In city, Old Testament on May 10, 2011 by simonbriercliffe Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Endor and Mt Tabor

Endor and Mt Tabor. Photo from Visual Bible Alive

Besides being the home of the Ewoks, Endor was a Canaanite city that fell in Manasseh’s Eastern portion of the promised land, as recorded in Joshua 17:11. It was more of a village really, and it’s name (aka En-dor) means “spring” and “settlement” – so nothing too detailed there. Its location is debated, but was around the Jezreel valley, a large plain in the Lower Galilee region of modern Israel. Though allotted to the Manassites, the incomers failed to displace the Canaanites who were living there. In these days of indigenous rights and tension in Israel/Palestine this could have become a very contentious issue. In the days of Joshua, the instruction was brutally clear:

When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
Deuteronomy 7:1-4

Israelites are fail. God told them to scourge the land for a very good reason, and it’s a picture of sin in the life of a Christian. The first of Luther’s 95 Theses was that “the whole life of believers should be repentance,” not just an initial “I’m sorry.” This fits with the experience of Israel – they didn’t cleanse the land properly at first, they didn’t constantly analyse themselves in God’s eyes, they didn’t get rid of evil influences when they had a chance, there was certainly no ongoing repentance, only sporadic, small revivals; as a result they suffered the contamination of Canaan’s idolatrous influence. It’s the same today: there’s no benefit in accommodating things we know go against God in our lives: they’ll just cause bigger problems down the line, and so it was for Israel.

According to Asaph in Psalm 89, Endor also saw maybe the most unconventional death described in the Bible (saving Christ of course…): Jael’s tent-peg-to-the-temple effort on Sisera, commander of the Canaanite forces. See: no-one’s left by themselves to do the cleansing, God gives us help.

Endor is most famous though for its witch (1 Samuel 28). I have no idea whether a black hat or cat or warty nose was needed to be a witch in those days: according to the KJV she had a familiar spirit, the NIV calls her a medium. Darby’s is the most esoteric translation, a “woman that hath the spirit of Python.” Darby’s, the one-man translation, keeps this consistent with Acts 16:16 for instance, as do the Young and Douay-Rheims very-literal versions; the KJV renders that verse spirit of divination, the NIV as predicting the future. Hard to say what the spirit of Python means; I’ve not found satisfactory explanations of that so I’m sticking with medium, I think.

Any way you read it, even Saul remembered God’s views of any sort of sorcery, divination, necromancy, etc. Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6 and 27 tell me these are not on, and I get the same message from Revelation 21:8. It’s very clear, and Saul did right to chuck all the sorcerers out of the land after Samuel’s death. Nevertheless, he backtracked in his moment of panic, woke up a dead prophet and received a suitably miserable prediction. Lesson: don’t try asking dead folk for stuff, they’re busy. Opinion is mixed as to just who was called up on that night: Hanegraaf suggests it was a sovreign act of God for that situation, perhaps like Abraham and Moses in the transfiguration? The reformers believed it was a devil’s ghost (Luther) or spectre (Calvin), and Adventist interpretation suggests it’s the devil himself. I wouldn’t like to say; whatever/whoever it was, Saul was a fool to mess around with that.

Worse than a fool, in fact, because 1 Samuel 28 clearly shows that he inquired of God first. Instead of waiting for a clear answer he pushed for something mystical: a dream-vision, trying to divine something from the (priestly) Urim and Thummim, going to prophets. When he got impatient, he got stupid. How familiar… When I want an answer, I want it now, dammit, but that’s not God’s way. He speaks “in the fullness of time” just as when He sent Christ (Galatians 4:4) or when He’ll gather everything in to Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Patience is a virtue you know.

Location: Endor is guessed to be in the valley of Jezreel, Lower Galilee, about here.


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