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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

Saul

The stories of Saul stress that he was a Benjaminite (for example, 1 Sam. 9: 1–2 ) and that his home was Gibeah (for example, 1 Sam. 10: 26 ). The geographical significance of this information may lie in an attempt to underline that he came from a town in the heart of the land but that he did not belong to one of the more powerful tribes to the south or north. He is presented as demonstrating his leadership abilities by defeating Ammonites who were besieging Jabesh‐gilead, prior to the setting of the seal on his kingship at Gilgal (1 Sam. 11 ). Thereafter the story tells of his attempts to defeat the Philistines, and becomes inextricably bound with the accounts of the rise of David. Initially the account is one of success, thanks in no small measure to Saul's son Jonathan, with a victory over a Philistine garrison at Michmash and their pursuit to Aijalon (1 Sam. 14 ). Indeed, a summary statement claims numerous successes against ‘all his enemies on every side’ including the Philistines (1 Sam. 14: 47–8 ). But as the story unfolds he is unable to defeat the Philistines or to cope with the rise to power of David. Ultimately, after consulting the dead Samuel via a medium, the so‐called ‘Witch of Endor’ (1 Sam. 28: 3–25 ), he died in battle, taking his own life, against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. 31 ). This location relatively far north and a considerable distance from their heartlands in the coastal plains shows the extent of Philistine power and highlights the task facing David.

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