1 Samuel 31:6 states that all of Saul's men died:

So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

So Ishbosheth surviving them would suggest he wasn't there.

Are there indications of why that might have been? Any examples of similar things happening with other families as a means of safeguarding succession or any allusions to Ishbosheth being too young/sickly/a poor fighter that I might have missed?

  • Question is definitely appropriate, you may remove the disclaimer. II Samuel 2:10 indicates that Ish Boshet was 40 years old when he began his reign of two years, so he was certainly old enough to participate in the battle. Feb 10 '19 at 12:53

King Saul actually had six sons: his wife, Ahinoam, produced Jonathon, Abinadab, and Malchishua and Isbosheth (1 Sam 14:51, , 2 Sam 2:8, 1 Chron 8:33). Saul's concubine, Rizpah, also gave him two more sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth (not to be confused with the Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan) see 2 Sam 21:8.

In the battle of Gilboa (1 Sam 31:3-6) only three of the six sons were killed, namely, Jonathon, Abinadab, and Malchishua. Presumably, the other three sons were fighting in a different part of the battle in which they managed to survive. (It is possible that Jonathon, Abinadab, and Malchishua died protecting their father, Saul, as the fighting would have been most fierce around the king.)

Therefore, I do not see a difficulty here.


Captain Abner had taken him to Mahanaim in Palestine, where Ishbosheth briefly became "king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel" for two years, even though "the house of Judah followed David." (2 Sam. 2:8-10)

  • Wasn't this after Saul had already died?
    – b a
    Feb 14 '19 at 10:47
  • As I read it, no. It was before Saul died, as indicated by the English word "but" at the beginning of 2 Sam 2:8. Saul apparently knew the presence of Eshbaal/Ishbosheth would be of no help to him because of his mental status, so he was removed by Abner to Mahanaim before the battle began. Feb 18 '19 at 22:22

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