At the end of their encounter with Samuel, the witch moves to comfort Saul. She wasn’t, by human standards, evil. What we see is a woman that, despite having fear of Saul in the beginning, does nothing to show malice towards him.
Saul, by God’s earlier command, ordered all witches to be executed. He promises nothing will happen to the witch when he approaches her, and then affirms it when she discovers who he is. She could have ridiculed him after she delivered the message to him, she could have ushered him out of her home as politely as possible. But what she does is hospitable- she encourages him to let her give him something to eat. And even presses the issue when he refuses, until he gives in.
The Witch showed empathy and kindness.
This simple act was an invaluable piece of the story for me. Imagine struggling with the idea that you can be a good person by man’s standards, and still commit incredible evil in the eyes of God…all under the feeling that you are doing this thing for another person.
I didn’t set out to be special. When I was Pagan, I sought the path out because I wanted nothing more than to help people around me. When I got acquainted with the story of the Witch of Endor, I felt like this was the same reason she pursued her line of work. She wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, the very nature of her being was to help others. If the situation didn’t work out for her client, she probably had to detach herself from the situation with the belief that it was because they choose to do something, or fate had already rolled the dice outside of the client’s favor. She probably didn’t understand her role in all of it.
My heart goes out to the Witch of Endor. I wonder how she would have reacted if God revealed to her what her role really was in all the unsuccessful stories.
Although we never hear from the witch again, her personality stuck with me. Knowing that she was a good person by man’s standards, helped me to see that I wasn’t evil for engaging in witchcraft, I was engaging in evil called Witchcraft. It doesn’t seem like much of a distinction, I’m sure. But it was important to draw that line as I journeyed towards accepting YHWH as my God. Once I could make that distinction, I realized I wasn’t so far gone that God wouldn’t at least give me a chance.