The Torah forbids necromancy [Lev. 19:31 and 20:6,27; Deut. 18:11]. Yet King Saul goes to the witch of Endor, who brings up the dead prophet Samuel for him. Samuel responds:

Why have you disturbed me and brought me up? ... Why do you ask me, seeing that the Lord has turned away from you and has become your adversary? ... The Lord has torn the kingship out of your hands and has given it to your fellow, to David, because you did not obey the Lord and did not execute His wrath upon the Amalekites. That is why the Lord has done this to you today. Further, the Lord will deliver the Israelites who are with you into the hands of the Philistines. Tomorrow your sons and you will be with me; and the Lord will also deliver the Israelite forces into the hands of the Philistines. [1Sam 28:15-19]

What does traditional Judaism conclude from this story?

(1) That there is an afterlife, and that communication with the dead is possible, but God does not want us to attempt it?

(2) That necromancy is bogus and that the witch of Endor was a gifted ventriloquist? (But Samuel's prophecy was fulfilled.)

Do you have sources, particularly for (2)? As for (1), did the rabbis actually mention that episode as a proof of an afterlife?

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    (3) that necromancy is bogus, but G-d made a miracle this time, and she was as shocked as anyone but pretended it was the normal result? – Heshy Dec 19 '19 at 19:22
  • Witchs do not exist. King Saul has an imagination. Think of it this way, the Bible does not ban idols because they are real but because they are fake and damaging to a sound mind. View of Ibn Ezra. – Jonathan Dec 19 '19 at 19:22
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    I always was taught like #1, that communication with the dead is possible, but God does not want us to attempt it. – IsraelReader Dec 19 '19 at 19:23
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    All these options exist in traditional Jewish sources. I suspect you know that. Are you asking us to decide between them? – Double AA Dec 19 '19 at 19:46
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    Possibly a duplicate of judaism.stackexchange.com/q/96654 or judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67700 – DonielF Dec 20 '19 at 3:32

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