(jay' behssh-gihl' ih uhd) Place name meaning, “dry, rugged” or “dry place of Gilead.” City whose residents, with the exception of four hundred virgins, were put to death by an army of Israelites (Judges 21:8-12). The four hundred women who were spared became wives for the Benjaminites. While certainty is elusive, the area in which Jabesh-gilead probably was located is east of the Jordan River about twenty miles south of the Sea of Galilee. The story illustrates the drastic steps taken to preserve the unity of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jabesh-gilead figured prominently in the history of Saul. His rescue of the people of Jabesh-gilead from Nahash the Ammonite marked the effective beginning of the Israelite monarchy (1 Samuel 11:1-11). Later, the men of Jabesh-gilead demonstrated the high regard in which they held Saul by retrieving the bodies of the slain king and his sons from the walls of Beth-shan (1 Samuel 31:11-13). David expressed thanks for the brave deed (2 Samuel 2:4-7), and eventually removed Saul's bones from Jabesh-gilead (2 Samuel 21:12).