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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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THE DEATH OF SAUL

[148] MEANWHILE, David and his six hundred men were causing a great deal of uneasiness to the Philistines. For when the commanders saw him they came to Achish and said, "Is not this David, the Israelite who hath slain so many of our brethren?" And when the king answered that it was, they advised him not to let him join in the battle, for he might turn against them and befriend the people of his own nation. "Make him go back," they said, "to his habitation in Ziklag." So Achish called David and told him that he had better return with his six hundred men, for that the lords of the Philistines were afraid of him. And David gladly did as he was told. Now it happened that while he was away a party of Amalekites had fallen upon the defenceless town of Ziklag and burned the houses, and carried away all the women and children as slaves.

Then David and his companions rent their clothes and wept aloud. And the men were angry with him, blaming him for their misfortunes, and they talked of stoning him. But he took counsel fro God, and told them he would lead them against the enemy. They had not gone far when they came upon a man who was sick alone in a field. And they gave him food, which strengthened him, for he had not eaten for three days. Then he told them he was an Egyptian, a servant of one of the Amalekites, and that his master had left him three days ago when he fell sick. So David made use of [149] him as a guide to conduct him to the place where the Amalekites could be found.

The Amalekites were at this time feasting and drinking or lying upon the ground in a drunken slumber, as they did not fear any attack. David and the Israelites fell upon them in this condition, and slew them, so that none of them escaped, except four hundred young men who were mounted on camels. And the men of Israel got back their wives and children, and all the spoil that the Amalekites had taken, not only from them but from other nations.

The Philistines, after David had gone, went out and fought against the men of Israel and won a great victory. Saul and his sons fought very bravely, knowing that they had nothing to hope for except an honorable death. They therefore brought upon themselves the whole power of the enemy, till they were encompassed round and the sons were all slain. Then the army of the Israelites was put to flight, and all was disorder and confusion and slaughter. Saul himself was forced to fly with a strong body of soldiers around him, but the archers of the Philistines threw their arrows and destroyed his soldiers, so that he was left almost alone. Then he turned and fought, and when he had received so many wounds that he was not able to bear up any longer, he said to his armor—

bearer, "Draw thy sword and kill me, lest the enemy take me alive." But his armor-bearer was afraid, and would not. Then Saul drew his own sword and fell upon it, but he could not make it pass through him, and calling to one who was by him, who was an amalekite, he desired himt o force the sword through his breast. This the Amalekite did, and , taking the royal crown from Saul's head and the jewels and bracelets from his arms, he fled from the field. And when the armor-bearer saw that Saul was slain, he killed himself.

On the next day, when the Philistines came to striip the bodies of the slain, they found Saul and his sons lying dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off their heads, and hung their [150] bodies on crosses at the walls of the cith Bethshan. But this barbarity came to the ears of the Israelites who lived in Jabesh-Gilead, and all the brave men in that city arose, and by journeying all night they came to the city of Bethshan next morning. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons and carried them to Jabesh, where they buried them. For the enemy were either not able, or not bold enough, to hinder them, on account of their great courage.


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