What’s Up with the Witch of Endor?

Stephen Dempster | June 15, 2015


Editors' note: This series analyzes perplexing passages of the Bible. Previously:


Saul’s nighttime séance with the witch of Endor in 1 Samuel 28 is regarded as the coup de grâce on his tragic kingship of Israel. In this text, the Israelite king has reached the bottom of the moral and theological abyss in resorting to occult practices in Israel that he himself has forbidden with the death penalty, in a desperate bid to find out what will happen in an imminent battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. 

This text narrates a critical turning point in Israel’s history. The end of the first dynasty is at hand, and the tall ruler will fall as Saul, whose name means “the asked for one,”[1] asks about the future from the place of the dead—Sheol. This word means “the asking place,” perhaps because death is always asking for more.[2] The irony is that the asking place will…


To read the rest of this article, visit http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/whats-up-with-the-witch-of-endor.