1 Samuel 31:10
And they put his armor in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
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(10) The house of Ashtaroth.—Literally, of “the Ashtaroth.” The expression may signify that the pieces of armour belonging to the four men were divided between the different shrines of Astarte in the land, or placed together in the famous Astarte Temple, at Askelon, which Herodotus (i. 105) describes as the most ancient of the temples dedicated to the worship of the Syrian Venus. The latter supposition seems the more probable, as Askelon is specially mentioned by David in the funeral hymn of Saul and Jonathan (2Samuel 1:20).

The wall of Beth-shan.—Beth-shan was in the tribe of Manasseh, some four miles west of the Jordan, and twelve miles south of the sea of Galilee. We are told in Judges 1:27, that the Canaanites, the original inhabitants of the city, were permitted by the conqueror to dwell still in the city. This Canaanitish element in the population was perhaps the reason why Beth-shan was chosen for the barbarous exhibition. The Canaanites would probably have welcomed the miserable spectacle which seemed to degrade their ancient enemies. The writer of the chronicle adds one more ghastly detail to this account: “They fastened the head (skull) of Saul in the Temple of Dagon.”

31:8-13 The Scripture makes no mention what became of the souls of Saul and his sons, after they were dead; but of their bodies only: secret things belong not to us. It is of little consequence by what means we die, or what is done with our dead bodies. If our souls are saved, our bodies will be raised incorruptible and glorious; but not to fear His wrath, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell, is the extreme of folly and wickedness. How useless is the respect of fellow-creatures to those who are suffering the wrath of God! While pompous funerals, grand monuments, and he praises of men, honour the memory of the deceased, the soul may be suffering in the regions of darkness and despair! Let us seek that honour which cometh from God only.In the house of Ashtaroth - This was doubtless the famous temple of Venus in Askelon mentioned by Herodotus as the most ancient of all her temples. Hence, the special mention of Askelon 2 Samuel 1:20. The placing Saul's armour as a trophy in the temple of Ashtaroth was a counterpart to the placing Goliath's sword in the tabernacle 1 Samuel 21:9. In 1 Chronicles 10:10 it is added that they "fastened Saul's head in the temple of Dagon," probably either in Gaza Judges 16:21, or in Ashdod 1 Samuel 5:1-3. This was, perhaps, in retaliation for the similar treatment of Goliath's head 1 Samuel 17:54. The variations seem to imply that both this narrative and that in 1 Chronicles 10:1-14 are compiled from a common and a fuller document. 10. to the wall—(2Sa 21:12)—"the street" of Beth-shan. The street was called from the temple which stood in it. And they had to go along it to the wall of the city (see Jos 17:11). No text from Poole on this verse. And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth,.... A temple dedicated to their deities, called by this name; of which See Gill on Judges 2:13; Nothing was more common with the Gentiles than to place in their temples the arms they took from their enemies, as is strongly expressed by Homer (i) and Virgil (k); and indeed the Jews did the same, as appears by the sword of Goliath being laid up in the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 21:9. Here also the Heathens (l) hung up their own arms when the war was ended:

and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan; which Josephus (m) says is the same which in his time was called Scythopolis, from the Scythians that possessed it, before called Nysa, according to Pliny (n): it was given to the tribe of Manasseh, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of it, so that it was always in the possession of others, Joshua 17:11; where it is called Bethshean; to the wall of the city they fastened the body of Saul with nails, as it is commonly understood; but it is more likely they hung it on a gibbet without, and near the walls of the city; so the Targum, they hung his body; or, as Josephus (o), they crucified it there; and so they did also the bodies of his sons, as appears from 1 Samuel 31:12.

(i) , Iliad. 7. ver. 83. (k) "Multaque praeterea sacris in postibus arma", &c. Aeneid. 7. ver. 183. So Persius, Satyr. 6. ver. 45. (l) Messal. Corvin. de August. Progen. (m) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14.) l. 8. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18. Vid. Solin. Polyhistor. c. 49. (o) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14. l. 8.)

And they put his armor in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
10. the house of Ashtaroth] See on 1 Samuel 7:3. “This was doubtless the famous temple of Venus in Askelon mentioned by Herodotus (I. 105) as the most ancient of all her temples. Hence the special mention of Askelon in 2 Samuel 1:20.” Speaker’s Comm.

they fastened his body to the wall] Together with the bodies of his sons (1 Samuel 31:12). They were hung on the wall in the “open place” (2 Samuel 21:12, E. V. street) by the gate, that all the passers by might join in exulting over the defeat and disgrace of Israel.

Beth-shan] Now Beisân, situated in the Wady Jâlûd four miles west of the Jordan, “on the brow just where the plain of Jezreel drops down by a rather steep descent some three hundred feet to the level of the Ghôr,” or Jordan valley. After the Return from the Captivity it was known as Scythopolis (2Ma 12:29; cp. the Sept. of Jdg 1:27).

In 1 Chronicles 10:10 this statement about Saul’s body is omitted, and in its place we read that “they fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.”The Philistines followed Saul, smote (i.e., put to death) his three sons (see at 1 Samuel 14:49), and fought fiercely against Saul himself. When the archers (בּקּשׁת אנשׁים is an explanatory apposition to המּורים) hit him, i.e., overtook him, he was greatly alarmed at them (יחל, from חיל or חוּל),

(Note: The lxx have adopted the rendering καὶ ἐτραυμάτισαν εἰς τὰ ὑποχόνδρια, they wounded him in the abdomen, whilst the Vulgate rendering is vulneratus est vehementer a sagittariis. In 1 Chronicles 10:3 the Sept. rendering is καὶ ἐπόνεσεν ἀπὸ τῶν τόξων, and that of the Vulgate et vulneraverunt jaculis. The translators have therefore derived יחל from חלל equals חלה, and then given a free rendering to the other words. But this rendering is overthrown by the word מאד, very, vehemently, to say nothing of the fact that the verb חלל or חלה cannot be proved to be ever used in the sense of wounding. If Saul had been so severely wounded that he could not kill himself, and therefore asked his armour-bearer to slay him, as Thenius supposes, he would not have had the strength to pierce himself with his sword when the armour-bearer refused. The further conjecture of Thenius, that the Hebrew text should be read thus, in accordance with the lxx, המּררים אל ויּחל, "he was wounded in the region of the gall," is opposed by the circumstance that ὑποχόνδρια is not the gall or region of the gall, but what is under the χόνδρος, or breast cartilage, viz., the abdomen and bowels.)

and called upon his armour-bearer to pierce him with the sword, "lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and play with me," i.e., cool their courage upon me by maltreating me. But as the armour-bearer would not do this, because he was very much afraid, since he was supposed to be answerable for the king's life, Saul inflicted death upon himself with his sword; whereupon the armour-bearer also fell upon his sword and died with his king, so that on that day Saul and this three sons and his armour-bearer all died; also "all his men" (for which we have "all his house" in the Chronicles), i.e., not all the warriors who went out with him to battle, but all the king's servants, or all the members of his house, sc., who had taken part in the battle. Neither Abner nor his son Ishbosheth was included, for the latter was not in the battle; and although the former was Saul's cousin and commander-in-chief (see 1 Samuel 14:50-51), he did not belong to his house or servants.

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