This article re-examines the historical role of the Jebusites in the early monarchical period. The Jebusites, whose name is derived from the verb YBŚ («to be dry»), were a West Semitic pastoral clan that split into two segments, one settling in western Gilead and the other around Jerusalem. The two segments kept their tribal solidarity, as indicated by Saul’s campaign to rescue Jabesh-gilead. The Jebusite stronghold was one of Saul’s power bases, and David took it over. The biased description of David’s conquest influenced the way the Jebusites were presented in the late (Deuteronomistic) biblical historiography and in Israelite cultural memory.
Commentaries and translations have traditionally translated the preposition, rx), in 1 Sam 13,7b (wyrx) wdrx M(h) as either modifying the subject or indicating the «back» of Saul. However, the preposition is better explained as «following and imitating» so that the army trembled like Saul. Since Saul was afraid of the Philistines, his fear infects the army, which scatters from him. Therefore, Saul, according to the Davidic court historian, is an ineffective military leader.