An Ammonite named Nahash went to Jabesh Gilead and besieged the city. The men of the city offered a treaty and said they would become Nahash’s subjects. However, Nahash said that he would only agree to this if he could disgrace all of Israel by gouging out the right eye of each of the men.
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The Elders’ Request
The elders asked Nahash to give them a week to see if they could get someone to come and rescue them. If no one came, then they would surrender. Messengers were sent forth to Gibeah. When the people heard about the terms of the deal, they cried out loud.
Saul’s Anger Turns Ugly
Saul was just returning from the fields when he heard the crying. He asked what was wrong. When the people told him, the spirit of the Lord came over him and he became very angry and butchered his own oxen right then and there.
He sent the pieces of the oxen to people all over Israel with a message telling the people that they had better follow him and Samuel to rescue the men of Jabesh or the same thing would happen to them. This prospect terrified the people, so they united and reported to assemble at Bezek. All told, there were 300,000 Israelites and 30,000 men from Judah.
Waiting for Rescue
This new army sent word to the men waiting for rescue at Jabesh. They let them know that they would be rescued by the heat of the day on the next day. When the men at Jabesh got word, they were very happy. However, they tricked the Ammonites by telling them that they planned to surrender the next day.
Saul’s Army Makes the Rescue
They did not mention that Saul and his army were coming to rescue them. That night, Saul divided his army into three groups and they crept into the Ammonite camp and set about slaughtering them. This went on until the sun was high in the sky. Only a few Ammonites survived, and they ran off individually so that no two of them could be found together.
Saul Becomes a Favorite
After this great victory, the people wondered who had been in charge of the rescue. When they found out it was Saul, they wanted him to become the new ruler. They asked Saul to turn the Ammonite prisoners over to them so they could be executed, but Saul proclaimed this day the day the Israel was rescued by the Lord.
Samuel suggested that, instead, they should all take a trip to Gilgal and formally make Saul the king in the Lord’s presence. They all went to Gilgal and made offerings to the Lord and had a grand celebration.
1 Samuel 11 (King James Version)
1 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.
3 And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days’ respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee.
4 Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.
5 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
7 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
8 And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
9 And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabeshgilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.
10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you.
11 And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.
12 And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death.
13 And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.
14 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
15 And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.