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NAHASH (Heb. נָחָשׁ; "snake"), king of the Ammonites, who enjoyed a long reign from the beginning of Saul's reign over Israel (i Sam. 11:1ff.) until some years after David was established at Jerusalem (ii Sam. 10:1). Nahash is first mentioned when he encamped against Jabesh-Gilead and sought to subjugate it on most humiliating terms. The Jabeshites appealed for help to their fellow Israelites, and the crisis called forth Saul's latent capacity for leadership. He issued a call to the tribes to rally behind him and march to the relief of Jabesh-Gilead; and the force that responded inflicted a stunning defeat on the Ammonites (i Sam. 11:1ff.). Nothing more is related about Nahash until the notice of his death, where the Bible states that he had shown kindness to David (ii Sam. 10:2). It is likely that he was friendly toward David because David was also an opponent of Saul. David attacked Nahash's son and successor Hanun and reduced the Ammonites to dependency. Shobi, another son of Nahash, who was one of those who befriended David at Mahanaim during Absalom's rebellion, may later have been reigning over the Ammonites as David's vassal. Nahash, according to ii Samuel 17:25, was the father of David's sister Abigail. Since David's father was Jesse, this would imply that David and his sister had only one parent in common – their mother, the tracing of their relationship through their mother being a characteristic of a beena marriage. The Nahash referred to in this verse might be Na-hash king of the Ammonites, which would be an additional reason for the latter's friendliness toward David. It has been suggested, however, that there is a corruption in the text, and Nahash intruded into this verse from verse 27. According to this, "daughter of Nahash" is to be emended to read, with the Septuagint, "daughter of Jesse."


Noth, Personennamen 230; J. Morgenstern, in: zaw, 47 (1929), 91–110; 49 (1931), 46–58.

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