555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

109. Did the Witch at Endor Really Raise the Spirit of Samuel?

Much has been written on the question whether, in the scene at Endor, an imposture or a real apparition appeared. Eustathius and a majority of the early Christian fathers held the former opinion, and repre sent it as a deception of the evil one; Origen held the latter view. It should be remembered that Saul, at the time was forsaken of God and that, rendered desperate by his sins, he had recourse to this woman, who in the Hebrew writings is described as "a mistress of Ob" or a necromancist (not a "witch") who obtained a living by pretending to have intercourse with spirits, while the Greek writers describe her as a ventriloquist. Josephus, the Jewish historian, describes her as one of a class of fortune-tellers who had been banished by the king. Saul's highly wrought nervous condition at the time, combined with the fact that he himself saw no vision or spirit, but simply listened to and accepted the necromancer's description of an aged man of godlike appearance, should be taken into consideration, and these facts doubtless influenced the early fathers in reaching the conclusion that the wretched king had been the victim of an imposition.