Problem: Saul's whole house died or didn't
Verses: 1 Chronicles 10:6, 1 Samuel 31:2, 2 Samuel 2:8; Status: Weak

1 Chronicles 10:6 tells us this about the death of Saul:

Thus Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together. (ESV)

On the other hand, 2 Samuel 2:8 tells us of a surviving son:

But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim (ESV)

This certainly looks like a problem. The verse in 1 Chronicles seems to imply that Saul's whole family died in the battle, while 2 Samuel disagrees. However, there's another description of those events that is worth looking at, 1 Samuel 31:2:

And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. (ESV)

By actually naming the sons of Saul that died, this passage does a lot to resolve the problem. It's clear that Ish-bosheth is not among the dead. Presumably, Saul had a son not present at the battle, and 1 Chronicles is only telling us about those who were there.

There's still the problem that "all [Saul's] house died together". This might seem to imply his entire family. If taken literally though, "his house" could simply mean those who actually lived with him.

Updated: Summer 2008

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