Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against
A month after, as in the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, that is, a month after Saul was chosen king; so Josephus F16: this prince was preparing for war against Israel before, which they hearing of, requested they might have a king to go before them in battle, ( 1 Samuel 12:12 ) but now he actually marched from his own country, and besieged Jabeshgilead, a city in the land of Gilead, from whence it had its name, and lay in the half tribe of Manasseh, on the other side Jordan, see ( Judges 21:8 ) . It lay near to the Ammonites, and was part of the country they laid claim to in the times of Jephthah, which they now renewed, and attempted to gain it by force. This Nahash was king of the Ammonites, as he is called in the Targum, and by Josephus F17, and so in the Arabic version, see ( 1 Samuel 12:12 )
and all the men of Jabeshgilead said unto Nahash, make a covenant with
they desired to be his allies and confederates, live in peace and friendship with him, and enjoy their religion and liberties on certain conditions they were willing to come into; and this was the sense of them all, or at least the greatest part, which showed a mean and abject spirit in them, to make no defence of themselves, but as soon as besieged to move for a capitulation. This doubtless arose from a sense of their weakness, not being able to hold it out long, and from an apprehension that their brethren the Israelites, on the other side Jordan, could give them no assistance, being in an unsettled condition, having chosen a king, and he scarcely on the throne, and the Philistines having great power over them:
and we will serve thee;
not as slaves, but as tributaries; they were willing to pay a yearly tax to him.