Thursday, December 3, 2009

89: Don't Eat or You Die

1 Samuel 13-14
"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." - 1 Samuel 13:13-14

Chapter 13 is incredibly ambiguous. Here is the first sentence:
Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.
The two words in italics have a footnote that says the Hebrew does not say that. So Saul was either thirty years old, or just some number of years old. And he either reigned for 42 years, or just 2 years. There's a bit of a difference.

Saul decides to fight the Philistines again for some unstated reason. He has a son named Jonathan who fights with him. They don't do so well and decide to scatter and hide. Saul somehow sends for Samuel and waits seven days for him to get there. When Samuel doesn't show up after seven days Saul decides to give burnt offerings to God. Just as he is finishing the offering Samuel shows up.

Samuel then says that Saul has not kept God's command and that he won't be king for much longer. I feel like I'm missing something here. What did Saul do? Is he for some reason not permitted to give God burnt offerings?

The Israelites somehow lose their weapons (or they never had them I guess), and can't make new ones. Because they have no weapons they resort to sharpening their farm tools. I'm not sure why the bible makes such a big deal out of this, it doesn't seem to have any significance for the rest of the book.

Jonathan talks his armor carrier into sneaking away with him to stage an attack of their own. He goes to the town on Bozez and kills 20 men single-handedly.

Oh man, this section is confusing. In chapter 14 there is a heading "Israel Routs the Philistines" (1 Samuel 14:15). It says that panic struck the whole army. Are we talking about the Philistine army or the Israelite army? The bible doesn't say.

Saul says to go get the ark of the covenant. The bible then says that the tumult in the Philistine camp increased. This makes me think that the Philistine army is the panicking one, but why would Saul need to get the ark if things were going well? So everyone's army is panicked?

The Israelites get themselves together and rout the now unorganized Philistine army.

At the end of chapter 14 Saul forbids his army from eating until he has taken revenge on his enemies. Jonathan, after his father gives the command, returns to camp from his little adventure with his armor carrier. Having not heard his father's command he eats some honey. Finally, someone decides to tell him his father's order and Jonathan says this:
My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?
They have a battle that night, and the men of the army remember what Jonathan said. They take all the animals that they obtain in the battle and slaughter them on the ground. Eating them with blood and all, oh no! When Saul hears about this he exclaims "Roll a large stone over here at once". Yeah, roll a stone over there! Wait, what? He then tells his men to slaughter their own animals and eat them without blood. So what did the stone have to do with anything? Does he need to roll around a stone when he's stressed?

Saul then asks God if he should go kill some more Philistines that day and God doesn't answer. This obviously mean's someone has sinned in the camp so Saul decides that he is going to find out who it was.

He casts lots and somehow determines that his son Jonathan was the one that sinned. Jonathan confesses that he ate honey and his father tells him that he must die. The Israelites like Jonathan so much that they rescue him from Saul. This is the first sign that Saul may not be king for much longer.

Gay marriage is shot down again in New York. And surprise, surprise, it's about religion.

Ruben Diaz, a New York senator defended his evangelical viewpoint on gay marriage by essentially saying "well all the other religions don't like gays either". Here's part of his speech:
Gay marriage is not only opposed by us evangelicals. All the major religions in the world also oppose it...The Jewish religion opposes it. The Muslim religion opposes it. The Catholic religion opposes it.
Right, it's totally ok to be a bigot now.

Rather than going on and on about this and getting myself pissed off I'll leave you with a video of a New York senator making her case for marriage equality.

(via Baptist Press)


  1. A king like all the nations (1 Sam 8:5)
    —tall and handsome (1 Sam 9:2) and that’s it.

    The king, Saul, given to the Israelites is exactly what they wanted—all suit and no substance. The monarchy has a false start with Saul. These chapters (with the exception of a textual corruption at 13:1 which you noticed) are beautifully composed with subtle literary nuances, rich contrasts and fascinating word plays in Hebrew. Saul’s activities ring with echos of his predecessors--Gideon (prone to exalt himself and rely on divination), Jephthah (rash vow), and Samson (preoccupation with vengence). Furthermore, like the rash, lustful men from Gibeah at the end of Judges, Saul (also from Gibeah) manifests similar rash characteristics. And, like the Levite (Judges 19:29) who cuts up his concubine and sends the pieces to all Israel, Saul cuts up his oxen and sends it to all Israel (1 Sam 11:7).

    Chapters 13-14 begin to set the stage for the short circuit of Saul—“the king like all the nations.” From the outset, Jonathan (Saul’s son) forms the foil to Saul. Jonathan smote the Philistines (13:3) while Saul is back blowing a horn (13:3). Jonathan is bold in the Lord and reveals himself to the enemies to fight in the day (14:6-15). Saul delays behind ritual oracle seeking (cmp . 14:3 – ephod with 14:18-19) to fight at night (14:36). Jonathan’s companion looks toward Jonathan’s heart (14:7). While Saul’s companions exhort him to do what looks good in his eyes (14:36, 40; the translation “do what seems best to you” is literally “good in your eyes”; later God will choose a king based upon “the heart” not “the sight” 16:7). Jonathan is answered by the people and the Philistines (14:12, 28), but neither the people nor God answer Saul (14:37,39). Jonathan ends up being “redeemed/bought” (14:45) from the rash vow that his father made (contrast Jephthah and his daughter in Judges). (Polzin, “Samuel and the Deuteronomist, pp. 126-139).

    Finally there is wordplay in chapter 13 indicating that Saul who will not observe Samuel’s stipulation of the “appointment” will forefeit God’s “appointment” of his kingship. However, this is just a foreshadow of Saul disobeying God’s word in Chapter 15 (not simply Samuel’s appointment here in 13). Samuel also has some issues but that is another story.

  2. It's not like are independent religions - they all arise from the same traditions. He should include Buddhism, e.g. Not that then is really relevant to whether this should be law, though.



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