29 January 2010

God kills Saul, his sons, and his men for not killing all the Amalekites (or was it for not inquiring of the Lord?)

Previously, Saul killed every Amalekite man, woman, child, infant, and baby – just like God told him to. Well, almost anyway. He kept one guy alive: King Agag. And God never forgave him for it.

Because Saul didn’t completely perform God’s commandment (to commit complete genocide on the Amalekites), God repented of making Saul king and gave his kingdom to David.

But that wasn’t the only punishment God had in mind. Now God just needed to find a way to tell Saul about it.

He did it through a dead man (Samuel) who was brought back to life by a witch.

Samuel’s ghost told Saul that tomorrow God would kill Saul and his sons by delivering the Israelite army into the hands of the Philistines.
Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore … the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me [i.e., you and your sons will be dead]: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 28.18-19
Well, I don't know if it was the next day or not but the Philistines attacked and the Israelites "fell down slain in mount Gilboa."
Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. 1 Samuel 31.1
So that left Saul and his sons. God took care of Saul's sons by having the Philistines kill them. (I know it sounds cruel, but they deserved it since their father saved one Amalekite alive and God told him to kill them all.)
The Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons. 1 Samuel 31.2
Saul must have been especially hard for God to kill, though, because he had to do it four different ways.

Saul committed suicide.
Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. So Saul died. 1 Samuel 31.4
Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 1 Chronicles 10.4
An Amalekite killed him.
And he [Saul] said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me. So I stood upon him, and slew him. 2 Samuel 1.8-10
The Philistines killed him.
The Philistines had slain Saul. 2 Samuel 21.12
God killed him.
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10.13-14
But one way or another, God got the job done, and Saul, his three sons, and who knows how many Israelite soldiers all died -- because God was pissed off at Saul for the incomplete genocide of the Amalekites. Or was it for not inquiring of the Lord? I guess it really doesn't matter, does it? God can kill anyone for any reason, or for no reason at all, and every believer will be OK with it.

(Saul and his three sons were killed along with the Israelite soldiers. Since the Bible doesn’t say anything about how many soldiers were killed, I guessed 100.)


Matthew Blanchette said...

Nice how you pointed out the many deaths of Saul, Steve, but that last mention of the Amalekites at the end has an extra "a"; might want to fix that...

Steve Wells said...

Thanks again matt. You're a spellchecker that I can't ignore!

Matthew Blanchette said...

Really welcome; my spellchecking, however, pales to your work on this site.

Compared to you, I am but an emerod. :-P

twillight said...

Now I see what Léo Taxil ment when he said:
"If I'd tell all mistakes, bullshit and any way problematic parts of the Bible, this book - The Amusing Bible - I could never finish."

busterggi said...

I gotta tell ya it ain't easy.

My landlord has exterminators regularly do the building I'm in and yet we still have Amalekites.

An i'll bet Saul didn't really die, he just came back as Saul of Tarsus in the sequel.

Robert said...

I think this discrepancy about Saul's many deaths is weak since there are reasonable explanations for the different accounts. (Such as "The Amalekite talking to David could have been lying.") Which discrepancies do you find most disturbing and without a reasonable explanation?

busterggi said...

Robert: Considering there is no evidence to support any of the four deaths of Saul which do you find most convincing & why?

And does it really matter, at least three must be wrong for a minimum 75% error content.

Robert said...

Hi busterggi, I'm new here so first let me just clarify that I'm not an inerrantist. It's clear to me now that inerrancy is not a defendable position if one is intellectually honest about the Bible.

As for your question, I think these passages can be harmonized if the Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1 was lying to David about his role in the death of Saul. I won't rehash the lengthy arguments one can find on a number of apologetics web sites except to say that God and the Philistines could have also "killed Saul" even if he literally took his own life during the battle. That's a fair reading of the text in my estimation.

That issue aside, I'm really interested in something else. My bigger question is "Which discrepancies do you find most disturbing and without a reasonable explanation?" Put another way, if you could only present a few Biblical contradictions to a believer that will openly consider the facts, what would you choose?

I am that believer.

skanksta said...

"Which discrepancies do you find most disturbing..?"

Hmmm...ALL OF THEM !
How about you go back to the start of Steve's (amazing) blog, and read through all of The Brick Testament?
You WILL be disturbed!

"...and without a reasonable explanation?"

None of them.
One simple explanation suffices in all cases.
Anthropology confirms that almost all primitive human cultures have invented religious myths. The religions they invent reflect the limited concerns of the tribe/culture that created them at their particular epoch in history.

Therefore the Old Testament creates a brutal land grabbing warlord, obsessed with power, land, blood sacrifice and domination.

Think about it...
If it was any other way then Mohammed/Koresh/Smith/Jesus/Frum/Baldar/Vishnu (insert your god's right hand man here), would all have holy books that would understand - and even surpass - modern scientific and moral understanding.

busterggi said...

Check the main site for contradictions, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) to pick from.

Robert said...

Hi busterggi, I've seen the site and it is a good resource. But the question still remains: Which ones are most damning?

It seems obvious to me that some alleged contradictions are not. Even if you or I believe that the Good Book is full of problems, we have to recognize that not all are created equal. To even mention some of them in a circle of believers would make one look very ignorant about the Bible. But other allegations are bound to make a group of believers stop and think .. if they are willing to do that.

I'm willing to stop and think, but I don't want to waste time with alleged contractions that are easily harmonized. So which ones are most worth my time?

Thanks for your input.

skanksta said...

How about the contradiction between your model of a compassionate, loving god and the character of Yahweh as described in your holy book.

Pay attention ! Steve is on killing68 with a body count of millions of sufferers....

MaryLynne said...

Hi, Robert,

I get the sense that you feel like you are asking a simple, reasonable question. I wonder if you are frustrated with the seemingly smart-alec replies. To us it isn't a reasonable question. Try to imagine the question "But WHICH argument for leprecauns do you find most unconvincing?"

Also, although this may not be your intent, many of us have been in these kinds of conversations. "Well, if I guess I had to pick one, argument 32 is the worst." "Aha! So you are saying argument 29 might be valid."

I really don't think it is ever a waste of time to stop and think. Look for yourself - now that you've started thinking about it, how can you justify believing any of it when so much of it is contradictory or downright wrong? If you can sort out one contradiction to your satisfaction, does that make the rest OK? I don't know of any Bible verses that say it is OK to pick and choose what you believe.

Robert said...


Excellent comment! I was a bit frustrated with the other replies, but what you have said about their perspective makes sense. I'll keep digging.

skanksta said...

Keep digging, lol !

Robert - seriously - you "were frustrated by the other replies" ?!


Go back to the start of yahweh's killings and try making an excuse for any of them. Steve is up to murder 75, millions have died, many in abject misery and suffering....

Anonymous said...

How did you get the number of Saul's soldier as 100? That seems like a very small army considering he had thousands go look for David a few chapters earlier.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, you're right, Souperman. 100 is probably too small a number. I should probably make it 1000, which is the number I use for typical slaughters. (I use 10,000 for great slaughters.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, in I Samuel 29:1 it says the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek. Then in
29:2 the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands.
It would be a little hard to believe that Saul would attack such a huge force with his sons and only a hundred men. Especially since God has it out for him.

Unknown said...

The moral of the story can't be that God can kill anyone when he needs to. We don't need a story like this to prove it. What I want to know is why did God demand such a genocide?

Unknown said...

The moral of the story can't be that God can kill anyone when he needs to. We don't need a story like this to prove it. What I want to know is why did God demand such a genocide?