Saul (//;, meaning "asked for, prayed for"; Latin: Saul; Arabic: طالوت, Ṭālūt or شاؤل, Ša'ūl) is a King in the Books of Samuel, 1 Chronicles and the Qur'an. He was the first king of the ancient Israel. He reigned from 1047 BC to 1007 BC.
In the Bible, Saul loves and obeys God, until he stops listening to God and becomes slightly greedy, losing God's whole interest for him. Samuel, the prophet, comes and gives him a warning that God is not with him anymore. When turning to leave, Saul grabs Samuel's robe, and it tears. Samuel says (1Samuel15:28~29), "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors - to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."
Then the spirit of the Lord departs from Saul, and an evil spirit torments him. Saul takes David the shepherd, and the youngest son of Jesse, into his service to play a harp for him and so that he would be soothed when the evil spirit rests upon him. Later he gets jealous of David, and begins to suspect David as the 'one of your neighbors' that Samuel had mentioned. He grows afraid of David, and finally his jealousy turns to hatred, and he wishes to kill him. But Saul's son Jonathan is bound to David in friendship,which makes his anger fume on Jonathan as well.
Later, Saul dies at the battle against the Philistines, and falls on his own sword because he does not want to be abused by the 'uncircumcised' Philistines.1 Samuel and 2 Samuel give conflicting accounts of Saul's death. In 1 Samuel, and in a parallel account in 1 Chronicles 10, as the defeated Israelites flee, Saul asks his armour bearer to kill him, but he refuses, and so Saul falls upon his own sword. In 2 Samuel, an Amalekite tells David he found Saul leaning on his spear after the battle and delivered the coup de grâce. David has the Amalekite put to death for accusing himself of killing the anointed king. Saul's three sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Melchishua were also killed in the battle ( ). King David, who hears about the tragedy after the battle, curses the mountain:
- Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, neither fields of choice fruits; for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil ( ).
The victorious Philistines recover Saul's body as well as those of his three sons who also died in the battle, decapitated them and displayed them on the wall of Beth-shan. They display Saul's armour in the temple of Ashtaroth (an Ascalonian temple of the Canaanites). But at night the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead retrieve the bodies for cremation and burial ( ). Later on, David takes the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan and buries them in Zela, in the tomb of his father ( ). The account in 1 Chronicles summarises by stating that:
- Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.
After the death of King Saul his only surving son was proclaimed King of Israel; Ish-bosheth was 40 years old at this time and reigned for two years (2 Samuel 2:10). However, after the death of King Saul, the tribe of Judah seceded from the rule of the House of Saul by proclaiming David as its king (2 Samuel 2:4), and war ensued (2 Samuel 2:12). David's faction eventually prevailed against Ish-bosheth's (2 Samuel 3:1), but the war did not come to a close until Abner joined David (2 Samuel 3:6). Before the death of Saul, David had been married to Saul's daughter Michal, Ishbosheth's sister, until Saul and David had a falling out and Saul gave her to another man (Samuel%2025:44&verse=HE&src=! 1 Samuel 25:44 HE). Later, at the conclusion of the war with Ishbosheth, David's terms for peace required that Michal be returned to him, and Ish-bosheth complied (2 Samuel 3:14). After Abner's death, Ish-bosheth seems to have given up hope of retaining power (2 Samuel 4:1).Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his own army-captains, Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:5), who expected a reward from David because of this. David, however, refused to give any commendation for high treason; he had both killers hanged with their hands and feet cut off. The head of Ishbosheth was buried in Abner's grave at Hebron. (2 Samuel 4:12)Michal was childless.
A famine lasting three years hit Israel during the earlier half of David's reign at Jerusalem. This calamity was believed to have happened because of "Saul and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." The Gibeonites were not Israelites, but the remnant of the Amorites, which Saul pursued from within Israel. David inquired of the Gibeonites what satisfaction they demanded, and was answered that nothing would compensate for the wrong Saul had done to them but the death of seven of Saul's sons.(2 Samuel 21:1-6)
David accordingly delivered up to them the two sons of Saul's Concubine Rizpah (Armoni and Mephibosheth(2 Samuel 21:8) and five of the sons of Merab, Saul's eldest daughter, whom she bore to Adriel. These the Gibeonites put to death, and hung up their bodies at the sanctuary at Gibeah. (2 Samuel 21:8-9) Rizpah thereupon took her place on the rock of Gibeah, and for five months watched the suspended bodies of her children, to prevent them from being devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, (2 Samuel 21:10) till they were at length taken down and buried by David (2 Samuel 21:13) in the family grave at Zelah with the bones of Saul and Jonathan. (2 Samuel 21:14).
The only male descendant of Saul to survive was Mephibosheth, Jonathan's lame son (2 Samuel 4:4), who was five years old at the time of his father's and grandfather's deaths. In time, he came under the protection of David (2 Samuel 9:7–13). Mephibosheth had a young son, Micah (2 Samuel 9:12), who had four sons and descendants named until the ninth generation (1 Chronicles 8:35–38).
- G. Darshan, "The Reinterment of Saul and Jonathan's Bones (II Sam 21, 12–14) in Light of Ancient Greek Hero-Cult Stories", ZAW, 125,4 (2013), 640–645.
- 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
- "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Rizpah". Retrieved 2012-10-29.