18 Comments

The Witch of Endor


Here’s something, along with a small poll, to ponder upon.

When Saul went to consult the witch of Endor, who ‘came up’ and spoke to him, Samuel or a spirit impersonating Samuel?

“And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.

And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.  Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.  And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.  And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.

And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?

And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.

Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:  Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.  Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night”  1 Samuel 28: 1-20

***

The Question

The question by student and scholar alike is who or what was the apparition.  Was it truly Samuel or a demon impersonating him?  There are notable scholars on both side of the issue.  Ultimately, the Bible student must make up his own mind regarding the matter.  There are arguments for both sides of this coin.

It was Samuel

God interrupted the séance unexpectedly by allowing Samuel to appear.  This view is based on the following:

  • The witch was startled by the sudden appearance of Samuel in place of the familiar spirits with whom she was used to dealing.
  • The text calls the spirit “Samuel.”
  • The spirit prophesied accurately as to what would happen the following day, which would be somewhat “out of character” for a demon in such a circumstance, i.e., he would normally speak good tidings toward the one seeking help.

It was a Demon

The spirit that appeared only impersonated Samuel, a view based on the following:

  • Saul never personally saw Samuel, he only could take the witch’s word that it was him.  Such a demon would be well acquainted with the deceased human being and would be able to imitate (impersonate) him, deceiving both the witch and the one desiring communication with him.
  • Saul had become so wayward in his spiritual life and had laid himself wide open for Satan.
  • Although Samuel was an occupant of Paradise (the righteous side) at the time of this communication there is indication from the New Testament that travel from Paradise back to earth is not permitted

18 comments on “The Witch of Endor

  1. Forgive my mis-spelling of Samuel in the poll, i noticed it too late to fix it. 🙂

  2. my answer:

    It was Samuel.

    I have several reasons for this.

    If you want to know, I will lay out my reasons.

    I have known to be wrong more times than I care to count, but that’s not saying much as I don’t know how to count! 🙂

  3. I suppose I think it was Samuel simply because the Bible said it was Samuel. If it wasn’t Samuel, wouldn’t the Bible say that although Saul perceived it was Samuel, it wasn’t? Would the bible be so tricky and expect people to figure it out on their own? I don’t know.

  4. This has always been an interesting topic because of the debate on the issue of ‘who’ it was which spoke to Saul.

    I recall reading some years ago that its been debated by bible scholars for ages!

    To me the answer is simple; it was indeed Samuel.

    God cannot lie, and we know the bible IS THE word of God. God’s word says its Samuel, so it is. 🙂

    This is pure speculation, but i think the witch expected a familiar spirit or demon to appear, as usual, (she saw gods ascending out of the earth) and that’s why she was scared out of her wits when Samuel appeared! ahahah…

    Those who disagree, usually claim it cannot be the real Samuel because God forbids us from having anything to do with these type of practices:

    When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

    For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Deut.18 :9-12

    And its true! We are never to participate in these practices. Saul knew this too–its why he went disguised.

    Bottom line is, the inspired God of God isn’t a book of ‘trickery’. If it had not been Samuel the word would have said so plainly, instead of saying it was Samuel.

    Yes Michael, i’d like to know why you think it was Samuel…or anyone else who doesn’t believe it was the real Samuel, i’d like to know your thoughts/reasonings on this too…

  5. I’m in full agreement with you PJ, it was Samuel since the bible claims it to be.

    This is often a puzzle I put to my youth group if they begin to see things too black and white.

    (Incidently, I have a son called Samuel who was born while I was still an atheist. When my next child was born, thank the Lord, I was a Christian. If this child had been a boy, I was thinking of calling him 2Samuel 😉

    Thank the Lord again, she was a girl – we called her Grace lol.

  6. Samuel. Because, if one believes in the inspiration of the text then one must believe that, if it was a demon, the text would reveal such a thing.

  7. I guess I’m going to bring a different spin in here…I do not believe anything dogmatically either way but here are some of my thoughts:

    I read that Saul had to ask the witch what she saw and then it says, “Saul perceived it was Samuel…” (1 Sam. 28:14) So it sounds like Saul didn’t even see “Samuel” and also, lots of people “perceive” to see ghosts of some particular person but that doesn’t mean they did. I see that the Bible does say twice “Samuel said…”, but I’m still not convinced it was actually Samuel but that is because based on what I read in the Bible regarding death, I don’t think it is possible to contact people who die.

    I know that the Samuel spirit whatever/whoever it was, did prophecy correctly that Saul and his sons would die the next day…but can’t evil spirits prophecy and know things too? Look at the evil spirits who came into contact with Jesus and said, “Have you come to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29) They clearly know what is coming to them.

    Also, I read that the witch was scared because she realized it was Saul (v.9 and 12) and being that he was king, she was scared because mediums would be killed for such activities.

  8. The Strongs definition of perceive:

    H3045
    ידע
    yâda‛
    yaw-dah’
    A primitive root; to know (properly to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively instruction, designation, punishment, etc.): – acknowledge, acquaintance (-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, [un-] awares, can [-not], certainly, for a certainty, comprehend, consider, X could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be [ig-] norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to, let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have [knowledge], (be, make, make to be, make self) known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, X prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have [understanding], X will be, wist, wit, wot.

    In other translations such as ASV, ESV, and others including the Geneva bible render it as “know” or “knew”. If it wasn’t Samuel, why would it be rendered that way? Why would it not have been rendered that Saul thought it was Samuel instead of knew if it was not him? I think the language is clear that it was Samuel.

    I know there are those that claim that God would not let a witch bring up a dead person. But the witch didn’t. It was God who sent him to give a message of judgement to Saul when he sought after the dead.

  9. Evo1

    it was Samuel since the bible claims it to be

    Emi

    Samuel. Because, if one believes in the inspiration of the text then one must believe that, if it was a demon, the text would reveal such a thing.

    You both pointed out the same reason i believe it was Samuel.

    When an evil spirit tormented Saul (1Sam. 16:14) the bible says it was an evil spirit.

    There would be no reason later, when consulting the witch of Endor, for God not to point it was an evil spirit which appeared, ‘if’ it had been one!

    I know there are those that claim that God would not let a witch bring up a dead person. But the witch didn’t. It was God who sent him to give a message of judgement to Saul when he sought after the dead.

    Amen Final Trumpet..

    It was God.

    I think that was why the witch cried out; she was frightened.

  10. I see that the Bible does say twice “Samuel said…”, but I’m still not convinced it was actually Samuel but that is because based on what I read in the Bible regarding death, I don’t think it is possible to contact people who die.

    Hi Heather,

    What i can’t reason, is why would God allow it to be recorded that it was indeed Samuel? We know the word is truth, and cannot lie. Its for that reason i have to believe it was Samuel.

    I know that the Samuel spirit whatever/whoever it was, did prophecy correctly that Saul and his sons would die the next day…but can’t evil spirits prophecy and know things too?

    Yes i agree. Evil spirits can mix truth with lies. We see evidence of that in the words given out by false prophets today who are operating by an unclean spirit.

  11. I believe it was Samuel. There is another instance I can think of where prophet’s are seen even though they were dead…

    Mat 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

    Mat 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

    Mat 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

    The other thing is that the Bible keeps calling this being Samuel…

    And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

    God does not lie. He would not keep calling this being Samuel if it was not Samuel.

    Also, this witch with a familiar spirit was suprised herself at what she saw…she saw Samuel and at that point knew that Saul had deceived her. I think it’s interesting that she didn’t just see Samuel…she saw “gods” as well and it freaked her out.

    She saw other eloheim. I would think these were good eloheim (not fallen angels )because they were associated with Samuel…and the witch was freaked out…she probably wasn’t used to encounters with the heavenly side of the spiritual realm…since she was a witch and all.

    Saul also bowed to Samuel in respect…

    Samuel was bugged that Saul called him up and the message he gave was clearly of the Lord. It was 100% truth. Samuel says the Lord has done to him as He spake through ME…Samuel even said he was Samuel here.

    Samuel also didn’t answer Saul’s question. He just told him his fate…it was a done deal. God had departed from Saul and was not speaking to him and yet Saul thought he could go behind God’s back and summon up a prophet via ways in which he knew the punishment was death…what nerve! There was no way a prophet of God was going to be used to help Saul out. This instance makes it pretty clear.

  12. KittyKit

    among “other” things:::>”….There was no way a prophet of God was going to be used to help Saul out….”

    Yep!

    The True Prophet of God is only speaking the Truth.

    The false prophet of God is too! Each one is a “prophet” and each one “speaks” of God for God. The one speaks Truth. The other speaks what is false about the Truth.

    Of course the field for True Prophets prophesing in our day has been tremendously narrowed to this:::>

    Rev 19:10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

    Remember something about Saul. He was only “removed” from his “office”, not his bloodline “inheritance”. He indeed, as his sons also, did go to Samuel the next day!

    Let me quote just one area at a time because my reasonings with this have been a long time in me.

    To build on your words Kitty, consider the “other” side and why a “witch” would be so afraid of what she saw? What did she see and “know”? She saw an “old man” coming from somewhere. And this “old man” was very very “un”familiar to her! Yikes! 🙂

    A question, hopefully to put some of what I will quote in a moment into a “Biblical” perspective: “who is the [god] of this world”, God or the devil?

    Ok, now that we all agree with me, 🙂 let’s move onto a couple of distinctions then about death and where one goes after they pass, however they pass out of this flesh to the next world:::>

    Job 18:5 “Indeed, the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of his fire does not shine.
    Job 18:6 The light is dark in his tent, and his lamp above him is put out.
    Job 18:7 His strong steps are shortened, and his own schemes throw him down.
    Job 18:8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walks on its mesh.
    Job 18:9 A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare lays hold of him.
    Job 18:10 A rope is hidden for him in the ground, a trap for him in the path.
    Job 18:11 Terrors frighten him on every side, and chase him at his heels.
    Job 18:12 His strength is famished, and calamity is ready for his stumbling.
    Job 18:13 It consumes the parts of his skin; the firstborn of death consumes his limbs.
    Job 18:14 He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors.

    Now, in light of those revealing words of “Truth” about the wicked and King David’s own heart captured for us all to read about Saul and the kingdom of Israel, Saul only lost his office, as God’s anointed king of Israel, not his place or inheritance among the Righteous.

    See what the evil spirits do to a wicked man’s spirit, soul and body there at verse 14?

    Now that is in direct conflict with the Words of the Prophet Samuel, aren’t they:::>

    1Sa 28:19 Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

    Agreeing that the “old man” “”is”” Samuel, and I maintain that Samuel is the “old man that came up from somewhere”, Saul did in fact fall on his sword as his armor bearer did too and went to be where Samuel went back too, to be with his fathers.

    Now for the other distinction in those “Job 18” verses cited. See verse 13?

    Guess who the “firstborn of death is”?

    Now consider these Words:::>

    Rev 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
    Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
    Rev 1:6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    Here Jesus is cited as “the firstborn of the dead”.

    And here:::>

    Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

    Here Jesus is cited as the “firstborn from the dead”.

    So, finally in this set of reasonings I posit hereon, I leave off with these verses which in my opinion leads me to believe Samuel is the Prophet, the old man coming up from somewhere and Saul is the dethroned king of Israel who went there to where Samuel went back too and they along with countless others ended up where these verses imply they are “now” as a great cloud of witnesses and where and what we will instantly be when we too pass, when we die at the hands of the last enemy, Death. Now is there, of course, it is understood, unless we happily happen to be present on the earth at the time of the return of the Lord. If not, we will be of those, I believe, who will be returning with the Lord when the last trumpet is called forth and blown. Until and unless that happens we end up here first:::>

    Mat 27:50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
    Mat 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
    Mat 27:52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,
    Mat 27:53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

  13. Hey Pj

    My answer is….it wasnt Samuel.

    The Bible is clear on the state of the dead

    Ecclesiastes 9:5,6
    Psalms 6:5
    Acts 2:29. etc

    The dead are dead. They know nothing and cannot do anything. People who go to consult witches or psychics and their ‘loved ones’ appear to them. The will see the form of their loved one say ‘XP’ but is that really XP? Its merely evil angels impersonating the dead.

  14. Another interesting point is that Saul was not afraid…but the witch was. Saul had to tell the witch not to be afraid. It’s like in this instance God told Saul…that’s it. Your time is up. You are still mine, but there are consequences for your actions. AND, even though Samuel didn’t give him any advice on how to be delivered in this situation…he did tell Saul that Saul would be with him tomorrow…

    1Sa 28:19 “Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!”

    And since Jesus tells the story of Lazaurs and the Rich man and the chasm that can’t be crossed…I would assume that we are talking about Samuel coming forth from this place…

    Luk 16:22 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.

    Luk 16:23 “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.

    Luk 16:26 ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and {that} none may cross over from there to us.’

    BTW…did those people who came out of the tombs when Jesus gave up his spirit die again after they appeared to many…or did they ascend like Jesus did, or get raptured or something…man that must have been freaky.

  15. Saul died for participating in this abomination…

    1Ch 10:13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, [even] against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking [counsel] of [one that had] a familiar spirit, to enquire [of it];

  16. Into that vein too Kittykit,

    compare the one, the wicked dying in fear, and the other, Saul falling on his sword so the Philistines won’t mistreat him. One is frightened of death and the other is not.

    Job 18:11 Terrors frighten him on every side, and chase him at his heels.

    Job 18:14 He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors.

    I believe as with Sampson, Saul or any of God’s servants, who have gotten out of bounds, there is inside of them that sense of God’s Greatness and Honor even still.

    I like the way King David said it:::>

    Psa 69:5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
    Psa 69:6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
    Psa 69:7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.

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