The Witch of Endor

And Saul said to his servants, "Seek me out a ghostwife, that I may go to her and inquire through her." And his servants said to him, "There is a ghostwife at Ein-Dor." And Saul disguised himself and put on different clothes, and he went—he together with two men—and they came to the woman by night, and he said, "Conjure me, pray, a ghost, and summon up the one I say to you." And the woman said to him, "Look, you yourself know what Saul did, that he cut off the ghosts and the familiar spirits from the land, and why do you entrap me to have me put to death?" And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, "As the LORD lives, no blame will befall you through this thing." And the woman said, "Whom shall I summon up for you?" And he said, "Samuel summon up for me." And the woman saw Samuel and she screamed in a loud voice, and the woman said to Saul, "Why did you deceive me, when you are Saul?" And the king said to her, "Do not fear. But what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "A god do I see rising up from the earth." And he said to her, "What does he look like?" And she said, "An old man rises up, and he is wrapped in a cloak." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed to the ground and did obeisance. And Samuel said, "Why have you troubled me to summon me up?" And Saul said, "I am in dire straits, and the Philistines are fighting against me and God has turned away from me and no longer answers me, neither through prophets nor dreams, and I called to you to let me know what I should do." And Samuel said, "And why do you ask me, when the LORD has turned away from you and become your foe? And the LORD has done to you as He spoke through me, and the LORD has torn the kingship from your hand and given it to your fellowman, to David. In as much as you did not heed the voice of the LORD and you did not carry out His burning wrath against Amalek, therefore has the LORD done this thing to you this day! And the LORD shall give Israel, too, together with you, into the hands of the Philistines. And tomorrow—you and your sons are with me. The camp of Israel, too, shall the LORD give into the hand of the Philistines." And Saul hastened and flung himself full length on the ground and was very frightened by Samuel's words.

1 Samuel 28:7-20, trans. Robert Alter, Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, New York: Norton, 2013, 405-408.

The Witch of Endor, William Sidney Mount, 1828
The Witch of Endor, William Sidney Mount, 1828

 

The Witch of Endor, Dmitri Nikiforovich Martynov
The Witch of Endor, Dmitri Nikiforovich Martynov, 1857

 

The Witch of Endor, William Blake, 1783
The Witch of Endor, William Blake, 1783

 

The Witch of Endor, Mathias Stom, 1635
The Witch of Endor, Mathias Stom, 1635

 

The Witch of Endor, Salvator Rosa, 1668
The Witch of Endor, Salvator Rosa, 1668

 

The Witch of Endor, Gabriel Ehinger, 1675
The Witch of Endor, Gabriel Ehinger, 1675

 

The Witch of Endor, Caspar Luiker, 1712
The Witch of Endor, Caspar Luiker, 1712

 

The Witch of Endor, Januarius Zick, 1753
The Witch of Endor, Januarius Zick, 1753

 

The Witch of Endor, Benjamin West, 1777
The Witch of Endor, Benjamin West, 1777

 

The Witch of Endor, Washington Allston, 1820
The Witch of Endor, Washington Allston, 1820

 

The Witch of Endor, Nikolai Ge, 1857
The Witch of Endor, Nikolai Ge, 1857

 

The Witch of Endor, Kunz MeyerWaldeck, 1902
The Witch of Endor, Kunz MeyerWaldeck, 1902

 

David Byron thinking through the (digital) humanities and visual/spatial/virtual cultures