|Jabesh (1) |
("dry".) Gilead. 1 Samuel 11:1; 1 Samuel 11:9, etc. Chief of Gilead's cities. For not having come to Mizpeh at Israel's command, under an imprecatory oath against all defaulters, when the tribes began war with Benjamin (Judges 20:1-3; Judges 21:5), its males were all killed, and its virgins, 400 in number, were given in marriage to the 600 Benjamites who survived the war with Israel (Judges 21:1; Judges 21:8-14). The carrying into execution the oath at the close of the war was mainly influenced by the desire to provide wives for Benjamin, as their oath precluded themselves from giving their daughters. Subsequently it recovered itself, and being threatened by the Ammonite king, Nabash, with the excision of its citizens' right eyes as a reproach upon Israel, was rescued by Saul.
In gratitude the inhabitants, when he and his three sons were slain by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:8; 1 Samuel 31:13), took down by night their corpses from the walls of Bethshan, where they had been exposed; then burnt the bodies and buried the bones under a tree, and kept a funeral fast seven days. David, in generous forgetfulness of his own wrongs from Saul, blessed them for their kindness to their master, praying the Lord to requite it, and promising to requite it as if it were a kindness to himself (2 Samuel 2:5-6); afterwards he removed the bones to the sepulchre of Saul's father Kish at Zelah (2 Samuel 21:13-14). The name survives in the wady Yates, flowing from the E. into the Jordan below Bethshan; the ruin ed Deir, S. of the wady, is on the site (Robinson, Biblical Research 3:319). It was six miles from Pella, on a mountain toward Gerasa.