The Difference Between Yeshua and Saul Regarding the Dead

10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer,
11 or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer.
12 For whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the LORD; and because of these abominations the LORD thy God is driving them out from before thee.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (JPS)

When I explain that seeing the dead is not a good thing based on the example of Saul, the witch, and Samuel from 1 Samuel 28, some will counteract my argument with the New Testament example of Yeshua and the mount of transfiguration when He conversed with Moses & Elijah. Their example is given to justify interaction with the dead despite being completely forbidden in God’s law.

“Jesus did it,” they claim, “so it must be okay.”

So let’s examine the two events side-by-side.

Saul with Samuel Yeshua with Moses & Elijah
1 Samuel 28 Matthew 17
Samuel was dead and buried.
(1 Samuel 28:3)
Elijah never died, and Moses, although dead, was taken by God.
(2 Kings 2:11, Jude 1:9 (a Jewish teaching from The Legends of the Jews 3:7))
Saul resorts to witchcraft.
(1 Samuel 28:8)
Yeshua himself was transfigured into a spiritual form.
(Matthew 17:2)
Only the witch saw the dead. Saul did not see Samuel.
(1 Samuel 28:14)
Everyone saw both Moses & Elijah.
(Matthew 17:4)
Samuel is upset for being raised from the dead.
(1 Samuel 28:15)
Moses and Elijah appear to be just fine conversing with Yeshua.
(Matthew 17:3)

Now that we can compare the stories side-by-side, the differences are startling.

  1. Samuel was dead. Moses was taken up by the angel Michael, and Elijah never died.
  2. Saul resorts to witchcraft to see the dead raised. In fact the same words (familiar spirits) are found in both Deut 18:11 and 1 Samuel 28:8.
  3. When witchcraft is involved, and the dead raised, only the witch was able to see the dead. Saul could not see Samuel.

These are very interesting points to consider. We should beware of anyone claiming to see the dead.

Saul and the witch of endor
Saul and the Witch of Endor. By Allston, Washington. 1820. Oil on canvas.

Signs to watch for:

  1. Are the dead buried and not yet resurrected?
  2. Are the dead familiar to us?
  3. Is it just one person who claims to see the dead?

If the answers to these questions are “yes” then it’s a clear reflection of the story between Saul, the witch, and Samuel which is forbidden by God. So now I ask you, what do you do if this happens in your presence?

Let us not be carried away with ungodly practice. In order for this to be remedied we must read scripture. What does God allow and forbid? The answers are there in His Word. Unlike the people of ancient times, we no longer need to guess, we have His Torah — His teachings.

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