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 Witch of Endor According to the story related in Samuel

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MessageSujet: Witch of Endor According to the story related in Samuel   Dim 18 Avr - 11:32

Witch of Endor According to the story related in Samuel
I of the Old Testament, the Witch of Endor was a
pythoness and necromancer who raised the spirit of
Samuel at the request of King Saul of Israel (see necromancy).
Although she is called a “witch,” it is likely not
an accurate description of her.
The Bible relates that Saul was afraid of an impending
attack by a mighty army of Philistines, who had been
joined by his rival, David. He gathered up the Israelites
and camped at Mount Gilboa. He sought advice from
prophets and divination by sacred lot and from the Lord,
but he received no answer as to his fate or the action he
should take.
Saul instructed his servants, “Seek me a woman that
hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of
394 witch-finder
her.” His servants directed him to the pythoness at Endor,
whose name is never given.
Saul disguised himself and went to the witch the same
night. At first, she was frightened that he had come to
expose her as a witch: “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?”
Saul assured the woman he meant her no harm and
instructed her to conjure Samuel from the dead. She performed
her ritual and claimed to see gods rising out of the
earth, followed by a spirit like an old man, wrapped in a
robe. Saul, who could see nothing, believed the old spirit
was Samuel and prostrated himself on the ground.
Samuel was not pleased to be disturbed from the
grave. Saul said he faced war and had been abandoned
by God. But Samuel’s reply was not what Saul wanted to
hear: that God was displeased with Saul for his disobedience
and had torn his kingdom from his hand and given it
to David. “Moreover, the Lord will also deliver Israel with
thee into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt
thou and the sons be with me: the Lord shall also deliver
the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”
Upon hearing this condemnation, Saul fell into a faint.
The spirit of Samuel vanished. The woman went to Saul
and offered him food for strength, but he refused. His servants
and the witch helped him get up. She killed a fatted
calf she had and cooked it, and made some unleavened
bread. Before he left, Saul relented and ate the meal she
offered him.
The next day, the Philistines attacked the Israelites,
who fled in terror and were slain. Saul’s sons Jonathan,
Abinadab and Malchishua were slain, and Saul was badly
wounded. Saul ordered an armor-bearer to kill him with
his sword, but the soldier refused. Saul took his sword
and fell upon it.
When the Philistines found his body, they cut off the
head, fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan and put
his armor in the temple of Astarte. His headless body
was removed by the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead, who
burned the body and buried the bones. David succeeded
Saul as King of Israel.
Among those who considered the conjuration of Samuel
to be a hoax was Reginald Scot, the 16th-century
English writer who attempted to debunk beliefs about
witchcraft in his book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Scot
devoted several chapters to a discussion of the story, asserting
that the distraught Saul was taken for a fool by a
clever woman whose familiar was a “counterfeit”:
When Saule had told hir, that he would have Samuel
brought up to him, she departed from his presence into
hir closet, where doubtles she had hir familiar; to wit,
some lewd craftie preest, and made Saule stand at the
door like a foole (as it were with his finger in a hole), to
hear the cousening [deceitful] answers, but not see the
counsening [sic] handling thereof, and the couterfetting
[sic] of the matter.
The witch, Scot said, knew who Saul was despite his
disguise. She played out her incantations, lied about seeing
gods or angels ascending from the earth and about
seeing the spirit of old Samuel. Scot discounts that such a
spirit could have been Samuel, for it was clothed in a new
mantle such as he was buried in and surely would have
been rotted by the time he was conjured.
Theologians such as Augustine and Tertullian, and
the French demonologist, Jean Bodin (a contemporary
of Scot’s), said a spirit was conjured, but it was the Devil,
not Samuel. Scot disagreed, saying the Devil would
have been banished by the word “God” or “Jehovah,”
spoken five times during the conjuration. Furthermore,
Scot said, the Devil would not appear to rebuke and
punish someone for evil but to encourage them to do
more evil.
The witch, said Scot, was a ventriloquist, “that is,
Speaking at it were from the bottome of her bellie, did
cast herself into a transe [sic] and so abused Saule, an-
Witch of Endor 395
Witch of Endor conjuring Samuel for Saul (Joseph Glanvil,
Saducismus Triumphatus , 1681 ed.)
swering to Saule in Samuels name, in his counterfeit hollow
voice.”
Further reading:
de Givry, Emile Grillot. Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. 1931.
Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1971.
Hill, Douglas, and Pat Williams. The Supernatural. London:
Aldus Books, 1965.
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