ABC:2 Samuel 1
TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:
|“||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 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
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
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.
Verses 8-10 (Again)
The ReasonProject lists the following as a Bible contradiction with the headlines "Was Haman an Agagite?" and "Did Saul and Samuel kill all the Amalekites?" Critic claims relating to the latter page are italicized when quoted.
|“||Esther 3:1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.
1 Samuel 15:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
1 Samuel 15:7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
No, Agag's mother was left alive.
1 Samuel 15:32 ¶ Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
No, David killed them all a few years later.
1 Samuel 27:8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
And then David killed them all again, just to make sure. (Except this time 400 guys escaped.)
1 Samuel 30:1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire
No, Saul was killed by an Amalekite.
2 Samuel 1:8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
The critic is attempting to suggest that all Amalekites and Agagites were killed in 1 Samuel 15, which the passage does not say. It simply refers to a destruction of the Amalekites in that specific location. The critic omits the key verse 5 which when coupled with verse 7 shows these were only specific cities being destroyed, rather than all Amalekite cities.
|“||1 Samuel 15:5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
Indeed, that 1 Samuel 15:7-8 does not refer to the destruction of all Amalekites and Agagites is clear just from the next few verses which show Agag, himself an Amalekite/Agagite, had not been killed.
|“||1 Samuel 15:9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.||”|
Other passages show that other groups of Amalekites still existed, possibly including descendants of Agag (Agagites) as well. Ironically, Saul in disobeying God and sparing some Amalekites may have ultimately caused his own death, as it was an Amalekite who claimed to have killed him. (2 Samuel 1:8-13)
|“||1 Samuel 27:8 ¶ And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
1 Samuel 30:1 ¶ And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
1 Samuel 30:18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.
2 Samuel 1:1 ¶ Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
1 Chronicles 4:43 And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day.
Finally, I would point out that even though the KJV translated 1 Samuel 15:8 as "destroyed all the people" there actually is no Hebrew word in the passage meaning "all." As seen from PowerBible's Interlinear:
|“||1 Samuel 15:8 And he took <taphas> Agag <'Agag> the king <melek> of the Amalekites <`Amaleq> alive, <chay> and utterly destroyed <charam> all the people <`am> with the edge <peh> of the sword. <chereb>||”|
The Hebrew word there is charam simply meaning destroyed. It certainly does not specifically state all Agagites were destroyed, and the context of other passages makes clear that was not the case.
The critic also mistakenly misinterprets 1 Samuel 27:8-9 as indicating the utter destruction of the Amalekites, which is also not mentioned. The lands themselves were destroyed with those in them, but the nation of the Amalekites apparently had Amalekites outside, perhaps on journeys, who returned afterwards.
Similarly, 1 Samuel 30 does not describe a complete destruction of the Amalekites also, simply a confrontation with a band or "company" of the Amalekites. This too is a false accusation by the critic.
|“||1 Samuel 15:15 And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.||”|
- TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.
- Spence, H.D.M. (1905). A Bible Commentary for English Readers by Various Writers.
- Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
- Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Charam. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.