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EN-DOR, WITCH OF , the popular designation of a medium from the town of En-Dor in Manasseh, who was consulted by King *Saul (i Sam. 28:7–25). (The woman is not designated "witch," Heb. mekašepah.) The narrative begins with a report of the Philistine advance; their superiority is so great that Saul, seized with terror, vainly seeks ways of discovering the will of God. In desperation, he resorts to necromancy, which he himself has outlawed (ibid. 28:3; cf. Deut. 18:11). Saul finds the necromancer of En-Dor, who is persuaded to accede to his request to conjure up *Samuel. The prophet rebukes Saul and predicts his defeat at the hands of the Philistines. The woman, who had recognized Saul, solicitously provides him with a meal before he departs.

[Shlomo Balter]

In the Aggadah

According to the aggadah, the witch of En-Dor was the mother of *Abner and was called Zephaniah (the hidden one; pdre 33), while Pseudo-Philo calls her Sedecla (unrighteous) and tells that she deceived Israel with her sorcery for 40 years (Pseudo-Philo 64:3–5). The rabbis state that the evocation of Samuel took place within 12 months of his death when the body has not yet decomposed and the soul still hovers near it (Shab. 152b). The witch knew it was Saul who called upon her because the ghost appeared face upward, while for an ordinary person it comes face downward (Lev. R. 26:7). From the details given in this story, the rabbis concluded that the necromancer sees the spirit but does not hear it, while the person that evokes the spirit hears its voice but does not see it. Others present neither see nor hear it (Lev. R. 26:7).

Two interpretations are given of the words "Elohim Olim" (i Sam. 28:13). One is that Samuel was evoked like a god and thus told Saul, "Do you not know that just as punishment is inflicted upon the worshiper so it is inflicted upon the worshipped?" The other is that the word "elohim" refers to Moses (Ex. 7:1). Samuel, fearing that the Day of Judgment had come, brought Moses up with him to act as his advocate.


Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1913), 70, 73; 6 (1928), 235–8.