Night of the Living Dead


So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” (1 Samuel 28:8)

When you’re freaked, you can do some really bizarre stuff. Take King Saul, for instance. He and his boys are face to face with the Philistine army. The Philistines are nasty chaps—brutal, merciless warriors who like nothing better than a good slaughter of Israelites for whom they have little affection. In fact, they harbor a huge grudge against the Israelites who had the nerve to plant their circumcised bottoms right in the Philistines’ backyard. There’s bad blood between these guys and it looks like it’s going to be another blood bath. Compounding the problem is that David, whom Saul has chased out of Israel for jealousy, is now fighting for the other side. This is not good. Not good at all.

King Saul is scared. Really scared. The Bible says that “terror filled his heart.” So he prays to God for some help, but God (who hates Saul’s guts) doesn’t answer, not a word, not a dream, not an omen, not a prophecy. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. Saul is desperate. He needs advice bad. Unfortunately, Saul’s favorite prophet, Samuel, is dead. Way dead. This poses a bit of a problem. Dead people are notoriously hard to get ahold of.

Saul locates a medium who specializes in necromancy. She lives in Endor. (Remember the feisty mother-in-law in the old television show “Bewitched”? Her name was Endora. Who says TV isn’t spiritual? Can you imagine the Biblical references that must be scattered all through Gilligan’s Island?) But having found her, Saul has another problem. He himself has banished all mediums and spiritists from the land. What a doofus. He had forgotten the cardinal rule of rule-making: Never make a rule without a loophole. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

So Saul disguises himself and goes to her by cover of night. The woman is suspicious of a trap, but Saul reassures her in the name of the God who hates his guts and asks her to bring up Samuel from the dead. She goes to work and—POOF—there’s Samuel. The lady is good, very good. She probably deserves an extra buck or two for this, but, as everybody knows, Saul is not only a bad king, he’s a lousy tipper.

Samuel is royally ticked. He is dead and wants to stay dead. “Why are you bugging me?” he demands. Saul whimpers, “God hates my guts so I need your advice.” Samuel is not impressed. “You,” he barks at the king, “are a jerk. You are the world’s biggest loser. What did you expect? You reject God; God rejects you. You didn’t read the contract? Too bad for you, Bubba. Not only are you going to get your Jewish butts kicked tomorrow, you and your sons are going to end up with me in Deadsville.” Samuel smirks knowingly. “There’s no business like Sheol business.” Then—poof—he’s gone again, just like that. Sure enough, the next day Saul is playing gin rummy with Samuel.

SAUL: God, the light is bad down here.

SAMUEL: You get used to it.

SAUL: No snacks?

SAMUEL: You think this is the Jerusalem Ritz?

SAUL: I’d give my kingdom for some good matzah right now.

SAMUEL: Yeah? Well, you always were such a putz.

SAUL: Shuddap and play.

SAMUEL: What, you in a hurry? You got an appointment?

SAUL: Goyim.

SAMUEL: Schlep. Gin.

SAUL: Damn. Let’s play again. This time I deal.


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