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JABESH-GILEAD (Heb. יָבֵשׁ גִּלְעָד), Israelite city in Gilead in the period of the Judges and the monarchy. Its inhabitants appear to have had close ties with the tribe of Benjamin as is evidenced by two biblical traditions.

(1) The people of Jabesh-Gilead did not join the expedition of the Israelite tribes against Benjamin and in punishment their city was destroyed and their maidens seized and given to the Benjamites (Judg. 21).

(2) When Jabesh-Gilead was besieged by Nahash king of Ammon, it appealed for help to Saul the Benjamite who assembled the army of Israel at Bezek, reached Jabesh-Gilead after a day's march, and routed the Ammonites (I Sam. 11). Out of gratitude the men of Jabesh-Gilead went to Beth-Shean where the bodies of Saul and his sons had been hung on its wall after their defeat at Mount Gilboa, removed the bodies, and buried them under a tamarisk in their territory (I Sam. 31:11–13; I Chron. 10:11–12). For this deed of valor and mercy they were highly praised by David (II Sam. 2:4–6).

Some scholars suggest that Elijah's surname should be read "the Jabeshite" (ha-Yaveshi) instead of "the Tishbite" (ha-Tishbi). The name Jabesh-Gilead has been preserved in the name of Wadi Yābis, a tributary of the Jordan 3½ mi. (6 km.) south of Pella (Peḥel). Eusebius locates it 6 (Roman) miles south of Pella on the road to Gerasa (Onom. 110:11ff.). Its accepted identification is with Tell al-Maqlūb; Glueck has proposed Tell Abu Kharaz as the site of Israelite Jabesh-Gilead and Tell al-Maqbara farther down the Wadi as the Roman-Byzantine city; these identifications, however, disregard Eusebius' statement.


Abel, Geog, 2 (1938), 352; Glueck, Explorations, 1 (1951), 213ff.; Noth, in: zdpv, 69 (1953), 28ff.; EM, 3 (1965), 459–6; Press, Ereẓ, 2 (1948), 384–5.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.