Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan was long and full of battles against her neighbors. These conflicts are listed on the Bible Timeline Chart around 1079 BC. All throughout the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges, Israel was surrounded by hostile peoples. Which included the Amalekites, Edomites, Amorites, Canaanites, Arameans, Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites, and Philistines. Israel’s long-standing archenemies in the region, however, were her immediate neighbors: the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines.
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According to the Old Testament, the Ammonites and Moabites were descended from Lot through his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). The Ammonites settled east of the Jordan River while the Moabites settled east of the Dead Sea. The Philistines were the Israelites’ adversaries during the years of the Judges and well into King David’s reign. The origin of the Philistines is still up for debate, but it was hypothesized that they were one of the Aegean peoples who settled on the Mediterranean coast around the same time as the arrival of the Israelites in the area.
Against the Ammonites
Saul went to war against the Ammonites, Moabites, and Philistines during the early years of his reign and was victorious against them. His first victory was against the Ammonite King Nahash. This was before Saul was even crowned the King of Israel (1 Samuel 11). The Israelites who lived in Jabesh-Gilead near the territory of the Ammonites sent a peace treaty to King Nahash, which he agreed to honor but laid out a condition that the right eye of each citizen will be gouged out in exchange. Saul rescued the people of Jabesh-Gilead after he mobilized thousands of men from Israel and Judah and launched a surprise attack against the Ammonites. The people of Israel held a ceremony in Gilgal that proclaimed him king after his victory against the Ammonites.
Against the Philistines
His next battle was against the Philistines, who lived on the west coast of the Mediterranean (1 Samuel 13). Due to the number of Philistine warriors and advanced weaponry that they used during the battle (1 Samuel 13:5, 1 Samuel 13:19), Saul, his son Jonathan, and their men were routed and dispersed. The Israelites were victorious against the Philistines later on with the help of Jonathan’s daring plan (1 Samuel 14:1-15) and the Philistine warriors’ confusion that resulted in them killing each other instead (1 Samuel 14:20).
Israel’s army led by King Saul was victorious later on against their hostile neighbors as summarized in 1 Samuel 14:47. He won battles against Moab, Ammon, the kingdom of Zobah (Aram-Zobah, in Syria, Edom (Idumea), and Philistia during this period.
Picture By Artemisia Gentileschi – The Athenaeum: Home – info – pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6905206
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