May 12, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 7:30pm, 1 Samuel Chapters 28-29

The Witch of Endor Raising the Spirit of Samuel, 1800, by William Blake
Clipped on 12-May-2012, from Drawing Life by Fred Hatt

Chapter 28 is the story of the ghost-wife, or necromancer, also called the Witch of Endor, who conjures Samuel up from the grave in response to Saul's plea.   Some commentators feel this story is the basis for the witches in Macbeth.

"This woman has defied the decree against calling the dead [Lev 20-27;  Deut 18:10-11] and is still adept at her trade.  This story sets the stage for centuries of Jewish women's spiritual arts that were banished underground but somehow managed to survive...Talking directly to God, the spirit world, the dead and angels bypasses the traditional authority structure.  It is a rebellious act. It circumvents the authority of the king, the priests, and the institutional prophets." 

"How ironic that an unnamed woman, practicing an illegal craft, becomes advisor to the king!"
-----Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael in The Women's Haftarah Commentary

Wednesday, May 2, 1 Samuel Chapters 26-28

The chief business of women in the reigns of Kings Saul and David seems to have been to rescue men from the craft and greed of each other.
------Elizabeth Cady Stanton The Woman's Bible (1898)

David, as a man who is sincere but hardly a saint, has through the ages provided a powerful model for repentance...He emerges from Samuel as a humble and humbled king, who points the way to the possibilities of genuine change."

------Everett Fox Give us a King

He is also, from the start, quite calculating, and it can scarcely be an accident that until the midpoint of his story every one of his utterances, without exception, is made on a public occasion and arguably is contrived to serve his political interests."  He is "constantly prepared to do almost anything in order to survive."
------Robert Alter The David Story

To seek clearly circumscribed definitions in this text is to be frustrated at every turn.  What is a king, a priest, a military leader, and what is the difference?  That question is the story of Samuel and Saul.  What is an assassin, what is a politician, and what is the difference?  That is the story of David.
------Regina Schwartz in "Not in Heaven"