Leviticus 17:11 says, ĎThe life is in the bloodí. For that reason, God ordered Israelís people that they must not eat the blood of any animal. When they killed any animal for food, they must first drain out the blood. Only afterwards could they eat the meat.
In 1 Samuel 14:31-33, Israelís soldiers did not obey that rule. They had just fought a great battle against their enemies, and they arrived back weak and tired. In fact, they were especially weak because King Saul had ordered them not to eat any food that day. He had forced them to promise not to eat until the battle was over (14:24).
So when the men arrived back at the camp, they were all very weak. They killed some animals so that they could eat as quickly as possible. They did not prepare the meat in the proper manner. They did not drain the blood from the meat as Godís law ordered them to do.
Saul recognised immediately that this was a serious matter. God had helped Israelís men in their battle that day; Saul did not want them now to offend God. So Saul acted immediately. He ordered all the men to bring their animals to a particular place, and to kill them there. There, someone (probably the priest) would check that they were obeying Godís law.
Saul did something else too. He made an altar, in other words, a pile of large stones where, in the future, people could offer gifts to God. Saul did that in order to give thanks to God for his help during the battle. Saul was very aware that God had rescued Israel that day.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.