Death of Saul and His Sons. 1a Now the Philistines went to war against Israel, and the Israelites fled before them, and fell, slain on Mount Gilboa. 2The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons. When the Philistines had struck down Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, sons of Saul,b 3the fury of the battle converged on Saul. Then the archers hit him, and he was severely wounded. 4Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through; otherwise these uncircumcised will come and abuse me.” But the armor-bearer, badly frightened, refused, so Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.c 5d When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell upon his sword and died with him. 6Thus Saul, his three sons, and his armor-bearer died together on that same day. 7When the Israelites on the slope of the valley and those along the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. Then the Philistines came and lived in those cities.
8On the following day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9They cut off Saul’s head and stripped him of his armor; these they sent throughout the land of the Philistines to bring the good news to the temple of their idols and to the people.e 10They put his armor in the temple of Astarte but impaled his body on the wall of Beth-shan.
Burial of Saul. 11f When the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12all their warriors set out and traveled through the night; they removed the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and, returning to Jabesh, burned them.* 13Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.
* [31:12] Burned them: cremation was not an Israelite custom. The people of Jabesh-gilead repay Saul’s victory over the Ammonites on their behalf (chap. 11) by providing burial and funeral rites for him and his sons. Probably the damaged state of the corpus necessitated cremation.