Then said Saul to his armor bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armor bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell on it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And Saul said.—So Abimelech (Judges 9:54).
Lest these uncircumcised come.—Sam. Adds “and thrust me through.” An inadvertent repetition there, or omission here, is possible. Or, we might say, Saul preferred death by a friendly stroke to the thrusts of insulting foemen.
Took a sword.—Literally, the sword—i.e., his sword.1 Samuel 31:1-13 - the fastening of Saul's head in the temple of Dagon 1 Chronicles 10:10, and the burial of his bones, and those of his sons, under an oak 1 Chronicles 10:12. Otherwise the narrative differs from 1 Samuel 31:1-13 only by being abbreviated (see especially 1 Chronicles 10:6-7, 1 Chronicles 10:11-12), and by having some moral reflections attached to it 1 Chronicles 10:13-14. 1 Samuel 31:1. Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. to his armourbearer] Cp. Jdg 9:54 (the death of Abimelech). One function of an armourbearer was to give the “coup de grâce” to fallen enemies (1 Samuel 14:13), but sometimes the same office had to be executed for friends.
and abuse me] i.e. wreak their cruel will upon me; cp. Jdg 1:6.
a sword] R.V. his sword.Verse 4. - And abuse me. The main idea of the Hithp. of the verb here used is to satisfy the thirst of lust or cruelty. Saul probably feared not the abuse of mocking only, but that of torture. In the corresponding passage this verb is preceded by the clause, and thrust me through. His armour-bearer would not. He refused the request or bidding of Saul, no doubt mainly in respect of the fact that Saul was still "the anointed." We have a full description of both the loose arms and of the armour of the body in the case of the Philistine Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4-7). It is one of the world's surprising facts that the making of arms and armour, and the acquiring of skill in the using of them, should, as in fact all history attests, date from so early a period (Genesis 31:26; Genesis 34:25). As compared with the history and the fragmentary re. mains of classical antiquity, those of Scripture are remarkably scanty on this subject. The sword is the earliest mentioned in Scripture, carried in a sheath (1 Samuel 17:51; 2 Samuel 20:8; 1 Chronicles 21:27); though the Hebrew word is here different from that used in Samuel. It was slung by a girdle (1 Samuel 25:13), rested on hips or thigh (2 Samuel 20:8; Judges 3:16; Psalm 45:3), and was sometimes "two-edged" (Judges 3:16; Psalm 149:6). Then follows the spear in several varieties, as in 1 Samuel 17:7; 1 Chronicles 11:11; 1 Chronicles 20:5; 1 Chronicles 23:9. Again as a javelin (Joshua 8:14-25; Job 29:23; 1 Samuel 17:6, where in the Authorized Version it is called target, or gorget). Again as a lancet (1 Kings 18:28; 1 Chronicles 12:8, 24; 2 Chronicles 11:12; Nehemiah 4:13; Ezekiel 39:9). In addition to these three chief varieties of spear - the spear proper, the javelin, end the lancet - there is mention of two other weapons used at all events as the dart of a light kind would be used, in 2 Chronicles 23:10, and elsewhere, and in 2 Samuel 8:14, respectively. After sword and spear rank the bow and arrow (Genesis 21:20; 1 Samuel 31:3; 1 Chronicles 8:40; 1 Chronicles 12:2; Psalm 68:9; Psalm 120:4; Job 6:4) And lastly, the sling (Judges 20:16; 1 Samuel 25:29; 2 Kings 3:25), and a very strong weapon of the same kind mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:15. The chief articles worn as bodily armour were the breastplate (1 Samuel 17:5, 38); the somewhat obscure habergeon, mentioned only twice, in no connection then of battle (Exodus 28:32; Exodus 39:23), the original name of which, tacharah, is found on Egyptian papyri of the nineteenth dynasty, - it seems to have been a species of doublet or corselet; the helmet (1 Samuel 17:5; ch. 26:14; Ezekiel 27:10); greaves (1 Samuel 17:6); two kinds of shield (1 Samuel 17:7, 41, compared with 1 Kings 10:16; 2 Chronicles 9:15); and lastly the article mentioned in 2 Samuel 8:7; 1 Chronicles 18:7; 2 Kings 11:10; 2 Chronicles 23:9; Song of Solomon 4:4; Jeremiah 51:11; Ezekiel 27:11; and of which we can say nothing certainly bearing upon its nature or its use, except that it was made of gold. Armour-bearers, then, the first distinct mention of whom we find in Judges 9:54, may well have been a necessity for kings and for the great. Joab had ten (2 Samuel 18:15). The word is not expressed as a compound in Hebrew, but as "one carrying (כֵלַים) arms." 1 Chronicles 8:29-38, along with those of other families of the tribe of Benjamin, and is repeated here only to connect the following history of the kingship with the preceding genealogical lists. It forms here the introduction to the narrative of Saul's death in 1 Chronicles 10:1-14, which in turn forms the transition to the kingship of David. The deviations of this register from that in 1 Chronicles 8:29-38, show that it has been derived from another document in more complete preservation than that in 1 Chronicles 8, which had been handed down in connection with other genealogies of the Benjamite families, and had suffered considerably in its text. See the commentary on 1 Chronicles 8:29-38.
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