Gilboa means a bubbling fountain. The Har-Gilboa range marks the northern boundary of the Samarian hills and is 1667 feet above sea level. It is 2060 feet from the summit looking down onto Bethshan below it’s foot. There is a single winding road to its summit which comes off the Afula-Bethshan road. The summit is a military area closed to the public. [A video of the view from the observation tower can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kck246hGZBQ]
After a life of apparent conflict with his son, Saul was to die together with Jonathan at this point. It would beg the questions:
WHY would Jonathan choose to stand with his father in a time when it appeared that Israel was to be judged by the Philistines?
- Jonathan saw his obligations to the nation, and as such would fight their battles.
- His spiritual mind would see that God had called individuals like David before, and had indeed used Jonathon with his armour-bearer to overcome enormous obstacles and that it may be possible that again individuals may turn the events for good ends for the nation.
- Jonathan displayed loyalty to his father when it did not conflict with his duty to deity, reflected later in Christ who would honour his Father. This was obedience to a commandment with promise.
- He did not know with complete certainty that this was the specific moment that God would finish his father’s life, and as such there was still opportunity for reform 5)His support of his father would best serve the interests of David.
WHY would Saul fall on Gilboa that day?
- He had asked for advice of the witch 1Sam 28:19.
- Poor moral standing in the nation, and so his continuing rule would affect the people.
- Saul’s mighty men had gone with David. 1Chron 12:1f or did not come to the battle, such as the men of Jabesh Gilead 1Sam 31:12.
- Saul had killed the priests, and so no one to call for God’s presence in the battle Deut 20:1-4 the survivor was with David 1Sam 22:20.
- His armour-bearer had lost his faith. His job was to protect from arrows, yet Saul was smitten 1Sam 31:3 and he dies with him, guilty of not doing his job 1Sam 31:5.
- God had given the king in his anger, and would take away the king in his wrath Hosea 13:11 This divine intervention marked the “fulfilling” or conclusion to a period of spiritual guidance from men, that did not achieve eternal ends. Acts 13:21,22 in contrast the man who was killed on God’s high place was resurrected and was not suffered to see corruption like Saul and his sons on the temple walls in Bethshan. He was raised and now forms the leader of a battle for justification in which if we are persuaded we can “continue” in the grace of God Acts 13:43
It is described as being Israel’s “high places” and “Jonathan’s high places” [notice the repetition almost as book-ends in 2Sam 1:19,25]. And although elevated in altitude, it also represented the moral values demonstrated from the events happening at this location. This would in fact point to the final accomplishments of God in the nation of Israel, Zech 9:13. It was then Jonathan’s place, not the place of Saul. It represented the bubbling enthusiasm of Jonathan for support of the king, and in particular the king promised to his great friend David.
It is the place where Saul and Jonathan were not divided, that same day, together. [pointed emphasis] 2Sam 1:23; 1Sam 31:6. For it was in Christ’s death that the national and spiritual interests of God collided. Later in Israel’s history at 33-70AD there would be a death of a spiritual son, and the removal of the national government at the same time as a result of not being touched by His death Zech 9:10 and despisers to be destroyed by a foreign invasion Acts 13:41; Hab 1:5. The honour of Jesus placed on his Father was legendary, and became the token of a spirit or disposition of holiness, on account of which he would be raised from the dead. Jonathan was waiting for such a one as this to appear.
Ref to Gilboa: 1Sam 28:4; 31:1,8; 2Sam 1:6,21; 21:12; 1Chron 10:1,8.
Note the use of Saul and his children’s names within the Gilboa range area:
- Moshav called Magen Sh’aul to the west of the Gilboa range.
- Merav a religious kibbutz named after Saul’s daughter.
- Malkishua, a rehabilitation centre named after one of his sons.