Bible Women: The Witch of Endor

In the last story, you read about the birth of Samuel; in this story, you will see Samuel again, but this time as a ghost, appearing after his death to King Saul after having been summoned by the Witch of Endor. To understand these events, here is some background:

The prophet Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul, however, lost God's favor, and Samuel anointed David to be king in Saul's place. At the time that this story takes place, Samuel has died and Saul is still king, while David has made an alliance with the Philistines. King Saul is about to lead the army of Israel in a battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa, and he is worried about the outcome. In desperation, he decides to consult a witch, even though he has outlawed witchcraft. So, Saul decides to put on a disguise to try to allay the witch's fears. The story you are about to read tells what happens when Saul goes to consult the witch in Endor. You can read more about the Witch of Endor at Wikipedia. And yes, Saul does die in the battle to come; you can read more about Saul's death at Wikipedia also.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Bible Women unit. Story source: King James Bible (1611): 1 Samuel 28 [LIBRIVOX AUDIO].

The Witch of Endor

And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired 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 inquire 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.

And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, "Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me. Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way."

But he refused, and said, "I will not eat."

But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.

And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof. And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat.

Then they rose up, and went away that night.

Next: Bathsheba

(700 words)

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