Samuel Summoned From The Dead?

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Sep 10, 2018.

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  1. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Here is William Blaikie's comment:

    “But what was it that really happened, and how did it come about? That the woman was able, even if she really had the aid of evil spirits, to bring Samuel into Saul’s presence we cannot believe. Nor could she believe it herself. If Samuel really appeared—and the narrative assumes that he did—it must have been by a direct miracle, God supernaturally clothing his spirit in something like its old form, and bringing him back to earth to speak to Saul. In judgment it seemed good to God to let Saul have his desire, and to give him a real interview with Samuel. ‘He gave him his request, but sent leanness to his soul.’ So far from having his fears allayed and his burden removed, Saul was made to see from Samuel’s communication that there was nothing but ruin before him; and he must have gone back to the painful duty of the morrow staggering under a load heavier than before.”—W. G. Blaikie, First Book of Samuel, pp. 409-410.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I spend a lot of time in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Abe Lincoln impersonators are not uncommon. Is it more "natural" to call them "Abe" in passing or inquire about their real name?

    I suspect that the demon had characteristics that identified him to Saul as Samuel. Perhaps it has a real name, although this would be irrelevant to the narrative. Since deceiving Saul would have been the demon's intention and Saul's perception, there is nothing unnatural about calling him Samuel in the text.

    In my mind, this issue isn't one worth too much debate. It is a highly unusual passage as had been noted.
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The only difficulty with that is the OT has words that the LXX would later translate as "demon." Words like Rephaim and shedim. It doesn't use those. It uses elohim, which is a resident of the unseen realm, and it identifies that elohim as Samuel
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    But yes, you are correct. this isn't the most important issue to debate. It is interesting insofar as the answers one gives reflects one's prior assumptions on Ancient Near Eastern culture and the supernatural.
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    Have you read Michael Heiser's write up about this passage in the "Bible Unfiltered?" He also takes the position that it was Samuel.
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    No. I've read his Don't Bore me with the Bible, which was okay. I haven't read that one. I searched for this episode on his website, but nothing substantial came up. I knew that he held it was Samuel, given his prior argument that shades of the dead were in the taxonomy of elohim.
  7. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Daniel Waterland:

    There has been a great variety of sentiments among the learned and very different accounts have been given of this famed adventure.

    I. The truth of the case. Some have thought that there was nothing more in it than trick and legerdemain, whereby a cunning woman imposed upon Soul’s credulity. But this opinion is highly improbable. For, if the woman had the sole conducting of that affair, intending only to impose upon Saul, she would most undoubtedly have contrived to make the pretended Samuel’s answer as agreeable and pleasing to the King as possible, and that for her own sake especially; for fear of offending Saul, and to save her own life, as well as to procure from Him the larger gratuity. For it must be observed further, that what was here spoken as from Samuel was really prophetic, and was punctually fulfilled a few days after. None but God Himself could have revealed the secret. And how unlikely is it that God should make use of this sorceress as a prophetess, and should give her the honour of revealing his counsels. For these reasons, we may presume to think and judge that the matter here related was not all a mere juggle or contrivance of an artful woman, but something more. There was most certainly an apparition in the ease, either of Samuel’s ghost, or of some other spirit personating Samuel. I incline to think that Samuel really appeared. The reasons for this interpretation are as follow:

    1. This method of proceeding is very conformable to what God had been pleased to do before, in other cases of like nature. As Balak had recourse to sorceries and divinations in hopes to procure some relief, or fair promises at least from them. In like manner when King Ahaziah had sent to consult Beelzebub, the demon of Ekron, to know whether he should recover of the sickness he then lay under, hoping, no doubt, to obtain a favourable answer there, as probably he might have done; God Himself took care to anticipate the answer by Elijah the Prophet, who assured the messengers, meeting them by the way, that their master Ahaziah should not recover, but should surely die. Thus probably was it in the case of Saul.

    2. This interpretation is plain and natural, and least forced of any, agreeing well with the words of the text. The story is here told in such a way as one would expect to find, upon the supposition it really was Samuel. So that if we consider the letter of the text, and the most obvious and natural construction of it we shall be obliged to confess that the apparition was really Samuel and no other.

    3. This construction is very ancient, the most ancient of any; and seems indeed to have been the general persuasion of the Jewish Church long before the coming of Christ. (Sirach 46:20). In the same sentiments was Josephus the Jewish historian, who lived in the apostle’s times; and thus thought many of the earliest Christian fathers.

    II. Objections answered.

    1. It is objected that the text speaks of bringing up Samuel as it were out of the ground; whereas, if it had been Samuel, he should rather have come down from heaven. But the true reason why Samuel is represented as being brought up is because his body was under ground, to which his soul was still conceived to bear a relation; and it was upon this chiefly, that the popular prevailing notion of all separate souls being in the heart of the earth, was founded.

    2. But it is further objected that the apparition here in the person of Samuel complains to Saul of being disquieted or disturbed by him. But God Almighty with whom the spirits of just men made perfect dwell, might please to send Samuel upon that occasion, to deliver the message from him.

    3. But it is further objected that it is hard to give a reason why God, Who had refused to answer Saul either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets, should at length vouchsafe to answer him in such a way as this, and by the mediation of a wicked sorceress. But it may be easy to account for God’s answering Saul in this way, as it was exposing and afflicting him more severely than in any other, after he had richly deserved it.

    4. But it is still further objected that the predictions of the apparition, under the name of Samuel, were not true, and therefore could not be Samuel’s. But the things foretold were exactly verified, and the event answered to the prophecy in every particular. The things came to pass four or five days after. It says, Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me. But it is acknowledged by the best critics that the word which we render in English, tomorrow, may as welt be rendered very shortly, which it really signifies in this place.

    5. Well, but is it not said, Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me? Was Saul, then, so wicked a man, to go after death to the same blessed place with righteous Samuel? The text determines nothing at all of the state of either after death, All that is meant by the words, Thou shalt be with me, is, Thou shalt die; add so it proved.
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