Contradictions – Saul’s Death

Who killed Saul?

  • 1 Samuel 31:3-7 claims that Saul killed himself by falling on his sword
  • 2 Samuel 1:1-10 claims that an Amalekite killed him (or more accurately, it reports that the Amalekite claimed to have killed him)
Firstly, it’s important to note that 2 Samuel 1:1-10 simply reports what the Amalekite claimed – it does not claim that he spoke the truth.  He claims to have ended Saul’s suffering, an act of apparent mercy that earned him execution by King David for his impertinence and disrespect of the office of king.  So we don’t know that the Amalekite’s story is actually true.  He might have crafted the story in order to impress David and perhaps earn his favor.  If so, his plan backfired.
Secondly, it’s possible that the account in 1 Samuel 31 is accurate – Saul falls on his sword, as does his armor bearer, thinking that King Saul is dead.  However it’s possible that Saul didn’t die, and that the Amalekite finds him grieviously wounded and then does what he claims to in 2 Samuel 1.  I think this theory is a bit less likely.  The writer of 1 Samuel 31 certainly sounds authoritative in stating that Saul and his armor bearer died by their own hands.
In any event, once again it isn’t necessarily a contradiction.
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