Friday, January 23, 2015

It's complicated

1 Sam 11:6–7 [Saul sending pieces of an ox to the 12 tribes, demanding they assemble for war] establishes several important points about the way a conditional imprecation could be imposed. First, those who are conditionally cursed do not have to be present when the imprecation is performed for the malediction to be valid and effective. They need only to be informed. Notification of the existence of the conditional anathema is made through the dispatch of messengers bearing a token of the curse. Second, the people to whom the portions of meat are sent do not appear to have any right of appeal. They must obey or possibly suffer the consequences of the curse should they choose not to honor the conditions. Third, the right to impose conditional curses was not limited to the priesthood. It was a right also enjoyed by the king. Even though Samuel is mentioned in v. 7, it is Saul who butchers the oxen, cuts them up and disseminates the pieces among the tribes of Israel. There is no doubt that he is imposing the malediction. And fourth, we may assume with some confidence, that the spoken element of the malediction initially declared by Saul was then repeated by the messengers on delivery of the cursed meat.— Cursed Are You!, pages 109-110

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