6 When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.
1 Samuel 28:6  NASB

13 So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it,
14 and did not inquire of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14  NASB

SAB Contradiction 235

Seeming Bible Contradiction

It has been suggested that these two characterizations of Saul’s actions at the end of his life together form a heavy Biblical conflict. On the one hand it is said that he inquired of the Lord (1 Samuel) and on the other hand he did not (1 Chronicles). At first glance indeed we may be surprised reading this. But there is more … 

Remarkable observation

Looking at the message given in 1 Samuel 28:6 there is another strange observation possible. We read that the Lord didn’t answer Saul by Urim … This is a curious remark from the prophetic writer. The Urim was in the possession of the high priest Abjathar, who was among David’s men. So it was a physical impossibility for Saul to get answers through the Urim. Therefore in 1 Samuel 28:6 it cannot mean that Saul had tried to made use of the Urim. The second clause “the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets,” doesn’t mean that the Lord didn’t want to answer through these possibilities. The meaning is that Saul didn’t made use of these possibilities to find the will of the Lord. In the first clause “When Saul inquired of the Lord” is said that Saul inquired the Lord, but not in the usual way. Now it is time to consult the Hebrew text. What word has been used for “inquired”?


Did Saul inquire of the Lord?

The verb in 1 Samuel 28:6 is sja’al = ask, and in 1 Chronicles 10:13 is darasj = enquire, seek with care! We may translate 1 Samuel 28:6 more accurately: “And Saul asked (prayed to) the Lord, and He did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.” Saul’s prayer was too weak and he felt that it didn’t gave him straight direction for the moment. Other spiritual possibilities were lacking and so he decided to go to a medium who could predict the future through contact with the spirits of the dead. He wanted to meet the spirit of Samuel the prophet.


We have to do with a reproachable mistranslation in 1 Samuel 28:6 (‘inquired’ is wrong and should be ‘asked’; only the Septuagint makes this distinction). However for the attentive reader it must be clear that there is more going on, and that it is too superficial and too speedy to arrive at a Bible Contradiction, which is not.

No Bible Contradiction


(New Bible Dictionary, IVP, 1962, repr. 1976, p. 1306)

“The Urim and Thummim were kept in the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:30, Leviticus 8:8), a pouch fastened to the ephod, and sometimes, with it, simply referred to as ‘the ephod’. By the Urim and Thummim the priest could declare God’s will to both leader (Numbers 27:21) and people (Deuteronomy 33:8,10).”

About Abjathar’s ephod:

“This must have been the high-priestly ephod with the breastplate of Urim and Thummim attached, for the customary priestly (linen) ephod (1 Samuel 22:18) would not need this special mention.”
(Author of the NBD article: J.A. Motyer)