1 Samuel 28:16
Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
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(16) Seeing the Lord is departed from thee.—In other words, If Jehovah have left thee, why comest thou to consult me, His servant and prophet? The Hebrew word here translated “enemy” is only found in Psalm 139:20 and has been assumed to be an Aramaic form—ain for tsadde. There are, however, no other Aramaic forms in this book, which is written in pure “classical” Hebrew. The letter ain, or the first letter in the text here, through a very slight error of the copyist, could easily have been altered from tsadde, the first letter of the usual word for “enemy.” The LXX. and Vulg. Versions apparently had another reading before them, for they translate the last clause of the verse, “and is with thy neighbours.”

28:7-19 When we go from the plain path of duty, every thing draws us further aside, and increases our perplexity and temptation. Saul desires the woman to bring one from the dead, with whom he wished to speak; this was expressly forbidden, De 18:11. All real or pretended witchcraft or conjuration, is a malicious or an ignorant attempt to gain knowledge or help from some creature, when it cannot be had from the Lord in the path of duty. While Samuel was living, we never read of Saul's going to advise with him in any difficulties; it had been well for him if he had. But now he is dead, Bring me up Samuel. Many who despise and persecute God's saints and ministers when living, would be glad to have them again, when they are gone. The whole shows that it was no human fraud or trick. Though the woman could not cause Samuel's being sent, yet Saul's inquiry might be the occasion of it. The woman's surprise and terror proved that it was an unusual and unexpected appearance. Saul had despised Samuel's solemn warnings in his lifetime, yet now that he hoped, as in defiance of God, to obtain some counsel and encouragement from him, might not God permit the soul of his departed prophet to appear to Saul, to confirm his former sentence, and denounce his doom? The expression, Thou and thy sons shall be with me, means no more than that they shall be in the eternal world. There appears much solemnity in God's permitting the soul of a departed prophet to come as a witness from heaven, to confirm the word he had spoken on earth.Gods - אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym is here used in a general sense of a supernatural appearance, either angel or spirit. Hell, or the place of the departed (compare 1 Samuel 28:19; 2 Samuel 12:23) is represented as under the earth Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 32:18. 8-14. bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee—This pythoness united to the arts of divination a claim to be a necromancer (De 18:11); and it was her supposed power in calling back the dead of which Saul was desirous to avail himself. Though she at first refused to listen to his request, she accepted his pledge that no risk would be incurred by her compliance. It is probable that his extraordinary stature, the deference paid him by his attendants, the easy distance of his camp from En-dor, and the proposal to call up the great prophet and first magistrate in Israel (a proposal which no private individual would venture to make), had awakened her suspicions as to the true character and rank of her visitor. The story has led to much discussion whether there was a real appearance of Samuel or not. On the one hand, the woman's profession, which was forbidden by the divine law, the refusal of God to answer Saul by any divinely constituted means, the well-known age, figure, and dress of Samuel, which she could easily represent herself, or by an accomplice—his apparition being evidently at some distance, being muffled, and not actually seen by Saul, whose attitude of prostrate homage, moreover, must have prevented him distinguishing the person though he had been near, and the voice seemingly issuing out of the ground, and coming along to Saul—and the vagueness of the information, imparted much which might have been reached by natural conjecture as to the probable result of the approaching conflict—the woman's representation—all of this has led many to think that this was a mere deception. On the other hand, many eminent writers (considering that the apparition came before her arts were put in practice; that she herself was surprised and alarmed; that the prediction of Saul's own death and the defeat of his forces was confidently made), are of opinion that Samuel really appeared. No text from Poole on this verse.

Then said Samuel, wherefore then dost thou, ask of me,.... Whom thou knowest to have been a prophet of the Lord, and therefore can say nothing more or less than what comes from him, and is according to his will, if anything at all; the "devil" representing Samuel, whom Saul had called for, and reasons in such language as might be thought to be his own, though sometimes he betrays himself:

seeing the Lord is departed from thee; as Saul himself owned: to which he adds:

and is become thine enemy; to make his case appear still more desperate; for his whole view is to lead him to despair, which shows what sort of spirit he was: though some understand this as spoken of David, and read the words, and "he is with thine enemy" (i); is on his side, and favours his cause; so the Targum,"and he is for the help of a man, whose enmity thou sharest in;''or who is at enmity with thee, meaning David; but now the true Samuel would never have said this, or suggested it, that David was an enemy to Saul, for he was not.

(i) "et est cum inimico tuo", Pagninus, Vatablus; so V. L.

Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
16. Wherefore then, &c.] As if in such extremity I who am only God’s servant could do aught for thee.

is become thine enemy] The expression is startling, and it is almost certain that there is some corruption in the text. (a) The word for “enemy” is an Aramaic form, found elsewhere in Hebrew only in one or two doubtful instances. (b) The ancient versions point to some different reading. The Sept. gives “has turned to be with thy neighbour;” the Vulg. “has passed over to thy rival;” the Targ. “has become the help of a man who is thine enemy.” It seems best to follow the Sept. Comp. 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 16:13-14.

1 Samuel 28:16Then Samuel said, "Why hast thou disturbed me (sc., from my rest in Hades; cf. Isaiah 14:9), to bring me up?" It follows, no doubt, from this that Samuel had been disturbed from his rest by Saul; but whether this had been effected by the conjuring arts of the witch, or by a miracle of God himself, is left undecided. Saul replied, "I am sore oppressed, for the Philistines fight against me, and God has departed from me, and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; then I had thee called (on the intensified form ואקראה, vid., Ewald, 228, c.), to make known to me what I am to do." The omission of any reference to the Urim is probably to be interpreted very simply from the brevity of the account, and not from the fact that Saul shrank from speaking about the oracle of the high priest, on account of the massacre of the priests which had taken place by his command. There is a contradiction, however, in Saul's reply: for if God had forsaken him, he could not expect any answer from Him; and if God did not reply to his inquiry through the regularly appointed media of His revelation, how could he hope to obtain any divine revelation through the help of a witch? "When living prophets gave no answer, he thought that a dead one might be called up, as if a dead one were less dependent upon God than the living, or that, even in opposition to the will of God, he might reply through the arts of a conjuring woman. Truly, if he perceived that God was hostile to him, he ought to have been all the more afraid, lest His enmity should be increased by his breach of His laws. But fear and superstition never reason" (Clericus). Samuel points out this contradiction (1 Samuel 28:16): "Why dost thou ask me, since Jehovah hath departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?" The meaning is: How canst thou expect an answer under these circumstances from me, the prophet of Jehovah? ערך, from ער, signifies an enemy here (from עיר, fervour); and this meaning is confirmed by Psalm 139:20 and Daniel 4:16 (Chald.). There is all the less ground for any critical objection to the reading, as the Chaldee and Vulgate give a periphrastic rendering of "enemy," whilst the lxx, Syr., and Arab. have merely paraphrased according to conjectures. Samuel then announced his fate (1 Samuel 28:17-19): "Jehovah hath performed for himself, as He spake by me (לו, for himself, which the lxx and Vulg. have arbitrarily altered into לך, σοί, tibi (to thee), is correctly explained by Seb. Schmidt, 'according to His grace, or to fulfil and prove His truth'); and Jehovah hath rent the kingdom out of thy hand, and given it to thy neighbour David." The perfects express the purpose of God, which had already been formed, and was now about to be fulfilled.
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