The account of Saul’s life comes from the Old Testament book of I Samuel. The son of Kish, a well-to-do member of the tribe of Benjamin, he was made king by the league of 12 Israelite tribes in a desperate effort to strengthen Hebrew resistance to the growing Philistine threat.
Who Was Saul? The Hebrew Bible (referred to as the Old Testament by Christians) names Saul (Hebrew Sha’ul) as the first king of Israel, who reigned circa 1020 to 1000 BCE. According to the Bible, as king, Saul marshaled military forces to fight the Ammonites, Edomites, Moabites, Amalekites and Philistines.
After the death of Ish-bosheth, the tribe of Benjamin joined the northern Israelite tribes in making David king of the united Kingdom of Israel and Judah.
Saul’s life and reign are described primarily in the Hebrew Bible. According to the text, he was anointed by Samuel and reigned from Gibeah. He “fell on his sword” (committed suicide) to avoid being captured by the Philistines during a battle at Mount Gilboa, in which three of his sons were killed.
Acts quotes Paul referring to his family by saying he was “a Pharisee, born of Pharisees “. Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, is mentioned in Acts 23:16.
References to King Saul in the Bible Saul’s story can be found in 1 Samuel 9-31 and Acts 13:21.
The youngest son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul was a modest shepherd boy, a resident of Gibeah, when the prophet Samuel, after a chance meeting, secretly chose and anointed him king of Israel. Saul succeeded in freeing Israel of its enemies and extending its boundaries.
In the Book of Samuel, Saul, the first king of Israel, failed to reach a decisive victory against an enemy tribe, the Philistines. God sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem and guided him to David, a humble shepherd and talented musician. Saul was so taken with this young man that he appointed David his armor bearer.
In Matthew 1:1–6 and Luke 3:31–34 of the New Testament, Jesus is described as a member of the tribe of Judah by lineage.
Instead, the people of Judah were exiled to Babylon about 586, but were eventually able to return and rebuild their nation. In time, the tribe of Judah became identified with the entire Hebrew nation and gave its name to the people known today as the Jews.
When the northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 bc, the 10 northern tribes, including Asher, were partially dispersed. In time they were assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared as distinctive units. Jewish legends refer to them as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning “ asked for ”
According to the Book of Genesis, the patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel (Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל, Modern: Yīsraʾel, Tiberian: Yīsrāʾēl) after he wrestled with the angel (Genesis 32:28 and 35:10).
King David (II Samuel 5:3) c. 1004–970 BCE – who made Jerusalem the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel.