Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh

11 Nahash[a](A) the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead.(B) And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty(C) with us, and we will be subject to you.”

But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition(D) that I gouge(E) out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace(F) on all Israel.”

The elders(G) of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue(H) us, we will surrender(I) to you.”

When the messengers came to Gibeah(J) of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept(K) aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

When Saul heard their words, the Spirit(L) of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He took a pair of oxen,(M) cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel,(N) proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone(O) who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one.(P) When Saul mustered(Q) them at Bezek,(R) the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.

They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender(S) to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”

11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions;(T) during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites(U) and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

Saul Confirmed as King

12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who(V) was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today,(W) for this day the Lord has rescued(X) Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal(Y) and there renew the kingship.(Z) 15 So all the people went to Gilgal(AA) and made Saul king(AB) in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

Samuel’s Farewell Speech

12 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened(AC) to everything you said to me and have set a king(AD) over you. Now you have a king as your leader.(AE) As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons(AF) are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed.(AG) Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey(AH) have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe(AI) to make me shut my eyes? If I have done(AJ) any of these things, I will make it right.”(AK)

“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness(AL) against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything(AM) in my hand.(AN)

“He is witness,” they said.

Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought(AO) your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand(AP) here, because I am going to confront(AQ) you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts(AR) performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.

“After Jacob(AS) entered Egypt, they cried(AT) to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent(AU) Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

“But they forgot(AV) the Lord their God; so he sold them(AW) into the hand of Sisera,(AX) the commander of the army of Hazor,(AY) and into the hands of the Philistines(AZ) and the king of Moab,(BA) who fought against them. 10 They cried(BB) out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken(BC) the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths.(BD) But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal,[b](BE) Barak,[c](BF) Jephthah(BG) and Samuel,[d](BH) and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12 “But when you saw that Nahash(BI) king(BJ) of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule(BK) over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king(BL) you have chosen, the one you asked(BM) for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you fear(BN) the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel(BO) against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against(BP) his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

16 “Now then, stand still(BQ) and see(BR) this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest(BS) now? I will call(BT) on the Lord to send thunder(BU) and rain.(BV) And you will realize what an evil(BW) thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”

18 Then Samuel called on the Lord,(BX) and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe(BY) of the Lord and of Samuel.

19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray(BZ) to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die,(CA) for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil;(CB) yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless(CC) idols.(CD) They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake(CE) of his great name(CF) the Lord will not reject(CG) his people, because the Lord was pleased to make(CH) you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray(CI) for you. And I will teach(CJ) you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear(CK) the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart;(CL) consider(CM) what great(CN) things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist(CO) in doing evil, both you and your king(CP) will perish.”(CQ)

Samuel Rebukes Saul

13 Saul was thirty[e] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-[f] two years.

Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand(CR) were with him at Mikmash(CS) and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah(CT) in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.

Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost(CU) at Geba,(CV) and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet(CW) blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious(CX) to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

The Philistines assembled(CY) to fight Israel, with three thousand[g] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand(CZ) on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash,(DA) east of Beth Aven.(DB) When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid(DC) in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.(DD) Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad(DE) and Gilead.

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking(DF) with fear. He waited seven(DG) days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered(DH) up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel(DI) arrived, and Saul went out to greet(DJ) him.

11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,(DK) 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal,(DL) and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.(DM)’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

13 “You have done a foolish thing,(DN)” Samuel said. “You have not kept(DO) the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.(DP) 14 But now your kingdom(DQ) will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart(DR) and appointed(DS) him ruler(DT) of his people, because you have not kept(DU) the Lord’s command.”

15 Then Samuel left Gilgal[h] and went up to Gibeah(DV) in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.(DW)

Israel Without Weapons

16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah[i](DX) in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash. 17 Raiding(DY) parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah(DZ) in the vicinity of Shual, 18 another toward Beth Horon,(EA) and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim(EB) facing the wilderness.

19 Not a blacksmith(EC) could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!(ED) 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles[j] sharpened. 21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel[k] for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel[l] for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.

22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan(EE) had a sword or spear(EF) in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan Attacks the Philistines

23 Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass(EG) at Mikmash.(EH) 14 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

Saul was staying(EI) on the outskirts of Gibeah(EJ) under a pomegranate tree(EK) in Migron.(EL) With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s(EM) brother Ahitub(EN) son of Phinehas, the son of Eli,(EO) the Lord’s priest in Shiloh.(EP) No one was aware that Jonathan had left.

On each side of the pass(EQ) that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.(ER)

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised(ES) men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing(ET) can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many(EU) or by few.(EV)

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign(EW) that the Lord has given them into our hands.(EX)

11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews(EY) are crawling out of the holes they were hiding(EZ) in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.(FA)

So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand(FB) of Israel.”

13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

Israel Routs the Philistines

15 Then panic(FC) struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding(FD) parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[m]

16 Saul’s lookouts(FE) at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring(FF) the ark(FG) of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[n] 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest,(FH) “Withdraw your hand.”

20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking(FI) each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went(FJ) over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden(FK) in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the Lord saved(FL) Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.(FM)

Jonathan Eats Honey

24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath,(FN) saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.

25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb.(FO) He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[o] 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”

29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble(FP) for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash(FQ) to Aijalon,(FR) they were exhausted. 32 They pounced on the plunder(FS) and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.(FT) 33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that has blood(FU) in it.”

“You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.” 34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with blood still(FV) in it.’”

So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar(FW) to the Lord; it was the first time he had done this.

36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.”

“Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied.

But the priest said, “Let us inquire(FX) of God here.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer(FY) him that day.

38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed(FZ) today. 39 As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives,(GA) even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan,(GB) he must die.”(GC) But not one of them said a word.

40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.”

“Do what seems best to you,” they replied.

41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault,[p] respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. 42 Saul said, “Cast the lot(GD) between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”(GE)

So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey(GF) with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”

44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely,(GG) if you do not die, Jonathan.(GH)

45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair(GI) of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued(GJ) Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.

47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab,(GK) the Ammonites,(GL) Edom,(GM) the kings[q] of Zobah,(GN) and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.[r] 48 He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites,(GO) delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.

Saul’s Family

49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua.(GP) The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal.(GQ) 50 His wife’s name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul’s army was Abner(GR) son of Ner, and Ner was Saul’s uncle.(GS) 51 Saul’s father Kish(GT) and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel.

52 All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took(GU) him into his service.


  1. 1 Samuel 11:1 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts. Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely. He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. About a month later, Nahash
  2. 1 Samuel 12:11 Also called Gideon
  3. 1 Samuel 12:11 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew Bedan
  4. 1 Samuel 12:11 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac Samson
  5. 1 Samuel 13:1 A few late manuscripts of the Septuagint; Hebrew does not have thirty.
  6. 1 Samuel 13:1 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Acts 13:21); Masoretic Text does not have forty-.
  7. 1 Samuel 13:5 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew thirty thousand
  8. 1 Samuel 13:15 Hebrew; Septuagint Gilgal and went his way; the rest of the people went after Saul to meet the army, and they went out of Gilgal
  9. 1 Samuel 13:16 Two Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts Geba, a variant of Gibeah
  10. 1 Samuel 13:20 Septuagint; Hebrew plow points
  11. 1 Samuel 13:21 That is, about 1/4 ounce or about 8 grams
  12. 1 Samuel 13:21 That is, about 1/8 ounce or about 4 grams
  13. 1 Samuel 14:15 Or a terrible panic
  14. 1 Samuel 14:18 Hebrew; Septuagint “Bring the ephod.” (At that time he wore the ephod before the Israelites.)
  15. 1 Samuel 14:27 Or his strength was renewed; similarly in verse 29
  16. 1 Samuel 14:41 Septuagint; Hebrew does not have “Why … at fault.
  17. 1 Samuel 14:47 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint king
  18. 1 Samuel 14:47 Hebrew; Septuagint he was victorious

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