1 Samuel 28:12 MEANING

1 Samuel 28:12
(12) And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice.--Nothing is more clear from the narration than that the woman of En-dor saw something she never dreamed of seeing. Whatever did appear that night was different from anything she had seen before. Whether or not she was an impostor matters little to us. From the severe enactments in the Mosaic code respecting these practices, it would seem as though in the background there was something dark and sinister. At all events, on this memorable occasion, the witch was evidently amazed and appalled at the success of her enchantments. Ewald supposes that she burst into a loud cry on seeing Samuel's shade, because it ascended with such frightfully threatening gestures, as it could have used only against its deadly enemy, Saul; and she then saw that the questioner must be Saul. This can, however, only be taken as an ingenious surmise. There is a singular passage in the Chaggigah Treatise of the Babylonian Talmud (quoted below), which--contrary to the usual interpretation of the word rendered "gods" (1 Samuel 28:13)--assumes that a second form "came up" with Samuel; and one Jewish interpretation tells us that these were "judges"--so rendering the Elohim of 1 Samuel 28:13--judges robed in their judicial mantles; and it was the sight of these awful ministers of justice which appalled the consciously guilty woman. Deeply interesting, however, as are these traditions and comments, handed down probably from a school of exposiAnd the woman spake to Saul.--At this juncture the woman recognised in the unknown stranger King Saul. For a moment remembering his stern, ruthless procedure in such cases of sorcery as the one in which she was then engaged, she thinks herself betrayed, and given over to a shameful death of agony; and she turns to the king boeide her with a piteous expostulation, "Why hast thou deceived me?" The question now comes up, How did she come to recognise Saul in the unknown? Ewald's ingenious suggestion has been mentioned above. Keil suggests that the woman had fallen into a state of clairvoyance, in which she recognised persons who, like Saul in his disguise, were unknown to her by face. Josephus (6:14, 2), no doubt writing from traditional sources, asserts that Samuel had most likely revealed the presence of Saul to the witch. "Samuel saw through Saul's disguise, which had deceived her whom Saul came to consult, as he spoke to Saul as Saul. So Ahijah the prophet, though blind by age, saw through the disguise of the wife of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:2; 1 Kings 14:6)."--Bishop Wordsworth.

On the whole, Josephus's explanation is probably the true one. It was some word--probably spoken by Samuel--not related here which betrayed the king's identity to the woman. There is one other possible supposition, but it, of course, belongs to the realms of fancy. We know it was night, and Saul was disguised; no doubt his face was partially covered. Is it not to be imagined that with the appearance of the blessed prophet, with or without a companion, a light filled the dark room of the En-dor house? This would fall upon the king's face, who, in the agitation of the moment, would likely enough have thrown off the cape or mantle which shrouded his features. Something of the awful supernatural "light" Tennyson describes when he writes of the Holy Grail:--

" A gentle sound, an awful light!

Three angels bear the Holy Grail:

With folded feet in stoles of white,

On sleeping wings they sail."--Air Galahad.

Verse 12. - When the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice. Evidently the last thing that she had expected was that anything else should happen than the usual illusion by which she imposed upon her victims; nor is it certain that anything else did happen. Her assertion that she saw Samuel was probably false; and it was in feigned excitement that she cried out, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. She could not but have noticed the tall stature, the dignified manner, and also the intense excitement of her strange visitor; and when he bade her call up the spirit of Samuel, she must have been dull indeed not to know who the stranger was.

28:7-19 When we go from the plain path of duty, every thing draws us further aside, and increases our perplexity and temptation. Saul desires the woman to bring one from the dead, with whom he wished to speak; this was expressly forbidden, De 18:11. All real or pretended witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of duty. While Samuel was living, we never read of Saul's going to advise with him in any difficulties; it had been well for him if he had. But now he is dead, Bring me up Samuel. Many who despise and persecute God's saints and ministers when living, would be glad to have them again, when they are gone. The whole shows that it was no human fraud or trick. Though the woman could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be the occasion of it. The woman's surprise and terror proved that it was an unusual and unexpected appearance. Saul had despised Samuel's solemn warnings in his lifetime, yet now that he hoped, as in defiance of God, to obtain some counsel and encouragement from him, might not God permit the soul of his departed prophet to appear to Saul, to confirm his former sentence, and denounce his doom? The expression, Thou and thy sons shall be with me, means no more than that they shall be in the eternal world. There appears much solemnity in God's permitting the soul of a departed prophet to come as a witness from heaven, to confirm the word he had spoken on earth.And when the woman saw Samuel,.... The appearance of him whom she took for Samuel; no mention is made of the methods she used to raise him, to check the curiosity of such as might be desirous to know them, and to prevent the imitation of them; though some think that Samuel, or the apparition, was seen before she made use of any, which surprised her; but this seems not so probable, and is only observed for the sake of an hypothesis; though it must be owned the word "when" is not in the text:

she cried with a loud voice; not so much frightened at what she saw, and the manner of his appearing, and as thinking the resurrection of the dead was come, as say the Jews (b), as what she feared would be the consequence to her, even death by the hand of Saul; for though he had sworn no punishment should come upon her, she might begin to fear she was not safe, perceiving who he was:

and the woman spake to Saul, saying, why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul: how she knew this is a question; it could not be by the appearance of Samuel, for it was Samuel she was to bring up; unless with Ben Gersom it can be thought that she understood him of another man, whose name was Samuel, and not Samuel the prophet; and so when she saw him, concluded he was Saul, because of the intimacy between them in his lifetime; but this is not probable, nor does it appear that she as yet knew who it was, but rather she was told by her familiar spirit, or by the apparition, so Josephus (c), that it was Saul that inquired of her; or she guessed at it by some gesture of the apparition to Saul, by way of homage and honour; and so Abarbinel thinks that the clause in 1 Samuel 28:14 respects not Saul's bowing to Samuel, but Samuel bowing to Saul; and so by this means the woman knew who he was.

(b) Pirke Eliezer, c. 33. (c) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14. sect. 2.

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