Nice Move, Stupid.

In 1 Samuel 13, the Philistines are gathering for war and Saul call Israel together to fight. The troops gather together with Saul and Jonathan, but Samuel is late. They need him to offer a sacrifice before the battle. Days go by and he doesn’t show. The people begin to grow nervous and some start leaving.  So Saul, in his concern, decides to take matters into his own hands and offer the sacrifice himself before he has a mass exodus of troops back to their homes.

He offers the sacrifice.

And just as he finishes, Samuel shows up. And he’s ticked.

Under the current set up of power, Saul leads the troops and Samuel, as prophet, takes care of the sacrifices. They have distinct and specific responsibilities. Saul has crossed the line.

And its at this point in the story where we come to 1 Samuel 13:13. The Greek text has an interesting construction. I don’t think its influence by the Hebrew (though I’m not super confident of my skills in recognizing such things):

καὶ εἶπεν Σαμουηλ πρὸς Σαουλ Μεματαίωταί σοι

And Samuel said to Saul, “It was done foolishly by you.”

That’s a terribly awkward translation. We’d never say it like that. I think Samuel was saying something closer to my title for this post or maybe:

“And Samuel replied to Saul, “That was a really stupid move you’ve just made.”

And as he said it, he’d probably drag out the length of the word “really” just for good measure.

4 thoughts on “Nice Move, Stupid.

  1. That’s actually really close to the hebrew.

    ויאמר שמואל אל־שאול נסכּלת

    “and Samuel said to saul, ‘you have acted foolishly…’

  2. Yes, I like your version. My thought was more colloquial: “You’ve really goofed!”
    I find 1 Sam 1-15 a truly fascinating mishmash of conflicting political theologies and dysfunctional leadership in the face of Philistine technological superiority: who wants a king? God wants a king. No, God doesn’t want a king, the people want a king. God wants Saul to be king, but Saul’s too much the pragmatist and besides, he’s nuts. God regrets choosing Saul and undoes the choice. David’s a better pragmatist — his success must mean that God prefers him.

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