Saul Defeats the Ammonites
1Now Nahash the [a]Ammonite [king] went up and [b]besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty [of peace] with us and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite told them, “I will make a treaty with you on this condition, that I will [c]gouge out the right eye of every one of you, and make it a disgrace upon all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Give us seven days so that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out [and surrender] to you.” 4 [d]Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news to the people; and all the people raised their voices and wept aloud.
5 Now Saul was coming out of the field behind the oxen, and he said, “What is the matter with the people that they are weeping?” So they told him about the report of the men of Jabesh. 6 The Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became extremely angry. 7 He took a team of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out to follow Saul and Samuel, the same shall be done to his oxen.” Then fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out [united] as one man [with one purpose]. 8 He assembled and counted them at Bezek; and the sons of Israel numbered 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000. 9 They said to the messengers who had come, “You shall say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will have [e]help [against the Ammonites].’” So the messengers came and reported this to the men of Jabesh; and they were overjoyed. 10 So the men of Jabesh said [to Nahash the Ammonite], “Tomorrow we will come out to you [to surrender], and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 The next morning Saul put the men into three companies; and they entered the [Ammonites’] camp during the [darkness of the early] morning watch and killed the Ammonites until the heat of the day; and the survivors were scattered, and no two of them were left together.
12 The people said to Samuel, “Who is the one who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, and we will put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “No man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has brought [f]victory to Israel.”
14 Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there restore the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they also sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
- 1 Samuel 11:1 The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Gen 19:36-38).
- 1 Samuel 11:1 This was a common military tactic used against a fortified (walled) city or garrison, to take it with a minimal loss of troops. All supplies and communication were cut off between the city and the outside world, in the hope of starving out the citizens or destroying their morale and will to resist.
- 1 Samuel 11:2 Partially blinding a man made him almost useless as an enemy combatant or archer because it hampered his depth perception and limited his peripheral vision.
- 1 Samuel 11:4 Nahash granted the request, even though the Israelites’ offer to submit to slavery (v 1) clearly indicated that they were in essence already defeated. Nahash undoubtedly believed that there was no formidable person to save Israel, and he wanted to see them willingly submit to the painful and debilitating mutilation that he had planned for them.
- 1 Samuel 11:9 Lit deliverance.
- 1 Samuel 11:13 Lit deliverance.