Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 15

Postby Regnis Numis » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:46 pm

I have a few questions:

You stated that Saul kept the best of the plunder for himself, but doesn't 1 Samuel 15:15 and 21 indicate that Saul was going to sacrifice the animals to God? Moreover, if Saul's actual sin was calling honor to himself to be glorified as the God of Israel, and the command to totally annihilate the Amalekites and their animals was all hyperbole, then how do you explain verses like 1 Samuel 15:14, 19, and 22? If the Israelites weren't literally supposed to slaughter all the Amalekites and their animals, then why does it matter if Saul and his men decided to keep the best of the animals, especially if they were going to sacrifice them to God? In 1 Samuel 15:14, why does Samuel call attention to the sheep and cattle instead of the monument if Saul's sin was self-glorification? In 1 Samuel 15:19 and 22, why does Samuel focus on Saul's disobedience of sparing the animals rather than his prideful overreach for personal glory? Presuming the Israelites knew they weren't actually expected to slaughter all the Amalekites and their animals, why didn't God add further instructions not to take any animals as plunder? How were the Israelites supposed to know? Or was Samuel's command for the Israelites not to spare anything from the Amalekites meant to be interpreted as "take no prisoners nor plunder"? If so, then it seems Samuel's command conveyed a greater meaning than simply winning a decisive victory against the Amalekites. Under such circumstances, shouldn't there be ancient extrabiblical accounts where similar hyperbolic commands communicated the same meaning (i.e. take no prisoners nor plunder)? After all, if no such accounts exist, then how could the Israelites be expected to understand Samuel's command in a similar light?
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:17 pm

Maybe I can just lay it out for you. Maybe that would be the best way to deal with your questions, and then we can go from there.

Saul was rejected by God as king in 1037 BC, 14 yrs after his crowning. this Amalekite incident happened in 1023, another in a string of failures and disobediences. The point of the story is not the "genocide" of the Amalekites (which, by the way, didn't happen. The Amalekites were a people group for another 1000 yrs.), but rather the failure of Saul as God's representative on the throne. His disobedience caused his dethroning (and also it was not caused by aggression or revolt on the part of David).

The Amalekites were a people group spread over a large geographic area, mostly as nomadic people, not concentrated in the cities. The cities were military bases.

God commands that the Amalekites be punished for their attacks on Israel through the centuries (Ex. 17.8-16; Dt. 25.17-19). Samuel reminds Saul that he is king by God's appointment, not by popular vote. He has to prosecute YHWH's case. The military action isn't for political gain, ethnic cleansing, or land grabbing, but for their sins against Israel. (Israel wasn't egressing against them at the time, just passing through their territory. They attack Israel without provocation.)

Saul was to attack them and "herem" them. This verb has traditionally been translated as "totally destroy," but that has been found to be false. It means "to liberate the land from normal human use," i.e., make it sacred to God—ineligible for human use. Sometimes this was done by clearing the land, sometimes by destruction of things, sometimes by dedication. While it can mean destruction, it doesn't necessarily mean that. In this context it means that if the king is killed and their military outposts are destroyed, if the altars are removed and their idols destroyed, the Amalekites will lose their cultural identity and no longer be a people group, let alone a military threat.

The "put everything to death" warfare rhetoric is their way of expressing "win a decisive victory."

So Saul musters an army in the Negev about 30 miles south of Hebron. the word "thousand" is the same word for "clan." It's unrealistic to think he mustered an army of 200,000 soldiers; it's more likely 200 divisions, and 10 divisions from Judah. He set an ambush in a single ravine near their governmental center (15.5) from where the king and his court ruled. This was the target of the attack, because it is here they can best strip the Amalekites of their cultural identity.

Saul attacked and won a decisive victory (15.7), as planned, chasing the losers in every direction. He captured the king and took him alive instead of killing him, but they slaughter of the politicians and military personnel in the city was devastating. By sparing the king, however, Saul has defeated the entire purpose of herem against a community, which was to destroy their identity as a people. Without killing the king, he may as well have done nothing at all. More severely, however, he has effectively declared independence from his boss, God, by honoring himself in place of the emperor (God) and by taking a vassal of his own (King Agag; see 15.32, where Agag expects to be subjugated rather than executed). This explains Samuel’s odd reference to divination and idols in v. 23.

That he won this victory in one night proves that it was not genocide. There is no way to chase down thousands of Bedouin spread from Sinai to Iraq in one night.

Saul thinks he's awesome (15.13). The land was conquered, spoils were taken, he erected a victory stele, and he prepared to sacrifice to the Lord. The animals, however, were

God is once again displeased by Saul's disobedience and rebellion against him. His "regret" is that he can no longer count on Saul or use him to accomplish his purposes.

When Samuel arrives, he finds out Saul has erected a victory stela of his success. The erection of a stele was common, but that it was in his own honor is disconcerting.

Samuel hears the sheep. These sheep weren't supposed to be for sacrifice., nor were they to be taken as plunder for the benefit of the soldiers (typical warfare behavior—they got food from what they plundered). These animals in this city were supposed to have been killed. Saul made the mistake of thinking sacrifices were more important to God than obedience (15.22). (His mention of "the Lord YOUR God" [15.15] is telling.)

Saul's sins were multiple. He disobeyed, he set himself up as the center of order and wisdom, and he glorified himself.

With that as background (and the post is getting long), I can either answer your questions next time (just ask), or maybe this brings up new questions.
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby Regnis Numis » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:09 pm

> Saul was rejected by God as king in 1037 BC, 14 yrs after his crowning. this Amalekite incident happened in 1023, another in a string of failures and disobediences.

Why didn't God reject Saul as king immediately after his first failure/disobedience? Or rather, why did God appoint Saul as king if He knew Saul would fail/disobey Him repeatedly?

> More severely, however, he has effectively declared independence from his boss, God, by honoring himself in place of the emperor (God) and by taking a vassal of his own (King Agag; see 15.32, where Agag expects to be subjugated rather than executed). This explains Samuel’s odd reference to divination and idols in v. 23.

From my perspective, I didn't find Samuel's reference to divination and idols particularly odd. Isn't it equally possible Samuel was simply insinuating that disobedience was as bad as divination and idolatry?

> Saul thinks he's awesome (15.13). The land was conquered, spoils were taken, he erected a victory stele, and he prepared to sacrifice to the Lord. The animals, however, were

I think you've left this paragraph incomplete.

> God is once again displeased by Saul's disobedience and rebellion against him. His "regret" is that he can no longer count on Saul or use him to accomplish his purposes.

But doesn't 1 Samuel 15:11 state that God regrets making Saul king rather than the fact that He can no longer use Saul to accomplish His purposes?

> Samuel hears the sheep. These sheep weren't supposed to be for sacrifice, nor were they to be taken as plunder for the benefit of the soldiers (typical warfare behavior—they got food from what they plundered). These animals in this city were supposed to have been killed. Saul made the mistake of thinking sacrifices were more important to God than obedience (15.22).

But if "herem", within the context of 1 Samuel 15, means to erase the Amalekites' cultural identity, while the "put everything to death" warfare rhetoric simply means to "win a decisive victory", then isn't Saul's only form of disobedience sparing King Agag? How were the Israelites supposed to know they shouldn't take any sheep or cattle as sacrifice or plunder unless they interpreted Samuel's command to "put everything to death" literally?
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby jimwalton » Sun Jul 08, 2018 3:00 pm

> Why didn't God reject Saul as king immediately after his first failure/disobedience?

People learn from life and from watching life. If God rejected him immediately after his first failure, people would go, "Jeez, God isn't very patient. Did you see how he whacked that guy after just ONE failure. Well, I'm not perfect either, so what hope is there for me?" Repeated failures, by contrast, give opportunities for (1) learning from one's mistakes, (2) repenting from one's sins and disobediences, and (2) showing what one's long-term approach to life is. Without time and room to spread one's wings, such things can never be found out. As Pocohontas said (WARNING: Disney reference): "How high can a sycamore grow? If you cut it down, you'll never know." Saul's repeated failures showed what Saul was and wasn't made of, and other people watching him could learn valuable lessons as well.

> Or rather, why did God appoint Saul as king if He knew Saul would fail/disobey Him repeatedly?

1 Samuel just rings out with these themes of the failure of the people who are supposed to be the winners and God's ultimate choice is the lowly. Eli's sons were supposed to succeed him in the priesthood, but they were a pair of jerks and moral lowlife, so God cut them off (1 Sam. 2.27-36) and instead Samuel, the kid who was brought in from the outside, became God's choice (1 Sam. chapter 3; 8.1). Samuel's sons were even no-goods (1 Sam. 8.2ff.). Then Israel asks for a king in rejection of God (1 Sam. 8.4-8). God warns them that a human king will make human mistakes and be no good for the nation (1 Sam. 8.9-18). The people refuse to listen (8.19-20).

So God lets them choose a king the way the other nations choose kings: a tall, impressive man (9.2). This is what they want. God lets them play it through so they learn (the hard way, which is really the only way to learn) the consequences of rebelling against God and conforming to the way the world thinks and does things. People learn in the course of life, not because God plops things on them. We all learn as we go.

> I didn't find Samuel's reference to divination and idols particularly odd. Isn't it equally possible Samuel was simply insinuating that disobedience was as bad as divination and idolatry?

In the ancient world it was through ritual that the god was appeased, and that was all that was required. Saul thought he had done well because he was planning the appropriate rituals. Other nations interacted with their gods through divination and idolatry, believing that the gods could be managed or even manipulated. But YHWH was not like that—he was not one of the pagan gods. He expected to be obeyed, and that was more important than ritual. "Isn't it equally possible Samuel was simply insinuating that disobedience was as bad as divination and idolatry?" Yes, I think so. For the Israelites, divination and the idols represent breaches of political loyalty to the sovereign God. Saul was disobeying, but thinking that if he performed the rituals it would be good enough. Samuel is telling him that's the way the pagans think, and he is operating on a misunderstanding that YHWH is like the other gods, and that Saul's rituals were akin to (as bad as) divination and idolatry.

> I think you've left this paragraph incomplete.

Duh. Sorry. The animals weren't to be used for sacrifice to God, nor were they to be taken as plunder by the people for the benefit of the soldiers. These particular animals were to be killed so that no one could accuse the Israelites of attacking the Amalekites for personal gain.

> But doesn't 1 Samuel 15:11 state that God regrets making Saul king rather than the fact that He can no longer use Saul to accomplish His purposes?

When the Bible uses "regret" for God, it consistently means not that he was surprised, regretted his mistake, and had to come up with a plan B. "Regret" usually has to do with God's change of will concerning a future plan of action. He could no longer use Saul.

The ancient worldview (totally foreign to us) was one of order and disorder. Saul has brought disorder to the kingdom, and the ledger, so to speak, was now out of balance. He had refused to balance the ledgers with repentance (Jer. 8.6). God cannot allow evil to stand on the books, but balances it with either grace and mercy (Joel 2.13; Jonah 4.2) or with punishment (Jer. 18.10). Judges 21 provides another example of this.
Here YHWH is seeking to redress the situation. He is auditing the accounts. His course of action entails removing Saul and his progeny from the throne. God is enforcing a system of checks and balances as part of the equilibrium he is maintaining in the world. Compare also Dan. 5.27.

> isn't Saul's only form of disobedience sparing King Agag?

A biggy was in sparing the king. That was huge. But he was actually, in this case, to have killed all the animals so there would be no mixed motives or misunderstood intent. This was not an attack so they could get some stuff or to make a land grab.

In this case they understood quite well that they were to kill the king, the political leaders, and the soldiers. That was obvious. (There would have been no understanding to wipe out every Amalekite in the area from Egypt to Iraq and northwards to Syria.) Saul seems to have understood the specifics of the command about the animals (15.9).
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby Regnis Numis » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:44 pm

> God warns them that a human king will make human mistakes and be no good for the nation (1 Sam. 8.9-18).

It seems like God was imparting a rather specific prophecy to the Israelites about their future king. How does Saul's reign fulfill God's prophetic warnings? When do the Israelites cry out for relief from king Saul?

> When the Bible uses "regret" for God, it consistently means not that he was surprised, regretted his mistake, and had to come up with a plan B. "Regret" usually has to do with God's change of will concerning a future plan of action. He could no longer use Saul.

Firstly, would it be accurate to say that 1 Samuel 15:11 has been mistranslated? I doubt anyone who has read the verse would receive the impression that God's "regret" actually referred to His change of will concerning a future plan of action. Secondly, are you suggesting that God made a change of plans when He rejected Saul as king? Doesn't that imply God changes His mind?

> A biggy was in sparing the king. That was huge. But he was actually, in this case, to have killed all the animals so there would be no mixed motives or misunderstood intent. This was not an attack so they could get some stuff or to make a land grab.

> In this case they understood quite well that they were to kill the king, the political leaders, and the soldiers. That was obvious. (There would have been no understanding to wipe out every Amalekite in the area from Egypt to Iraq and northwards to Syria.) Saul seems to have understood the specifics of the command about the animals (15.9).

But where does Samuel command Saul to slaughter every animal in 1 Samuel 15:3 if "herem" simply meant erasing the Amalekites' cultural identity, while the "put everything to death" only meant winning a decisive victory? Or did the latter command only apply literally to animals? Were the Israelites supposed to assume God wanted them to slaughter every animal if He didn't give them permission to seize the animals as plunder?
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:47 pm

> How does Saul's reign fulfill God's prophetic warnings?

The prophecy is specific to Saul but also general about the monarchy. In 1 Sam. 13.2 we see the beginnings of a military draft, against God's will. Under Solomon there was heavy taxation and a huge corvee labor force (1 Ki. 4.22-28; 9.15-19, etc.). The people resented the tax load (1 Ki. 12.4). The opulence was out of control (1 Ki. 10.26-29) at the expense of the people.

> Firstly, would it be accurate to say that 1 Samuel 15:11 has been mistranslated?

The King James read "repented," which really gave the wrong idea. Modern translators then went to "regret," and have more recently settled on "I am grieved." Translation work is difficult when a single term won't communicate the idea. Just for some analysis, the word occurs 48 times in the OT, and in 34 of them God is the subject (expressed or implied). The LXX usually translates it as *metamelomai* (be sorry, repent, change one's mind), but that's not how the LXX translates it here or in v. 7. Hamilton says, "The The vast majority of occurrences have to do with YHWH’s change of will concerning a future plan of action" rather than with acknowledgement of having to correct a mistake. 1 Sam. 15.29 affirms that the Lord doesn't change his mind. God hasn't changed his mind in the sense that his purposes haven't changed, but he could no longer use Saul. The people have been taught a lesson, and now it's time for God to push forward with David rather than Saul, and that's what all this is talking about. How do you put that into one word?

> Secondly, are you suggesting that God made a change of plans when He rejected Saul as king? Doesn't that imply God changes His mind?

Take a few minutes and read Jer. 18.1-12. Maybe that will help, and maybe it will stimulate more questions.

> But where does Samuel command Saul to slaughter every animal in 1 Samuel 15:3 if "herem" simply meant erasing the Amalekites' cultural identity, while the "put everything to death" only meant winning a decisive victory? Or did the latter command only apply literally to animals?

We are not told all the words that were said, but the words the historian chose to record for us. It seems from the narrative that Saul had understood what was expected of him: kill the king and his court, kill the soldiers, conquer the city, and kill the animals so that no one mistakes this for a "get rich quick" scheme. On the one hand he thinks he's done what he was asked (1 Sam. 15.13), but then when confronted he seems to be very aware that his ruse didn't work and he knew where he had disobeyed (v. 24). We're left with the impression that he understood the orders.
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby Regnis Numis » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:58 pm

> In 1 Sam. 13.2 we see the beginnings of a military draft, against God's will.

Besides the military draft, is there anything else about Saul's reign which fulfilled God's prophecy? I know you said the prophecy was also general about the monarchy, but I'm presently curious about Saul's kingship. Any extrabiblical information would also be appreciated.

> 1 Sam. 15.29 affirms that the Lord doesn't change his mind. God hasn't changed his mind in the sense that his purposes haven't changed, but he could no longer use Saul. The people have been taught a lesson, and now it's time for God to push forward with David rather than Saul, and that's what all this is talking about.

After some contemplation, I think I'm beginning to follow what you're saying. It was God's will for Saul to reign as Israel's king until his disobedience in 1 Samuel 15, upon which God's will shifted towards anointing David as Israel's next king. However, this "change of will" was already premeditated by God from the beginning. Am I understanding you correctly?

> Take a few minutes and read Jer. 18.1-12. Maybe that will help, and maybe it will stimulate more questions.

After reading Jeremiah 18:1-12 and accounting for God's omniscience, I've noticed a paradox: God states He will relent from inflicting the disaster He had "planned" against a nation/kingdom if that nation/kingdom repents of its evil. However, since God is omniscient, He doesn't need to "plan" a calamity for a nation/kingdom which He has already foreseen will respond to the mere threat of disaster with repentance. Presuming everything that transpires was part of God's plan all along, it follows that any "planned" calamity which never occurred had never actually been part of God's plan to begin with. Same logic applies to a nation/kingdom He had "planned" to bless, given that He must have already foreseen whether a nation/kingdom shall perform evil in His sight.

> We are not told all the words that were said, but the words the historian chose to record for us. It seems from the narrative that Saul had understood what was expected of him: kill the king and his court, kill the soldiers, conquer the city, and kill the animals so that no one mistakes this for a "get rich quick" scheme. On the one hand he thinks he's done what he was asked (1 Sam. 15.13), but then when confronted he seems to be very aware that his ruse didn't work and he knew where he had disobeyed (v. 24). We're left with the impression that he understood the orders.

This certainly makes me curious why Samuel's full instructions weren't recorded. It could've saved us some confusion. Personally, I suspected that Samuel's command to "put everything to death" might have carried a double meaning: Not only to win a decisive victory, but to take no prisoners nor plunder. After all, Saul wasn't supposed to capture King Agag nor seize any animals.

Moreover, since you claimed that Saul "most likely let the animals go", explaining that "the idea was not that everything be slaughtered, but that none of it be taken by the soldiers as plunder", yet you've been stating here that Saul was to slaughter the animals, I must ask: Was Saul required to slaughter every animal or could he let them go as long as he didn't seize any plunder?

Finally, what would have been the consequences of permitting the Israelites to secure the animals as plunder? When you say the Israelites were to have killed all the animals to prevent mixed motives or misunderstood intent, do you mean other pagan nations mistaking the Israelites' intent, or do you mean the Israelites mistaking Yahweh's intent? And what would such a misunderstanding eventually entail?
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:18 pm

> Besides the military draft, is there anything else about Saul's reign which fulfilled God's prophecy?

The first several prophecies of 1 Sam. 8.10-18 all pertain to military service (the draft, assigning officers, making weapons, etc.). The next one pertains to recruiting staff (8.13). We know that Saul had at least one palace at Gibeah (10.26; archaeologists have found it a "palace" structure there). He had attendants (16.15ff.), though we don't know how many.

The next one (8.14-17) pertains to taking their fields and possessions as his own. I'm not aware Saul ever did this. We're just not told. Later kings did (1 Ki. 21). Saul had to have at least started some kind of taxation system to afford his military and his attendants, but it probably wasn't oppressive until the days of Solomon and beyond.

The last prophecy (8.18) refers to the people feeling oppressed. I'm not aware of this sentiment during Saul's monarchy.

> Am I understanding you correctly?

It sounds accurate enough for me to affirm, yes.

> Jeremiah 18.1-12

Somewhat paradoxical, but not completely. The Bible teaches that humans have true free will, not just a charade of it playing out what God knows is going to happen all along. Knowledge is never causative, and the fact that God can see all events along a time continuum as if they are all "present" gives him the ability to know without forcing people along a particular destiny. (I was fascinated by the sci-fi presentation of this concept in the 2014 movie "Interstellar", where Matthew McConaughey is in some "back room" of time and can see it all simultaneously.) The problem comes with your concept of "Presuming everything that transpires was part of God's plan all along...", which is not a biblical presumption. We are not robots following a determined course, but truly free agents that God is watching and responding to. His knowledge (the back door to the time continuum) allows him to see it all, but we are not determined.

> This certainly makes me curious why Samuel's full instructions weren't recorded. It could've saved us some confusion.

For sure. We wish we could have heard everything God said to Adam & Eve, more stories about Jesus, more complete information about the Exodus, how God talked to the prophets, and on for years and years of questions. If we had all that, the Bible would be 97 volumes and it would overwhelm even the most academically stout. As it is, we have 1600 pages and its too much for most people.

Every historian is selective in their choice of material. We get the dialogue that was deemed to be fitting for the author's purposes. It's frustrating, for sure, but we at least have what we do. We wish we knew more about other historical persons and situations as well. It just ain't there.

> Was Saul required to slaughter every animal or could he let them go as long as he didn't seize any plunder?

Great question. I dunno.

> do you mean other pagan nations mistaking the Israelites' intent, or do you mean the Israelites mistaking Yahweh's intent?

Both. Israel's action in 1 Sam. 15 against the city of Amalek is retribution for an unprovoked aggression and continual attempts to undermine Israel's theocracy. They had set themselves up as true enemies of God. Everyone was to understand this battle was not to get commodities or to snatch land, but only because they were enemies of God and God's people.
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby Regnis Numis » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:48 pm

> Somewhat paradoxical, but not completely. The Bible teaches that humans have true free will, not just a charade of it playing out what God knows is going to happen all along. Knowledge is never causative, and the fact that God can see all events along a time continuum as if they are all "present" gives him the ability to know without forcing people along a particular destiny. (I was fascinated by the sci-fi presentation of this concept in the 2014 movie "Interstellar", where Matthew McConaughey is in some "back room" of time and can see it all simultaneously.) The problem comes with your concept of "Presuming everything that transpires was part of God's plan all along...", which is not a biblical presumption. We are not robots following a determined course, but truly free agents that God is watching and responding to. His knowledge (the back door to the time continuum) allows him to see it all, but we are not determined.

Although knowledge isn't causative, it doesn't change the fact that God wouldn't need to "plan" a calamity for a nation/kingdom that He already knew would repent of its evil upon hearing the mere threat of disaster. Hence, did God "plan" to inflict disaster before changing His mind upon witnessing their repentance, or did He foresee their repentance from the beginning and thus never actually "planned" a calamity?

> Both. Israel's action in 1 Sam. 15 against the city of Amalek is retribution for an unprovoked aggression and continual attempts to undermine Israel's theocracy. They had set themselves up as true enemies of God. Everyone was to understand this battle was not to get commodities or to snatch land, but only because they were enemies of God and God's people.

From a practical standpoint, it would seem like Israel could have benefited substantially from both punishing the Amalekites and seizing their plunder for personal gain. Hence, I'm curious why averting a misunderstanding was so vital to God's agenda. What consequences would such a misunderstanding have entailed in the future?
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Re: 1 Samuel 15

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:16 pm

> Although knowledge isn't causative, it doesn't change the fact that God wouldn't need to "plan" a calamity for a nation/kingdom that He already knew would repent of its evil upon hearing the mere threat of disaster. Hence, did God "plan" to inflict disaster before changing His mind upon witnessing their repentance, or did He foresee their repentance from the beginning and thus never actually "planned" a calamity?

You know, this is a great comment and great questions. I'm not sure I have much of an answer for you. Looking from our human perspective into timeless mind of God, understanding how his omniscience works with time-space history, and how he plans without overriding free will is just not something I understand. I'm not trying to cop out, really. I just don't know how it all works. Your questions are great. I don't have the answers for you, honestly.

> From a practical standpoint, it would seem like Israel could have benefited substantially from both punishing the Amalekites and seizing their plunder for personal gain. Hence, I'm curious why averting a misunderstanding was so vital to God's agenda. What consequences would such a misunderstanding have entailed in the future?

There are some huge "rivers" (not just threads) running through the Bible—themes that run from from cover to cover, infusing every page. "Understanding God properly" is one of them. From the Tower of Babel story all the way to Revelation 20, one of the concerns of the Bible is God revealing Himself as He is so that people don't have false concepts of Him, which often leads to disobedience, idolatry, false religions, and outright scorn. His initiation of the covenant (another "river") was so that people would know Him.

God has a plan in history that he is sovereignly executing. We call it the plan of salvation. (This is not to be confused with the false concept that God has everyone's life planned out.) The goal of that plan is for him to be in relationship with the people whom he has created. It would be difficult for people to enter into a relationship with a God whom they do not know. If his nature were concealed, obscured, or distorted, an honest relationship would be impossible. In order to clear the way for this relationship, then, God has undertaken as a primary objective a program of self-revelation. He wants people to know him. The mechanism that drives this program is the covenant, and the instrument is Israel. The purpose of the covenant is to reveal God as He truly is.

So saying, God is dedicated to the idea that there be no distortions of his nature and his work. The consequences of such misunderstanding would be that people would think that their selfish and greedy ideas and actions would be endorsed by God, or that God helped them acquire something that was only motivated by greed or pride. God doesn't want anything to do with that monkey business.


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