Wednesday, December 2, 2009

88: Samuel and Saul Make Out

1 Samuel 9-12
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance? - 1 Samuel 10:1

Chapter 9 starts with a Benjamite losing his donkeys. He sends his son Saul and a servant to go find them. Saul is a head taller than any other Israelite in the land. They look far and wide but can't find them. Finally, they decide to consult a prophet to figure out where the donkeys are.

Saul and his servant come to a town and ask to see the prophet. The prophet that is in the town just so happens to be Samuel. The bible says that the day before God had told Samuel about Saul coming to town, and said that Saul would be the new king. Sure he had. It couldn't be that Saul is tall and looks kingly. Samuel invites Saul to dinner and they spend the night talking on the roof of Samuel's house.

The next morning Samuel tells Saul to send his messenger ahead so he can give Saul a message from God. Samuel then whips out a flask of oil and pours it on Saul. Then he kisses him and tells him that he's king. What the hell? Is the bible turning into cheesy gay porn?

Samuel makes Saul king. The people don't like Saul. I'm not sure why, they asked Samuel for a king and he provided one. Quit complaining.

The Ammonites are going to attack the city of Jabesh. They send messengers everywhere asking for help. When Saul gets the message his first reaction is to chop up two oxen, and send the pieces with messengers to everywhere in Israel. The messengers are told to say "This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel". Uh, ok? Nobody said they weren't going to help. I guess Saul just wanted to chop up some oxen.

Saul ends up gathering an army (nobody wants their oxen chopped up) and defeating the Ammonites. Upon seeing Saul in action, the people change their mind and reaffirm Saul as their king.

Samuel sees that he is no longer needed and leaves. In his farewell speech he says that the Israelites were naughty for wanting a king. To show them how naughty they were he asks God to rain on their fields. Is it just me or are Samuel's miracles just not that exciting? He hasn't prophesied or done a single thing that can't be explained away as coincidence.

Samuel says that if they continue their evil ways their king will be taken away from them.

*News*
Apparently the bible is actually converting people to Catholicism in China. I'd be curious to find out what passages they are reading that makes them decide to convert.

Reportedly, there are over 300,000 converts in Shanghai alone. Supposedly Shen Cheng was converted to Catholicism (along with many others) by "exploring the scripture". Again, I would really love to know what part they are exploring, it seems pretty terrible to me. The Catholics have even set up bible camps for the young Chinese. I thought we learned our lesson about putting Asians in camps (sorry, horrible joke).

This is a bit of a funny side note, I got this article from a website called the Catholic News Agency. Their spelling ability makes me question the validity of the rest of their article. Here is a screen shot of their title:



That would be Shanghai. I hear they have this newfangled thing called spell check.

(via Catholic News Agency)

8 comments:

  1. As always, an enjoyable read!

    Your take on the Bible always reminds me of how crappy it is. So many things are open to interpretation, and many of those that aren't are just plain horrific. The verse about Saul and Sammy getting all oiled up is a great example of the former. Just what kind of kissing was being done for the Lord? We'll never know, because the Bible is infuriatingly vague, which means people get to use that verse any which way they want, molding it to their preexisting politics and morals.

    As for the Chinese conversions, keep in mind that 300,000 in Shanghai alone is...nothing, considering the population size (18.8 million). It's especially underwhelming when you find out that in 1988, there were already 120,000 there, so I'm not sure it's that big of a deal.

    There's a lot of the "luck" concept present in China, though--lucky numbers, etc. My guess would be that that is the type of conversion, a luck thing or something akin to it, something that can easily be thrown in with all the other beliefs already found in the culture. Sort of, "I might as well pray to Jesus if I'm going to throw some money at XYZ, so I get that job."

    I guarantee there are few in Shanghai who do their Hail Marys or probably even tithe. China has something like a 5-10% church attendance rate, across all religions.

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  2. That was a horrible joke. But funny nonetheless.

    Great post as usual. And if you don't post tomorrow, I'm going to chop your car up and send it all over the world. I'm sorry, I figured that irrational warnings were important. I mean, they're in the bible, right?

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  3. Lelia,
    There is no question that the Bible can be difficult to understand and the meanings of some passages have been lost to us.

    But don't mistake Bible365's Biblical cynicism and sarcasm for Biblical criticism. There is no doubt that Samuel's "anointing and kissing" of Saul was an ANE ritual of consecration of a new king. A quick search on Google to find historical background is easy enough. Thus, this passage is not “vague” in regard to its meaning. Sincerely asserting that this passage is about “gay porn” is an outright distortion. Or asserting that the meaning of this passage is indeterminate is not warranted. Below is a quote about the Bible’s “foolproof composition.”

    “By foolproof composition I mean that the Bible is difficult to read, easy to under read and over read and even misread, but virtually impossible to, so to speak, counter read. Here as elsewhere of course, ignorance, willfulness, preconception, tendentiousness—all amply manifested throughout history, in the religious and other approaches—may perform wonders of distortion.” -Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, p. 50

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  4. Sorry, but I have to agree with Brent on this one. Though I did laugh when I saw the gay porn line, the anointing with oil/kiss thing is a pretty common ritual and doesn't have anything to do with sexuality.

    What is more interesting here is how political events are interpreted in such a way to include God's imaginary hand manipulating and guiding things along (which we all know is not true). The gyrations and outlandish explanations they come up with to try to pin everything on God are amazing.

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  5. In the books up till now, the bible has said to anoint someone with oil. It does not, as far as I've seen, tell you to kiss the person after you pour oil on them.

    Brent, I don't think anyone who read this thought I was seriously asserting that the bible is gay porn. Not only was it a joke, but assertions don't have question marks after them, even if I were serious.

    That doesn't mean that I don't think it's strange that two men are kissing. Lelia's question is a good one, "just what kind of kissing was being done for the Lord?". Any assertion on your part, that you know what kind of kissing was going on, is a lie. The bible doesn't say.

    In fact, the bible doesn't even say that this ceremony is an anointing ceremony. Samuel says that he has a "message" from God. Then he says "Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?". Is Samuel God now?

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  6. Bryan,
    I understood you to be sarcastic. I specifically allude to that in my post and distinguish you from those who might "sincerely assert" this. But Lelia seemed to claim this passage is vague. I cannot concur.

    Ps 2:12--"kiss the Son" or "pay homage to the Son" is ritualized in the Davidic King enthronement Psalm.

    And there has been a long line of "male kisses" in the text of Scripture so far--Gen 29:13; 33:4; 45:15; Exod 4:27; 18:7.

    So, in the context of scripture and the culture of that time, I am very comfortable with asserting that the author’s intent was that Samuel’s "kiss" is meant to pay homage and accept the newly chosen king.

    As I have said before, I'm thrilled your reading through the Bible. That is an amazing discipline. Keep at it.

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  7. I'm fairly certain that they don't convert too many people to Christianity by having them read through the OT from the beginning like you're doing. They focus on the NT and only work in selected parts of the OT.

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