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Saul Defeats Ammon

11 King Nahash of Ammon was severely oppressing the tribes of Gad and Reuben. He would poke out everyone’s right eye and allow no one to rescue Israel. There was no one among the Israelites east of the Jordan River whose right eye King Nahash of Ammon had not poked out. However, seven thousand men had escaped from the Ammonites and gone to Jabesh Gilead. About a month later[a] Nahash the Ammonite blockaded Jabesh Gilead. All the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we’ll serve you.”

Nahash the Ammonite responded, “I’ll make a treaty with you on this one condition: I’ll poke out everyone’s right eye and bring disgrace on all Israel.”

The leaders of Jabesh told him, “Give us seven days so that we can send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. And if there’s no one to save us, we’ll surrender to you.”

The messengers came to Saul’s town, Gibeah. When they told the people the news, the people cried loudly. Just then Saul was coming from the field behind some oxen. “Why are these people crying?” Saul asked. So they told him the news about the men of Jabesh. When he heard this news, the Ruach Elohim came over him, and he became very angry. Saul took a pair of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent them by messengers throughout the territory of Israel with the following message: “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who doesn’t follow Saul and Samuel into battle.” So the people became terrified by Yahweh, and they came out united behind Saul. When Saul counted them at Bezek, there were 300,000 troops from Israel and 30,000 troops from Judah. They told the messengers who had come, “This is what you are to say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun gets hot, you will be rescued.’” When the men of Jabesh received the message, they were overjoyed.

10 They said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we’ll surrender to you, and you may do to us whatever you think is right.”

11 The next day Saul arranged the army in three divisions. They came into the Ammonite camp during the morning hours and continued to defeat the Ammonites until it got hot that day. The survivors were so scattered that no two of them were left together.

12 Then the people asked Samuel, “Who said that Saul shouldn’t rule us? Let us have them, and we’ll kill them.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be killed today, because today Yahweh saved Israel.”

14 Samuel told the troops, “Come, let’s go to Gilgal and there acknowledge Saul’s kingship.” 15 Then all the troops went to Gilgal, and there in Yahweh’s presence, they confirmed Saul as their king. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings to Yahweh. Saul and all of Israel’s soldiers celebrated.


  1. 1 Samuel 11:1 Dead Sea Scrolls and the ancient Jewish historian Josephus add this first part of verse 1 between chapters 10 and 11 (usually denoted as verse 10:27b).