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Saul’s Death
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel. The Israelites fled before the Philistines and many of them fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines stayed right on the heels of#tn Heb “stuck close after.” Saul and his sons. They#tn Heb “the Philistines.” The translation has substituted the pronoun “they” to avoid redundancy. struck down Saul’s#tn Heb “his”; the referent (Saul) has been specified in the translation for clarity. sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua. 3 The battle was thick#tn Heb “heavy.” around Saul; the archers spotted him and wounded him.#tn Heb “and they found him, the ones who shoot with the bow, and he was in pain from the ones shooting.” 4 Saul told his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and stab me with it. Otherwise these uncircumcised people will come and torture me.”#tn Heb “so these uncircumcised ones might not come and abuse me.” But his armor bearer refused to do it, because he was very afraid. So Saul took the sword and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword and died. 6 So Saul and his three sons died; his whole household#tn Heb “all his house.” This is probably to be understood as a general summary statement. It could include other males in Saul’s household besides his three sons, cf. 1 Sam 31:6. If it refers only to the male members of his household who would have stood in succession to the throne (cf. NLT, “bringing his dynasty to an end,”) even here there is an exception, since one of Saul’s sons, Eshbaal (or “Ishbosheth” in 2 Sam 2:8) was not killed in the battle and became king over Israel, which he ruled for two years (2 Sam 2:10) until he was assassinated by Rechab and Baanah (2 Sam 4:5-6). The tribe of Judah never acknowledged Ishbosheth as king; instead they followed David (2 Sam 2:10). died together. 7 When all the Israelites who were in the valley saw that the army#tn Heb “they”; the referent (the army) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. The Philistines came and occupied them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip loot from the corpses, they discovered Saul and his sons lying dead on Mount Gilboa. 9 They stripped his corpse, and then carried off his head and his armor. They sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines proclaiming the news to their idols and their people. 10 They placed his armor in the temple of their gods#tn Or “god.” The Hebrew term may be translated as singular or plural depending on the context. and hung his head in the temple of Dagon. 11 When all the residents of Jabesh Gilead heard about everything the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the warriors went and recovered the bodies of Saul and his sons#tn Heb “arose and carried away the corpse of Saul and the corpses of his sons.” and brought them to Jabesh. They buried their remains#tn Heb “their bones.” under the oak tree in Jabesh and fasted for seven days.
13 So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and did not obey the Lord’s instructions; he even tried to conjure up underworld spirits.#tn Heb “and Saul died because of his unfaithfulness by which he acted unfaithfully against the Lord, concerning the word of the Lord which he did not keep, also to Saul, a ritual pit to seek.” The text alludes to the incident recorded in 1 Sam 28. The Hebrew term אוֹב (’ov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. In 1 Sam 28:7 the witch of Endor is called a בַּעֲלַת־אוֹב (ba’alat-’ov, “owner of a ritual pit”). See H. A. Hoffner, “Second Millennium Antecedents to the Hebrew áo‚b,” JBL 86 (1967): 385-401. 14 He did not seek the Lord’s guidance, so the Lord#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. killed him and transferred the kingdom to David son of Jesse.