Where are the Dead –
According to the Bible?


THE WITCH OF ENDOR – Proof of Survival After Death?

Some of those who believe a soul survives the death of the body – and may thus communicate with the living – point to the case of Saul and the Witch of Endor. This account is found in the Bible at 1 Samuel 28:3-20. Is this a case of the living communicating with the dead? Consider the reasons it does not.

a. God condemns those who seek to communicate with the dead.

Exodus 22:18: "You must not preserve a sorceress alive.”

Leviticus 19:31: “Do not turn yourselves to the spirit mediums, and do not consult professional foretellers of events, so as to become unclean by them. I am Jehovah YOUR God.”

Leviticus 20:6: “As for the soul who turns himself to the spirit mediums and the professional foretellers of events so as to have immoral intercourse with them, I shall certainly set my face against that soul and cut him off from among his people.”

Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “Anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”

b. Jehovah would not answer Saul so he violated God’s law.

1 Samuel 28:3: “As for Saul, he had removed the spirit mediums and the professional foretellers of events from the land. … (1 Samuel 28:6, 7) Although Saul would inquire of Jehovah, Jehovah never answered him, either by dreams or by the U'rim or by the prophets. [Would either Jehovah or Samuel violate God’s own law by appearing through a spirit medium?] 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."

c. Saul did not really see Samuel but presumed it from the witch’s description. Saul let himself be deceived.

1 Samuel 28:8-20: “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." 9 However, the woman said to him: "Here you yourself well know what Saul did, how he cut off the spirit mediums and the professional foretellers of events from the land. Why, then, are you acting like a trapper against my soul to have me put to death?" 10 Immediately Saul swore to her by Jehovah, saying: "As Jehovah is alive, guilt for error will not befall you in this matter!" 11 At this the woman said: "Whom shall I bring up for you?" To this he said: "Bring up Samuel for me." 12 When the woman saw ‘Samuel’ she began crying out at the top of her voice; and the woman went on to say to Saul: "Why did you trick me, when you yourself are Saul?" 13 But the king said to her: "Do not be afraid, but what did you see?" [Saul does not see anything.] And the woman went on to say to Saul: "A god I saw coming up out of the earth." [She does not identify this as Samuel but ‘a god’.] 14 At once he said to her: "What is his form?" to which she said: "It is an old man coming up, and he has himself covered with a sleeveless coat." At that Saul recognized that it was "Samuel," and he proceeded to bow low with his face to the earth and to prostrate himself. [He assumes it was Samuel.]

15 And ‘Samuel’ began to say to Saul: "Why have you disturbed me by having me brought up?" To this Saul said: "I am in very sore straits, as the Phi·lis'tines are fighting against me, and God himself has departed from me and has answered me no more, either by means of the prophets or by dreams; so that I am calling you to let me know what I shall do." [Why would “Samuel’ violate his own command to wipe out mediums or witches as well as God’s own commandments?] 16 And ‘Samuel’ went on to say: … 19 And Jehovah will also give Israel with you into the hand of the Phi·lis'tines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. [All Saul’s sons did not die.] Even the camp of Israel Jehovah will give into the hand of the Phi·lis'tines." 20 At that Saul quickly fell down his full length to the earth and became very much afraid because of ‘Samuel's’ words.”

d. The idea contradicts the Bible truth about death (Ps 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 3:19-21; 9:4, 5, 10)

e. “A god” or demonic spirit spoke, not Samuel

1 Samuel 28:13 (LXX) reads: “I saw gods [theous] ascending.” The Hebrew here is elohiym or “gods” which may mean angels (i.e. among the fallen angels or demons).

Summary: as proof of survival of the soul after death it contradicts the Bible’s teachings. God forbid such necromancy. It is clear “gods” or demons appeared to the spiritistic witch and not Samuel.

Nazarene Commentary 2000

Mark Heber Miller

2000 All Rights Reserved