For the most part, the Holy Bible depicts witches as agents of Satan who must be put to death. But in one case, Saul the King of Israel consults a witch to summon the spirit of King Samuel, and the only person who winds up losing their life as a result is King Saul.
But the very fact that the Bible is constantly mentioning witches and mediums and sorceresses is proof that in the ancient past, as in the current year, there will always be several modes of spirituality that not only go against mainstream religion, they position women as the chief intercessors between the real world and the spiritual world.
Bible Verses That Condemn Witchcraft
The Old Testament explicitly condemns all forms of spiritualism besides obedience toward the God of Israel. In many cases it even encourages the death penalty for anyone who is a “sorceress,” “medium,” or “spiritist.”
“Do not allow a sorceress to live.”
“A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.”
“Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them.”
“Let no one be found among you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire, or who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, or one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, or one who inquires of the dead. For anyone who does such things is abhorrent to the LORD, and it is because of these abhorrent things that the LORD your God is dispossessing them before you.”
Queen Jezebel, the Witch
One of the most famous “nasty women” of the Old Testament is Queen Jezebel, who is described in the Books of Kings as a the wife of Ahab, king of Israel.
She was known to be vain and to adorn herself in fine silks and makeup. She seduced her husband to turn away from Yahweh and toward the false gods Baal and Asherah. She pushed for her own religion to become Israel’s national religion and routinely encouraged the persecution and destruction of real Hebrew prophets. Jezebel, whose name has become synonymous with a disobedient woman, even set up a landowner’s death by falsely accusing him of blasphemy.
It is in the Bible verse II Kings 9:22 that we learn Jezebel is also a practitioner of witchcraft:
When Joram saw Jehu, he asked, “Is all well, Jehu?” But Jehu replied, “How can all be well as long as your mother Jezebel carries on her countless harlotries and sorceries?”
For her transgressions against the one true God, Jezebel met a brutal end: She was thrown from a window by Jehu’s servants. Upon hitting the ground she was trampled to death by Jehu’s horse. Stray dogs ate her corpse.
King Samuel and the Witch of Endor
Perhaps the most mysterious witch in the Bible is the so-called Witch of Endor, whose story is covered in the biblical chapter of 1 Samuel 28.
Although King Saul had issued orders that all witches in Israel be put to death, in a moment of weakness he consulted a famous local medium for advice as his forces faced a military threat from the Philistines. Bringing two bodyguards with him, Saul disguised himself as an ordinary soldier and consulted a female medium from the village of Endor.
He asked her to summon the spirit of the recently deceased King Samuel to give advice about the pending war with the Philistines. When Samuel appeared from the dead, the Witch of Endor immediately realized that the man in the disguise was King Saul and chastised Saul for deceiving her.
The ghost of King Samuel told King Saul the the next day he and his forces would launch into a battle with the Philistines that they would lose and that would kill Saul in the process. Weakened with fear at the news, Saul fell to the ground.
In a rare biblical portrait of a compassionate spiritualist, the Witch of Endor encouraged Saul, who had been weakened by hunger, to eat some of the fattened calf and baked bread she had prepared. After eating, Saul and his associates left.
They next day, King Samuel’s prophecy came true: Saul was slain in battle and Israel fell into the hands of the Philistines.
But the entire passage is a biblical endorsement of the idea that some witches, no matter how demonic, possess supernatural abilities to predict the future.