1Samuel 28

by PSacramento 27 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • JWoods

    My take is that if it were really Satan (which would in fact be the big point of the whole story if true) - then the bible verses would have just said so.

    This is not unlike the star at Jesus birth - the WTBTS goes to great lengths to say Satan put it there. If that is true, why doesnt the scripture just say so?

  • sir82

    I just love watching Bible believers squirm when the story in the Bible doesn't fit their particular subset of doctrines.

    Bible: Simple story, a witch raises a dead spirit from Hades

    Debator / reniaa / WT article: 50,000 words "explaining" what the story really means.

    Same thing happens with the trinity doctrine.

    Bible: "Jesus said 'The father is greater than I am'."

    Non-trinitarian: "See how simple it is? The Bible just means what it says."

    Trinitarian: 50,000 words "explaining" what the verse really means.

    Bible: "Thomas said 'my Lord and my God'!"

    Trinitarian: "See how simple it is? The Bible just means what it says."

    Non-trinitarian: 50,000 words "explaining" what the verse really means.

    Nothing has changed in 2000 years.

  • Leolaia

    It is quite anachronistic to judge the story according to much later Hellenistic-era eschatology (such as the notion found in Revelation that the dead may have a postmortem existence in heaven); the story is quite in keeping with primitive Hebrew (and indeed Canaanite) beliefs about the rephaim and Sheol as a place that is below. The "demon" interpretation of the story is also anachronistic and imposes ideas that were not around when the story was written (e.g. note that evil spirits for the Deuteronomist are sent by Yahweh himself, cf. 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 18:10, 19:9, 1 Kings 22:19-23). In keeping with basic rules of exegesis, the story should be read on own terms and within its own literary context. The story only makes sense if it is understood that necromancy is not fake and that the spirit is indeed Samuel who is authorized by Yahweh to speak on his behalf. The point that is easily missed is that it isn't simply Saul who believes that this was Samuel but that the narrator also portrays this spirit as Samuel without qualification.

    snowbird....It is ironic how the Society denies that there are contradictions in the Bible, and yet is eager to make this into a contradiction in order to deny the basic sense of the story. Yet it is clear that we do not have a strict chronological progression but a redaction of narrative units that are not linearly sequential. The story in ch. 28 belongs with the story in ch. 31 (both taking Saul's point of view), whereas the Ziklag story in ch. 29-30 (which takes David's point of view) is not directly related to the Saul story in terms of narrative order. So in 28:4, the Philistines are encamped at Shunem and Saul is encamped at Gilboa with the two armies in close proximity (28:5), and Saul's forces are still at Gilboa in 31:1. But in the David-centered story in ch. 29, we learn that the Philistine army is not at Shunem but at Aphek and thus starts at a time prior to the story in ch. 28, at the time when the Philistines were still on the coast at Aphek gathering forces for the battle of Gilboa. This is prior to the encamping of the Philistines at Shunem. Some Philistines questioned David's allegience to their mission and so David and his men were not mustered to the battle at Gilboa but were sent to Philistine land far away in Ziklag, and it took several days for David to reach Ziklag and the David-centered story tells what happened there (ch. 30). It took three days for David to journey from Aphek to Ziklag, but it is not stated how long it took for the Philistine army to move from Aphek to Shunem near Jezreel. All we know is that David left for Ziklag on the same day that the Philistines left Aphek for the valley of Jezreel (29:11). And then sometime later, when the Philistines were already encamped at Shunem, Saul went to En-Dor and was told that he would die the next day. So what is related in ch. 29-30 overlaps with that of ch. 28, 31, with one story telling what happens from Saul's point of view and the other relating what happens from David's point of view. There is no indication that Saul was not killed the next day as prophesied by Samuel, and the story emphasizes that Saul and his sons and his men died together on "that same day" (31:6), which reflects what is predicted in 28:19.

  • Pistoff

    The last redactors of the TNK show a bias for the southern kingdom, and are kind to David overall in spite of apalling behavior; this story seems like just one more justification for David to overthrow Saul, (except he didn't, no too much respect for the anointed) no matter what the final text tells us about David's reluctance to strike the anointed of Jehovah (he didn't, too much respect).

    Factors in this account are the accuracy of the account itself, the viewpoints of the players in the story, and the viewpoint of the final editors.

    It seems a waste of time to deduce a doctrinal point from it.


  • snowbird
    snowbird....It is ironic how the Society denies that there are contradictions in the Bible, and yet is eager to make this into a contradiction in order to deny the basic sense of the story. Yet it is clear that we do not have a strict chronological progression but a redaction of narrative units that are not linearly sequential.

    Thank you so much, Leo.

    You da woman!


  • peacedog


    Thanks for posting.

    JW's say that it is really a demon and not Samuel, though there is no indication of that.

    Absolutely true. This is another case of JWs simply not believing the Bible. According to the scriptural account, it was Samuel; according to JWs, it was not Samuel.

    I see debator-reniaa is posting on this thread.

    debator: I see you are jumping through your hoops again, denying the obvious and replacing it with the obscure and reading into scripture. Even resorting to saying the scripture is not saying what it obviously is....

    It is funny to see trinitarians jump through hoops to deny the obvious and bible written. Replacing it with the obscure and read-into scripture. Often as in this case resorting to saying the scripture is not saying saying what it obviously is.


    Great comments. Thank you.

    Notice how the NWT places "Samuel" in 'scare' quotation marks throughout the chapter. This quite clearly inserts an interpretation of the identity of Samuel (i.e. that Samuel was not really Samuel) into the text itself.

    I had not noticed this before. You are absolutely right... this is a (another) blatant case of the WTS forcing its own interpretation into the text. One more reason the nwt should be tossed as a biased, sectarian translation.

  • Leolaia

    As another representative of early Jewish appraisal of 1 Samuel 28, here is what can be found in Sirach (second century BC) about it:

    "Before the time of his eternal sleep, Samuel bore witness before the Lord and his anointed: 'No property, not so much as a pair of shoes, have I taken from anyone!' And no one accused him. Even after he had fallen asleep, he prophesied and made known to the king his death, and lifted up his voice from the ground in prophecy, to blot out the wickedness of the people." (Sirach 46:19-20).

    Justin Martyr (second century AD) concurred. The idea that it wasn't Samuel but a demon that spoke was first attested in the third century AD. There is a book that contains the original texts of the discussion of this topic called The "Belly-Myther" of Endor: Interpretations of 1 Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church (BSL, 2007). Here is some of what Origen wrote about this topic:

    "We know very well that some of our brothers look askance at the Scripture and say: 'I do not believe the medium; when the medium says that she had seen Samuel, she lies. Samuel was not summoned. Samuel does not speak. Just as there are false prophets who say 'Thus says the Lord' and the Lord has not spoken, so this petty demon is lying when it promises to bring up the man Saul asked for, saying, 'Whom shall I summon for you?' when he says, 'Summon Samuel for me.' This is what is said by those who say that this story is not true: 'Samuel in Hades? Summoned by a necromancer? Samuel, the exceptional prophet, who was devoted to God from birth, who from before his birth was destined to be in the Temple, who had worn the ephod since he was weaned and had been invested with double mantle as priest of the Lord, to whom even as an infant, the Lord spoke oracularly?' .... These things are what they say, those who do not want to accept the struggle of explaining how Samuel was summoned. But since one must remain faithful in heeding the Scriptures, since the matter has been bruited about and can really annoy and disturb us, let us see whether or not the person who does not accept the Scripture ever understood it or whether, undertaking his interpretation with good intensions, he speaks the opposite of what is written.

    "What then does the necromancer do to summon the soul of a just person? This is what the earlier argument sought to avoid. For, so as not to experience the struggle concerning so many other matters that might be investigated in this place, it says: 'It is not Samuel, the demon is lying, since Scripture cannot lie.' But these are the words of Scripture, they are not from the persona of the so-called demon itself, but from Scripture's persona: 'And the woman saw Samuel' and 'Samuel said' what was said by Samuel. This is what Scripture says. How, then, can we present a real solution to the necromancer's behavior in the first place? I ask the person mentioned earlier who upheld the argument 'Samuel in Hades?' and so on that he answer this question: Who is better, Samuel or Jesus Christ? Who is better, the prophets or Jesus Christ? Who is better, Abraham or Jesus Christ? Here no one who has once come to know that Jesus Christ is the Lord previously prophesied by the prophets will dare say that Christ is not better than the prophets. Therefore when you confess that Jesus Christ is better, did Christ come to be in Hades or did he not? Is it not true what was said in the Psalms, interpreted by the apostles in their Acts as referring to the Savior's descent to Hades? .... And I ask: 'Did they prophesy supercelestial things?' Is a little demon capable of prophesying concerning the entire people of God that the Lord was about the deliver Israel? Can also a little demon know this, that after a king has been appointed with the anointing oil of a prophet that tomorrow Saul and his sons with him will forfeit their lives? For my part, I cannot allow a demon such great power as to prophesy concerning Saul and the people of God, and to prophesy about David's kingship that he was about to reign."

    And on whether Saul really died the next day, here is the interesting comment by Diodore of Tarsus (fourth century AD):

    "Some think a demon appeared in the form of Samuel and conversed with Saul. I do not think this is right. For God would not have permitted the deception to take place in the form of Samuel. Nevertheless they do have something by way of a counter-argument. For they say it is proved that the demon is lying by what it says to Saul, 'Tomorrow you and Jonathan will be with me', since what he said did not happen the next day but on the third day. But they have stumbled far from the truth. For it would not be possible to prove that Saul died on the third day after Samuel's words, since what follows in the narrative is a resumption of the entire course of events and of the war. For divine scripture did not say that Saul died 'on the third day' after the belly-myther spoke. Rather, after telling the story of Saul's error and of Samuel's pronouncement against him, it takes up the account again from the beginning.... Also where did the demon get the idea that not only Saul would be killed but also Jonathan?"

  • snowbird

    Thanks so much for that info, Leo.

    There is truly nothing new under the sun!

    What hubris the WT displays by thinking it is the repository of ALL truth!



  • BurnTheShips

    Great stuff!


  • PSacramento

    As always Leo just amazes me :)

    Thanks for ALL the info Leo, you rock babe !

    I don't think this is a contridiction of views of death and the state of dead people, as compared to ECC for example, but just an example of ow the Hebrew view and understanding of death and it's stated changed over the centuries.

    Of course there were always groups resistent to change, look at the arguments between the Saudcees that didn't believe in a ressurection and the Pharisees that did, Paul even used that division to turn them agianst each other when he was on trial at one point.

    If you look at the OT in its complete works, you will see a change of view in regards to death and the state of death.

    I think one of the issues is the confusion between soul and spirit and immortal and eternal and the passage from ECC that states the opinion that the "dead know nothing".

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