And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God,
&c.] Of the taking of that, it struck him to the heart, and killed him; the rest he bore tolerably well, the flight of Israel before the Philistines, the great slaughter made of them, the death of his two sons; but the taking of the ark was so dreadful to him, that he could not support under it:
that he fell from off the seat backward, by the side of the gate;
which confirms the sense of ( 1 Samuel 4:13 ) though whether it was the gate of his own house, or of the tabernacle, or of the city is not certain; the latter is most probable: it seems the seat on which he sat had no back to it, and might be placed only for present convenience:
and his neck brake;
the back part of it, the "vertebrae" of it, which has its name in Hebrew from the several joints in it:
and he died;
not through the breaking of his neck, for it is very probable he died directly upon hearing the ark was taken, and which was the reason of his falling backward, and that brake his neck:
for he was an old man, and heavy;
full of flesh, a very fat man, and so fell heavy, which occasioned the breaking of his neck:
and he had judged Israel forty years;
had governed them in the capacity both of an high priest and judge, so that he must enter on his government when fifty eight years of age; the Septuagint version has it very wrongly twenty years. According to the Jews F9, he died on the tenth of Ijar, answering to part of April and May, and his two sons and the ark taken; for which a fast was kept on it.
F9 Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 580. sect. 2.