|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:1-14 The death of Saul. - The design chiefly in view in these books of the Chronicles, appears to be to preserve the records of the house of David. Therefore the writer repeats not the history of Saul's reign, but only of his death, by which a way was made for David to the throne. And from the ruin of Saul, we may learn, 1. That the sin of sinners will certainly find them out, sooner or later; Saul died for his transgression. 2. That no man's greatness can exempt him from the judgments of God. 3. Disobedience is a killing thing. Saul died for not keeping the word of the Lord. May be delivered from unbelief, impatience, and despair. By waiting on the Lord we shall obtain a kingdom that cannot be moved.
Verse 10. - The house of their gods. In place of this general designation, the parallel (1 Samuel 31:10) designates the house more exactly as "the house of Ashtaroth" (Genesis 14:5; the Phoenician female deity, as Baal was their male deity. The Greek form of the name is Astarte. See also Cic., 'De. Nat. Deo.,' 3:23). And fastened his head in the temple of Dagon. The parallel, as above, gives us, "And fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shah" (which account is corroborated in 2 Samuel 21:12-14), and does not say what further was done with the head. It is no doubt remarkable that one historian puts on record the one fact and the other the other; and it is one of the clearer indications that both took from some common sources. It is perhaps something to be remarked also that, while the historian in Samuel says nothing further about the head (though allusion to it is probably included in the "body" and the "bones," the further account of which is given in vers. 12, 13, as well as in 2 Samuel 21:12-14), the compiler of Chronicles does revert to mention of "the body of Saul," ver. 12, infra, though without any corresponding naming of Beth-shah. Bertheau finds little difficulty in the question, by simply supposing that the omission in Chronicles is another instance of the desire to compress; while others suppose corruption in our text, or, as Thenius and Ewald, the loss of a sentence to our text. After all said, the omission in Samuel of the fate of the head would seem to be fully as remarkable as the omission, so far as this verse is concerned, in Chronicles of the fate of the body. It is reasonable to suppose that the head and trunk of the body of Saul were brought together again, or it were likely some allusion to the contrary would have transpired in the following verses of this chapter or in 2 Samuel 21:12-14. With regard to the act of the Philistines in dedicating the armour of Saul, and fixing his head in the temple of Dagon, as though trophies, the custom was both ancient and not uncommon (Judges 16:21-30; 1 Samuel 5:1-5; 1 Samuel 21:9). The house of Dagon (Joshua 15:41; Joshua 19:27) here spoken of was that at Ashdod (Joshua 15:47), between Gaza and Joppa. Though belonging to Judah's lot, it was never subdued by Israel, and remained throughout their history one of their worst foes. It is the Azotus of Acts 8:40. There was another Dagon temple at Gaza (Judges 16:21-31). Dagon's representation was the figure of a man, as to head, hands, and bust, but for the rest that of a fish, which was a symbol of fruitfulness. As Ashdod was situate on the extreme west of Palestine, so Beth-shah - generally written Beth-shean, a city of Manasseh (ch. 7:29), though within the borders of Issachar (Joshua 17:11), flora which the Canaanites were not expelled (Judges 1:27) - was on the extreme east near the Jordan. It was afterwards called Scythopolis. Considering the distance these were apart, and their contrary directions, we may suppose that some suggestion was intended by the fixing the head in the one place and the body in the other.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. put his armour in the house of their gods—It was common among the heathen to vow to a national or favorite deity, that, in the event of a victory, the armor of the enemy's king, or of some eminent leader, should be dedicated to him as an offering of gratitude. Such trophies were usually suspended on the pillars of the temple.
fastened his head in the temple of Dagon—while the trunk or headless corpse was affixed to the wall of Beth-shan (1Sa 31:10).
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