the Witch of Endor

by Magnum 31 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Magnum

    1Sa 28:3-25 (NWT - not revised version)

    7 Finally Saul said to his servants: “Seek for me a woman who is a mistress of spirit mediumship, and I will go to her and consult her.” Then his servants said to him: “Look! There is a woman who is a mistress of spirit mediumship in En-dor.”

    8 So Saul disguised himself and clothed himself with other garments and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. He now said: “Employ divination, please, for me by spirit mediumship and bring up for me the one whom I shall designate to you.”11 At this the woman said: “Whom shall I bring up for you?” To this he said: “Bring up Samuel for me.”

    Don't these two verses indicate that Saul believed spirit mediums were what they claimed to be? If he didn't believe they could do what they claimed, then why seek out one and visit?

    12 When the woman saw “Samuel”

    First, I think it was wrong for the NWT to add quotation marks to the word "Samuel" to indicate that it wasn't really Samuel. As far as I know, there is no indication in the Hebrew that quotation marks should be added. Was the NWT committee editing God? The Bible plainly says that the woman saw Samuel. If it was a demon and not Samuel, then why didn't the Bible say "a demon posing as Samuel" rather than "Samuel"? Same with following verses.

    14 ….. At that Saul recognized that it was “Samuel,”

    15 And “Samuel” began to say to Saul: …..

    16 And “Samuel” went on to say: …..

    20 At that Saul quickly fell down his full length to the earth and became very much afraid because of “Samuel’s” words.

    I just don't get it. Are we supposed to accept what the Bible says or make it say something else? I know how JWs work. They will stress a certain word in a passage if it backs up JW doctrine, but if it doesn't back up JW teachings, they will say it doesn't mean what it literally says.

    For example, at Ps 37:29, JWs stress the word "forever". "Now what does it say here? Yes, it says "forever", so people will live on the earth forever; the earth will be here forever."

    However, If I, in talking with a JW, were to use the same tactic and say "Now who or what does it say the medium brought up? It says "Samuel". The account clearly says she brought up Samuel." JW: "Oh no, that's not what it means." OK, then how do we know what "forever" means at Ps 37:29?

    How do we know what the Bible means if we can't accept just accept what it says? Again, I just don't understand why, if it was a demon the woman conjured up, the Bible doesn't just say that.

    Note: I'm not arguing one way or the other as to what this passage really means. I've read several analyses of it, so I know that a lot of Bible commentators don't believe it was actually Samuel. I'm just making the point that Bible believers make the Bible say what they want it to. I just don't understand why, if it was a demon and not really Samuel, the Bible doesn't simply say that - why it doesn't refer to "a demon posing as Samuel" rather than "Samuel". The Bible is confusing and poorly written.

  • Bobcat


    I had an interesting experience with this passage while in the earlier stages of waking up.

    I had the Bible Highlights on the TMS a few years back when it was covering this part of the Bible. During my lunch break at work I decided to get the part out. But I only had my Bible with me, no WT reference material, and no memory of what the WT view of this material was.

    So I prepared it and came to the definite conclusion that God (or an angel - a good one) was the entity speaking to Saul via the witch.

    To my surprise, when I got home and looked up WT references on it, they had reached the very opposite conclusion.

    In the end, I decided not to comment on this pericope. But it definitely had a part in opening my eyes to the fallibility of the WT.

    If you are interested in my reasoning, I have it saved in a Word file. I can paste it here.


  • Magnum
    Bobcat, I'd love to see it and to save it with my notes, if that's OK.
  • Bobcat


    It is a rather lengthy analysis (of both the WT reasoning, and my counterpoint). And it was early in my waking up. So it shows where I was at the time. But here it is:


    Who was it that was speaking to Saul after the spirit medium at En-dor ‘raised up’ an entity whom Saul identified as Samuel the prophet? (1Sa 28:3–19) What exactly was going on there?

    Actually, identifying the source of a voice from the spirit realm from some 3000 years in the past is a tall order. If it can be done with certainty it will take close attention to details. But that is what we will do here. And since a viewpoint has already been expressed in the case [the Watchtower's], we will begin by looking at the reasons for deciding that way.

    The Case for Saying That the Voice was Demonic

    There are several reasons for assuming that the person speaking to Saul was a demon. Foremost would be the fact that this spirit entity was summoned by means of the practice of spiritism. This avenue of seeking counsel was condemned by God through the Mosaic Law. (Le 19:31; 20:6; De 18:9–14; 1Ch 10:13) Although Saul might not have had all the details as to why it was condemned, he should have known that dead humans could not respond and that this was something that depraved pagans did. Reasons enough for avoiding it. (Gen 2:17; 3:17, 18; Le 18:1–5, 24–30)

    Considering all that, the question has been asked: Could the witch at En-dor force Jehovah to speak on this occasion, especially considering the fact that, previous to this, Jehovah had cut off all communication with Saul? (1Sa 28:6) Thus, this would certainly weigh heavily in favor of saying that the voice was of a demonic source.

    Another reason for saying that the voice must have been of demons is that the prophetic words spoken did not entirely come true. If this allegation is on the mark, then it would be conclusive. Jehovah is “the God of truth” and he “cannot lie.” (Ps 31:5; Tit 1:2) Such inaccurate prophetic statements would have to be from some other source. What statements are alleged to have not come true?

    One has to do with how Saul died. The battle account says that the Philistine ‘shooters, the bowmen, finally found [Saul], and he got severely wounded by the shooters. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer: “Draw your sword and run me through with it, that these uncircumcised men may not come and certainly run me through and deal abusively with me.” And his armor-bearer was unwilling, because he was very much afraid. So Saul took the sword and fell upon it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul had died, then he too fell upon his own sword and died with him. Thus Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer, even all his men, came to die together on that day.’ (1Sa 31:3–6)

    Here is what the spirit entity foretold would happen: “And Jehovah will also give Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. Even the camp of Israel Jehovah will give into the hand of the Philistines.” (1Sa 28:19)

    The argument is made that Saul was not ‘given into the hand of the Philistines.’ Rather, he ran himself through with his own sword. And thus, as the argument goes, the prediction did not prove completely true.

    A second argument concerning the truthfulness of these words is in regard to Saul’s sons. The spirit entity said: “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me [in death].” But Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s sons, did not die in that battle. (2Sa 2:8–10) So, in saying “your sons,” one was left out, making the prediction inaccurate.

    In support of these proofs are an array of well known Bible scholars and commentators ranging throughout centuries of history. (See it-2 pp.1027–8 under the subtitle “King Saul’s visit to a medium.”) And thus, the side for saying that it was the demons speaking, rests its case.

    Cross Examining the Evidence

    It is acknowledged that the fact that a witch was involved weighs heavily in favor of saying that the voice was demonic. But is that fact, in this case, decisively conclusive?

    What happened in the days of Moabite king Balak? He hired Balaam, a practicer of spiritism, to curse Israel. Evidently, Balaam was good at what he did since Balak specifically sought him. Balaam three times made pronouncements regarding Israel for Balak. Now ask yourself: Does the fact that he was a spiritist prove that it was the demons who spoke on those three occasions? True, on most occasions, one could assume that demons were speaking through him. But not on this occasion. Jehovah spoke through him to Balak to prevent any cursing of Israel. (Num 23:4, 5; 24:12, 13)

    And what if someone used the argument that ‘Balaam could not force Jehovah to speak through him’? That is a true statement. But in this case, it was not a matter of Balaam forcing Jehovah. Jehovah forced him.

    Consider another occasion. Israelite King Ahab was seeking counsel for war with Syria. So King Jehoshaphat of Judah said: ‘ “Inquire, please, first of all for the word of Jehovah.” So the king of Israel collected the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them: “Shall I go against Ramothgilead in war, or shall I refrain?” And they began to say: “Go up, and Jehovah will give it into the king’s hand.” ’ This didn’t satisfy Jehoshaphat, so he said: “Is there not here a prophet of Jehovah still? Then let us inquire through him.” At this, Micaiah, a prophet hated by Ahab, was called. (1Ki 22:4–9)

    Eventually, Micaiah pointed out that Jehovah had indeed spoken through Ahab’s false prophets by means of one of his angels. (1Ki 22:19–23) Of course, Ahab’s prophets may or may not have been involved in spiritistic practices. But, on the whole, they were supporters of the false religion setup in the Northern ten tribe kingdom. (1Ki 12:25–33) They were also supporters of wicked Ahab. For the most part, you would not normally expect Jehovah to speak through them. (2Ch 19:1, 2; Jer 23:13, 14, 16, 17) This may have been why Jehoshaphat asked for another prophet to speak. Yet, as Micaiah pointed out, Jehovah did speak through those prophets of Ahab on that occasion, albeit deceptively. (Compare 1Ki 22:22, 23 – “his prophets,” “these prophets of yours”)

    All of this does not prove that Jehovah spoke as “Samuel” at En-dor. What it does do is, it opens up the possibility of him having done so. The fact that a witch was involved would not automatically rule out the possibility that Jehovah chose to speak on that occasion.

    Also, Jehovah’s speaking to Saul on that occasion would not be outside of the Bible’s description of God’s personality. In what way?

    When Balaam was determined to curse Israel for the payment, after having been warned not to do so, Jehovah intervened in an extraordinary way by positioning an angel to block him and causing his ass to speak. (Num 22:20–35) Similarly, when Moses persisted in his reluctance to go as Jehovah’s spokesman to Pharaoh, “then Jehovah’s anger grew hot against Moses” and he took the step of assigning Aaron as his mouthpiece. (Ex 4:13–16)

    Thus, when Saul, as king of Israel, took the extraordinary step of seeking counsel through a spirit medium, after Jehovah had blocked normal channels, it would not be unprecedented for Jehovah to react angrily and intercept that effort. The tone of the words that the spirit entity at En-dor spoke do match that aspect of Jehovah’s personality.

    Again, this does not prove that Jehovah spoke on that occasion. But it does leave open the possibility that he did.

    What About Saul’s Death?

    What about the idea that the words were inaccurate because it was Saul that actually killed himself rather than the Philistines. Well, what exactly did the spirit entity say would happen to Saul? “And Jehovah will also give Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” (1Sa 28:19)

    Did the fact that a severely wounded Saul, his position near to being overrun, finished himself off with his own sword, did that prove that he had not been ‘given into the hand of the Philistines’? (1Sa 31:3–5; 2Sa 1:6–9) For example, would that detail keep the Philistines from celebrating a victory over Saul and Israel in that battle, as if Saul had somehow cheated them? Not according to David’s dirge as recorded in 2 Samuel 1:20. As far as the Philistines were concerned, Saul and the Israelites had indeed been given into their hand, although they likely credited their own god rather than Jehovah.

    Decades later in David’s reign, the same Bible writers referred to what happened on that battlefield. How did they then describe what had happened? 2 Samuel 21:12 says: “So David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the landowners of Jabeshgilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day that the Philistines struck down Saul on Gilboa.”

    Evidently, to the Bible writers of this account, the fact that Saul had actually finished himself off did little to change the outcome of that battle. Notice too how First Chronicles 10:14 describes what happened: “And [Saul] did not inquire of Jehovah. Consequently he put him to death and turned the kingship over to David the son of Jesse.” Here, Jehovah is credited with putting Saul to death, although, technically, Saul did the actual killing.

    So reasonably, with regard to Saul’s death, were “Samuel’s” words that ‘Saul would be given into the hand of the Philistines’ really all that incorrect? Not really. Not unless you were holding the speaking entity to an exactness of speech that even the Bible does not do.

    What About the Phrase “Your Sons”?

    The spirit entity at En-dor also told Saul that “your sons” would also die on that day. Yet Ish-bosheth, one of Saul’s sons, the youngest, did not die that day. In fact, it was about two years later when he was killed by some of his own men. (2Sa 4:5–8) Was “your sons,” then, a factual mistake?

    First Samuel 31:2 says: “And the Philistines kept in close range of Saul and his sons; and the Philistines at last struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua, Saul’s sons.” Here, “Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchishua” are referred to as “his sons” and “Saul’s sons,” without mentioning the fact that Ish-bosheth was also one of “Saul’s sons.” Similarly, First Chronicles 10:1–8 refers to “Saul and his sons” (vs.2), “Saul and his sons had died.” (vs.7) Here also the context makes it clear that “his sons” was referring to the three that died without bothering to mention Ish-bosheth.

    Why didn’t Ish-bosheth die also? First Chronicles 10:6 makes that clear when it adds: “And all those of his house died together.” Obviously, “all those of [Saul’s] house” referred to all those of his house that died on the battlefield that day. Ish-bosheth did not die that day because he was not on the battlefield with his father. But why not?

    There are at least two good reasons why he wasn’t there. The first was likely because of concerns for preserving Saul’s lineage. This would have concerned any Israelite, but especially a king. (Compare Nu 27:6–11; De 25:5, 6; 2Sa 18:18; 2Ki 11:1–3) The second reason has to do with the fact that, according to the Bible record, Ish-bosheth was not a very valiant man. He did not appear to be the type of person an experienced warrior like Saul would want fighting for him. (1Sa 10:26; 14:52; 16:18, 19; Compare De 1:28; 20:8; Ac 21:13; Contrast 2Sa 3:6–11 with 1Ki 2:13–25. See also Insight Volume I, under “Ish-bosheth.”)

    So think about that. When Saul went to the witch at En-dor, he would have already known which sons were going into battle with him and which one was not. When the spirit entity said that the camp of Israel would be given to the Philistines and that “your sons” would die, would not Saul naturally understand that he meant the three that were going to fight with him against the Philistines?

    Or would the spirit entity, no matter who he was, interrupt the force of his powerful message in order to insert, what amounts to, a technical detail, especially when he knew that Saul understood exactly what he meant? The Bible writers at First Samuel 31:2 and First Chronicles 10:2, 7 felt no need to add this detail. Why should this entity have to?

    Or look at it this way. What if, just for the sake of argument, you believed that the entity speaking was Jehovah? And what if someone tried to tell you that Jehovah’s words, there at En-dor, did not come true? Would you not use these very arguments to defend God’s words as being completely truthful? If you would, then, in all fairness, you would also have to do that no matter who was speaking, would you not?

    So really, given the context they were spoken in, it is not unreasonable to say that these words by the spirit entity were factually correct. Still, keep in mind what this does and what this does not do. It does keep open the possibility that Jehovah was speaking. But it does not prove that he did, for it is still possible for the demons to pass along truthful information for reasons of their own choosing. (Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34; 2Co 11:14)

    Of course, in order to pass along truthful information, one would first have to have access to it.

    Putting the Events in Order

    Throughout the ages, Jehovah God has displayed an amazing ability to read the future. There are others, though, who have also shown some ability to do this. Meteorologists, for example, reading satellite and other sensor data, have sometimes predicted or “forecast” the weather with amazing accuracy, providing aviators and sailors an invaluable service.

    Thus, to some extent, the ability to predict the future is directly related to one’s knowledge and understanding of the subject involved. By that standard it is no surprise that Jehovah excels at prophesying. But to illustrate the supreme advantage that Jehovah holds, imagine a meteorologist who could choose next week’s weather! (Le 26:3, 4; Joel 2:23; Am 4:7)

    In theory, Satan’s ability to accurately predict the future would fall somewhere in between these two. With that in mind, consider how the events of First Samuel chapters 27 thru 31 help us to identify the entity speaking as “Samuel” at First Samuel chapter 28. (The See The Good Land Brochure is an excellent aid for this. See pages 18–19.)

    Chapter 27 describes how David and his men fled to Philistia to escape Saul’s efforts to kill him. During their 16 month stay, David was assigned to live in Ziklag. From there, he made raids on areas of southern Judah and towards Egypt. Achish, king of Gath, thought David was raiding Israelite settlements. Thus, Achish thought, “[David] has unquestionably become a stench among his people Israel; and he will have to become my servant to time indefinite.” David, on the other hand, was leading Achish to believe this. He was carefully making sure that no survivors remained that might cause Achish to conclude differently. Perhaps David thought that this ruse was necessary while he was living in enemy territory. At the same time, he was clearing the promised land of illegal foreigners in preparation for his coming rulership.

    Chapter 28 takes us to the eve of the battle between Saul’s army and the Philistines. The huge army of Philistia is encamped in the area between Shunem and Jezreel. (Compare 1Sa 28:4 with 1Sa 29:11 for location; Compare 1Sa 28:5 with 1Sa 29:1, 2 for size.) A fearful Saul disguises himself and goes diagonally behind enemy lines to En-dor to speak with the spirit medium that lives there. The message he receives is stunning.

    Then chapter 29 backs up a number of days and describes the massing of the Philistine army at Aphek, some 50 to 60 miles to the south of Jezreel. Here, David and his men are joining in with the Philistine army for battle with Israel. And Achish has every intention of letting him do that. He is convinced that David will serve loyally. But the axis lords of Philistia don’t see things that way. As the troops pass in review, they indignantly ask: “What do these Hebrews mean?” They even recognize David himself. Sure that this will lead to trouble, they insist that David go home to Ziklag. Achish reluctantly gives in to their wish. David, still, attempts to convince Achish to let him go. But Achish sends him home. The next morning, David heads south for Ziklag while the Philistines break camp and head north to Jezreel. The travel time to Ziklag appears roughly equivalent to the travel time to Jezreel, but they are in opposite directions.

    Chapter 30 describes what happens when David and his men arrive in Ziklag. Earlier in the day, a marauding band burned the city and took their families captive and then headed back south towards Egypt. David and his men take up the chase and catch up with them the next day south of the torrent valley of Besor. In a day long battle, they make a deliverance and then head back home to Ziklag, arriving there probably a couple of days later. From here, he sends out ‘gift blessings’ to those that supported him.

    Chapter 31 describes Saul’s battle with the Philistine army that ends in defeat for Israel and death for Saul and his sons. This battle takes place probably a day or two after David and his men battle the marauding band.

    The Entity at En-dor Knew Too Much

    There are a couple of things about this account that indicate that it was not the demons speaking at En-dor.

    Ask yourself: Why was David attempting to join the Philistine military effort against Saul? It could not have been so as to defeat Saul. Twice before David had refused to do him injury. (1Sa 24:1–7; 26:1–13) And after the battle he punished those who claimed to do injury to Saul and his family. (2Sa 1:1–16; 4:5–12) The Philistine axis lords were right. David was going to attempt a rescue of Saul. (1Sa 29:1–5)

    But that also tells us something else. David did not know that this was the battle that Saul would be “swept away” in. (1Sa 26:10) Jehovah did not reveal that to him. But several days later, after David had been sent home, the spirit entity that spoke to Saul spoke as if he knew for sure that Saul would die in this battle. If it was a demon, then how could he speak with such certainty? How did he know for sure what David did not know at all. And how could he know for sure that the battle would end disastrously in just one day? (1Sa 28:19 – “tomorrow”)

    But, just for the sake of argument, suppose Satan chanced a calculated guess about those things. Some might think that a possibility. His spirit realm vantage point would allow him to see all of the forces involved and their battle strategies. (Although, historically, even those things have not always been decisive, especially when Jehovah is involved. Compare Ps 33:16, 17; Pr 21:31; Ec 9:11) But how could he also know for sure that Jonathan would die? Had not Jonathan proved himself a valiant fighter in the past. Had he not also had Jehovah’s approval, and still had it, for all we know? (1Sa 14:1–14, 44, 45) He had humbly supported David, even making a covenant with him. (1Sa 18:1–3; 20:9–17; 23:16–18) How could Satan know for sure that Jehovah would not at least rescue him in the coming battle?

    The answer is obvious: He couldn’t know. The words of the spirit entity at En-dor were not only correct, they were too correct, too detailed, and under those circumstances, spoken with too much authority to have been from Satan. They were spoken by someone who knew exactly what was going to happen.

    The Message at En-dor Was All Wrong

    We started by recounting the argument as to why it had to be the demons speaking. According to that argument, there were minor inaccuracies in the prediction. Actually, if this was the demons speaking there at En-dor, then, everything they said was wrong. How so?

    At Genesis 3:15, Jehovah foretold that there would be enmity by Satan and his seed against ‘the woman and her seed.’ For Satan, this hatred has been a logical necessity. That woman’s seed was foretold to eventually bruise him in the head, a death blow. If he wishes to continue in power, then, he must do something to that seed before it can do something to him.

    This hatred is what has driven much of Satan’s strategy since that time, just as God had said. Thus, Jehovah not only foretold the future on that day in Eden, he directed it to happen by giving Satan the information that he did. This, of course, does not make Jehovah responsible for the hatred shown since then. Nor does it harm God’s servants in the long run since he “makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God.” (Ro 8:28) But Jehovah God has limited the extent of Satan’s efforts by revealing only so much at any one time. (Compare Gen 3:14)

    In the days of David and Saul, what information was available to Satan about the seed? He would have known that the seed would be through the tribe of Judah and that he would be a commander or ruler. (Gen 49:10) He knew that David was of that tribe and had been anointed by Jehovah as king. (1Sa 16:1, 13) And he also knew that Saul was not of that tribe and that Saul was intent on killing David. Further, he had witnessed the fact that David always relied on Jehovah and had proved successful in battle against non-Israelites, striking down his “tens of thousands.” (1Sa 18:7) For Satan, at that time, Saul’s remaining in power was his best opportunity to get at the seed of the woman.

    When Saul came to the spirit medium at En-dor, he was hoping she could bring up Samuel. One wonders why he thought that she could do that. Perhaps it was symptomatic of how far he had departed from Jehovah. He had probably stopped reading God’s Word. (De 17:14, 18–20) He was also quite desperate. His words do indicate that he was not expecting to get in touch with demons. (1Sa 28:5, 11) But in fact, that is exactly what should have happened.

    But now look at these same events from Satan’s standpoint. Saul had been a useful tool to him in trying to get at the promised seed. In fact, he was the best thing going for Satan at the time. Unfortunately, for Satan, the Mosaic Law prevented him from directly advising Saul. (Le 19:31)

    When David was attempting to join the Philistine camp for battle, Satan, unlike Achish, could see what he was trying to do, that he was going to attempt a rescue of Saul. For Satan, the best course was to let him. Nothing bad could come from it. Either David would die trying, or he would keep Saul in power. Maybe both. It had to have been Jehovah that sent David home that day at Aphek. (1Sa 29:6–11) Unknown to David, Jehovah had determined to bring Saul’s rule to an end at that time.

    Several days later, Saul came to the spirit medium to get some useful counsel that might save him. What a golden opportunity this was for Satan to keep Saul’s rulership alive and perhaps give him another opportunity to try to kill David. Why not tell him to retreat? Or why not have him take a force of several thousand to Ziklag and attack David and his exhausted men? The Philistines would be pinned down fighting the rest of the Israelite army at Mount Gilboa. They would be unable to block him. (Compare 1Sa 27:1, 4)

    Yet, the spirit entity that spoke with Saul did not do that. In strong, forceful language, he reiterated and confirmed what Jehovah had already said would happen to Saul. Why would Satan do that, against his own interests? The only answer that makes sense is: He wouldn’t. Which can only mean one thing: That wasn’t him that was speaking there at En-dor.

    On the other hand, if Jehovah had already determined to end Saul’s rulership at that time, it makes good sense that he would prevent Saul from getting Satanic counsel that might alter the chosen course of events.

    The Strongest Proof That Jehovah Spoke

    The strongest indication of all that it was Jehovah speaking as “Samuel” is contained right there within the words that were spoken. Read again the words at First Samuel 28:16–19. Do you see it? Seven times. (Compare 2Ti 2:19)

    There are only a few places in the Bible where Satan and his demons are directly quoted. But never once will you find them using Jehovah’s name. Sometimes, people that they employ will use the name, but never them. (Gen 3:1–5; Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7;4:14–21; Mt 4:1–7; 8:29; Mr 1:24; Lu 4:1–8; 4:34; Ac 16:16, 17)

    Evidently, the Name and its meaning are repugnant to them. Perhaps this is an indication of what James was speaking of at James 2:19. And this coincides with their effort to remove it from the Bible as well as the protection servants of God have found when calling upon him by name. (Pr 18:10)

    This may very well explain why Jehovah has left the identity of “Samuel” misunderstood until now. By leaving, what appeared to be, an example of the demons using his name, God has left open the possibility that Satan might do so. He is, after all, capable of “every unrighteous deception.” (2Th 2:9, 10) This possibility can be seen by looking at how things would be if the identity of “Samuel” was correctly understood.

    There would have been no examples of Satan or the demons using God’s name in the Bible. Alert Bible students would have taken note of that. And some might have concluded that any voice from the spirit realm that used God’s name could not be demonic. This would have given Satan the incentive to begin using it as a deceptive ploy.

    By leaving that part of the account misunderstood, God’s servants are kept alert to the possibility of demon deception in this way. At the same time, it removes a possible incentive for the demons to make a deceptive use of God’s name in this way. It is a good example of what Jesus was saying at John 16:12 and has the effect of telling the demons to “be silent” when it comes to using God’s holy name.

    (Interestingly, Satan knew who was actually speaking as “Samuel” there at En-dor. But to correct the understanding so as to exploit it, he would also have to show that God’s name belonged in the account. History makes it evident that he chose not to do that.)

    [End - I told you it was a little long winded!]


  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake

    I have a question:

    When you go to a spiritualist today or a medium to speak with the dead, do you see the spirit or speak with it, or does the medium act as an intercession between you and the supposed spirit which you never actually see or coherently hear?

    But that also tells us something else. David did not know that this was the battle that Saul would be “swept away” in. (1Sa 26:10) Jehovah did not reveal that to him. But several days later, after David had been sent home, the spirit entity that spoke to Saul spoke as if he knew for sure that Saul would die in this battle. If it was a demon, then how could he speak with such certainty? How did he know for sure what David did not know at all. And how could he know for sure that the battle would end disastrously in just one day? (1Sa 28:19 – “tomorrow”)

    also as to the above statement, this is an assumption to suggest the demons could not have known. In the book of Job satan is recorded as walking right in among the Angels in heaven during a gathering- so clearly in the Old Testament the devil and the demons had freedom to come and go as they please- there is no reason they could not have known the battle would be Sauls last.

    further, Saul had had the spirit mediums run out and killed. So this woman, who pretended to see and speak with and for Samuel could have been getting revenge on Saul, who was known to have been being terrorized by a spirit (1 Sam 16:14).

    This was therefore 1 of 2 things:

    1. It was the evil spirit terrorizing him, which was actually from God.

    2. It was the spirit medium getting revenge for her fallen and murdered brethren.

    as to the comment that the bible should just say that- I've never had any problem understanding this was likely not Samuel. And when you read the entire context of the book it does speak for itself, as it says a spirit was terrorizing him- therefore this was likely that spirit. Pretty easy conclusion to reach IMO. Also, if a person said they went to a psychic and spoke with their dead mother- you would know that they meant a ceyonce was held and the medium spoke in a creepy voice or otherwise for this supposed spirit- the person would not need to include those details. Point being, at the time of the writing of this, the process and events were inherent in the culture and those details were unnecessary. But I would argue they still aren't, because spirit mediums havent changed much...

  • Magnum
    as to the comment that the bible should just say that- I've never had any problem understanding this was likely not Samuel. And when you read the entire context of the book it does speak for itself, as it says a spirit was terrorizing him- therefore this was likely that spirit. Pretty easy conclusion to reach IMO.

    First, we're talking about the supposed Word of the Almighty God. If it is, then I think it should be the clearest, most logical writing/communication ever produced. I think that we shouldn't have to put forth a lot of effort to understand or 'reach a conclusion'. We shouldn't have to guess and be unsure. It should and could be clear.

    According to the account (vs 8), Saul says "bring up for me the one whom I shall designate to you," and then he requests that she bring up "Samuel" (vs 11). So it seems that Saul really thought he could communicate with Samuel.

    Also, if a person said they went to a psychic and spoke with their dead mother- you would know that they meant a ceyonce was held and the medium spoke in a creepy voice or otherwise for this supposed spirit- the person would not need to include those details.

    "The person would not need to include those details" because they are not really that important. The main question would be Was it really the person's mother? - not whether the supposed mother was speaking through the medium or somehow speaking herself.

    In the Bible account under discussion, it is plainly stated that it was Samuel speaking. Whether he was using the medium as an intermediary is, to me, irrelevant.

    Point being, at the time of the writing of this, the process and events were inherent in the culture and those details were unnecessary. But I would argue they still aren't, because spirit mediums havent changed much...

    I think it's wrong to compare the situation with spirit mediums and communication regarding such today with that 3000 years ago. We don't know the nuances of communication and culture that existed back then.

    Again, I am not trying to say that the account proves that Samuel was brought back from the dead or that he still existed in spirit form after death or whatever. Hell, I don't even know that there was a Samuel. My point has to do with the fact that I think the Bible is unclear and poorly written and can be made to say many different things.

  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake
    First, we're talking about the supposed Word of the Almighty God...

    This is the problem right here. Just as because Saul wanted it to be Samuel and so he believed it was Samuel and so it was- so you don't want the bible to be the word of God and nothing anyone says will convince you that it is. There's no difference, and therefore no point.


    The witch of Endor. Is that the story where Wicket the Ewok saves the girl from a giant, and the Stormtroopers steal all the X-Mas presents?? I can't keep all these stories straight.


  • under the radar
    under the radar

    The old standby seems to apply here:

    "What is meant is what was implied, rather than that which was spoken."

  • opusdei1972

    I did my own research on this issue, and I concluded that this passage is simply against to the Watchtower's soul-sleep doctrine. The book of Ecclesiasticus says:

    And after this he [Samuel] slept, and he made known to the king [Saul], and shewed him the end of his life, and he lifted up his voice from the earth in prophecy to blot out the wickedness of the nation. (Ecclesiasticus 46:23)

    This was the interpretation that ancient jews (like Josephus) held about that reading. They did not think that a demon was speaking, but the spirit of Samuel himself. Also, this is the natural reading.

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