And the king said to her, Be not afraid: for what saw you? And the woman said to Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE):13
(13) I saw gods ascending out of the earth.—The king at once calms the witch’s fears for her life, and impatiently, as it would seem, asks what she saw which called forth the cry of fear and terror. “Gods”—this is the rendering of the Hebrew word Elohim. The English Version, however, follows the majority of the Versions here. The Chaldee translates the word by “angels.” Corn, à Lapide and the best modern scholars, however, reasoning from Saul’s words which immediately follow—“What is his form?”—suppose the Elohim to signify, not a plurality of appearances, but one God-like form: something majestic and august. The feeling, however, of antiquity seems to have been in favour of more than one supernatural form entering into the En-dor dwelling on that awful night. Besides the testimony of the Versions above referred to, the passage in the Babylonian Talmud treatise Chaggigah, quoted below, speaks of two positively spirit forms-Samuel and another.1 Samuel 28:13. The woman said, I saw gods ascending — The original word here used is elohim; and is with equal propriety rendered God, a god, or gods; when spoken of Jehovah it is translated God in the Scriptures; but when meant of the false gods of the heathen, of angels or of magistrates, which it sometimes is, it is generally rendered in the plural number. As it is plain the woman saw and spoke only of one person, it should evidently be translated a god here, that is, a divine or glorious person, full of majesty and splendour, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. Dr. Waterland renders it, a venerable person, and Mr. Locke says, it here signifies an angel or a judge, and that in the singular number. The same word certainly means magistrates, Psalm 82:1-6.1 Samuel 28:19; 2 Samuel 12:23) is represented as under the earth Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 32:18.
gods, either after the manner of the Hebrew language, which commonly useth that word of one person; or after the language and custom of the heathens. But the whole coherence shows that it was but one. For Saul desired but one, 1 Samuel 28:11, and he inquires and the woman answers only of one, 1 Samuel 28:14. Ascending out of the earth, as if it came from the place of the dead.
and the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth; a great personage, one of a majestic form, like the gods, or judges and civil magistrates, sometimes so called, as Kimchi and R. Isaiah rightly interpret it; and so the Targum,"I saw an angel of the Lord;''a person that looked like one; for not many came up with him, and particularly Moses, as say some Jewish writers (d).And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. gods] The Heb. word Elôhîm is plural, and when not applied to God Himself is generally to be so rendered. But it is evident from 1 Samuel 28:14 that only a single figure appeared. Elôhîm here denotes a supernatural, non-earthly being; or as Josephus paraphrases it, “one of god-like form.”Verse 13. - What sawest thou? Thus far Saul had seen nothing; and as the words literally are What seest thou? it is plain that she had not gone into another room, as some have supposed. The vision was entirely unsubstantial, and Saul, hearing her cry, and observing her excitement, and her steady gaze upon some object, asked what that object was. Probably she was at some distance from him, as was no doubt her custom when performing her incantations, in order that what she did might not be too closely observed; probably, too, she burnt odours, and surrounded herself with the smoke of incense. In answer to Saul she says, "I see Elohim ascending out of the earth." As the participle is plural, she does not mean God; nor, as it was a single appearance, is the rendering gods correct. What she means is that she saw some grand supernatural appearance rising out of the ground, which she calls a god in a general way, without attaching any very exact meaning to the term. 1 Samuel 28:7) to seek for a woman that had a familiar spirit. Baalath-ob: the mistress (or possessor) of a conjuring spirit, i.e., of a spirit with which the dead were conjured up, for the purpose of making inquiry concerning the future (see at Leviticus 19:31). There was a woman of this kind at Endor, which still exists as a village under the old name upon the northern shoulder of the Duhy or Little Hermon (see at Joshua 17:11), and therefore only two German (ten English) miles from the Israelitish camp at Gilboa.
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