Friday, May 15, 2015

The Bible Text is Not Perspicuous

"If there be ten just men, I will not do it", the Lord said to Abraham.

I don't want to put into the Bible what is not and has not been there, but merely as a mathematician who likes to play strange games, I want to point out that God said to Samuel,
Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys,
and the tale continues
And Saul smote Amalec from Hevila, until thou comest to Sur, which is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of Amalec alive: but all the common people he slew with the edge of the sword. And Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the flocks of sheep and of the herds, and the garments and the rams, and all that was beautiful, and would not destroy them: but every thing that was vile and good for nothing, that they destroyed.
It does not say that they found chidren or infants to put to death. They found "common people" and a King, flocks of sheep and beautiful plunder. It does not say they found any children or infants.

I like to say such things, sometimes, as "all my natural sisters live in Antarctica", or "all my pet octopodes can fly". They're perfectly true, as well, though I wouldn't advise voyaging to Antarctica in search of my natural sisters. It is entirely consistent with the sparsity of the text that all the children and infants of Amalek were indeed slaughtered, and that all of them were innocent at least as preceding the age of reason, and that no innocents were slaughtered. I haven't much gusto for even so prosaic a reading, and you would think that someone in Saul's army might notice a complete lack of children (had there been such lack) and mentioned it, such that it might have come down into the scripture; mentioned, unless, of course, it was part of a pattern they took for granted.

And a complete lack of children within Amalek is indeed consistent with particular violences they were reputed for: sterile thrills, practices that would widely proliferate sterilizing disease, and sacrifice of infants themselves.

I don't want to say that this is what actually happened, but I do want to point out that, if we are to read Deuteronomy through Kings N as an account of actual military campaigns, this is an important possible circumstance to consider.


me said...

What, you haven't any flying pet spiders??

me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belfry Bat said...

Incidentally, you're right! No pet spiders... but I was talking about no cephalopods, rather than no arachnids.

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