His Word ... a prophetic perspective

Familiar spirits, divination, witch, medium and necromancer

        God has laid the ground rules for Christians in the Bible in the areas of turning to supernatural sources for information. In this article I’m attempting to show how various commentators have viewed what God has said and also discuss the meanings of words in the foundational Bible verses stated in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There are many other biblical verses which expand on these principles.
        Subjects discussed in this article:

Background of Divination and Magic

What Is A Medium

Foundational Bible Verses About Abominable Supernatural Sources Of Information

Abominations:

Abomination Practitioners Are Defiled Before God

Saul And The Witch Of Endor

God’s Spiritual Sovereignty

The Case Against A Medium

Background of Divination and Magic

        From Holman’s Bible Dictionary: “Divination and Magic—An attempt to contact supernatural powers to determine answers to questions hidden to humans and usually involving the future. The practice was widely known in the ancient Middle East, especially among the Babylonians who developed it into a highly respected discipline. Ezekiel 21:21 records, “For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver.”
        “The ancient Babylonians and Assyrians employed several methods. The Babylonians commonly used hepatoscopy, divination by the liver. The liver of a sacrificial animal by virtue of being considered the seat of life could be observed carefully by specially trained priests to determine the future activities of the gods. For this purpose the priests underwent ceremonial cleansings in preparing to interpret the livers which had carefully been divided into zones, each containing its own secrets. This was done before action was taken on any matter of real gravity. Clay models of animal livers apparently used as instructional tools in teaching the science of hepatoscopy appear in archaeological sites in Babylonia and in Palestine.
        “Other methods included augury (foretelling the future by natural signs, especially the flight of birds), hydromancy (divination by mixing liquids; see Gen. 44:5), casting lots (Jonah 1:7-8), astrology (2 Kings 21:5), necromancy (1 Sam. 28:7-25), observing the Urim and Thummim (1 Sam. 28:6), and by consulting the liver (Ezek. 21:21).
        “The use of magic is seen often in the literature of the ancient Middle East, employed both by the gods and by human beings. As superhumans, the gods themselves were subject to the higher power of magic. In Enuma Elish, the Babylonian Creation Story, the god of wisdom, Ea, killed his father Apsu, god of the fresh river waters, after reciting a spell. In the same epic, Marduk, the leader of the pantheon, went into battle against Tiamat, goddess of the chaotic sea, with a talisman of red paste in his mouth. Likewise, Tiamat relied on the recitation of a charm to cast a spell. To demonstrate his supreme position in the godhead, Marduk through the magical power of his word caused a piece of cloth to vanish and to reappear. To assure her reappearance on the earth, Ishtar, the goddess of love and fertility, donned charms before descending to the underworld.
        “Similar beliefs in magic are evident from ancient Canaanite myths. The supreme Canaanite deity El acted to heal the ill king Keret by working magic. The goddess Anath through magical means restored the dead Baal to the earth. Paghat, the daughter of the legendary king Daniel, observed the movements of water and of the stars.
        “The Old Testament often attests to the practice of magic by the Hebrews themselves, reflecting how entrenched it was. Saul, the first Hebrew king, is said to have “put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land” (1 Sam. 28:3), but even he later sought out a necromancer (1 Sam. 28:7). Jehu responded to the question of Joram, king of Israel, as to whether he came in peace, “What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22). Isaiah 2:6 accuses the house of Jacob of being “full of diviners from the east and of soothsayers like the Philistines” (NRSV). Isaiah 3:2-3 reflects that the society attaches the same importance to “the diviner,” “the skillful magician,” and “the expert in charms” as to “the mighty man, and the soldier, the judge, and the prophet” (RSV). Consequently, King Manasseh could make public use of such services (2 Chron. 33:6). The people acted in a similar fashion. Jeremiah 27:9 admonishes the people not to heed “your [false] prophets, ... your diviners, ... your dreamers, ... your enchanters, or your sorcerers.” (Compare 29:8).
        “Although varying kinds of divination and magic are reported to have been practiced widely in ancient Israel and among her neighbors (Deut. 18:9-14; 1 Sam. 6:2; Isa. 19:3; Ezek. 21:21; Dan. 2:2), Israel herself was clearly and firmly admonished to have no part in such activities. “You shall not practice augury or witchcraft” (Lev. 19:26 RSV). “Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out to be defiled by them” (Lev. 19:3 RSV). “If a person turns to mediums and wizards playing the harlot after them, I will set my face against that person and cut him off from among his people” (Lev. 20:6 RSV). “A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 20:27 RSV). “When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). “You shall no more see delusive visions nor practice divination” (Ezek. 13:23 RSV).”

What Is A Medium

        Also from Holman’s Bible Dictionary: “Medium—One possessed by (Lev. 20:22) or consulting (Deut. 18:11) a ghost or spirit of the dead, especially for information about the future. Acting as a medium was punishable by stoning (Lev. 20:27); consulting a medium, by exclusion from the congregation of Israel (Lev. 20:6). The transformation of Saul from one who expelled mediums (1 Sam. 28:3) to one who consulted a medium at En-dor (28:8-19) graphically illustrates his fall.
        “The Hebrew word translated medium (ob) may refer to the spirit of a dead person, to the medium possessed by the spirit, or to images used to conjure up spirits. Manasseh made such images (2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6). Josiah destroyed them as part of his reforms (2 Kings 23:24). Saul’s success in quickly locating a medium (1 Sam. 28:8) points both to the popularity of the practice of consulting the dead and the difficulty of eradicating it.
        “Isaiah 8:19 suggests a possible connection between the consulting of mediums and ancestor worship. Those to be consulted are termed “fathers” and “gods.” (Compare 1 Sam. 28:13 where Samuel is described as elohim or “god.”) The chirping and muttering of the spirits perhaps refers to the inarticulate sounds which must be interpreted by the medium. Consulting of mediums defiled the land and was described as prostitution. God’s people were to trust God in times of distress and not resort to other “gods” in an attempt to learn the future.”

Foundational Bible Verses About Abominable Supernatural Sources Of Information

Leviticus 19:26-28:
        26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
        27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
        28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:31:
        31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:6:
        6 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 18:9-14:
        9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
        10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
        11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
        12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
        13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.
        14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Abominations:

        The words and phrases used in these verses referring to activities which are an abomination to God are:
        Strong’s Concordance: enchantment–nachash; a primitive root; properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate. Variously translated in the King James Version as: X certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) X enchantment, learn by experience, X indeed, diligently observe.
        [In Strong’s Concordance X denotes a rendering in the A.V. that results from an idiom peculiar to the Hebrew.]
        Strong’s Concordance: observe times–anan; a primitive root; to cover; used only as a denominative from 6051, to cloud over; figuratively, to act covertly, i.e. practise magic. Translated in the KJV as X bring, enchanter, Meonemin, observe (-r of) times, soothsayer, sorcerer.
        Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Defintion anan:
        1) (Piel) to make appear, to produce, to bring (clouds)
        2) (Poel) to practice soothsaying, to conjure
        a) to observe times, to practice soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury or witchcraft
        b) a soothsayer, an enchanter, a sorceress, a diviner, a fortune-teller, a barbarian, the Meonenim (participle)
        Jamieson, Fausset and Brown comments on Leviticus 19:26: “neither . . . use enchantment, nor observe times—The former refers to divination by serpents—one of the earliest forms of enchantment, and the other means the observation, literally, of clouds, as a study of the appearance and motion of clouds was a common way of foretelling good or bad fortune. Such absurd but deep-rooted superstitions often put a stop to the prosecution of serious and important transactions, but they were forbidden especially as implying a want of faith in the being, or of reliance on the providence of God.”
        Strong’s Concordance: familiar spirits–owb; from the same as ab; a primitive word; father, in a literal and immediate, or figurative and remote application, (apparently through the idea of prattling a father’s name); properly, a mumble, i.e. a water skin (from its hollow sound); hence a necromancer (ventriloquist, as from a jar). Translated in the KJV as bottle, familiar spirit.
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary–SPIRIT (OF THE DEAD), NECROMANCER ob, “spirit (of the dead); necromancer; pit.” This word has cognates in Sumerian, Akkadian, and Ugaritic, where the meanings “pit” and “spirit of one who has died” occur. In its earliest appearances (Sumerian), ob refers to a pit out of which a departed spirit may be summoned. Later Assyrian texts use this word to denote simply a pit in the ground. Akkadian texts describe a deity that is the personification of the pit, to whom a particular exorcism ritual was addressed. Biblical Hebrew attests this word 16 times.
        The word usually represents the troubled spirit (or spirits) of the dead. This meaning appears unquestionably in (Isa. 29:4): “...thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.”
        Its second meaning, “necromancer,” refers to a professional who claims to summon forth such spirits when requested (or hired) to do so: “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards” (Lev. 19:31)—first occurrence. These mediums summoned their “guides” from a hole in the ground. Saul asked the medium (witch) of Endor, “Divine for me from the hole [ob] (1 Sam. 28:8), author’s translation.
        God forbade Israel to seek information by this means, which was so common among the pagans (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:11). Perhaps the pagan belief in manipulating one’s basic relationship to a god (or gods) explains the relative silence of the Old Testament regarding life after death. Yet God’s people believed in life after death, from early times [e. g., (Gen. 37:35; Isa. 14:15ff.)].
        Necromancy was so contrary to God’s commands that its practitioners were under the death penalty (Deut. 13). Necromancers’ unusual experiences do not prove that they truly had power to summon the dead. For example, the medium of Endor could not snatch Samuel out of God’s hands against His wishes. But in this particular incident, it seems that God rebuked Saul’s apostasy, either through a revived Samuel or through a vision of Samuel. Mediums do not have power to summon the spirits of the dead, since this is reprehensible to God and contrary to His will.
        Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Familiar spirit—Sorcerers or necromancers, who professed to call up the dead to answer questions, were said to have a “familiar spirit” (Deut. 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Isa. 8:19; 29:4). Such a person was called by the Hebrews an ob, which properly means a leathern bottle; for sorcerers were regarded as vessels containing the inspiring demon. This Hebrew word was equivalent to the pytho of the Greeks, and was used to denote both the person and the spirit which possessed him (Lev. 20:27; 1 Sam. 28:8; comp. Acts 16:16). The word “familiar” is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a “household servant,” and was intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands.
        Strong’s Concordance: wizards-yidde oniy; from yada a primitive root; to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.); properly, a knowing one; specifically, a conjurer; (by impl) a ghost. Translated in the KJV as wizard.
        Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Definitionyidde oniy–a knower, one who has a familiar spirit; a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer (metonymy).
        Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Wizard—a pretender to supernatural knowledge and power, “a knowing one,” as the original Hebrew word signifies. Such an one was forbidden on pain of death to practise his deceptions (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam. 28:3; Isa. 8:19; 19:3).
        (diviner is discussed under the subhead “Saul And The Witch Of Endor”)
        Strong’s Concordance: qecem; a lot: also divination (including its fee), oracle. Translated in the KJV as (reward of) divination, divine sentence, witchcraft.
        Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Divination—of false prophets (Deut. 18:10, 14; Micah 3:6, 7, 11), of necromancers (1 Sam. 28:8), of the Philistine priests and diviners (1 Sam. 6:2), of Balaam (Josh. 13:22). Three kinds of divination are mentioned in Ezek. 21:21, by arrows, consulting with images (the teraphim), and by examining the entrails of animals sacrificed. The practice of this art seems to have been encouraged in ancient Egypt. Diviners also abounded among the aborigines of Canaan and the Philistines (Isa. 2:6; 1 Sam. 28). At a later period multitudes of magicians poured from Chaldea and Arabia into the land of Israel, and pursued their occupations (Isa. 8:19; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6). This superstition widely spread, and in the time of the apostles there were “vagabond Jews, exorcists” (Acts 19:13), and men like Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), Bar-jesus (13:6, 8), and other jugglers and impostors (19:19; 2 Tim. 3:13). Every species and degree of this superstition was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:27; Deut. 18:10, 11).
        But beyond these various forms of superstition, there are instances of divination on record in the Scriptures by which God was pleased to make known his will.
        (1.) There was divination by lot, by which, when resorted to in matters of moment, and with solemnity, God intimated his will (Josh. 7:13). The land of Canaan was divided by lot (Num. 26:55, 56); Achan’s guilt was detected (Josh. 7:16-19), Saul was elected king (1 Sam. 10:20, 21), and Matthias chosen to the apostleship, by the solemn lot (Acts 1:26). It was thus also that the scape-goat was determined (Lev. 16:8-10).
        (2.) There was divination by dreams (Gen. 20:6; Deut. 13:1, 3; Judg. 7:13, 15; Matt. 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22). This is illustrated in the history of Joseph (Gen. 41:25-32) and of Daniel (2:27; 4:19-28).
        (3.) By divine appointment there was also divination by the Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21), and by the ephod.
        (4.) God was pleased sometimes to vouch-safe direct vocal communications to men (Deut. 34:10; Ex. 3:4; 4:3; Deut. 4:14, 15; 1 Kings 19:12). He also communed with men from above the mercy-seat (Ex. 25:22), and at the door of the tabernacle (Ex. 29:42, 43).
        (5.) Through his prophets God revealed himself, and gave intimations of his will (2 Kings 13:17; Jer. 51:63, 64).
        Strong’s Concordance: kashaph; a primitive root; properly, to whisper a spell, i.e. to inchant or practise magic. Translated in the KJV as sorcerer, (use) witch (-craft).
        Charmer is two words:
        “Chabar”—Strong’s Concordance: chabar; a primitive root; to join (literally or figuratively); specifically (by means of spells) to fascinate. Translated in the KJV as charm (-er), be compact, couple (together), have fellowship with, heap up, join (self, together), league.
        “Chebar”—Strong’s Concordance: cheber; from chabar; a society; also a spell. Translated in the KJV as + charmer (-ing), company, enchantment, X wide.
        Young’s Analytical Concordance interprets these two words as “to join a joining, fascinate.”
        The NET Bible’s note on this verse says it is: ““a binder of binding.” The connotation is that of immobilizing (“binding”) someone or something by the use of magical words (cf. Ps 58:6; Isa 47:9, 12).”
        Easton’s Bible Dictionary
: Charmer—one who practises serpent-charming (Ps. 58:5; Jer. 8:17; Eccl. 10:11). It was an early and universal opinion that the most venomous reptiles could be made harmless by certain charms or by sweet sounds. It is well known that there are jugglers in India and in other Eastern lands who practise this art at the present day.
        In Isa. 19:3 the word “charmers” is the rendering of the Hebrew ittim, meaning, properly, necromancers (R.V. marg., “whisperers”). In Deut. 18:11 the word “charmer” means a dealer in spells, especially one who, by binding certain knots, was supposed thereby to bind a curse or a blessing on its object. In Isa. 3:3 the words “eloquent orator” should be, as in the Revised Version, “skilful enchanter.”
        “Necromancer” is a phrase consisting of three words:
        Strong’s Concordance:
        Darash; a primitive root; properly, to tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by implication, to seek or ask; specifically to worship. Translated in the KJV as ask, X at all, care for, X diligently, inquire, make inquisition, [necro-] mancer, question, require, search, seek [for, out], X surely.
        El; (but only used in the shortened constructive form el (el)); a primitive particle; properly, denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, i.e. near, with or among; often in general, to. Translated in the KJV as about, according to after, against, among, as for, at, because (-fore, -side), both ... and, by, concerning, for, from, X hath, in (-to), near, (out) of, over, through, to (-ward), under, unto, upon, whether, with (-in).
        Muwth; a primitive root: to die (literally or figuratively); causatively, to kill. Translated in the KJV as X at all, X crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy (-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro [-mancer], X must needs, slay, X surely, X very suddenly, X in [no] wise.
        Young’s Analytical Concordance translates “necromancer” in Deuteronomy 18:11 as: “to inquire at the dead.”
        Jay P. Green, Sr. Literal Translation of the Bible translates Deuteronomy 18:11 as: “one inquiring of the dead.”
        The NET Bible translates Deuteronomy 18:11 as: “a seeker of the dead.”
        Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Necromancer—(Deut. 15:11), i.e., “one who interrogates the dead,” as the word literally means, with the view of discovering the secrets of futurity (comp. 1 Sam. 28:7).

Abomination Practitioners Are Defiled Before God

        God says that a person who gives credence to those who engage in such practices are “defiled.”
Lev 19:31
        31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
        The word “defiled” according to Strong’s Concordance is tame; a primitive root; to be foul, especially in a ceremonial or moral sense (contaminated). It’s translated in the KJV as defile (self), pollute (self), be (make, makeself, pronounce) unclean, X utterly.
        Vine’s Expository Dictionary says about the word tame: UNCLEAN, TO BE tame; “to be unclean.” This root is limited to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. The verb occurs 160 times in biblical Hebrew and mainly in Leviticus, as in (Lev. 11:26): “The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.” Tame is the opposite of taher, “to be pure.”

Saul And The Witch Of Endor

        1 Samuel 28 describes how after King Saul had disobeyed God because Saul had rejected the word of God, that God rejected Saul from being king and the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. Instead, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. Eventually Samuel died and Saul “had put those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.”
        When Saul faced a crisis, and “inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.” Saul then sought out a “woman that hath a familiar spirit” to inquire of her.
        In Saul’s meeting with the witch of Endor, note that Saul said “... divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.”
        “Divine” is qacam, Strong’s Definition is: a primitive root; properly, to distribute, i.e. determine by lot or magical scroll; by implication, to divine.
        Excerpts from Vine’s Expository Dictionary on this word, “qacam–“to divine, practice divination.” ... Divination was a pagan parallel to prophesying: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination.... For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; you shall listen to him” (Deut. 18:10,14-15)—first occurrence. ... Qacam is a seeking after the will of the gods, in an effort to learn their future action or divine blessing on some proposed future action (Josh. 13:22). It seems probable that the diviners conversed with demons (1 Cor. 10:20).
        “The practice of divination ... might also involve the use of a hole in the ground, through which the diviner spoke to the spirits of the dead (1 Sam. 28:8). At other times, a diviner might shake arrows, consult with household idols, or study the livers of dead animals (Ezek. 21:21).
        “Divination was one of man’s attempts to know and control the world and the future, apart from the true God. It was the opposite of true prophecy, which essentially is submission to God’s sovereignty (Deut. 18:14).”
        Saul knew very well what he was asking for. He also stated “bring me him up”
        Strong’s Concordance defines the word “up,” alah, as “a primitive root; to ascend, intransitively (be high) or actively (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literal and figurative.” A snippet from Vine’s Expository Dictionary on the word, alah, mentions that “Basically, alah suggests movement from a lower to a higher place. That is the emphasis in (Gen. 2:6) (the first occurrence of the word), which reports that Eden was watered by a mist or stream that “went up” over the ground.”
        Saul knew that he was invoking a pagan parallel to true prophecy and that when he requested the presence of Samuel that Samuel would not descend from heaven, but would be brought up from the earth.
        When the apparition did, in fact, appear to the witch, “... she cried with a loud voice ...” which very strongly emphasizes that she was stunned, and probably terrified at what she then saw. The entity apparently then immediately identified Saul for the witch. When Saul asked her what she saw she replied that “... I saw gods ascending out of the earth.” “Gods” is elohyim, which according to Strong’s Concordance is a plural word for gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative and translated in the KJV as angels, X exceeding, God (gods)- dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.
        Apparently the witch was not expecting to see what she saw come up out of the earth and shrieked in shock and terror and then described the apparition as “gods.”
        That Saul saw nothing is clear from the biblical text as he asked the witch “... what form is he of ...” The witch then described what she saw and then Saul “perceived” that it was Saul.
        “Perceived” is yada and an excerpt from Vine’s Expository Dictionary tells us “yada, “to know,” ... Essentially yada means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The first sense appears in (Gen. 8:11), where Noah “knew” the waters had abated as a result of seeing the freshly picked olive leaf in the dove’s mouth; he “knew” it after observing and thinking about what he had seen. He did not actually see or experience the abatement himself.
        “In contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing).”
        Since Saul had to ask the witch what she saw, it’s clear that Saul “perceived” this by simply thinking that it was Saul, as his visual senses were not involved.
        The dialog that followed between Samuel and Saul suggests that they talked directly to each other. However, more probably the witch acted as a proxy for the apparition, however this is conjectural. One statement by “Samuel” is revealing in that he said, “Why hath thou disquieted me, to bring me up?”
        The word “disquieted” according to Strong’s Concordance is ragaz; a primitive root; to quiver (with any violent emotion, especially anger or fear). It’s translated in the KJV as be afraid, stand in awe, disquiet, fall out, fret, move, provoke, quake, rage, shake, tremble, trouble, be wroth.
        Why would there be a violent emotion, here, of anger? (Fear is not implied anywhere in the biblical text.)
        This whole incident, from the reaction of stunned terror by the witch describing a plurality of spiritual beings arising from the earth, Saul’s presumption in assuming the plurality of spiritual beings to be the singular spirit of Samuel to the violent emotional anger expressed by the supernatural entity all suggest that this was not a “normal” happening for the witch.
        Instead it strongly suggests that God Himself, in His continuing anger at Saul for having disobeyed Him, intervened in this account to deliver a prophecy to Saul that he had now come full circle in his transgressions of rebellion and doing abominable practices and would now die for them.

God’s Spiritual Sovereignty

        Are there other biblical examples of God directly intervening and causing departed spirits to appear on earth for His sovereign purposes? Yes, there are.
        In Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36 Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus and were seen by Peter, James and John. Luke says that Moses and Elijah “... appeared in glory ...” which term would indicate they were in their spiritual bodies.
        In Luke 16:19-31 there is a rich man in hell, and a beggar named Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, i.e., a place of blessedness, as explained in this excerpt from Vine’s Expository Dictionary: “bosom, kolpos, signifies (a) “the front of the body between the arms;” hence, to recline in the “bosom” was said of one who so reclined at table that his head covered, as it were, the “bosom” of the one next to him, (John 13:23). Hence, figuratively, it is used of a place of blessedness with another, as with Abraham in paradise, (Luke 16:22-23) (plural in (v. 23)), from the custom of reclining at table in the “bosom,” a place of honor; of the Lord’s eternal and essential relation with the Father, in all its blessedness and affection as intimated in the phrase, “The Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18) ...”

The Case Against A Medium

        Since there is “... a great gulf fixed ...” between the place of torment and the place of blessedness, it’s logical to understand that there must also be a great gulf fixed between the dead and living, which gulf can only be crossed over by God Himself according to His sovereign purposes. “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26).
        The rich man wanted to send Lazarus to testify to his brothers so they wouldn’t wind up where he was, to which Abraham replied: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).
        Since the Bible is clear that the dead cannot persuade the living—if they could appear to them—and God has expressed that such counterfeit attempts are an abomination to Him, why would He then allow such things to happen with the frequency reported by secular news and media entertainment?
        Only God in His power and wisdom for His sovereign purposes can do so.
        God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, willingly died for the sin of humankind to satisfy His justice and then He arose from the dead and lives today in an eternally human/divine body. His purpose? To redeem humanity, reveal the kingdom of God to us, and to restore us to our proper place in creation.
        With such a high and lofty Godly standard before us, how could anyone even suggest that some lesser purpose could be fulfilled by the dead attempting to communicate with the living?


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