1:1 After the death of Saul, 1 when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, 2 he stayed at Ziklag 3 for two days. 1:2 On the third day a man arrived from the camp of Saul with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 4 When he approached David, the man 5 threw himself to the ground. 6
1:3 David asked him, “Where are you coming from?” He replied, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 1:4 David inquired, “How were things going? 7 Tell me!” He replied, “The people fled from the battle and many of them 8 fell dead. 9 Even Saul and his son Jonathan are dead!” 1:5 David said to the young man 10 who was telling him this, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 11 1:6 The young man who was telling him this 12 said, “I just happened to be on Mount Gilboa and came across Saul leaning on his spear for support. The chariots and leaders of the horsemen were in hot pursuit of him. 1:7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me. I answered, ‘Here I am!’ 1:8 He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him, ‘I’m 13 an Amalekite.’ 1:9 He said to me, ‘Stand over me and finish me off! 14 I’m very dizzy, 15 even though I’m still alive.’ 16 1:10 So I stood over him and put him to death, since I knew that he couldn’t live in such a condition. 17 Then I took the crown which was on his head and the 18 bracelet which was on his arm. I have brought them here to my lord.” 19
1:11 David then grabbed his own clothes 20 and tore them, as did all the men who were with him. 1:12 They lamented and wept and fasted until evening because Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel had fallen by the sword.
1:13 David said to the young man who told this to him, “Where are you from?” He replied, “I am an Amalekite, the son of a resident foreigner.” 21 1:14 David replied to him, “How is it that you were not afraid to reach out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 1:15 Then David called one of the soldiers 22 and said, “Come here and strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 1:16 David said to him, “Your blood be on your own head! Your own mouth has testified against you, saying ‘I have put the Lord’s anointed to death.’”
1 sn This chapter is closely linked to 1 Sam 31. It should be kept in mind that 1 and 2 Samuel were originally a single book, not separate volumes. Whereas in English Bible tradition the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah are each regarded as two separate books, this was not the practice in ancient Hebrew tradition. Early canonical records, for example, counted them as single books respectively. The division into two books goes back to the Greek translation of the OT and was probably initiated because of the cumbersome length of copies due to the Greek practice (unlike that of Hebrew) of writing vowels. The present division into two books can be a little misleading in terms of perceiving the progression of the argument of the book; in some ways it is preferable to treat the books of 1-2 Samuel in a unified fashion.
2 sn The Amalekites were a nomadic people who inhabited Judah and the Transjordan. They are mentioned in Gen 36:15-16 as descendants of Amalek who in turn descended from Esau. In Exod 17:8-16 they are described as having acted in a hostile fashion toward Israel as the Israelites traveled to Canaan from Egypt. In David’s time the Amalekites were viewed as dangerous enemies who raided, looted, and burned Israelite cities (see 1 Sam 30).
3 sn Ziklag was a city in the Negev which had been given to David by Achish king of Gath. For more than a year David used it as a base from which he conducted military expeditions (see 1 Sam 27:5-12). According to 1 Sam 30:1-19, Ziklag was destroyed by the Amalekites while Saul fought the Philistines.
4 sn Tearing one’s clothing and throwing dirt on one’s head were outward expressions of grief in the ancient Near East, where such demonstrable reactions were a common response to tragic news.
5 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the man mentioned at the beginning of v. 2) has been specified in the translation to avoid confusion as to who fell to the ground.
6 tn Heb “he fell to the ground and did obeisance.”
7 tn Heb “What was the word?”
8 tn Heb “from the people.”
9 tn Heb “fell and died.”
10 tn In v. 2 he is called simply a “man.” The word used here in v. 5 (so also in vv. 6, 13, 15), though usually referring to a young man or servant, may in this context designate a “fighting” man, i.e., a soldier.
11 tc Instead of the MT “who was recounting this to him, ‘How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?’” the Syriac Peshitta reads “declare to me how Saul and his son Jonathan died.”
12 tc The Syriac Peshitta and one
13 tc The present translation reads with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
14 tn As P. K. McCarter (II Samuel [AB], 59) points out, the Polel of the verb מוּת (mut, “to die”) “refers to dispatching or ‘finishing off’ someone already wounded and near death.” Cf. NLT “put me out of my misery.”
15 tn Heb “the dizziness has seized me.” On the meaning of the Hebrew noun translated “dizziness,” see P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 59-60. The point seems to be that he is unable to kill himself because he is weak and disoriented.
16 tn The Hebrew text here is grammatically very awkward (Heb “because all still my life in me”). Whether the broken construct phrase is due to the fact that the alleged speaker is in a confused state of mind as he is on the verge of dying, or whether the MT has sustained corruption in the transmission process, is not entirely clear. The former seems likely, although P. K. McCarter understands the MT to be the result of conflation of two shorter forms of text (P. K. McCarter, II Samuel [AB], 57, n. 9). Early translators also struggled with the verse, apparently choosing to leave part of the Hebrew text untranslated. For example, the Lucianic recension of the LXX lacks “all,” while other witnesses (namely, one medieval Hebrew
17 tn Heb “after his falling”; NAB “could not survive his wound”; CEV “was too badly wounded to live much longer.”
18 tc The MT lacks the definite article, but this is likely due to textual corruption. It is preferable to read the alef (א) of אֶצְעָדָה (’ets’adah) as a ה (he) giving הַצְּעָדָה (hatsÿ’adah). There is no reason to think that the soldier confiscated from Saul’s dead body only one of two or more bracelets that he was wearing (cf. NLT “one of his bracelets”).
19 sn The claims that the soldier is making here seem to contradict the story of Saul’s death as presented in 1 Sam 31:3-5. In that passage it appears that Saul took his own life, not that he was slain by a passerby who happened on the scene. Some scholars account for the discrepancy by supposing that conflicting accounts have been brought together in the MT. However, it is likely that the young man is here fabricating the account in a self-serving way so as to gain favor with David, or so he supposes. He probably had come across Saul’s corpse, stolen the crown and bracelet from the body, and now hopes to curry favor with David by handing over to him these emblems of Saul’s royalty. But in so doing the Amalekite greatly miscalculated David’s response to this alleged participation in Saul’s death. The consequence of his lies will instead be his own death.
20 tc The present translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
21 tn The Hebrew word used here refers to a foreigner whose social standing was something less than that of native residents of the land, but something more than that of a nonresident alien who was merely passing through.
22 tn Heb “young men.”