1 Samuel 28:13

Hebrew Bible

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out loudly. The woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” 13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid! But what have you seen?” The woman replied to Saul, “I have seen a divine being coming up from the ground!” 14 He said to her, “What about his appearance?” She said, “An old man is coming up! He is wrapped in a robe!” Then Saul realized it was Samuel, and he bowed his face toward the ground and kneeled down.

Isaiah 19:3

Hebrew Bible

2 “I will provoke civil strife in Egypt: brothers will fight with one another, as will neighbors, cities, and kingdoms. 3 The Egyptians will panic, and I will confuse their strategy. They will seek guidance from the idols and from the spirits of the dead, from the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, and from the magicians. 4 I will hand Egypt over to a harsh master; a powerful king will rule over them, ”says the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 Notes and References

"... Saul immediately discerns that it is Samuel ascending from the underworld realm of the dead. There is no indication in the biblical text that the medium is lying or that she is deceived ... The most interesting detail of the episode is the medium’s word choice: she sees “a god” coming up out of the ground. The Hebrew word translated “god” is elohim, a term used more than 2,000 times for the true God, Yahweh of Israel. Why is the dead Samuel described with this word? Despite being used for the God of Israel, the word elohim is not a label that uniquely refers to Yahweh. The term is used elsewhere of demons and divine members of Yahweh’s unseen heavenly host (Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 82:1). The word elohim is how biblical writers described a member of what we think of as the spiritual world. God is part of that world but is superior to all of its members (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 37:16, 20; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 136:2). Samuel’s body had been entombed at Ramah (1 Samuel 25:1; 28:3), but his spirit was living on the other side, in the realm of the dead—what we call the afterlife. All residents of that realm are described with the term elohim in the Old Testament. This worldview was shared by Israel’s neighbors. The Hebrew phrase translated “medium” in 1 Samuel 28:7 is ba’alath-ov (literally, “mistress of the spirit of the dead”). The word ov refers to the human dead. This word occurs in Isaiah 19:3 in parallel to three other terms connected with the dead in the afterlife. One of these (ittim) is a close parallel to the Akkadian word for “ghost” (etemmu), a spirit of a deceased person that interacts with the living, human world ..."

Heiser, Michael S. The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms (pp. 84-85) Lexham Press, 2017

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