First Sammy ends with a very bizarre tale. Allow me to paraphrase – for those of you who want to read it from the translation of your choosing, it’s First Samuel, Chapter 28.
Saul is camped out on the side of Gilboa, and the Philistine army is down below in the Jezreel Valley… perfect place to use the chariots with which they dominated the warfare of the period. Saul and his Army could fight a good defensive campaign in the forested mountainsides where chariots were no good, but he who controlled the Jezreel controlled the Via Maris, the road to the sea linking Egypt and Damascus and therefore the whole region.
View of the Jezreel from Gilboa where Saul was camped.... Endor's down there, and so were the Philistines.
Israel HAD to occupy the Jezreel if they had any chance of staying in the area. Actually, it was known at the time as the “Road of the Philistines”. That’s what made Megiddo and Beit Shean the critical garrisons from the Canaanite period all the way up through Napoleon and World War 1. It’s the scene of the battle of Armageddon (har-meggido). Interestingly, the name Jezreel means “God Sows”
Saul’s in deep dookie, and he knows it. Samuel just died, and before he did he told Saul that his kingship was doomed, and David would take it over. He was freaked out because God had stopped communicating with him through prophets and in dreams, or via the Ephod (kind of like an Israelite magic 8-ball)
So he decides to go see a necromancer. He asks his peeps where one could be found (they were to be killed by levitical law, and Saul had done just that), and they tell him there’s one down in Endor.
So, he takes a few guys, dresses down, and goes to see the Witch of Endor, and asks her to raise the spirit of Samuel from the dead – ancient Israelites thought the spirit hung around for a year after someone died.
She supposedly does, and Samuel tells Saul that the Philistines are gonna clean house on Israel the next day, and that he and his sons were gonna die.
The next day, sure enough Saul is about to be taken, so he kills himself (almost, an Amelekite slave finishes him off at Saul’s request, David kills him for that later). The Philistines hang Saul’s body from the walls of Beit Shean, which was kinda like hanging him on a billboard by an interstate (the Via del Maris).
Here’s the things I find curious and would like to discuss:
I think it was an Urim, not an Ephod...
Ephod - Strongs H646
priestly garment, shoulder-cape or mantle, outer garment
1) worn by an ordinary priest and made of white stuff
2) worn by the high priest - more costly, woven of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and linen threads provided with shoulder-pieces and a breast piece of like material, ornamented with gems and gold
Urim = "lights" - Strongs H224
1) stones kept in a pouch on the high-priest's breastplate, used in determining God's decision in certain questions and issues
1 Samuel 28:6 KJV
Yeah, my bad - Urim
uhhh... according to the KJV, the word in Hebrew is 'elohiym, which is the plural masculine noun, which has multiple meanings, including "gods", which is an OT reference for "fallen angels"...
'elohiym - Strongs H430
a) rulers, judges
b) divine ones
2) (plural intensive - singular meaning)
a) god, goddess
b) godlike one
c) works or special possessions of God
d) the (true) God
1 Samuel 28:13 KJV
Strongs supports "angels" but not "fallen angels"
I agree with you about Strongs... I was filling in more context...
In my understanding of Scripture, since the ancient Hebrew Creator Deity was monotheistic, OT references to the "gods" of pagan cultures refers to the "fallen angels" or "sons of God" which left their first estate, and came to earth to rule over humans, instead of serving us like God intended...
the Angels that did not rebel with Lucifer do not allow men to worship them as gods... whenever someone tried, they corrected them and said to worship God, not them...
I understand where you are coming from, but I do not believe that interpretation is supported in the bible itself. Maybe, if you rope Enoch into the mix, but most people do not consider it canon.
I'm amazed at how ingrained that is.
since the ancient Hebrew Creator Deity was monotheistic
That's not biblically supported either.
Here's my take on this...
I don't think this was the real Samuel...
The Witch of Endor had a "familiar spirit", which is a demon assigned to an individual, that she usually used to get intel about her customers... but when Saul requested to see Samuel, God allowed an Angel to manifest as the appearance of Samuel... since it would violate God's law to allow a dead human to be summoned like an ordinary demon who is familiar with the life of the dead human...
Just like the dream that Micaiah had about God sending an angel to give false counsel to all of Ahab's false prophets to go into battle to victory, but in reality it was to his death... ( 1 Kings 22:19-23 KJV )
However, in this case, God allowed the Angel appearing as Samuel to tell the truth to Saul of the fate of his death the next day, as the reward for his blasphemy of using witchcraft as a means to communicate to a deceased Prophet of God...
since it would violate God's law to allow a dead human to be summoned like an ordinary demon who is familiar with the life of the dead human...
Might explain the witch freaking out when the real Samuel showed up.
Before offering opinions and interpretations on this account of "Samuel.s" ghost I believe it beneficial to lay some groundwork as to where we are coming from in terms of faith in the Bible. I predicate my comments on the firm belief that the Bible is God's inspired word, all of it (whether it is taken literally or if it is obviously symbolic). Further, I hold that if we believe that is is all God's word, "inspired of God" (2 Timothy 3:16) that therefore we must also hold that the Word will not contradict itself, on part with another, or, teach one doctrine one place and a contra doctrine elsewhere, and when it seems to do that we, the reader, must somehow be mistaken (or the source that influences us is mistaken) or that we have taken something out of context. I realize that many participants here do not hold to that standard and that is fine. Others may feel it is their prerogative to pick and choose how and when to interpret and that is fine also. Here now however I am proceeding along the lines I have just described - that All of it is God's inspired Word. It is in this sense that the Bible "interprets itself". Regardless of which "church father" or scholar or philosopher says. And you will see how that affects the conclusions.
To begin with the Bible teaches that the dead are in a sleep-like, unconcious condition. At Ecclesiates 9:5: 10
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten....10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. (Holman)
Or, as stated in Psalms 146: 3,4 ;
3 Do not put YOUR trust in nobles,
Nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.
4 His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground;
In that day his thoughts do perish.
So, according to God's Word, the dead do nothing and have no thoughts, neither can they have any influence on the living.
This is what the Israelites believed in Samuel's day. So, when Samuel died he was gone. Completely. Alive on that he was alive in God's memory, in the sense that Abraham was "alive" in the sense when God old Moses "I am the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob:. So, whatever happened with King Saul and the witch of Endor, it could not have been the real "Samuel". Furthermore, as have been mentioned before, all forms of spiritism and divination were strictly condemned in the Mosaic Law and anyone found practicing them was liable to the death penalty. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). So, anything that this witch could "produce" could not be from the true God, who would certainly not aid someone who was already totally alienated from him. Furthermore, the real Samuel had for some time before his death refused to see Saul or to render him prophetic aid regarding his military campaigns. How unlikely that God would re-create him in some "form" to counsel a rejected and apostate king.
So what was it that King Saul saw. Actually Saul saw nothing. The account says he asked the old witch what she saw and she answered, "And old man wearing a robe is coming up." Then Saul concluded it was "Samuel". Was it, in fact a demon-inspired apparition? Certainly, if it could not have come from God it could only come from such a source.
So, whatever one might think they are gleaning from the use of words analysis is irrelevant if the conclusion is contrary to the plainly spoken word of God.
You bring up some interesting points, Kermit... Here is where we agree:
I predicate my comments on the firm belief that the Bible is God's inspired word, all of it (whether it is taken literally or if it is obviously symbolic).
This is why I prefer some translations over others, since some translations omit key verses, or key phrases from verses, which changes the context, and therefore the meaning of the verse... sometimes this is done to be different enough to other translations in order to not violate copyright law; other times it is done to wrest Scripture to conform to the preconceived notions of the "translators"...
Some web pages that give a side-by-side comparison of different versions: