A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Should Saul's Son Die Because He Ate Honey? (1 Samuel, Chapter 14)

Archaeologists think these two rocks at Michmach Gorge (forefront), are the rocks named Bozez and Seneh, mentioned in this chapter.  
From LifeInTheHolyLand.com

In this chapter, we're faced with an interesting question.  If a rule is made, but someone who didn't hear the rule breaks it, should that person be punished? 

In this chapter, Saul's son Jonathan and perhaps 600 men secretly leave to go wreak havoc among the Philistines.  As Jonathan made his way to the Philistines, the text mentions him passing through two rocks called Bozez and Seneh (see photo above). 

I like how the author played up the conflict.  On the one hand, the Israelites call the Philistines "the uncircumcised".  On the other, the Philistines seem to refer to the Israelites as rats.  "Look," says one Philistine, "the Israelites have come out of the holes in which they've been hiding."

The short battle, affectionately called Jonathan's "first slaughter", resulted in 20 dead Philistines in a one-half acre area.  The Israelite God (Yahweh) was very pleased at this turn of events and caused an earthquake.

This victory enthused the Israelites so much that they joined Saul and Jonathan in the fight against the Philistines, and wreaked plenty of destruction and shed much blood. 

It is here that Saul makes an oath, "Any man who eats before the evening will be cursed, so I can avenge my enemies."  The problem is, at the time of this decree, Saul's son Jonathan was not around.

While Jonathan was out slaughtering Philistines, he had eaten some honey.  (1 Samuel 14:27)

Later on, when Jonathan heard of this decree, he was convinced that he had to die.  Saul was even convinced!  However, the Israelites loved Jonathan so much because of his battlefield victories they asked that he not be sacrificed.

After the Philistines are put into their place, the Israelites take over Israel and continue fighting (and slaughtering) the other tribes - Moabites, Ammonites, Ebonites, the kings of Zobah, and even their old friends the Amalekites. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Samuel Rebukes Paul (1 Samuel, Chapter 13)

Samuel gets pissed at Saul for being impatient and offering a sacrifice too soon.  From Outset Ministry

I guess old Saul started getting a little power hungry, or he was starting to displease the clergy.  Chapter 13 starts off with Saul sending troops to take out the Philistine garrison in nearby Geba.  Naturally, Philistines in surrounding areas were pissed after hearing about this, and started raising an army against the Israelites.

The Israelites were starting to panic, and started hiding all over the place: in caves, in forests, wherever.  Those who were with Saul stayed with him, though they too were a little scared.  Of course, Saul did what any Bronze Age ruler would do when the odds were stacked against him.  He gathered a bunch of animals, and offered them up as a sacrifice.

When finally Samuel came around, he approached Saul and told him he screwed up big time.  What was his big mistake?  Aside from starting another war with the Philistines, Samuel made the burnt offerings too soon.  I know what you're thinking.  GASP!  How could he?!?

Samuel said that Yahweh must have made a mistake.  Even after all the signs which pointed to Saul, apparently he was the wrong guy!  Samuel says, "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee."

This is a prelude to a future chapter.  After showing that he was willing to take matters into his own hands, and not consult the clergy, the real powermongers (the clergy) decided that Saul was not the easily controlled puppet whom they thought he'd be.  That's just my reading of it.  They will eventually bring in another king, who will be far more pious then Saul.