1 Sam 31:5: was Saul necessarily dead?

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Fri Dec 31 00:44:14 EST 1999

Well, here's an interesting question. Does the phrase in 1 Sam 31:5:


necessarily mean that Saul was actually dead, or can it mean simply 
that he appeared to the armour bearer to be dead?

This is actually a question of Hebrew!

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[11]: Methods in biblical scholarship (Peter)
Author:  <npl at teol.ku.dk> at Internet
Date:    30/12/1999 15:13

Please Peter, read the text and not what you think is in the text. 1 Sam 
31:5 states that Saul is dead (kŒ met sha–l), and v. 6 that that day Saul, 
and his three sons died. The scenario in 2 Sam 1 is quite different. In 1 
Sam 31 Saul kills himself by his own sword, in 2 Sam 1, he is supported by 
his spear while the enemy tries to get at him, evidently badly cut up.

If your translation is different from the Hebrew text, please find a better 


> -----Original Message-----
> From:        peter_kirk at sil.org [SMTP:peter_kirk at sil.org] 
> Sent:        Thursday, 30 December, 1999 18:32
> To:        Biblical Hebrew
> Subject:        Re[10]: Methods in biblical scholarship (Peter) 
> Dear Ian,
> I have reread 1 Samuel 31 and 2 Samuel 1, and I realise that it is 
> saying something rather different.
> 31:4 The armour-bearer refuses to kill Saul, so Saul sticks his own 
> spear in the ground and impales himself on it.
> 31:5 The armour-bearer thinks Saul is dead and falls on his sword.
> Both die. At this stage the author does not mention the Amalekite as 
> he is irrelevant.
> 1:6-10 The Amalekite found Saul after he had impaled himself but not
> yet quite dead. Presumably the armour-bearer was dead already, a sword 
> being more deadly than a spear. So the Amalekite kills Saul to put him 
> out of his misery, and walks off with his crown and armlet. David
> believes the story as how else would the Amalekite have got the crown 
> and armlet?
> So where is the contradiction?
> Peter Kirk

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