The Men of Jabesh-gilead

If you were paying attention last time you read the book of Judges you would have noticed that the men of Jabesh-gilead get a bad wrap. Remember, the Levite’s concubine gets raped and murdered by a band of men in Gibeah of Benjamin (Judg 19). Then all Israel assembles to declare war on the Benjamites for their behavior. Except the men of Jabesh-gilead were a no-show (Judg 21:8-12).

After the war with the Benjamites, the tribes send an army against Jabesh-gilead and kill every man and woman except the female virgins because the men didn’t show up for military service. The virgins are given to the tribe of Benjamin for wives.

Weirdly enough, the men of Jabesh-gilead make a comeback. Don’t ask me how. But at the beginning of Saul’s reign they request military help against the Ammonites (1 Sam 11:1). Saul roundly whoops the Ammonites and Jabesh-gilead is very grateful.

So, you guessed it, they make one final appearance. After Saul has committed suicide and the Philistines hang his body and his sons’ bodies on the wall of their city, the men of Jabesh-gilead make a sortie to steal the bodies. They rescue the bodies from the public display and give them a burial of honor (1 Sam 31:11-13).

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