1 Samuel 28:9
And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
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(9) What Saul hath done . . .—The law, re-enacted by Saul in earlier days, which made the practice of these dark arts a capital offence, was evidently still in force. Sorcerers and witches, like the woman of En-dor, had, no doubt, been often hunted down by means of informers. The woman possibly at first suspected that something of the kind was intended now. The old tradition, however, which represents the two companions of the king as Abner and Amasa, would preclude such a supposition. Still, in any event, the act of summoning the dead was a capital offence, and the woman would be on her guard, even in the presence of her near relatives, which the old tradition asserts Abner and Amasa to have been. She may, too, by enhancing the peril in which she stood, have thought a larger present would be extorted from the stranger who sought her aid.

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.Divine - Compare to 1 Samuel 6:2, note; Numbers 23:23, note.

Bring me him up - The art of the ventriloquist seems to have been always connected with necromancy. The Greeks had necromancers who called up departed spirits to give answers to those who consulted them.

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. Woman said, Behold, thou knowest; for his speech and garb discovered him to be an Israelite, and therefore acquainted with these matters.

To cause me to die, by accusing me to Saul as guilty of a capital crime.

And the woman said unto him,.... Not knowing who he was:

behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done; for by his speech and habit she perceived he was an Israelite, and so must be acquainted with what had passed in the nation, especially of a public nature, and which made a great noise, as doubtless this, lid:

how he both cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards,

out of the land; as many of them as he had knowledge of, or information about; and by this it appears that he did not merely expel them his dominions, but he put them to death, according to the law of God, Exodus 22:18; so the putting them out of the land, 1 Samuel 28:3, was putting them to death, and the woman's after reasoning confirms this: one should think for Saul to be told this to his face must fill him with shame and confusion, and his conscience must accuse him of sin and folly to make this attempt; and he must stand self-convicted and self-condemned; and it was enough to have deterred him from pursuing his scheme, had not his heart been strangely hardened:

wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? she suspected that Saul and his men were persons that came to entrap her; that when they had prevailed upon her to exercise her art, would turn informers against her, to the taking away of her life, it being death to practise it.

And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
Verses 9, 10. - Thou knowest what Saul hath done. Not only had Saul in the earlier part of his reign been earnest in his zeal for the Mosaic law, but even now it seems as if a witch was in danger of death; for he has to take an oath before she will acknowledge that she practises any illicit art, 1 Samuel 28:9Such a demand placed the woman in difficulty. As Saul had driven the necromantists out of the land, she was afraid that the unknown visitor (for it is evident from 1 Samuel 28:12 that she did not recognise Saul at first) might be laying a snare for her soul with his request, to put her to death, i.e., might have come to her merely for the purpose of spying her out as a conjurer of the dead, and then inflicting capital punishment upon her according to the law (Leviticus 20:27).
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