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2 Samuel 1:6-21

Context
1:6 The young man who was telling him this 1  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 2  an Amalekite.’ 1:9 He said to me, ‘Stand over me and finish me off! 3  I’m very dizzy, 4  even though I’m still alive.’ 5  1:10 So I stood over him and put him to death, since I knew that he couldn’t live in such a condition. 6  Then I took the crown which was on his head and the 7  bracelet which was on his arm. I have brought them here to my lord.” 8 

1:11 David then grabbed his own clothes 9  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.” 10  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 11  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.’”

David’s Tribute to Saul and Jonathan

1:17 Then David chanted this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan. 1:18 (He gave instructions that the people of Judah should be taught “The Bow.” 12  Indeed, it is written down in the Book of Yashar.) 13 

1:19 The beauty 14  of Israel lies slain on your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

1:20 Don’t report it in Gath,

don’t spread the news in the streets of Ashkelon, 15 

or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,

the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate!

1:21 O mountains of Gilboa,

may there be no dew or rain on you, nor fields of grain offerings! 16 

For it was there that the shield of warriors was defiled; 17 

the shield of Saul lies neglected without oil. 18 

2 Samuel 21:12

Context
21:12 he 19  went and took the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan 20  from the leaders 21  of Jabesh Gilead. (They had secretly taken 22  them from the plaza at Beth Shan. It was there that Philistines 23  publicly exposed their corpses 24  after 25  they 26  had killed Saul at Gilboa.)

1 tc The Syriac Peshitta and one ms of the LXX lack the words “who was telling him this” of the MT.

2 tc The present translation reads with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss “and I said,” rather than the Kethib which has “and he said.” See the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate, all of which have the first person.

3 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.”

4 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.

5 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 ms, codices A and B of the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta) lack “still.”

6 tn Heb “after his falling”; NAB “could not survive his wound”; CEV “was too badly wounded to live much longer.”

7 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 (’etsadah) as a ה (he) giving הַצְּעָדָה (hatsÿadah). 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”).

8 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.

9 tc The present translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading “his garments,” rather than “his garment,” the reading of the Kethib.

10 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.

11 tn Heb “young men.”

12 tn Heb “be taught the bow.” The reference to “the bow” is very difficult here. Some interpreters (e.g., S. R. Driver, P. K. McCarter, Jr.) suggest deleting the word from the text (cf. NAB, TEV), but there does not seem to be sufficient evidence for doing so. Others (cf. KJV) understand the reference to be elliptical, meaning “the use of the bow.” The verse would then imply that with the deaths of Saul and Jonathan having occurred, a period of trying warfare is about to begin, requiring adequate preparation for war on the part of the younger generation. Various other views may also be found in the secondary literature. However, it seems best to understand the word here to be a reference to the name of a song (i.e., “The Bow”), most likely the poem that follows in vv. 19-27 (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV, CEV, NLT); NIV “this lament of the bow.” To make this clear the words “the song of” are supplied in the translation.

13 sn The Book of Yashar is a noncanonical writing no longer in existence. It is referred to here and in Josh 10:12-13 and 1 Kgs 8:12-13. It apparently was “a collection of ancient national poetry” (so BDB 449 s.v. יָשָׁר).

14 sn The word beauty is used figuratively here to refer to Saul and Jonathan.

15 sn The cities of Gath and Ashkelon are mentioned here by synecdoche of part for the whole. As major Philistine cities they in fact represent all of Philistia. The point is that when the sad news of fallen Israelite leadership reaches the Philistines, it will be for these enemies of Israel the occasion of great joy rather than grief.

16 tc Instead of the MT’s “fields of grain offerings” the Lucianic recension of the LXX reads “your high places are mountains of death.” Cf. the Old Latin montes mortis (“mountains of death”).

17 tn This is the only biblical occurrence of the Niphal of the verb גָּעַל (gaal). This verb usually has the sense of “to abhor” or “loathe.” But here it seems to refer to the now dirty and unprotected condition of a previously well-maintained instrument of battle.

18 tc It is preferable to read here Hebrew מָשׁוּחַ (mashuakh) with many Hebrew mss, rather than מָשִׁיחַ (mashiakh) of the MT. Although the Syriac Peshitta understands the statement to pertain to Saul, the point here is not that Saul is not anointed. Rather, it is the shield of Saul that lies discarded and is no longer anointed. In ancient Near Eastern practice a warrior’s shield that was in normal use would have to be anointed regularly in order to ensure that the leather did not become dry and brittle. Like other warriors of his day Saul would have carefully maintained his tools of trade. But now that he is dead, the once-cared-for shield of the mighty warrior lies sadly discarded and woefully neglected, a silent but eloquent commentary on how different things are now compared to the way they were during Saul’s lifetime.

19 tn Heb “David.” For stylistic reasons the name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation.

20 tn Heb “the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son.” See also v. 13.

21 tn Heb “lords.”

22 tn Heb “stolen.”

23 tc Against the MT, this word is better read without the definite article. The MT reading is probably here the result of wrong word division, with the letter ה (he) belonging with the preceding word שָׁם (sham) as the he directive (i.e., שָׁמָּה, samah, “to there”).

24 tn Heb “had hung them.”

25 tn Heb “in the day.”

26 tn Heb “Philistines.”



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