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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

1 Chronicles 10

II. The History of David's Kingship - 1 Chronicles 10-29.

The account of the ruin of Saul and his house in 1 Chronicles 10:1-14, cf. 1 Sam, forms the introduction to the history of the kingship of David, which is narrated in two sections. In the first, 1 Chron 11-21, we have a consecutive narrative of the most important events of David's life, and his attempts to settle the kingship of Israel on a firmer basis, from the time of his being anointed king over all Israel to the numbering of the people in the latter years of his reign. The second, 1 Chron 22-29, contains an account of the preparations made towards the end of his reign for the building of the temple, of the arrangement of the service of the Levites and the army, and the last commands of the grey-haired king as to the succession of his son Solomon to the kingdom, and matters connected with it. The first section runs parallel to the account of the reign of David in 2 Samuel; the second is peculiar to the Chronicle, and has no parallel in the earlier historical books, Samuel and Kings. Now, if we compare the first section with the parallel narrative in 2 Samuel, it is manifest that, apart from that omission of David's seven years' reign over the tribe of Judah in Hebron, and of all the events having reference to and connection with his family relationships, of which we have already spoken, in the Chronicle the same incidents are recounted as in the second book of Samuel, and with few exceptions the order is the same. The main alterations in the order of the narrative are: ( a) that the catalogues of David's heroes who helped him to establish his kingdom (1 Chron 11:10-47), and of the valiant men of all the tribes, who even in Saul's lifetime had joined themselves to David (1 Chron 12), follow immediately upon the account of the choosing of Jerusalem to be the capital of the kingdom, after the conquest of the fortress Jebus (1 Chronicles 11:1-9), while in 2 Samuel the former of these catalogues is found in 2 Sam 23:8-39, in connection with the history of his reign, and the latter is entirely omitted; and ( b) the account of his palace-building, his wives and children, and of some battles with the Philistines, which in 2 Samuel 5:11-25 follows immediately after the account of the conquest of the citadel of Zion, is inserted in the fourteenth chapter of Chronicles, in the account of the bringing of the ark of the covenant from Kirjath-jearim (1 Chronicles 13:1-14), and its transfer to Jerusalem (1 Chron 15). Both these transpositions and the before-mentioned omissions are connected with the peculiar plan of the Chronicle. In the second book of Samuel the reign of David is so described as to bring out, in the first place, the splendidly victorious development of his kingship, and then its humiliation through great transgression on David's part; the author of the Chronicle, on the other hand, designed to portray to his contemporaries the glories of the Davidic kingship, so that the divine election of David to be ruler over the people of Israel might be manifest. In accordance with this purpose he shows, firstly, how after the death of Saul Jahve bestowed the kingship upon David, all Israel coming to Hebron and anointing him king, with the confession, “Jahve thy God hath said to thee, Thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel;” how the heroes of the whole nation helped him in the establishing of his kingdom (1 Chron 11); and how, even before the death of Saul, the most valiant men of all the tribes had gone over to him, and had helped him in the struggle (1 Chron 12). In the second place, he narrates how David immediately determined to bring the ark into the capital of his kingdom (1 Chron 15); how, notwithstanding the misfortunes caused by a transgression of the law (1 Chronicles 13:7, 1 Chronicles 13:9.), so soon as he had learned that the ark would bring a blessing (1 Chronicles 13:1-14, 14), and that God would bless him in his reign (1 Chron 14), he carried out his purpose, and not only brought the ark to Jerusalem, but organized the public worship around this sanctuary (1 Chron 15 and 16); and how he formed a resolution to build a temple to the Lord, receiving from God, because of this, a promise that his kingdom should endure for ever (1 Chron 17). Then, in the third place, we have an account of how he, so favoured by the Lord, extended the power of his kingdom by victorious wars over all the enemies of Israel (1 Chron 18-20); and how even the ungodly enterprise of the numbering of the people, to which Satan had tempted him, David, had by the grace of God, and through his penitent submission to the will of the Lord, such an issue, that the place where the Lord should be thereafter worshipped in Israel was determined by the appearance of the angel and by the word of the prophet Gad (1 Chron 21). And so the grey-haired king was able to spend the latter part of his reign in making preparations for the building of the temple, and in establishing permanent ordinances for the public worship, and the protection of the kingdom: gave over to his son Solomon, his divinely chosen successor on the throne, a kingdom externally and internally well ordered and firmly established, and closed his life at a good old age, after a reign of forty years (1 Chron. 22-29).

Verses 1-7

In 1 Sam this narrative forms the conclusion of Saul's last war with the Philistines. The battle was fought on the plain of Jezreel; and when the Israelites were compelled to retire, they fell back upon Mount Gilboa, but were hard pressed by the Philistines, so that many fell upon the mountain. The Philistines pressed furiously after Saul and his sons, and slew the latter (as to Saul's sons, see on 1 Chronicles 8:33); and when the archers came upon Saul he trembled before them ( יחל from חוּל ), and ordered his armour-bearer to thrust him through. Between המּורים and בּקּשׁת the superfluous אנשׁים is introduced in Samuel, and in the last clause מאד is omitted; and instead of מהמּורים we have the unusual form מן־היּורים (cf. 2 Chronicles 35:23). In Saul's request to his armour-bearer that he would thrust him through with the sword, וּדקרני (1 Samuel 31:4) is omitted in the phrase which gives the reason for his request; and Bertheau thinks it did not originally stand in the text, and has been repeated merely by an oversight, since the only motive for the command, “Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith,” was that the Philistines might not insult Saul when alive, and consequently the words, “that they may not thrust me through,” cannot express the reason. But that is scarcely a conclusive reason for this belief; for although the Philistines might seek out Saul after he had been slain by his armour-bearer, and dishonour his dead body, yet the anxiety lest they should seek out his corpse to wreak their vengeance upon it could not press so heavily upon him as the fear that they would take vengeance upon him if he fell alive into their hands. It is therefore a more probable supposition that the author of the Chronicle has omitted the word וּדקרני only as not being necessary to the sense of the passage, just as עמּו is omitted at the end of 1 Chronicles 10:5. In 1 Chronicles 10:6 we have וכל־בּיתו instead of the כּל־אנשׁיו גּם כליו ונשׂא of Samuel, and in 1 Chronicles 10:7 ישׂראל אנשׁי is omitted after the words נסוּ כּי (Samuel). From this Bertheau concludes that the author of the Chronicle has designedly avoided speaking of the men of Saul's army or of the Israelites who took part in the battle, because it was not his purpose to describe the whole course of the conflict, but only to narrate the death of Saul and of his sons, in order to point out how the supreme power came to David. Thenius, on the contrary, deduces the variation between the sixth verse of the Chronicles and the corresponding verse in Samuel from “a text which had become illegible.” Both are incorrect; for כּל־אנשׁיו are not all the men of war who went with him into the battle (Then.), or all the Israelites who took part in the battle (Berth.), but only all those who were about the king, i.e., the whole of the king's attendants who had followed him to the war. כּל־בּיתו is only another expression for כּל־אנשׁיו , in which the כּליו נשׂא is included. The author of the Chronicle has merely abridged the account, confining himself to a statement of the main points, and has consequently both omitted ישׂראל אנשׁי in 1 Chronicles 10:7, because he had already spoken of the flight of the warriors of Israel in 1 Chronicles 10:1, and it was here sufficient to mention only the flight and death of Saul and of his sons, and has also shortened the more exact statement as to the inhabitants of that district, “those on the other side of the valley and on the other side of Jordan” (Samuel), into בּאמק אשׁר . In this abridgement also Thenius scents a “defective text.” As the inhabitants of the district around Gilboa abandoned their cities, they were taken possession of by the Philistines.

Verses 8-13

On the following day the Philistines, in their search among the fallen, found and plundered the bodies of Saul and of his sons, and sent the head and the armour of Saul round about the land of the Philistines, to proclaim the news of their victory to their people and their gods. That for this purpose they cut off Saul's head from the trunk, is, as being a matter of course, not specially mentioned. In regard to the other discrepancies between the two texts, both in 1 Chronicles 10:8-10 and in the account of the burial of Saul and of his sons by valiant men of Jabesh, 1 Chronicles 10:11, 1 Chronicles 10:12, cf. the commentary on 1 Samuel 31:8-13. In the reflection on Saul's death, 1 Chronicles 10:13 and 1 Chronicles 10:14, a double transgression against the Lord on Saul's part is mentioned: first, the מעל (on the meaning of this word, vide on Leviticus 5:15) of not observing the word of Jahve, which refers to the transgression of the divine command made known to him by the prophet Samuel, 1 Samuel 13:8. (cf. with 1 Chronicles 10:8), and 1 Samuel 15:2-3, 1 Samuel 15:11, cf. 1 Samuel 28:18; and second, his inquiring of the אוב , the summoner of the dead ( vide on Leviticus 19:31), לדרושׁ , i.e., to receive an oracle (cf. in reference to both word and thing, 1 Samuel 28:7).

Verse 14

And because he inquired not of the Lord, therefore He slew him. According to 1 Samuel 28:6, Saul did indeed inquire of Jahve, but received no answer, because Jahve had departed from him (1 Samuel 28:15); but instead of seeking with all earnestness for the grace of Jahve, that he might receive an answer, Saul turned to the sorceress of Endor, and received his death-sentence through her from the mouth of Samuel, 1 Samuel 28:19.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 10". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.