Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God Loves A Good Genocide - Further Readings In 1 Samuel

My dad is a genocidal maniac,
but you need to worship him.
God loves a good genocide.

As many of you know, I'm currently reading through 1 Samuel. As a reminder, Samuel is God's prophet and the story revolves around the founding of Israel's monarchy. For those of you who didn't read the previous post, God basically said "Sure, have a king, but don't come complaining to me when things go wrong."

Ah, that's leadership.

Saul becomes king of the Chosen People. One day, Samuel gets a message from God.

Is it a message of love?

Is it a message of peace?

Is it a message of forgiveness?

No. Nope. And negative.


Once again, I'll let the text speak for itself.
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD.  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.  Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” 1 Samuel 15:  1-3
The thing about being the Heavenly Despot is that you can say any inhumane, crazy talk and the theocrats will listen. That's their job. Who can question the will of the divine overLORD?  And this order to wipe the Amalekites is right out YAHWEH's playbook. He ordered the same  Final Solution in Joshua (women, children, elderly, disabled, and yes, even the cattle, sheep, and donkeys).

It's important to point out that it had been quite a while since the Amalekites versus Israelites conflict. But one of the benefits of existing outside of space and time is that God has a very long memory and a very short temper.

It's also important to reiterate that God is supposed to be the paragon of morality and righteousness and the Israelites all have white hats on. You may forget that later on when the orgy of killing is retold.

Got it? Good.

In keeping with the traditional values of his people, Saul obeys and gathers the Lord's army. And lo! God is with them.
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt.  He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally  destroyed with the sword. 1 Samuel 15: 7-8
Obviously, the writers of 1 Samuel wanted no doubt left in the reader's mind concerning how efficient the slaughter was by saying totally destroyed. That is good writing.

But wait, Agag was left alive? Wasn't that against the holy command? What other deviltry was going on?
But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. 1 Samuel 15:9
 Uh-oh, trouble is a foot for our hero, Saul.

Samuel hears about the goings on from the LORD. Instead of being troubled by the thought that young children, the disabled, and pregnant women were cut down, Saul wept all night because God's command to kill everything wasn't followed. After all, God doesn't want only the "despised and weak" animals destroyed. He's God. He wants it ALL.
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. 1 Samuel 15: 10-11
Samuel confronts Saul, and like any other politician Saul says things like" Hey, those other guys are at fault," and "Oh, we were going to sacrifice them to God eventually."
Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest." 1 Samuel 15: 15
Politicians don't change. A majority of them follow this basic rule: When caught in a lie, lie again. However, God isn't having it. Not following orders means, in the words of Donald Trump, You're fired!
But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!” 1 Samuel 15:26
Saul is sorry, but there is no turning back. Saul's days are numbered because David is about to make his appearance in the next chapter.

Wait, there is one more thing loose storyline to tie up. Agag, the former king of the obliterated Amalekites is still alive.

God can't have that.

Samuel has Saul bring the Agag in. It's clear that Agag is not walking with God, because he thinks all has been forgiven.
Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.” Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 1 Samuel 15:32
Oh, Agag, haven't you been paying attention to what has already occurred in chapter 15?

Saul has Agag, last of the Amalekites, killed right then and there.

That's God mercy.


this is Purgatory.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, come on, I mean those Amalekites were baaaaaad and they'd corrupted even the sheep and the donkeys. What's a god to do? It's love, Jim, but not as we know it. Mysterious ways and all that. If you want to fully understand mysterious ways you should go to youtube and search for jim jeffries. Now there's a man who understands religion.


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