1. King of the Ammonites at the time Saul began his reign. Nahash brought his army against Jabesh in Gilead. The account reads: “At that all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash: ‘Conclude a covenant with us that we may serve you.’ Then Nahash the Ammonite said to them: ‘On this condition I shall conclude it with you, on the condition of boring out every right eye of yours, and I must put it as a reproach upon all Israel.’ In turn the older men of Jabesh said to him: ‘Give us seven days’ time, and we will send messengers into all the territory of Israel and, if there is no savior of us, we must then go out to you.’” Israel rallied around Saul, went to Jabesh, and defeated Nahash. Only a few of Nahash’s army escaped alive.—1Sa 11:1-11; 12:11, 12.
In a Dead Sea scroll, designated 4QSama and believed to be from the first century B.C.E., the following information is inserted just before 1 Samuel 11:1: “[Na]hash, king of the children of Ammon, sorely oppressed the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, and he gouged out a[ll] their right eyes and struck ter[ror and dread] in Israel. There was not left one among the children of Israel bey[ond the Jordan who]se right eye was no[t put o]ut by Naha[sh king] of the children of Ammon; except that seven thousand men [fled from] the children of [A]mmon and entered [J]abesh-Gilead. About a month later . . .” (Bible Review, 1985, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 28) Basically the same information is given by Josephus.—Jewish Antiquities, VI, 68-70 (v, 1).
According to Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, VI, 79 [v, 3]), this Nahash was killed in the battle by Saul’s forces. If Josephus’ information is correct, then the Nahash that extended kindness to David some years later must have been a son and successor to the Nahash defeated by Saul. In such a case, the name Nahash may have been a title bestowed on a series of persons, like the titles “Abimelech,” “Pharaoh,” and “Jabin.” When this second-named Nahash died, David sent ambassadors to his son Hanun, who misunderstood David’s honorable intentions and greatly humiliated his representatives. This, in turn, triggered a series of developments that eventually left the Ammonites defeated at the hands of David.—2Sa 10:1-5; 11:1; 12:26-31; 1Ch 19:1-5; 20:1-3.
2. The father of David’s sister or half sister Abigail and possibly the father of Zeruiah. He was the grandfather of Amasa, and perhaps also of Abishai, Asahel, and Joab. (2Sa 17:25; 1Ch 2:16, 17) Abigail is called “the daughter of Nahash,” but she and her sister are not directly called the daughters of Jesse, David’s father, though they are referred to as the “sisters” of Jesse’s sons, including David. This leaves several possible relationships: (1) That Nahash was a woman, Jesse’s wife and the mother of all involved (the name could be given to either sex), but this is not very likely because women were usually introduced into a genealogy only for special reasons, which here seem to be missing. (2) That Nahash was another name for Jesse, as is suggested by early Jewish tradition. The Greek Septuagint (Lagardian edition) has “Jesse” instead of Nahash in 2 Samuel 17:25. (3) That Nahash was a former husband of Jesse’s wife (a more likely suggestion) and that she bore Nahash two daughters, Abigail and Zeruiah, before marrying Jesse and bearing him several boys.—See ABIGAIL No. 2.
3. A resident of the Ammonite city of Rabbah. His son Shobi showed kindness to David by sending him supplies when he fled to Mahanaim because of Absalom’s rebellion. (2Sa 17:27-29) He was possibly an Israelite who went to live in Rabbah after the Ammonites there were defeated by Israel.—2Sa 12:26-31.