Glenster's Guide to GTJ Brooklyn

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  Saul's army
  Cut off

  (This is referred to on p.26.)

  According to the JWs leaders:

  "Could God's law on blood be set aside in times of emergency? The Bible an-
swers, No.  There was no special dispensation for times of stress.  We can see
this from what occurred with some soldiers of Israel in the days of King Saul.
Famished after a long battle, they slaughtered sheep and cattle and "fell to
eating along with the blood."  They were hungry and were not deliberately eating
blood, but in their haste to eat the meat they did not see to it that the ani-
mals were properly bled.  Did the fact that this seemed to be an 'emergency' ex-
cuse their course?  On the contrary, their God-appointed king recognized their
action as 'sinning against Jehovah by eating along with the blood.'--1 Samuel
14:31-35." ("Jehovah's Witnesses and the Question of Blood," 1977, p.9)

  The JWs leaders' view of 1 Sam.14:24,32-35, given in "The Watchtower," April
15, 1994,  p.31, with reference to Num.15:30 (see 15:27-31), is that Saul's army
didn't absolutely and deliberately disregard the law on blood.  They may have
made some attempt, in their exhausted state, to drain the blood of the animals
they ate from.

  The JWs leaders' article also teaches that Deut.12:15,16,21-25 indicates that
the properly understood degree of blood removal is reasonable drainage, not fan-

  (This implies a JWs leaders' judgment of the JWs leaders' view as being rea-
sonable compared to the Jewish view.  Actually, each is based on a reasonable
emphasis of language--one is a generalization and the other is a blanket ban,
and neither one's perfect.)

  Therefore, Saul's army wasn't executed (the JWs leaders' view of what "cut
off" meant) but only had to atone with an animal sacrifice.

  The JWs leaders' explanation is imaginable but not guarantee-able in all re-

  We're not told that Saul's army made any attempt to drain the blood from the
animals they ate from beyond the fact that we can assume that whatever blood
may have been spilled in killing the animals, and would be spread in eating the
(probably raw) flesh on the ground, wasn't enough to make it a sinless action.

  Deut.12:15,16,21-25, and any other scripture on the topic, don't really guar-
antee whether the JWs leaders' or Jewish view is correct on the degree of animal
blood removal.

  (Ironically, if the JWs leaders' method of taking "abstain" in a broader sense
than to refer to eating and also ban transfusions is used to take a broader idea
of the degree of animal blood removal, the Jewish view of blood removal would be
preferred.  Of those possibilities, it's the JWs leaders' view of "abstain" that
reads more into the word than context warrants.)

  A couple of imaginable interpretations are that while the meat Saul's army ate
came from slaughtered animals, the back ends of the animals weren't raised while
the throats were cut and only about half of the blood remained in them, or that
the meat wasn't koshered.

  "Cut off" may have only meant execution--the JWs leaders' interpretation.  The
JWs leaders' view is therefore that the Mosaic law punishment for eating blood
was to be executed.  But the safer assumption is that "cut off" had a broader
application to mean apartness from God and other followers, banishment, and it
only carried the death penalty where that's additionally specified.

  The "cut off" penalty in Mosaic law is coupled with the penalty of execution
for what generally are more serious offenses.  Those offenses for which "cut
off" alone is the penalty don't need, on balance, to have carried the death
penalty.  Beyond the use of it in establishing the law, the phrase is used 125
times in the Old Testament and refers to execution, but those references are to
crimes Mosaic law already made clear carried the death penalty or unspecified
crimes referred to as very serious--not necessarily any crimes that only carried
the "cut off" penalty in Mosaic law.

  Without further evidence, I have to leave it at this:

  In Mosaic law, eating blood carried the "cut off" penalty--death wasn't spec-

  Saul's army ate blood so as to break a law with the "cut off" penalty and
wasn't executed.  Also see "Animals found dead" on pp.18,19.

  The JWs leaders' view is that "cut off" always meant execution and Saul's army
must have done something that went without being noted to make them an exception
to the death penalty.

  The non-JWs leaders' view is to see Saul's army as showing what the penalty
was for eating any blood, or more blood than was allowed, from animals that
weren't found dead but were slaughtered: the follower wasn't executed but had to
make sacrifices.  This would jibe with the idea of eating animal blood of Deut.
14:21--it was one of the ritual concerns meant to set the followers off as spe-
cial so didn't have to carry an extreme punishment.