But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan; and they came to Jabesh and burnt them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days. (1 Samuel 31:11-13)
Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and so did all the men who were with him; and they mourned and wept **and fasted until evening **for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Samuel 1:11-12)
Why did they fast? When they fasted, did they fast to benefit the dead, similar to how Judas Maccabeus and his men prayed and took up a collection for a sin offering for their fallen comrades in 2 Maccabees 12:42-45 and how Catholics now pray and fast for the souls in Purgatory, or did they fast for the living, as an expression of their own repentance so that further divine punishment for their sins might be averted? or did they fast for both the living and the dead?