in 1 Shmuel 28 Shaul consults with a witch who causes the spirit of Shmuel to rise in a practice known as Ov. Working on the assumption that this event actually took place, as described, and that the woman was Jewish, wouldn't Shaul have an obligation to kill her after the seance is completed?

I realize that he swore not to do so (v.10) but I assume that oath to be invalid since it goes against the Torah


1 Answer 1

  • First and foremost issue with the question "Working on the assumption that this event actually took place", if it is mentioned in the Torah it definitely happened.
  • The assumption that she was Jewish is correct according to a midrash brought by Radak:

הנה אשת בעלת אוב בעין דור. אמרו במדרש זו אשת צפניה אמו של אבנר

As per Rambam Hilchot Avoda Zarah VeChukot Hagoyim 6:1, she would have needed witnesses and a warning, did that happen?

הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹב אוֹ יִדְּעֹנִי בִּרְצוֹנוֹ בְּזָדוֹן חַיָּב כָּרֵת וְאִם הָיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה נִסְקָל Anyone who willingly, as a conscious act of defiance, performs the deeds associated with an ov or a yid'oni is liable for karet. If witnesses were present and warned him, he should be stoned to death.

  • Also, even if witnesses and a warning happened, you are assuming a king can go ahead and kill without a bais din.

The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (3:10) does allow a King to kill a suspected murdered without a bais din, witnesses and warning, but that is in order to deter future murders. I don't believe that reasoning can be applied here.

  • 1
    Radak's source is Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer ch. 32.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jun 16 at 14:55
  • You beat me to citing the midrash. My argument would have been that she was his great aunt so he couldn't bring himself to kill her.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jun 16 at 15:01

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