There are moments in our life when someone asks us a question and we don't have the answer. This moment could be frustrating as much as the time when we have a question and the answer is not found. In the Hebrew Bible there are moments like the one above and today we are going to speak about one of them. The days were the days of the first king of the Israelites- King Saul. As a Biblical Hebrew teacher, I always teach my students that this king is characterized to have a tragic life. Let's see what happened to him in the last days of his life, as written in 1 Samuel 28:3-7-
" וּשְׁמוּאֵל מֵת--וַיִּסְפְּדוּ-לוֹ כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיִּקְבְּרֻהוּ בָרָמָה וּבְעִירוֹ; וְשָׁאוּל, הֵסִיר הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִים--מֵהָאָרֶץ. ַיִּקָּבְצוּ פְלִשְׁתִּים, וַיָּבֹאוּ וַיַּחֲנוּ בְשׁוּנֵם; וַיִּקְבֹּץ שָׁאוּל אֶת-כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיַּחֲנוּ בַּגִּלְבֹּעַ. וַיַּרְא שָׁאוּל, אֶת-מַחֲנֵה פְלִשְׁתִּים; וַיִּרָא, וַיֶּחֱרַד לִבּוֹ מְאֹד. וַיִּשְׁאַל שָׁאוּל בַּיהוָה, וְלֹא עָנָהוּ יְהוָה--גַּם בַּחֲלֹמוֹת גַּם בָּאוּרִים, גַּם בַּנְּבִיאִם. וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לַעֲבָדָיו, בַּקְּשׁוּ-לִי אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב, וְאֵלְכָה אֵלֶיהָ, וְאֶדְרְשָׁה-בָּהּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ עֲבָדָיו אֵלָיו, הִנֵּה אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר."
"Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists. So the Philistines gathered together and came and camped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped in Gilboa. When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”
When Samuel died, King Saul was lacking a prophet that could help him to speak with G-d. Saul was occupied with chasing David in those days. He decided to remove the mediums from the land of Israel, as a King that should have made the commandment of G-d as written in the next passage:
" אַל-תִּפְנוּ אֶל-הָאֹבֹת וְאֶל-הַיִּדְּעֹנִים, אַל-תְּבַקְשׁוּ לְטָמְאָה בָהֶם: אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. "
"Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."(Leviticus 19:31)
If there is only one G-d, he should give us answers if we don’t find them. There were prophets and priests in those days that could have helped the King and his people to get ready for the wars. Saul was so afraid of the Philistines that he needed an answer. When there was no answer there, after he didn’t do what The Lord had commanded him with the Amaleites, he forgot also these commandments:
"וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ, אֲשֶׁר תִּפְנֶה אֶל-הָאֹבֹת וְאֶל-הַיִּדְּעֹנִים, לִזְנֹת, אַחֲרֵיהֶם--וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-פָּנַי בַּנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא, וְהִכְרַתִּי אֹתוֹ מִקֶּרֶב עַמּוֹ. "
"As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people"(Leviticus 20:6)
" וְאִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה, כִּי-יִהְיֶה בָהֶם אוֹב אוֹ יִדְּעֹנִי--מוֹת יוּמָתוּ; בָּאֶבֶן יִרְגְּמוּ אֹתָם, דְּמֵיהֶם בָּם. "
"Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood guiltiness is upon them.’”(Leviticus 20:27)
For that reason he used that medium and brought Samuel up from the dead. He was so stresses that his life ended literally and physically on that night. Another King that was probably the greatest sinner of all was the one who reigned 55 years he was Manasseh as written in 2 Kings 21:1-7-
" בֶּן-שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה, מְנַשֶּׁה בְמָלְכוֹ, וַחֲמִשִּׁים וְחָמֵשׁ שָׁנָה, מָלַךְ בִּירוּשָׁלִָם; וְשֵׁם אִמּוֹ, חֶפְצִי-בָהּ. וַיַּעַשׂ הָרַע, בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה--כְּתוֹעֲבֹת, הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר הוֹרִישׁ יְהוָה, מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וַיָּשָׁב, וַיִּבֶן אֶת-הַבָּמוֹת, אֲשֶׁר אִבַּד, חִזְקִיָּהוּ אָבִיו; וַיָּקֶם מִזְבְּחֹת לַבַּעַל, וַיַּעַשׂ אֲשֵׁרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְכָל-צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיַּעֲבֹד אֹתָם. וּבָנָה מִזְבְּחֹת, בְּבֵית יְהוָה, אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה, בִּירוּשָׁלִַם אָשִׂים אֶת-שְׁמִי. וַיִּבֶן מִזְבְּחוֹת, לְכָל-צְבָא הַשָּׁמָיִם, בִּשְׁתֵּי, חַצְרוֹת בֵּית-יְהוָה. וְהֶעֱבִיר אֶת-בְּנוֹ, בָּאֵשׁ, וְעוֹנֵן וְנִחֵשׁ, וְעָשָׂה אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִים: הִרְבָּה, לַעֲשׂוֹת הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה--לְהַכְעִיס. וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-פֶּסֶל הָאֲשֵׁרָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה--בַּבַּיִת, אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה אֶל-דָּוִד וְאֶל-שְׁלֹמֹה בְנוֹ, בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה וּבִירוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בָּחַרְתִּי מִכֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אָשִׂים אֶת-שְׁמִי לְעוֹלָם"
"Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger. Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever."
One of his sins was the use of mediums as Saul did. However, this king was saved by the book of Chronicles who showed us how he repented and looked for the answer with the help of G-d and not with a ritual he forbade! (See 2 Chronicles 33:11-13)
When we don't have an answer for a difficulty, it doesn’t mean that the answer is not there. We need to look for it, even if it takes time. This is one of the meanings of our life- looking for answers and asking questions.
Have a great week, Eli