demon the imitated Samuel to fool Saul as he did not see the spirit but she explained what she saw, see 1 Sam. 28:8 & 13.

2

It was actually Samuel that came up. Most people are of the opinion that Samuel had died and so it was not possible for him to meddle in the affairs of the living. The dead do actually live although in the spirit. If it was not so the Bible would not warn against making consultations with the dead.

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. . . or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead . . . because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)

Basically, this act is possible. If it were not possible, the Bible would not warn against making consultions with the dead. What then?

Consulting the dead is an abomination to the Lord. It is one of the things the Lord hates. If anyone is set to argue that it is not possible to consult the dead, then the person is of the view that witchcraft practice does not exist. The person is also denying the existence of other abominable acts such as divination, fortune telling, interpreting omens, sorcery, use of medium and necromancy (consultations with the dead). Experience has shown that people are not in doubt when it comes to finding someone who could read their palms and tell them their future. So then, why would anybody doubt the fact that the dead can be consulted -- a practice which ranks equally among the abominations the Bible warns against. It would not be listed among those practices if it was not one of the common abominable acts of that time.

Again, the Gospel of Luke (Luke 16:19–31) tells of the relationship, during life and after death, between an unnamed rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. The fact that Jesus chose this parable to teach about the Kingdom of God shows clearly that the dead actually exist after death. The simple fact is this: Death is nothing but -- within the Christian context, a reassurance of a passage to the welcoming love of Jesus from the New Testament.

It can be inferred from this school of thought that Samuel had only seized to exist in the flesh. His spirit was still alive and available for consultations. God doesn't like this practice because it is an abuse of one the mysteries of creation. Satan is the brain behind these practices that annoy God. It will be necessary to say here as well that all those who are in these offensive practices will face the same judgement that awaits Satan and all his agents. So in 1 Samuel 28:15 the witch at Endor actually brought up the spirit of Samuel from the land of the dead.

If you are not sure of my argument here, you could also read from https://www.gotquestions.org/witch-of-endor.html

The passage does not give us any reason to believe it was anyone other than Samuel, who is described by the medium as “an old man wearing a robe” (v. 14). Obviously, age and clothing do not exist in the realm of the spirits of those who have died, but God miraculously gave Samuel such appearances as would enable Saul perceive who the spirit was. The message Samuel gave Saul was completely accurate. God allowed the witch of Endor to summon the prophet Samuel in order to give King Saul the news of his coming defeat and death."

  • 1
    If consulting the dead is an abomination why did the real Samuel respond? – user25930 Oct 24 '18 at 20:15
  • The real Samuel responded because the tone/mood of the response alligns with what we read about his mode of communication. I said in my post that, overall, God doesn't like the practice simply because it is an abuse of one the mysteries that have been kept secret from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:16). – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 24 '18 at 22:57
  • Proof of Samuel's identity on the basis of tone and content could simply mean that the demonic deceivers were good imitators - and thus a very weak reason indeed. Further, it did not take a genius to know that Saul would die in the battle the following day, especially in his depressed state of mind. So it is hardly a prophecy - and one that the demons could help to fulfil anyway. I would rather argue from the consistency of the LORD (who would not answer previously) than consistency of the obvious deception. – user25930 Oct 25 '18 at 6:36
  • Somewhere in my post I said -- If anyone is set to argue that it is not possible to consult the dead, then the person is of the view that witchcraft practice does not exist. The person is also denying the existence of other abominable acts such as divination, fortune telling, interpreting omens, sorcery, use of medium and necromancy (consultations with the dead). Experience has shown that people are not in doubt when it comes to finding someone who could read their palms and tell them their future. So then, why would anybody doubt the fact that the dead can be consulted -a practice which ranks – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 25 '18 at 8:46
  • If you are not sure of my argument here, you could also read from gotquestions.org/witch-of-endor.html "The passage does not give us any reason to believe it was anyone other than Samuel, who is described by the medium as “an old man wearing a robe” (v. 14). Obviously, age and clothing do not exist in the realm of the spirits of those who have died, but God miraculously gave Samuel such appearances as would enable Saul perceive who the spirit was. The message Samuel gave Saul was completely accurate. God allowed the witch of Endor to summon the prophet Samuel to give King Saul the news . . . – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 25 '18 at 8:48
1

Yes, it was actually Samuel who came. The text notes this without any further comment to the contrary.

The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the ground.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” She said, “An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe.” So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. (1 Samuel 28:13-14 NRSV)

Seeking the dead, though prohibited by Deuteronomy 18:11, existed in Israel as late as the time of Isaiah, who condemned it (8:19-20). Though some places in the Bible describe the dead as knowing nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), other texts do depict the spirits of the dead (רְפָאִים) as speaking (Isaiah 14:9-10).

Although a false spirit isn't foreign to the Bible (see 1 Kings 22:19-23 for a false spirit of prophecy), there is no reason to think that the spirit of Samuel in this text is a false spirit. Samuel responds to Saul in death similarly to how he responded while alive.

This is what Samuel said to Saul while he was still alive, after the battle against Amalek:

Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. (1 Samuel 15:26-28)

When brought up from the dead, the spirit of Samuel speaks in the same manner, even using the same phrase at one point. Compare the bolded parts to the bolded parts in the previous section:

Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you just as he spoke by me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. (1 Samuel 28:16-18)

Finally, Samuel's spirit predicts Saul's demise the next day at the hand of the Philistines.

Moreover the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 28:19)

This is exactly what happened (1 Samuel 31:6).

This is also the interpretation assumed by all ancient post-biblical sources of which I am aware (Josephus, Antiquities 6.14.2; Leviticus Rabba 26:7; Midrash Shemuel 24).

  • 1
    None of what is said here precludes a demonic deception. There is no evidence that this was actually Samuel - quite the contrary - there is much evidence that it was NOT Samuel. In fact, 1 Chron 10:13, 14 says so explicitly. – user25930 Oct 24 '18 at 20:11
  • @DrPeterMcGowan No, it says he was wrong to turn to the dead, not that it was a deception, nor that it was demonic – b a Oct 24 '18 at 20:21
  • She was a witch with a familiar spirit. You would have to explain how Saul who didn’t see or hear Samuel knew/perceived it was Samuel. You would have to explain how Samuel could prophecy without the Holy Spirit going against 2 Peter 1:21 or with the Holy Spirit thereby Saul finding a loophole to force God to speak. – Nihil Sine Deo Oct 26 '19 at 22:15
  • @NihilSineDeo 1. It seems obvious from the text (28:13-14) that Saul knew it was Samuel because he asked the woman his appearance and she described it to his satisfaction. 2. You are using doctrine to guide/force your understanding of this story. You could equally have used this story to guide/force your understanding of doctrine. I personally don't consider this type of doctrinal issue to be relevant to the interpretation of this text – b a Oct 28 '19 at 10:09
  • Ok that’s fair enough. This is all being done under the umbrella of divination which is consulting the gods for an answer. She claims to have seen a god/elohim whatever Samuel she saw came via way of divination. That leaves explaining why Samuel was a god, and why in Hades divination by a witch had access to him but the rich man and Lazarus being in separate quarters of Hades couldn’t go to each other’s side. And where there has ever been a precedent that God permitted His Spirit to prophecy through the mouth of divination. Balaam is not such example because it says he returned to divination. – Nihil Sine Deo Oct 28 '19 at 12:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.