ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
a town on the east of Jordan, on the top of one of the green hills of Gilead, within the limits of the half tribe of Manasseh, and in full view of Beth-shan
It is first mentioned in connection with the vengeance taken on its inhabitants because they had refused to come up to Mizpeh to take part with Israel against the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 21:8-14). After the battles at Gibeah, that tribe was almost extinguished, only six hundred men remaining. An expedition went against Jabesh-Gilead, the whole of whose inhabitants were put to the sword, except four hundred maidens, whom they brought as prisoners and sent to “proclaim peace” to the Benjamites who had fled to the crag Rimmon. These captives were given to them as wives, that the tribe might be saved from extinction (Judges 21).
This city was afterwards taken by Nahash, king of the Ammonites, but was delivered by Saul, the newly-elected king of Israel. In gratitude for this deliverance, forty years after this, the men of Jabesh-Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and of his three sons from the walls of Beth-shan, and after burning them, buried the bones under a tree near the city (1 Samuel 31:11-13). David thanked them for this act of piety (2 Samuel 2:4-6), and afterwards transferred the remains to the royal sepulchre (21:14). It is identified with the ruins of ed-Deir, about 6 miles south of Pella, on the north of the Wady Yabis.