1 Samuel 7: Samuel Judges Israel

Synopsis:

The men of Kirjathejearim get the Ark and put it in the house of Abinadab and Eleazor (his son, was sanctified to keep the Ark).  The Ark abode there for 20 years. Samuel spoke to Israel and told them, give up the other gods (Baal and Ashtaroth) and serve the Lord only. Gather everyone to Mizpeh and I will pray unto you.  So they did. This made the Philistine’s very nervous and they prepared for battle against Israel, but God thundered a great thunder and it scared the Philistines away. The Israelis went out and chased them until they came to Bethcar. The Philistines were subdued and Israel regained  their land and there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. Samuel would travel to all the cities of Israel, but his house was in Ramah.

In other words:

Samuel becomes the judge of Israel and they are able to defeat the Philistines and bring peace.

Favorite bit:

1 Samuel 7:10 – An as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them: and they were smitten before Israel.  (I imagine a large army camped and then a massive storm and flood hitting just this camp and scarying them all. A bad omen before a battle.)

2nd favorite bit:

1 Samuel 7:4 – Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.  (Clearly, other god worship was still very common).

What’s confusing:

Why did they all rally around Samuel?  Was it because he could hear the voice of God in his head?  There were other prophets and men of God in the area that could do this and still, people continued to worship other gods.  It would be nice to know what caused people to follow him.  I suspect that it wasn't everyone, but that he was well regarded and so people were more inclined to follow him as a result.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Fair and impartial judges are essential to peace among people. (1 Samuel 7)

1 Samuel 8: Give us a King

Synopsis:

Samuel is old and he makes his sons Joel and Abiah Judges in Beersheba. His son’s however, aren’t honest and take bribes. So the people come to Samuel and tell him – we don’t want your sons to just us. We want a King. Samuel tells God this and God is a bit miffed. Tell them what will happen if I give them a King. So Samuel goes before everyone and says – look, you really don’t want a king. He will take your daughters and your harvest and set them to war. He will take a 10th of your wealth for himself and you will be his servants. If you have a King, god will not protect you. Nevertheless, the people want a King so they can be like other nations and have someone who will judge over them and fight their battles.

In other words:

People want a king. Samuel advises them against it, but the people are adamant.

What’s Interesting:

The realization that – this was a bit of a free democracy. They didn’t have rulers. They were free to decide for themselves whether to participate in a war or not. They didn’t have to pay to support a ruler. But, it had it’s downside in that they were at the mercy of judges who may be corrupt and they couldn’t organize well to fight off their enemies.

Favorite bit:

1 Samuel 8:17 – he will take a tenth of your sheep and you shall be his servants.

Least favorite bit:

That these people, in an attempt to avoid the corruption of Samuel’s sons, want a monarchy that will probably turn out just as corrupt. (1 Samuel 8:20).  It’s a bit depressing that people so willingly trade freedom for a false sense of security.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Monarchy’s are against the will of God. (1 Samuel 8)




1 Samuel 5: What shall we do with the Ark?

Synopsis:

The Philistines took the Ark of God to Ashod and put it in the house/temple of Dagon. And the next morning, the statue of Dagon was on the ground.  They picked him up, put him back and the next morning, the statue of Dagon had again fallen and this time broken. Additionally, the people of Dagon broke out in emerods (boils?) and the plague spread up and down the coasts around Ashod. So the priests of Dagon insisted that the Ark be taken away. It was taken to Gath and once again, people broke out with emerods, this time they had emerods on their secret parts!  The Ark was then sent to Ekron and the people of Ekron said – we don’t want it!  And the lords of the Philistines all agreed to send the Ark of God back to Israel.  The good news is that the people in Ekron who died, didn’t have emerods.

In other words:

Everywhere the Ark of God is taken, disease and death follows.

Favorite bit:

1 Samuel 5:9 – And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.  (Who doesn't like a good reference to a man’s secret parts?  That’ll show them.)

What’s an emerod?

According to Bible Hub (http://biblehub.com/topical/e/emerods.htm) these were probably plague like boils.  The word may be the root of hemorrhoid, but... since this occurred all over the body and on private parts and was fatal, it probably wasn't a hemorrhoid. Anyway – when you hear emerod think plague boil.

What I think was happening:

The Ark was routinely covered in blood and bits of animal parts and was probably NEVER cleaned. The Hebrew cult was a blood cult after all. The Ark would have been absolutely disgusting by modern standards.  The plague is carried by fleas on mice or rats.  So what probably happened is that as this Ark was moved about, it attracted rodents who were drawn to the blood and guts that were on the Ark. The fleas on these rodents, caused outbreaks of the plague wherever the Ark went. But because people didn't know how this disease was spread, they attributed it (quite rightly) to the appearance of the Ark. The only question is why the Israeli’s didn't seem to suffer from this. My guess is that they kept the Ark on the altar where things were constantly being cooked etc and perhaps rodents couldn't get to it.

General impression of this chapter?

It’s pretty funny actually.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Don’t bring disease infested artifacts into your house. (1 Samuel 5)


1 Samuel 6: Take the Ark Back!!!! Please!!!

Synopsis:

The Philistines ask their priests how to return the Ark to the Jews. They say – make golden emerods and golden mice – one for each of the Lords of the Philistines. Put these and your tresspass offering onto a cart with the Ark. Attach to milking cows to the cart and set them off toward Israel. If they take the coastal route to Bethshemesh – then we will know that the plague was brought by God. If it takes a different route, the plague is just a coincidence.  So... they send it off, with the golden mice and golden emerods, one each for Ashod, Gaza, Askelon, Gath and Ekron. The cows do go to Bethshemesh and the people are very excited to see the Ark. There is a great stone of Abel where this happened.  The problem is that the people of Bethshemesh opened the Ark and looked inside and so God smote 50,070 men. So the remaining people of Bethshemesh asked the people of Kirjathjearim to come down and get the Ark.

In other words:

The Philistines return the Ark and another 50,000 more people are killed by whatever diseases this Ark is carrying.

Favorite bit:

The Philistines have to make golden images of their emerods and 5 golden statues of mice.  Apparently, they did connect the transmission of emerods to the mice.  But when you read this – you have to think – what the heck does a golden emerod even look like? (1 Samuel 6:3)

Other favorite bit:

That the priests of the Philistines had a plan to see whether this was the work of a God or just a coincidence (1 Samuel 6:9)

Least favorite bit:

1 Samuel 6:19 – everyone is super excited to get the Ark back – but it’s so disease infested that everyone who looks inside it gets sick and dies.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Don’t touch things that don’t belong to you (1 Samuel 6:19)
Blood can transmit disease, so clean up after you touch it (1 Samuel 6:19)
Don’t assume supernatural causes. (1 Samuel 6:9)