1 Samuel 15:2

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Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I have marked that which Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way, when he came up out of Egypt. (ASV)

Contents

Pro

An action can be either moral or immoral depending upon the motive that attaches to the action. For example, the act of tripping someone can be either moral or immoral depending upon the tripper's motive. If someone tripped an individual to enjoy seeing pain inflicted, the action is immoral. If someone tripped an individual to keep that individual for getting hit by a speeding bus, the action is commendable.

Notice that here, Samuel is justifying the murder of infants, women and children for the crimes of long dead ancestors. This justification makes the action evil. It is also contrary to Deuteronomy 24:16. --Bc 12:15, 23 Oct 2005 (CDT)

Response to Con piece: Our shared human heritage explains why most of us have a "moral sense" (via biological and social evolution: we did, after all, evolve as social creatures). But, regardless, there isn't much support for the notion of "Divine Command Morality" in the Bible. The story of the Forbidden Fruit tells us that we DO have knowledge of Good and Evil, and that God didn't want us to have this knowledge. "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22). The Bible also says that God can create evil (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6).

So, according to the Bible itself, we do indeed have the ability to judge God, and to discover "evil" attributable to him. We are also able to note that "this has divine sanction" is no excuse for injustice. Here, God commands the slaughter of people who are entirely innocent of the crime for which they are being punished. This is unjust by definition, as "justice" requires punishment of the perpetrator of a crime. --Robert Stevens 18:13, 4 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Response to "Defense of Answer": Yes, the Amalekites are described as "sinners" in 1 Samuel 15:18, but that verse doesn't explain why. From the context, however, it appears to be a summary of God's command at the beginning of the chapter: allowing us to infer that the "sin" is to have ancestors who attacked the Israelites four centuries previously.

Punishing people for the crimes of others is unjust, no matter what language you use to describe this action (because the concept of "justice" must inevitably involve directly linking the punishment to the crime). And, as previously mentioned, the Bible itself confirms that we have the ability to make such judgements: to discern Good and Evil, independently of God. --Robert Stevens 03:58, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

By the way: the "debt" analogy doesn't really hold up. The lender isn't trying to punish the debtor, he simply wants his money back: that's why he will accept it from whoever offers it. Our laws do not allow a third party to be compelled to pay back a debt, except in cases where such a person actually inherited the money that is owed, or contracted to accept this responsibility (e.g. an insurance company): which involves financial reward for accepting this risk in the first place.

You can't nominate a friend to go to prison (or face execution) for you, and you certainly can't nominate an unwilling person, even if he's a descendant of yours. --Robert Stevens 04:24, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

In general: Arguments based on Biblical immorality will not be effective on those who simply say that "I will accept anything that God does, no matter how awful it appears to others". They are intended to provoke the inerrantist to search whatever sense of "conscience" and "fairness" they have left: and that might not be much. Those who remain unmoved by such arguments should maybe study other categories of Biblical problems instead. --Robert Stevens 04:07, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Con

Answer

You'd have to have some standard of evil that is applicable to all persons before you can claim that any motive or action is "evil," else you reduce "evil" to "I (or some group of people) don't like it" -- but why should anyone listen to you (or some group of people)?

If God created humanity, and thereby has a right to impose whatever moral laws He wishes on humanity, then (by definition) there can be nothing "immoral" about what He requires of humanity, because morality is what He requires of humanity.

So you are begging the question to assume some standard of absolute morality exists according to which you can call this immoral; or, if you are assuming the Biblical morality for the sake of argument, then by definition it cannot be immoral, because God sanctions it.

Further, Deu. 24:16 is not contradictory to this passage, as Deu. 24:16 is a general law given to judges; punishing the father in place of the son, or the son in place of the father, is only immoral generally, when lacking divine sanction. This passage has divine sanction. --4.227.23.48 11:24, 4 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Defense of Answer

The same thing applies here as was said here.

As for the Amalekites being innocent, that is not accurate:

1 Sam 15:18 And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, 'Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.' (ESV).

If you mean that they were innocent of the specific crime of fighting against the Israelites when they came out of Egypt, that still is not strictly accurate; they may have been personally innocent, but that does not mean they were corporately innocent. If God wished to have a group of people be morally represented by another group or person, that is certainly His perogative, just as it is His perogative not to establish such a federal relationship and to judge each person individually. Even though He doesn't usually operate corporately (though Adam is said to morally represent the race, and Christ is said to represent believers), there is no moral problem, from a Biblical perspective, if He does. --MonkeeSage 01:26, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Defense 2

It is not just to punish the innocent, that is true (the Bible says as much). However, you have not shown where the Bible claims that it is unjust for God to appoint a representative relationship between parties, where the guilt of one party is legally counted as the guilt of the other. Neither have you show why it is so on by any other standard of justice. If such were unjust, it would be equally unjust to allow for third-party redemption, as a friend paying off your debt, when the third-party is not personally responsible for the just debt against you. But human law (and Divine law) does recognize the validity of such representative relationships. --MonkeeSage 04:07, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

An analogy is just that, an analog. The debtor analogy holds insofar as it shows that there is nothing inherently unjust in requiring the legal recompense owed by one, of another, provided that the legal authority accepts the substitution. And in some cases, such as conspiracy to defraud, all parties, not only the immediate actor in the crime, may be required to compensate. In any case, in the Biblical context, with God as the supreme judiciary and creator, He is perfectly just in establishing whatever judicial representative relationships He deems fit.

BTW, about your general comment, I understand the point, but I don't find much weight in emotional appeals — they may effect me psychologically, but filtered through my epistemological framework, that effecting is seen as a part of the human problem, not a part of its solution — i.e., those thoughts of injustice with God are evidence of my moral condition as separated from God, not of a properly working moral intuition. --MonkeeSage 04:34, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

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