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Jabesh-Gilead (also Yavesh Gil’ad) is an ancient town referred to in four books of the Hebrew Bible. Some biblical scholars believe it to have been located east of the Jordan River, in the vicinity of Wadi Yabes.
Jabesh Gilead is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the first and second  books of Samuel, in the book of Chronicles, and in the Book of Judges. Jabesh Gilead is primarily mentioned in connection with King Saul‘s and King David‘s battles against the Philistines and Ammonites.
The identification of Jabesh-Gilead has been studied for a long time. In the 1940s and 1950s the American scholar Nelson Glueck devoted special attention to the discussion of whether Tell Abu al-Kharaz in the Jordan Valley close to the area where the Wadi el-Yabis (the River Jabesh) emerges into the plain of the Jordan Valley, or Tell al-Maqlub, located further east along the Wadi Yabis, was the Biblical site of Jabesh Gilead.
In the light of Glueck’s conclusions a positive identification of Tell Abu al-Kharaz with Jabesh Gilead was made. He expresses some valid points, but it became obvious during the Swedish Excavations at Tell Abu al-Kharaz 1989 to 2008 (and still going on) which are directed by Peter M. Fischer that only distinct archaeological evidence could support his theory. There are remains there from Iron I and IIA which fall into the period of the above-mentioned biblical events but more evidence is necessary.
It should, however, be highlighted that the main objectives of the Swedish excavations are to study the general occupational sequence of Tell Abu al-Kharaz which goes back to approx. 3200 BCE (Early Bronze Age IB) and which covers mainly EB II, MB III, LB I-II, Iron Age I-II and Abbasid.
General References dealing with the excavations at Tell Abu al-Kharaz:
- Fischer, P.M, Tell Abu al-Kharaz in the Jordan Valley. Volume II: The Middle and Late Bronze Ages, Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Vienna 2006;
- Fischer, P.M. The Chronology of the Jordan Valley during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages: Pella, Tell Abu al-Kharaz and Tell Deir ‘Alla, edited by P.M. Fischer, contributions by S. Bourke, P.M. Fischer and G. van der Kooij. Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Vienna 2006;
- Fischer, P.M. Tell Abu al-Kharaz in the Jordan Valley. Volume I: The Early Bronze Age. Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Vienna 2008.
- Jump up^“Jabesh Gilead”. Ancient Sandals. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“1 Samuel 11:1-11 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“1 Samuel 31:11-13 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“2 Samuel 2:4-5 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“2 Samuel 21:12 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“1 Chronicles 10:11-12 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Jump up^“Judges 21:8-15 (Bible)”. Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
(from Bible Dictionary)
ja’-besh-gil’-e-ad (yabhesh gil`adh; or simply yabhish, “dry”):
A city East of the Jordan, in the deliverance of which from Nahash the Ammonite Saul’s military prowess was first displayed (1 Samuel 11:1). At an earlier time the inhabitants failed to share with their brethren in taking vengeance upon Benjamin. This laxity was terribly punished, only 400 virgins being spared alive, who afterward became wives to the Benjamites (Judges 21). The gratitude of the inhabitants to Saul was affectingly proved after the disaster to that monarch on Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). David, hearing of their deed, sent an approving message, and sought to win their loyalty to himself (2 Samuel 2:4). Robinson (Biblical Researches, III, 39) thought it might be represented by ed-Deir, about 6 miles from Pella (Fachil), on the southern bank of Wady Yabis. The distance from Pella agrees with the statement of Eusebius, Onomasticon (s.v.). Others (Oliphant, Land of Gilead, 277; Merrill, East of Jordan, 430, etc.) would identify it with the ruins of Meriamin, about 3 miles Southeast of Pella, on the North of Wady Yabis. The site remains in doubt; but the ancient name still lingers in that of the valley, the stream from which enters the Jordan fully 9 miles Southeast of Beisan.