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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 28


In those days the Philistines mustered their military forces to fight against Israel. So Achish said to David, "You realize, of course, that you and your men must go out on campaign with me to Jezreel."


David answered Achish, "Good! Now you shall learn what your servant can do." Then Achish said to David, "I shall appoint you my permanent bodyguard."


Now Samuel had died and, after being mourned by all Israel, was buried in his city, Ramah. Meanwhile Saul had driven mediums and fortune-tellers out of the land.


The Philistine levies advanced to Shunem and encamped. Saul, too, mustered all Israel; they camped on Gilboa.


When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was dismayed and lost heart completely.


He therefore consulted the LORD; but the LORD gave no answer, whether in dreams or by the Urim or through prophets.


Then Saul said to his servants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, to whom I can go to seek counsel through her." His servants answered him, "There is a woman in Endor who is a medium."


So he disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and set out with two companions. They came to the woman by night, and Saul said to her, "Tell my fortune through a ghost; conjure up for me the one I ask you to."


But the woman answered him, "You are surely aware of what Saul has done, in driving the mediums and fortune-tellers out of the land. Why, then, are you laying snares for my life, to have me killed?"


But Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As the LORD lives, you shall incur no blame for this."


Then the woman asked him, "Whom do you want me to conjure up?" and he answered, "Samuel."


1 When the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked at the top of her voice and said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!"


But the king said to her, "Have no fear. What do you see?" The woman answered Saul, "I see a preternatural being rising from the earth."


"What does he look like?" asked Saul. And she replied, "It is an old man who is rising, clothed in a mantle." Saul knew that it was Samuel, and so he bowed face to the ground in homage.


Samuel then said to Saul, "Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up?" Saul replied: "I am in great straits, for the Philistines are waging war against me and God has abandoned me. Since he no longer answers me through prophets or in dreams, I have called you to tell me what I should do."


To this Samuel said: "But why do you ask me, if the LORD has abandoned you and is with your neighbor?


The LORD has done to you what he foretold through me: he has torn the kingdom from your grasp and has given it to your neighbor David.


"Because you disobeyed the LORD'S directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the LORD has done this to you today.


Moreover, the LORD will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the clutches of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the LORD will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines."


Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, for he was badly shaken by Samuel's message. Moreover, he had no bodily strength left, since he had eaten nothing all that day and night.


Then the woman came to Saul, and seeing that he was quite terror-stricken, said to him: "Remember, your maidservant obeyed you: I took my life in my hands and fulfilled the request you made of me.


Now you, in turn, please listen to your maidservant. Let me set something before you to eat, so that you may have strength when you go on your way."


But he refused, saying, "I will not eat." However, when his servants joined the woman in urging him, he listened to their entreaties, got up from the ground, and sat on a couch.


The woman had a stall-fed calf in the house, which she now quickly slaughtered. Then taking flour, she kneaded it and baked unleavened bread.


She set the meal before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they stood up and left the same night.



1 [12] Human beings cannot communicate at will with the souls of the dead. God may, however, permit a departed soul to appear to the living and even to disclose things unknown to them. Saul's own prohibition of necromancy and divination ( 1 Sam 28:3) was in keeping with the consistent teaching of the Old Testament. If we are to credit the reality of the apparition to Saul, it was due, not to the summons of the witch, but to God's will; the woman merely furnished the occasion.

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