The burial of King Saul’s bones (1 Chr 10:11-10:12)

“When all Jabesh-gilead heard everything that the Philistines had done to King Saul, all the valiant men got up and took away the body of King Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.”

The only difference between here and 1 Samuel, chapter 31, is that there the men of Jabesh-gilead went to Bethshan to get the body of King Saul. They also burned his body which they did not do here. However, here as there they buried the bones of King Saul and his sons in Jabesh under an oak or tamarisk tree in Jabesh. Then they fasted for 7 days. So there is no beautiful glorious end to the story of Saul. There was no solemn final farewell. He was fatally hit with a bow and arrow. Then he killed himself with his own sword. His head was cut off. His body was desecrated. Only the bones were saved to be buried under a tree in Jabesh.

The threat of Nahash, the Ammonite (1 Sam 11:1-11:4)

“About a month later, Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead. All the men of Jabesh said to Nahash. ‘Make a treaty with us. We will serve you.’ But Nahash the Ammonite said to them. ‘On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eyes. Thus I will put disgrace upon all Israel.’ The elders of Jabesh said to him. ‘Give us seven days respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.’ When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people. All the people wept aloud.”

There were problems at Jabesh-gilead, a town on the east Jordan side. This is the same town in Judges, chapter 21, which never sent troops to help defeat the Benjaminites. The other tribes wiped out this town except for its 400 virgins, which they gave to the Benjaminites to be their wives. Nahash an Ammonite surrounded this town. He agreed to make a peace treaty if everyone gave up their right eye. The people wanted a week of peace to send for help. If no one showed up in a week, then they would agree to his terms. News arrived at Gibeah where Saul lived. This is exactly the same town where in Judges, chapters 19-21,the great crime of the Benjaminites took place. All the people wept. I always have problems with the phrase ‘all the people.’ Why would they want to save this town? Perhaps the wives of the Benjaminites reminded them of what they had done to it.