Bible Wiki

Nahash was king of the Ammonites during the reigns of Saul and David.

Attack on Jabesh-Gilead[]

Shortly after Saul became king of Israel, Nahash attacked and besieged Jabesh-Gilead, an Israelite city on the east side of the Jordan River. The leaders of Jabesh-Gilead offered to surrender, but Nahash demanded that for him to accept their surrender, they would have to agree to let him gouge out all of their right eyes. Nahash sought to disgrace Israel.[1] The elders of Jabesh-Gilead asked Nahash to give them seven days to consider his demands. During this time, they sent messengers throughout all Israel, including to Gibeah, where Saul was.

When Saul learned of the situation, the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and his anger was kindled. He assembled an army of 330,000 men and sent word to Jabesh-Gilead that they would be rescued. In the battle, Saul and the Israelites defeated Nahash and the Ammonites. The Ammonite survivors fled, and their army was unable to regroup.[2] This event was pivotal in Israelite history, as the victory affirmed Saul's kingship, and Samuel led the people to renew the kingdom and again proclaim Saul king.[3]

Later years[]

Despite Nahash's wicked actions in the days of Saul, Nahash was considered to have dealt loyally with David while David was king.[4] Nahash died during David's reign, and Hanun his son succeeded him as king. While David sought to establish friendly relations with Hanun, Hanun provoked a war, leading to Israel's complete victory and domination over Ammon, with Ammon no longer being an independent kingdom.[5]

Nahash had another son, Shobi, who unlike Hanun was a friend to David, and helped him in his time of need, when David fled Absalom.[6]


  1. 1 Sam. 11:2 (Link)
  2. 1 Sam. 11:11 (Link)
  3. 1 Sam. 11:15 (Link)
  4. 2 Sam. 10:2 (Link)
  5. 2 Sam. 12:29 (Link)
  6. 2 Sam. 17:27 (Link)