ABC:1 Samuel 31

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Verse 4[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[1]

1 Samuel 31:4: Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

Saul committed suicide.

2 Samuel 1:8-10: And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

Saul was killed by the Amalekite.

The first account from 1 Samuel is an account of what occurred, while the second account from 2 Samuel is given by a stranger claiming to have watched what occurred. Most commentators, as summarized by H.D.M. Spence, view the Amalekite's story as a fabrication designed to induce a reward from King David.

"Most commentators—for instance, Kiel, Lange, Bishop Hervey, &c.—regard the Amalekite’s story as an invention framed to extract a rich gift from David, who, the savage Arab thought, would be rejoiced to hear of his great enemy’s fall. If this be so, then we must suppose that the Amalekite wandering over the field of battle strewn with the slain on the night which succeeded the battle, came upon the body of Saul, and, attracted by the glitter of the golden ornaments, stripped off the precious insignia, and hastened with his lying story to David."
-Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers[2]

Fuller detail of what transpired may be gleaned from the rest of 1 Samuel 31:

1 Samuel 31:8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

The Phillistines, who like the Amalekites were enemies of Israel, found Saul's body and mutilated it, cutting off the head and removing the head as war trophies. The Amalekite may well have been an opportunistic soldier who originally found the body and saved the crown and bracelet for himself, hoping to sell them, or perhaps got hold of the items when the body was being sent throughout the Phillistine cities. Perhaps the Amalekite thought that King David, because Saul had been his enemy, would pay a far higher price for the items. Whatever the case, David was horrified by the slaughter of Israel's king, and had the Amalekite executed. (2 Samuel 1:14-15) If so, the schemer's ruse backfired horribly upon him.

Sources[edit]

  1. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.
  2. Spence, H.D.M. (1905). A Bible Commentary for English Readers by Various Writers.