Your blood which belongs to your souls I will demand; from the hand of every beast will I demand it. From the hand of every man; from the hand of every man who is his brother will I demand the life of man. (Genesis 9:5)
The Talmud (Baba Kama 90b) learns from the first part of the verse, "And surely the blood of your lives I will demand," that one may not wound his own body. All the more so, he may not take his own life.
- Saul feared that his enemies would use torture to try to force him to worship other gods. (Ritva - 14th century)
- Suicide is permitted in the face of an attempt at forced conversion. (Rabbeinu Tam - 12th century)
- Suicide is permitted only if the lives of others would be in danger as a result of torture. (Rabbi Shlomo Luria - 16th century)
- Saul acted out of respect for the Israelite kingship, as he feared the Philistines would mockingly parade him through their cities. In other words, he committed suicide to sanctify God's name. (Y'dai Moshe - 20th century)