1 Chronicles 10:10
And they put his armor in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.
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(10) In the house of their gods.—Or god, as LXX. Samuel, “house of Ashtaroth,” which the chronicler or his source paraphrases, perhaps from a repugnance to mentioning the idol’s name. Ashtoreth had a great temple at Ascalon, as “Heavenly Aphrodite” (Herod., Hist i. 108). The “Queen of Heaven” (Jeremiah 7:18) was worshipped by the Semitic races generally. Under the name of Ishtar, she was a chief goddess of the Assyrians, and had famous temples at Nineveh and Arbela. The Sabæans worshipped her as Athtâr; and the name Ashtâr is coupled with Chemosh on the Moabite Stone.

Fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.—Literally, and his skull (gulgôleth—comp. Golgotha, Matthew 27:33) they fastened in the house of Dagon. Instead of this, we read in Samuel, “and his corpse they fastened to the wall of Beth-shan.” It is hardly likely that the one reading is a corruption of the other. The chronicler has omitted the statement about Saul’s corpse, which is not mentioned in 1Chronicles 10:9, and supplied one respecting his head, which has been already spoken of in that verse. He found the fact in his additional source, if the clause in question has not dropt out of the text of Samuel.

The Accadians worshipped Dagon, as we learn from the cuneiform inscriptions: comp. the name Ismi-Dagan (Dagon hears).

1 Chronicles 10:10. In the temple of Dagon — If we give not God the glory of our successes, even Philistines will rise up in judgment with us, and condemn us. Shall Dagon have so great a place in their triumphs, and the true God be forgotten in ours?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.All his house died together - Not the whole of his family, nor even "all his sons" (see 2 Samuel 2:8-15; 2 Samuel 3:6-15; 2 Samuel 4:1-12). The phrase is perhaps an abbreviation of the expression in the parallel passage of Samuel 1 Samuel 31:6. 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).

And his body severed from his head to the wall of Beth-shan, 1 Samuel 31:10. See Gill on 1 Samuel 31:1. And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of {a} Dagon.

(a) Which was the idol of the Philistines, and from the belly downward had the form of a fish, and upward of a man.

10. in the house of their gods] In Samuel (more definitely) “in the house (or houses) of Ashtaroth,” Ashtaroth being the plural of Ashtoreth, a goddess, who seems here to bear a martial character. She was apparently consort of the Phœnician Baal (Jdg 2:13; Jdg 10:6).

fastened his head in the temple of Dagon (lit. Beth-Dagon)] In Sam. fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. The reading of Chron. is almost certainly a misreading of the text of Sam., yet the fact stated by the Chronicler is probably true. Saul’s body was fixed to the wall of Beth-shan (Sam.), but his head (lit. his skull) and his armour (Chron.; cp. 1 Samuel 31:9) were probably sent into Philistia to be distributed as trophies among the Philistine temples. Beth-shan is N.E. of Gilboa, about four miles distant from the Jordan, and about a day’s march (1 Samuel 31:12) from Jabesh (1 Chronicles 10:11), which was situated on the other side of Jordan in Gilead.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. In 1 Sam his 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.
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