After the battle of Gilboa, so fatal to Saul and his house, David, as divinely directed, took up his residence in Hebron, and was there anointed king over Judah. Among the fugitives from Gilboa was Ish-bosheth, the only surviving son of Saul, whom Abner, Saul’s uncle, took across the Jordan to Mahanaim, and there had him proclaimed king. Abner gathered all the forces at his command and marched to Gibeon, with the object of wresting Judah from David. Joab had the command of David’s army of trained men, who encamped on the south of the pool, which was on the east of the hill on which the town of Gibeon was built, while Abner’s army lay on the north of the pool. Abner proposed that the conflict should be decided by twelve young men engaging in personal combat on either side.
So fiercely did they encounter each other that “they caught every man his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow’s side; so they fell down together: wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim.”
The combat of the champions was thus indecisive, and there followed a severe general engagement between the two armies, ending in the total rout of the Israelites under Abner. The general result of this battle was that “David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (2 Samuel 3:1). (See Gibeon.)