[many Gil'boa] (Heb. Gilbo'a, גַּלבֹּע, boiling spring, prob. from a neighboring fountain; Sept. and Joseph. Ant. 6:14, 2, also Euseb. Onom. Γελβουέ), usually called Mount Gilboa (הִר הִגַּלבֹּע), a mountain near which (according to some) Gideon pitched on the eve of his overthrow with the Midianites (Jg 7:1, SEE GILEAD, 2); but especially memorable for the defeat of Saul by the Philistines, where his three sons were slain, and where he himself died by his own hand (1Sa 28:4; 1Sa 31:1-8; 2Sa 1:6-21; 2Sa 21:12; 1Ch 10:1,8). When the tidings were carried to David, he broke out into this pathetic strain: "Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no rain upon you, neither dew, nor field of offering" (2Sa 1:21).. The circumstances of the narrative would alone suffice to direct our attention to the mountains which bound the great plain of Esdraelon on the south-east, and are interposed between it and the Jordan valley. (See Stanley's Sinai and Palestine, page 337.) Here there are a number of ridges, with a general direction from northwest to south-east, separated by valleys running in the same direction. The largest of these valleys is the southernmost: it is a broad, deep plain, about two miles and a half wide, and leading direct into the Jordan valley. This is supposed to be distinctively (for the plain of Esdraelon is sometimes so called) the Valley of Jezreel. The higher mountains which bound it on the south undoubtedly form Mount Gilboa. Eusebius mentions the mountains of Gilboa as lying six miles from Scythopolis, with a large village upon them called Gelbus (Γελβοῦς). There is still, indeed, an inhabited village, in whose name of Jelbon that of Gilboa may be recognised (Robinson's Researches, 3:157, 170). The fountain implied in the name Gilboa may be that mentioned by William of Tyre (22:26) under the name of Tubaania (טוּב עִיַן), being the large fountain still found at the north-eastern base, half a mile from the ruins, called in Scripture both the "Well of Harod" (Jg 7:1) and "The fountain of Jezreel" (1Sa 29:1), and now called Ain-Jalud. SEE HAROD.
A knowledge of the topography of this region gives great vividness to several of the Scripture narratives, but especially to that of the fatal battle in which Saul fell. The range about six miles north of Gilboa, and of nearly equal elevation and length, was anciently called the "hill of Moreh" (Jg 7:1), but now Jebel ed-Duhy (and by travelers "Little Hermon"). The intervening valley, named from the city of Jezreel at the western extremity of Gilboa, has at its eastern end, overlooking the Jordan, the sound and ruins of Bethshean. On the other side of the valley, and near the base of Moreb, stands Shunem; and away behind the latter bill, hidden from view, is the village of Endor. The Philistines encamped on the north side of the valley at Shunem; and Saul took up a position by the fountain of Jezreel, at the base of Gilboa (1Sa 28:4; 1Sa 29:1). From the brow of the hill above the camp Saul had a full view of the enemy, and he was struck with terror at their numbers (1Sa 28:5). The position he had chosen was a bad one. There is a gradual descent in the valley from Shunem to the base of Gilboa at the fountain, while immediately behind it the hill rises steep and rocky. The Philistines had all the advantage of the gentle descent for their attack, and both front and flanks of the Israelites were exposed, and retreat almost impossible up the steep hill side. On the night before the battle Saul went to Endor. The battle seems to have begun early in the morning, when the king was wearied and dispirited (1Sa 28:19). The Israelites were broken at once by the fierce onset of the enemy, and the slaughter was terrible as they attempted to flee up the sides of Gilboa. While the terror-stricken masses ware clambering up the rugged slopes, they were completely exposed to the arrows of the Philistine-archers. "They fell down slain in Mount Gilboa" (1Sa 31:1); "The Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons," probably when they tried to rally their troops. The three sons fell beside their father; "and the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers bit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers" (verse 3). David has caught the peculiarity of the position in his ode: "The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places;" and, "Jonathan, thou wast slain upon thine high places" (2Sa 1:19,25). The stripping and mutilating of the slain is characteristic of the Arab tribes to this day, and Porter witnessed some fearful instances of it in 1858 near this same spot (Hand-book for S. and P. page 355). The Philistines took the body of Saul and fastened it to the wall of the neighboring fortress of Bethshean, from whence it was snatched by a few brave men from Jabesh-Gilead, on the opposite side of the Jordan (Stanley, Jewish Church, 2:30 sq.). SEE SAUL.
The ridge of Gilboa is bleak and bare (Wilson, Lands of Bible, 2:85; Fürst derives from this fact the name of the mountain, q.d. bare land, from גָּבִל, Haeb. Lex. s.v.). The soil is scanty, and the gray limestone, rocks crop out in jagged cliffs and naked crowns, giving the whole a look of painful barrenness. One would almost think, on looking at it, that David's words were prophetic (Van de Velde, Narrative, 2:369). The highest point of Gilboa is said to have an elevation of about 2200 feet above the sea, and 1200 above the valley of Jezreel (Van de Velde, Memoir, page 178). The range of Gilboa extends in length some ten miles from W. to E. The modern local name is Jebel Fekuah, and the highest point is crowned by a village and wely called Wezar (Porter, Hand-book, page 353).