Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When Samuel rebuked Saul for improperly making an offering before the Lord, he asks for both a burnt offering and a "sacrifice of well-being":

He waited seven days, the time that Samuel [had set]. But when Samuel failed to come to Gilgal, and the people began to scatter, Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the sacrifice of well-being”; and he presented the burnt offering. He had just finished presenting the burnt offering when Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and welcome him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “I saw the people leaving me and scattering; you had not come at the appointed time, and the Philistines had gathered at Michmas. I thought the Philistines would march down against me at Gilgal before I had entreated the Lord, so I forced myself to present the burnt offering.” Samuel answered Saul, “You acted foolishly in not keeping the commandments that the Lord your God laid upon you! Otherwise the Lord would have established your dynasty over Israel forever. But now your dynasty will not endure. The Lord will seek out a man after His own heart, and the Lord will appoint him ruler over His people, because you did not abide by what the Lord had commanded you.”—1st Samuel 13:8-14 (NJPS)

My understanding, is that the "sacrifice of well-being" is the same as the peace offering. If so, I read this passage to mean that Saul was calling for two different offerings and would chose one if he were planning to go to war and the other if he intended to remain at peace. He chose the burnt offering and that is what Samuel rebukes him for: failing to wait on the Lord's command to go to war.

On the other hand, I can also read this passage as mentioning the sacrifice of well-being because Saul intended to make both sacrifices. But since Samuel arrived so soon after the first offering was finished, he did not have time to continue with the second ritual before being rebuked for making the first offering without Samuel present.

How should I read this passage?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Sacrifice of well-being" = "peace offering" = "הַשְּׁלָמִים". I'm not an expert on this by any means, but at least some of the time an offering of well-being was accompanied by a burnt offering (an הָעֹלָה):

1 And if his offering be a sacrifice of peace-offerings: if he offer of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. 2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons the priests shall dash the blood against the altar round about. 3 And he shall present of the sacrifice of peace-offerings an offering made by fire unto the LORD: the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, 4 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the lobe above the liver, which he shall take away hard by the kidneys. 5 And Aaron's sons shall make it smoke on the altar upon the burnt-offering, which is upon the wood that is on the fire; it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. (Lev 3:1-5)

Here it's described as the same animal. I'm pretty sure there are places in Leviticus where you bring, say, a lamb as well-being offering accompanied by a bird as burnt offering, but I can't find them now so I could be mis-remembering.

(Sometimes a burnt-offering is brought on its own too, but that's not this case.)

After this was done he and his family would then eat the peace-offering. So the sequence is: bring, slaughter, burn, go eat. It appears that Samuel returned between the last two steps. It's not clear from the text whether he is objecting to the whole thing or if the text is saying that Saul didn't complete the process (making the offering be in vain). An offering of well-being seems to be pretty flexible, so I'm not sure why Samuel would object; perhaps he thought it was presumptuous (assuming the victory)? Samuel and Saul aren't exactly best buddies at this point.

Either way, though, I don't read this as Saul choosing between two offerings.


Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.