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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 10

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-14


1 Chronicles 10-36

1. DAVID.—1 Chronicles 10-29

a. Introduction: Fall of the House of Saul.—Ch. 10

1 Chronicles 10:1.And the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines, and fell down slain in Mount Gilboa. 2And the Philistines pursued Saul and his sons; and the Philistines smote Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, sons of Saul. 3And the battle went sore against 4Saul, and the archers found him, and he trembled for the archers. And Saul said to his armour-bearer, Draw thy sword and thrust me through therewith, lest these uncircumcised come1 and insult me; but his armour-bearer would 5not; for he was sore afraid; and Saul took the sword and fell upon it. And his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, and he also fell on the sword and 6died. And Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together. 7And all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead; and they forsook their cities and fled, and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

8And it came to pass on the morrow that the Philistines came to strip the slain, 9and they found Saul and his sons fallen in Mount Gilboa. And they stripped him, and took his head and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines around, to bear tidings to their idols and to the people. 10And they put his armour in the house of their god, and fastened his skull in the house of Dagon. 11, 12And all Jabesh-gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul. And all the valiant men arose, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

13And Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, for the word of the Lord which he kept not, and also for asking a necromancer 14to inquire.2 And inquired not of the Lord; and He slew him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.


Preliminary Remark.—This account of the downfall of Saul and his house agrees, except in coordinate details, literally with 1 Samuel 31:13 ; only the 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 are an addition of the Chronist, designed to mark the history of the fall of Saul’s family as the transition to the following history of David, that forms the proper centre of the whole work of our historian. For this history of David points all that precedes, the whole of the genealogies in the first nine chapters, with their emphatic elevation of the tribe of Judah. And if these genealogies are so disposed that they close with the register of the Benjamite house of Saul, this serves to prepare for the contents of our chapter, which on its part is preparatory to the following special history of the reign of David, the ancestor aud founder of the legitimate line of kings.

1. Saul’s Defeat and Death in the Battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa: 1 Chronicles 10:1-12 comp. 1 Samuel 31:1-12).—And the men of Israel fled before the Philistines. The fuller statement of the books of Samuel (1 Samuel 29:0 comp. 1 Chronicles 28:4) shows that this flight of the defeated Israelites was directed from the plain of Jezreel, as the proper field of battle, to Mount Gilboa, their former post.

1 Chronicles 10:2. And the Philistines pursued Saul and his sons; properly, clung to Saul,” a fit expression for the incessant and vehement pursuit (Sept.: συνάπτουσι τῷ Σαούλ; Luth.: “hingen sich an Saul”). The abridged form וַיַּדְבְּקוּ, for וַיַּדְבִּיקוּ, as in 1 Samuel 14:22; 1 Samuel 21:2. On Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua see 1 Chronicles 8:33.

1 Chronicles 10:3. And the archers found him, overtook him (as 1 Chronicles 10:8; comp. 1 Samuel 20:11).—And he trembled for the archers. וַיָּחֶל lit. apoc. Kal of חוּל, torqueri, tremerc; so 1 Samuel 31:3; comp. וַתָּחֶל, Ps. 197. 4. The resent terror of Saul corresponds with that in 1 Samuel 28:5. It is unnecessary here to prefer the reading of the Sept.: καὶ ἐπόνεσεν� (ἐπόνεσεν, perhaps resting on a וַיַּחַל, from חָלָןא, πονεῖν), and so render (with Kamph.), “and he was pressed by the archers.” For the ἐτραυατίσθη “he was wounded,” of the Sept. in the parallel 1 Samuel 31:3, comp. Berth, and Wellh., Text der der BiicherSam. p. 147, who perhaps unnecessarily assumes that the Chronist may have read וַיֵחַל “and he was wounded” Niph. of חלל), and therefore omitted מְאֹד, which did not suit this verb. The omission of this adverb is sufficiently accounted for by the abbreviating habit of the author, on which also the omission of the pleonastic אֲנָשִׁים after הַמּוֹרִים (1 Samuel 31:3) rests, as also that of עִמּוֹ at the close of 1 Chronicles 10:5, etc.

1 Chronicles 10:4. Lest these uncircumcised come and insult me. Before וְהִתְעַלְּלוּ־בִי (comp. Jeremiah 38:19; 1 Samuel 6:6) the parallel text in Samuel exhibits a וּדְקָרֻנִי, which perhaps did not originally stand in the text, but seems to be repeated by mistake from the foregoing imper. וְדָקְרֵנִי, so that the word is rightly omitted by the Chronist; comp. Berth, and Wellh.

1 Chronicles 10:6. And all his house died together. Again an abbreviation for, “and his armour-bearer, and all his men on that day together, “in Sam. 31. The design of this abbreviation was scarcely to remove the strong” exaggeration” (Wellh.) contained in גַּם כָּל־נָשָׁיו on account of which the Sept. perhaps left these words untranslated; for the וְכָל־בֵּיתוֹ of our author contains a like exaggeration, as Saul’s whole house did not fall in this battle, as the author (1 Chronicles 9:35 ff.) knew very well. The expression is general and excessive, as the longer one in 1 Samuel 31:0. also.

1 Chronicles 10:7. And all the men of Israel that were in the valley, or on the plain. More exactly, 1 Samuel 31:0, “the men of Israel that were beyond the valley and beyond the Jordan,” that is, that dwelt west and east of Mount Gilboa. That our writer had a defective text (Thenius) is not to be assumed ; rather the same process of abbreviation is found here, as immediately after, where the required subject אַנְשֵׁי יִשְׂרָאֵל is omitted after כִּי נָסוּ.

1 Chronicles 10:9. And they stripped him, and took his head and his armour. Instead of this, 1 Samuel 31:9 has, “and they cut off his head and stripped off his armour.” The beheading, understood of itself (comp. Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:54), our author leaves unmentioned.—And sent into the land of the Philistines around, namely, these trophies, Saul’s head and armour (comp. Judges 19:29 f.). Accordingly, the Sept. in 1 Samuel has translated καὶ�, where perhaps “messengers” (מְבַשְּׂרִים ,צִירִים) is to be supplied; see Then. and Wellh.—To their idols and to the people. For אֶת־עֲצַבֵּיהֶם (where אֶת=with, before), the text in Samuel has בֵּית עֲצַ׳, “in the house of their idols,” a reading not confirmed by the Sept., which seems to owe its origin to the following verse (בית־אלהיהם).

1 Chronicles 10:10. And they put his armour in the house of their god; according to 1 Samuel 31:10, in the temple of Astarte. for the Ashtaroth, the same deity as the “queen of heaven” of the Canaanites, Jeremiah 7:18 ff., or the Alilat of the Arabs, Herod, iii. 8 (perhaps also = the Phenician mother of gods, Astronoe of Damascius [vit. lsid. 302; comp. Döllinger, Judenth. p. 143], and the Spartan Venus hastata victrix of Cythera), was the chief deity of the Philistines, that ’Aφροδίτη Οὐρανία whose ancient and wealthy sanctuary at Askelon is mentioned by Herodotus i. 108. We are perhaps, therefore, to understand this Astarte temple at Askelon, as the text named temple of Dagon, the second chief divinity of the Philistines, will be that mentioned, 1 Samuel 5:3 ff., at Ashdod, which was especially frequented in the times of Saul (comp. Vaihinger, Art. “Philister” in Herzog’s Encycl. xi. 576 f.). That “their god” and “Dagon” could not be opposed, as Wellh. thinks, is too much to assert. Rather was the Astarte of the Philistines a kind of androgynous being, that formed with Baal a syzygy or a supreme divine principle, and certainly one fundamentally different from the fish god Dagon (because the latter was both younger and less esteemed). Comp. Döllinger, p. 397 ff.; Müller, Astarte, a contribution to the mythology of oriental antiquity, Wien 1861 (in which also the Cretan Europa [ = רַבָּה the strong] is identified with Astarte), Vaihinger, as above.—And fastened his skull in the house of Dagon. These words are wanting in 1 Samuel 31:0, where, on the contrary (1 Chronicles 10:10), is found the following notice: “and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shean.” Here we must choose between the assumption, that our text arose from a corruption of this reading of Samuel (Wellh.), and such harmonizing attempts as that of Ewald and Thenius, who assume that originally after the words, “his skull in the house of Dagon,” stood the following, “and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshean,” but they fell out on account of the similarity of ואת גלגלתו and ואת גויתו; or that of Bertheau, who explains the omission of the notice of the fastening of the body to the wall of Bethshean as an intentional one, that is to be judged in the same way as the other abbreviations of our writer. The latter assumption is the most probable, because in 1 Chronicles 10:12 there is no mention of fetching the body from Bethshean.

1 Chronicles 10:11. And all Jabesh-gilead:1 Samuel 31:0 : “and the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead.” According to Berth., the ישְׁבֵי before יָבֵשׁ; came into the text on account of the plur. וישׁמעוּ but here again the easier supposition is that the Chronist has abbreviated the text of Samuel. Besides, it was gratitude for the deliverance wrought for them by Saul (1 Samuel 11:0) that moved the oitizens of Jabesh to this pious care for his burial.

1 Chronicles 10:12. And took the body of Saul.גּוּפַת is a later phrase, usual in Aramaic, occurring only here in the O. T. for the גְּוִיַּת of Samuel, Whence the body was fetched, and what was done with it (for example, its incremation, 1 Samuel 31:12), our author, true to his abbreviating habit, omits.

2. Closing Reflection on the Fall of the Kingdom of Saul: 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.—And Saul died for his transgression. Wherein this transgression מעל: unfaithfulness, apostasy; comp. 1 Chronicles 5:25, 1 Chronicles 9:1; Leviticus 5:5) consisted, is added—1. In not following the word of the Lord, that is, His command to destroy Amalek (1 Samuel 15:11; comp. 1 Chronicles 28:18);–2. In inquiring of the necromancer.—For the word of the Lord which he kept not. Besides 1 Samuel 15:0, we are to understand here, also, that earlier case of disobedience in 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 13:13, and also 1 Samuel 22:18 f.—And also for asking the necromancer to inquire, to seek an oracle, a revelation; comp. 1 Samuel 28:7, where דרשׁ is used in the same pregnant sense. On the quite superfluous gloss of the Sept., comp. Crit. Note.

1 Chronicles 10:14. And inquired not of the Lord, sought not information. This is not inconsistent with the fact that, 1 Samuel 14:37; 1 Samuel 26:6, Saul had inquired of the Lord, but without effect (because the Lord had departed from him, 1 Chronicles 28:15). It rests rather on the certainly correct and historical presupposition, that Saul had neglected to seek the favour of Jehovah with the proper zeal, and then inquire of Him. Comp. Starke: “he sought Jehovah not uprightly and in due order, and put not his trust in the Lord, in the order of true repentance;—he did not continue his inquiry of the Lord, when God refused him an answer on account of his sins, to the confession and entreaty for pardon of which he had not brought himself, but betook himself forthwith to the soothsayer.”—And He slew him (in the battle, after Samuel’s spirit had announced to him his doom, 1 Samuel 28:19), and turned the kingdom to David. On ויסב, comp. 1 Chronicles 12:23; 2 Samuel 13:12. On the significance of the present small section for the history of salvation, comp. the evangelical and ethical reflections on 1 Chronicles 10-29, No. 1.


[1] Kethib: יָבאֹוּ. Keri: יָבוֹאוּ.

[2]After לִדְרוֹשׁ the Sept. gives the superfiuous addition: καὶ�. Comp. Sir 46:20.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 10". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-chronicles-10.html. 1857-84.
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