The Witch of Endor and Samuel (1 Samuel 28) 

1 Samuel 28:8-15
The Witch of Endor and Samuel

This passage is used by Spiritualists to give Scriptural support to their idea that living people can communicate with the souls of the "departed"

  1. This passage provides evidence for neither "heaven going" not "immortal soulism".
    1. Samuel (a righteous man) came "up" out of the earth, not down from heaven. (vs. 15).
    2. The witch saw an old man, not an intangible soul. (vs. 14).
    3. Samuel said, "Why hast thou disquieted me...?" This indicates that he was not enjoying the bliss of heaven, but rather the sleep of death. (cf. Job 3:17; Ecc. 9:5,10; Jn. 11 esp. vs. 11,24,25,44).

  2. Some have suggested that this passage in Samuel is really a fake seance. The following evidence is usually given:
    1. The king saw nothing.
    2. The witch said that she saw an old man with a mantle. (vs. 14). This was an ambiguous description. Was Samuel the only old man to wear a mantle?
    3. Samuel was buried at Ramah, not Endor. (1 Sam. 25:1).
    4. This explanation, however seemingly plausible, cannot be accepted because of its inability to explain the predictions made by Samuel, vs. 19.

  3. A more convincing explanation to the events in this chapter is the following:
    1. God raised Samuel for the occasion in order to rebuke a fool according to his folly.1
    2. This accounts for the precise predictions of verses 15-19, as well as the surprise of the witch (when "she cried with a loud voice", vs. 12), when suddenly confronted by an unexpected Samuel.

  4. Two objections to this explanation must be considered:
    1. Would God raise Samuel in these circumstances after instructing Israel: "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them, I am the LORD your God"? (Lev. 19:31). God could have used the witch as He did the lying prophet of Bethel. (1 Kings 13). In so doing, it no more implies sanction to the witch's activities than it does to Beelzebub in Jesus' allusion, (Matt. 12:27) or to the belief of the Pharisees in Luke 16:19-31.
    2. Samuel was buried at Ramah, not at Endor where the resurrection would have taken place. The rejoinder to this is simply that for God, there is no more difficulty in reassembling Samuel in Endor than to transport Philip from the Gaza Road to Azotus. (Acts 8:39-40).

  1. God punished Saul with death. "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 inquire of it; And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse." (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

Ron Abel