1 Samuel 31:9
And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
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(9) And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour.—Only Saul’s head and armour is mentioned here, but on comparing 1Samuel 31:12, where the bodies of his sons are especially mentioned, it is clear that this act was not confined to the person of the king. The sense of the passage there is, the heads of the king and his three sons were cut off, and their armour stripped from their bodies. The heads and armour were sent as trophies round about the different towns and villages of Philistia, and the headless corpses were fastened to the wall of the city of Beth-shan.

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.The men on the other side of the valley - This must mean to the north of the plain of Jezreel, and would comprise the tribe of Naphtali, and Zabulon, and probably Issachar. But the text of 1 Chronicles 10:7 has "that were in the valley," limiting the statement to the inhabitants of the plain of Jezreel.

On the other side Jordan - This phrase most commonly means on the east of Jordan, the speaker being supposed to be on the west side. But it is also used of the west of Jordan, as here, if the text be sound.

The Philistines ... dwelt in them - One of the principal cities, Beth-shan, fell into their power at once 1 Samuel 31:10.

1Sa 31:8-10. The Philistines Triumph over Their Dead Bodies.

8, 9. on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen—On discovering the corpses of the slaughtered princes on the battlefield, the enemy reserved them for special indignities. They consecrated the armor of the king and his sons to the temple of Ashtaroth fastened their bodies on the temple of Shen, while they fixed the royal heads ignominiously in the temple of Dagon (1Ch 10:10); thus dividing the glory among their several deities.

They cut off his head, as the Israelites did by Goliath.

To publish it in the house of their idols, to give them the glory of this victory.

And they cut off his head,.... And fastened it in the temple of Dagon, 1 Chronicles 10:10; perhaps that which was at Ashdod, one of the principalities of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 5:1,

and stripped off his armour; or vessels (h), his clothes as well as his armour, and what he had about him; as for his crown on his head, and the bracelet on his arm, the Amalekite took them before the Philistines came, 2 Samuel 1:10,

and sent into the land of the Philistines round about: not his head and his armour, for they were placed in the temple of their idols; unless we can suppose these were first carried about for show, and as proofs of the victory: but rather messengers, who were sent express with the news:

to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people; that so they might be glad and rejoice, and give praise to their idols, to whom they ascribed the success they had.

(h) "vasa ejus", Munster, Montanus.

And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to {d} publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.

(d) In token of victory and triumph.

8–13. The burial of Saul and his Sons

9. they cut off his head] The Anointed of Jehovah fares no better than the uncircumcised Goliath, now that God has forsaken him.

to publish it] To publish the good news. Sept. εὐαγγελίζοντες. Cp. 2 Samuel 1:20.

in the house of their idols] In the temples of their idols, which were regarded as the givers of the victory. Cp. ch. 1 Samuel 5:2. Chron. reads “to carry tidings to their idols.”

Verses 9, 10. - They cut off his head. This was probably done not simply in retaliation for what had happened to their champion Goliath, but in accordance with the customs of ancient warfare. The fierce joy of the Philistines over the fallen Saul proves how great had been their fear of him, and how successful he had been in breaking their yoke off Israel's neck. Had he still had David with him the victory would assuredly have remained on his side. They put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth. Hebrew, "of the Ashtaroth." Whether it was divided among the various shrines of Astarte, or whether it was all placed in her famous temple at Askelon, described by Herodotus (1:105) as the most ancient of the fanes of the Syrian Venus, is uncertain. The former view agrees best with the Hebrew text and with what is said in 1 Chronicles 10:10, where we have the additional information that they suspended Saul's head in the temple of Dagon. They fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan, as also the bodies of his sons (ver. 12). Beth-shan or Scythopolis lies about four miles from the Jordan on the west, and twelve miles south of the lake of Tiberias. It is almost in a straight line to the west of Mahanaim, and must have been at once occupied by the Philistines, and as they hung the bodies of the fallen king and his sons on its wall, they evidently intended to retain it. RECOVERY OF THE BODIES OF SAUL AND HIS SONS (vers. 11-13). 1 Samuel 31:9On the day following the battle, when the Philistines tripped the slain, they found Saul and his three sons lying upon Gilboa; and having cut off their heads and plundered their weapons, they went them (the heads and weapons) as trophies into the land of the Philistines, i.e., round about to the different towns and hamlets of their land, to announce the joyful news in their idol-temples (the writer of the Chronicles mentions the idols themselves) and to the people, and then deposited their weapons (the weapons of Saul and his sons) in the Astarte-houses. But the corpses they fastened to the town-wall of Beth-shean, i.e., Beisan, in the valley of the Jordan (see at Joshua 17:11). Beth-azabbim and Beth-ashtaroth are composite words; the first part is indeclinable, and the plural form is expressed by the second word: idol-houses and Astarte-houses, like beth-aboth (father's-houses: see at Exodus 6:14). On the Astartes, see at Judges 2:13. It is not expressly stated indeed in 1 Samuel 31:9, 1 Samuel 31:10, that the Philistines plundered the bodies of Saul's sons as well, and mutilated them by cutting off their heads; but ראשׁו and כּליו, his (i.e., Saul's) head and his weapons, alone are mentioned. At the same time, it is every evident from 1 Samuel 31:12, where the Jabeshites are said to have taken down from the wall of Beth-shean not Saul's body only, but the bodies of his sons also, that the Philistines had treated the corpses of Saul's sons in just the same manner as that of Saul himself. The writer speaks distinctly of the abuse of Saul's body only, because it was his death that he had chiefly in mind at the time. To the word וישׁלּחוּ we must supply in thought the object ראשׁו and כּליו from the preceding clause. גּויּת and גּויּת (1 Samuel 31:10 and 1 Samuel 31:12) are the corpses without the heads. The fact that the Philistines nailed them to the town-wall of Beth-shean presupposes the capture of that city, from which it is evident that they had occupied the land as far as the Jordan. The definite word Beth-ashtaroth is changed by the writer of the Chronicles into Beth-elohim, temples of the gods; or rather he has interpreted it in this manner without altering the sense, as the Astartes are merely mentioned as the principal deities for the idols generally. The writer of the Chronicles has also omitted to mention the nailing of the corpses to the wall of Beth-shean, but he states instead that "they fastened his skull in the temple of Dagon," a fact which is passed over in the account before us. From this we may see how both writers have restricted themselves to the principal points, or those which appeared to them of the greatest importance (vid., Bertheau on 1 Chronicles 10:10).
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