Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 28:13

The king said to her, "Do not be afraid; but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being coming up out of the earth."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Clairvoyance;   En-Dor;   Familiar Spirits;   Miracles;   Necromancy;   Samuel;   Saul;   Sorcery;   Witchcraft;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Miracles through Evil Agents;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Endor;   Soul;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Samuel;   Saul, king of israel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Demon;   Descent into Hell (Hades);   Magic;   Sheol;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Magic;   Saul;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Divination;   Saul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Divination and Magic;   Medium;   Samuel, Books of;   Urim and Thummim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ancestor-Worship;   Death;   En-Dor;   Eschatology;   God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Descent into Hades;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Magic;   Saul;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Endor;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ascend;   Decease, in the Old Testament and Apocyphra;   God, Names of;   Intercession;   Resurrection;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Sheol;   Woman;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ancestor Worship;   Endor, the Witch of;   Immortality of the Soul;   Necromancy;   Samuel;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I saw gods ascending out of the earth - The word אלהום elohim, which we translate gods, is the word which is used for the Supreme Being throughout the Bible; but all the versions, the Chaldee excepted, translate it in the plural number, as we do. The Chaldee has, I see דיי מלאכא malacha dayeya, an angel of the Lord, ascending from the earth. This sight alarmed the woman; it was what she did not expect; in this she could not recognise her familiar, and she was terrified at the appearance.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-28.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Gods - אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym is here used in a general sense of a supernatural appearance, either angel or spirit. Hell, or the place of the departed (compare 1 Samuel 28:19; 2 Samuel 12:23) is represented as under the earth Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 32:18.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-28.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king said unto her, be not afraid,.... Meaning not of the apparition, but of him; since he had sworn no punishment should come upon her, and he should inviolably observe his oath: for what sawest thou? for as yet Saul himself saw not anything, the woman being between him and the apparition; or she might be in another room with her familiar spirit performing the operations when Samuel appeared:

and the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth; a great personage, one of a majestic form, like the gods, or judges and civil magistrates, sometimes so called, as Kimchi and R. Isaiah rightly interpret it; and so the Targum,"I saw an angel of the Lord;'a person that looked like one; for not many came up with him, and particularly Moses, as say some Jewish writersF4T. Bab. Chagigah, fol. 4. 8. Pirke Eliezer, c. 33. .

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-28.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

Gods — That is, a god, and divine person, glorious, and full of majesty and splendor, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. She used the plural number, gods, either after the manner of the Hebrew language, which commonly uses that word of one person: or, after the language and custom of the heathens.

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Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-samuel-28.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 28:13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

Ver. 13. For what sawest thou?] He then was not an eye-witness at first, the witch being in secretario, saith the Gloss, in a secret place by herself, working her feats.

saw gods ascending out of the earth,] i.e., Some goodly apparitions sent by Satan, as his apparitors and forerunners. Or, I saw a judge, or an excellent person, ascending, &c. (a)

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-28.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i.e. A god, a divine person, glorious, and full of majesty and splendour, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. She useth the plural number,

gods, either after the manner of the Hebrew language, which commonly useth that word of one person; or after the language and custom of the heathens. But the whole coherence shows that it was but one. For Saul desired but one, 1 Samuel 28:11, and he inquires and the woman answers only of one, 1 Samuel 28:14. Ascending out of the earth, as if it came from the place of the dead.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-samuel-28.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.Be not afraid: for what sawest thou — She probably, at first, after returning from her clairvoyant state, refused, in her fear, to hold any more intercourse with the king; but after he had allayed her fears, perhaps by further oaths, (compare 1 Samuel 28:10,) she answered:

I saw gods ascending out of the earth — Neither the sacred historian nor his interpreter is responsible for the truth or falsehood of these words of the witch. But whatsoever of truth they may contain, we regard them as a part of those devices by which she sought to awe, and impose upon, both Saul and his servants. She probably alluded to the ghostly pictures which she saw passing, like so many shadows, over his excited imagination. What she saw in that one vision of Saul’s soul was a sufficient basis for her to devise and utter the responses that follow.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-28.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 28:13. The woman said, I saw gods ascending — The original word here used is elohim; and is with equal propriety rendered God, a god, or gods; when spoken of Jehovah it is translated God in the Scriptures; but when meant of the false gods of the heathen, of angels or of magistrates, which it sometimes is, it is generally rendered in the plural number. As it is plain the woman saw and spoke only of one person, it should evidently be translated a god here, that is, a divine or glorious person, full of majesty and splendour, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. Dr. Waterland renders it, a venerable person, and Mr. Locke says, it here signifies an angel or a judge, and that in the singular number. The same word certainly means magistrates, Psalms 82:1-6.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-samuel-28.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Gods, or one venerable and divine personage. (Worthington) --- Elohim, is applied to Samuel for greater honour. It is a title given to the true God, to idols, and people in dignity. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-28.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

gods. Plural of Elohim. Either "a god "or a spirit manifestation.

out of the earth. Not down, or forth, as in John 11:43, John 11:44.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-samuel-28.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. I saw gods ascending out of the earth, [ '

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-28.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) I saw gods ascending out of the earth.—The king at once calms the witch’s fears for her life, and impatiently, as it would seem, asks what she saw which called forth the cry of fear and terror. “Gods”—this is the rendering of the Hebrew word Elohim. The English Version, however, follows the majority of the Versions here. The Chaldee translates the word by “angels.” Corn, à Lapide and the best modern scholars, however, reasoning from Saul’s words which immediately follow—“What is his form?”—suppose the Elohim to signify, not a plurality of appearances, but one God-like form: something majestic and august. The feeling, however, of antiquity seems to have been in favour of more than one supernatural form entering into the En-dor dwelling on that awful night. Besides the testimony of the Versions above referred to, the passage in the Babylonian Talmud treatise Chaggigah, quoted below, speaks of two positively spirit forms-Samuel and another.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-28.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
gods ascending
Exodus 4:16; 22:28; Psalms 82:6,7; John 10:34,35
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 13:28 - fear not;  Luke 24:37 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 28:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-28.html.