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Saul Killed by Philistines at Mt. Gilboa

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SAUL KILLED BY PHILISTINES

Click sequential icons for summaries and scripture links.

1

Shumem

in c.1011BC, the Philistines start to move north along the coastal plain and gather near Shunem, in the Vale of Jezreel, to attack the Israelites on Mt Gilboa.

1 Sam 28:1-4

2

Endor

Saul consults a medium at Endor(an act forbidden by God – see Leviticus 19:26 & Deuteronomy 18:9-13). This attempt at clairvoyance confirms Saul’s imminent downfall.

1 Sam 28:5-25

3

Aphek

The Philistine forces move north from Aphek to attack the Israelites in the Vale of Jezreel.

1 Sam 29:1-11

4

Ziglag

David is sent back to Ziklag which has been attacked by the Amalekites. David pursues the Amalekite raiding party across the Negev Desert beyond the Besor Ravine and defeats them. David recovers everything the Amalekites have taken – including his two wives.

1 Sam 30:1-31

5

Mt. Gilboa

The Philistines attack and defeat the Israelites at Mt Gilboa. Jonathan and the two other sons of Saul are killed in battle.

1 Sam 31:1-3

6

Beth-shan

Facing capture, Saul takes his own life. His body is fastened to the city walls at Beth Shean by the Philistines and his armor bearer is displayed inside the Temple of Ashtoreth.

1 Sam 31:4-10

7

Jebesh-gilead

Saul’s body is rescued by the men of Jabesh Gilead who live across the River Jordan in the Wadi al-Yabis. 

1 Sam 31:11-13

 

Geolocation Coordinates – Open Bible | Event Summary’s – The Bible Journey | Scripture Links – Bible Gateway

Scripture Reference

1 Sam 28:1-4

28 In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”

David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”

Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

Saul and the Medium at Endor

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.

The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa.

1 Sam 28:5-25

 

When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”

“There is one in Endor,” they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

10 Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”

13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a] coming up out of the earth.”

14 “What does he look like?” he asked.

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.

21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22 Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

23 He refused and said, “I will not eat.”

But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.

 

1 Sam 29:1-11

 

Achish Sends David Back to Ziklag

29 The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”

Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”

But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
    and David his tens of thousands’?”

So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”

“But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”

Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.”

11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

1 Sam 30:1-31

 

David Destroys the Amalekites

30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

26 When David reached Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the Lord’s enemies.”

27 David sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; 28 to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Rakal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; 30 to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak 31 and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.

1 Sam 31:1-3

 

Saul Takes His Life

31 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

1 Sam 31:4-10

 

Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

1 Sam 31:11-13

 

11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

 

LEARN MORE

Aphek

Ottoman Fortress on the site of Aphek  (Oren Rozen)

Aphek was an ancient city located on the edge of the Mediterranean coastal plain and the Shephelah – the foothills of the Judaean hills. It was a key staging post on the coastal trading route (the Via Maris) between the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

During the Israelite’s invasion of Canaan, beginning in c.1406BC, the king of Aphek was defeated by Joshua’s forces (see Joshua 12:18). But the Israelites were unable to hold onto Aphek or any of the cities of the coastal plain, because of the superiority of the iron chariots deployed by their enemies on this flat land.

Shortly after, Aphek became the northern boundary of Philistia, the confederation of cities controlled by the Philistines – ‘sea peoples’ who sailed across from CreteCyprus and the Aegean to colonise these fertile coastal plains (see the feature on The Philistines).  During the time of the ‘Judges’, the Israelites and Philistines frequently clashed, with the Philistines often becoming dominant and demanding subservience from the Israelites.

In c.1024BC, the Philistines launched a major attack on the Israelites from their most northerly outpost at Aphek. The ensuing Battle of Ebernezer was a disaster for the Israelites, with the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant and taking it as booty to their stronghold at Ashdod (see 1 Samuel 4:1-11).

Thirteen years later, in c.1011BC, the Philistines gathered at Aphek once again, before moving north to defeat Saul and Jonathan at the Battle of Mt Gilboa (see 1 Samuel 29:1 & 31:1-3).

In the 1st century BC, King Herod the Great changed the name of the city to Antipatris, to commemorate his father Antipater. The city then lay on the main route from Jersualem to Caesarea(the Roman capital of Judaea), and Herod endowed it as a centre of Greek and Roman culture. Paul stayed here overnight when being escorted under armed guard from Jerusalem to Caesarea in 57AD (see Acts 23:31). The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 363AD.

Visitors to the site of Aphek (on the eastern side of the modern city of Petach Tikva) can observe excavated remains of the Canaanite city, part of a street built by Herod the Great, and the ruins of an Ottoman Turkish fort built on the site of the Crusader castle of Mirabel in 1573AD. Archaeological artefacts from Aphek are on display at the Yad Labanim Museum in Petach Tikva.

Source: The Bible Journey

Beth-shan

The ancient city of Beth Shean lay on the plateau below the slopes of Mount Gilboa near where the Vale of Jezreel meets the Jordan Valley. Functioning originally as an Egyptian administrative centre during the reign of Pharoah Thutmose III and for the following three hundred years, it was one of the Canaanite cities that the Israelites were unable to conquer following their invasion of Canaan in c.1406 BC (see Joshua 17:11-12).

At this important location, it was adjacent to caravan routes from north to south along the Jordan Valley and from west to east, inland from the Mediterranean coast. The city grew prosperous from the passing trade, and when the Philistines defeated Saul, they hung up his body on the city walls to announce to traders from surrounding regions that Philistia was now the power to be feared in Palestine.

Beth Shean remained a Canaanite city during the period of the ‘Judges’ but was eventually conquered by King David in c.1000 BC (see 2 Samuel 8:1). David’s son Solomon built large administrative buildings here, the remains of which have been uncovered in recent excavations. The Israelite city was destroyed by King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria in 732 BC (see 2 Kings 15:29).

Following the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great in 332BC, Beth Shean was rebuilt as a Hellenistic (Greek) city and renamed Scythopolis (meaning ‘City of the Scythians’) – probably after Scythian mercenaries from the Steppes north of the Black Sea who settled here (see Colossians 3:11). It was conquered by the Roman general Pompey in 63BC and became the capital of the Decapolis, the confederation of ten Hellenistic cities within the Roman province of Syria that was designed to spread Graeco-Roman culture across the area.

Source: The Bible Journey

The Vale of Jezreel

The Jezreel Valley from Megiddo  (Joe Freeman)

The Vale of Jezreel (the ‘Valley of Israel’ – also known as the Plain of Esdraelon) was an important lowland corridor running from south east to north west, linking the Jordan Valley near Beth Sheanto the coastal plain north of Mount Carmel (near the modern city of Haifa). At the coastal end, this lowland routeway joined up with the Via Maris – the ‘Way of the Sea’ which ran along the coastal plain linking the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Near its junction with the coastal plain, the Vale of Jezreel was guarded and controlled by the well-defended fortress at Megiddo – Biblical ‘Armageddon’.

Because of its strategic position, the Jezreel Valley was the site of many battles. The earliest recorded confrontation pre-dates the Israelite invasion of Canaan. During the 15th century BC, the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III defeated a Canaanite coalition under the kings of Kedesh and Megiddo at the Battle of Megiddo, fought in the Valley of Jezreel.

Over two hundred years later, in c.1208BC, Midianites and Amalekites crossed the River Jordan and headed north west along the Vale of Jezreel to plunder and ravage the lands along the fertile coastal plain. Calling together men from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, Gideon defeated the Midianites on the valley floor just north of Mount Gilboa (see Judges 6:33-35 & 7:1-25). Gideon, himself, was born in the Vale of Jezreel at Ophrah – usually identified as the modern-day city of Afula (see Judges 6:11 & 24).

Later, in 1011 BC, Saul – the first king of Israel – was killed by the Philistines at the Battle of Gilboa, overlooking the Vale of Jezreel, and his corpse was displayed on the walls of Beth Shean (see 1 Samuel 28:4, 29:1 & 31:1-10). Four hundred years later, in 610BC, King Josiah of Judah was killed at Megiddo by Pharoah Neco of Egypt, when Josiah tried to prevent the Egyptian king from crossing the Jezreel Valley en route to Assyria (see 2 Kings 23:29).

Source: The Bible Journey

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