Disaster had come upon the north, and the plain of Jezreel saw the total defeat of the king and the rout of his army.
The Philistines for once directed their forces towards the plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon) in the north; and Saul, forsaken by Yahweh, already gave himself up for lost.
The Philistines took possession of the fertile lowlands of Jezreel and the Jordan, and the shattered forces of Israel were slowly rallied by Abner in the remote city of Mahanaim in Gilead, under the nominal sovereignty of Saul's son Ishbaal.
He was no longer an outlaw with a band of wandering companions, but a petty chieftain, head of a small colony of men, allied with families of Caleb and Jezreel (in Judah), and on friendly footing with the sheikhs south of Hebron.
He is related by marriage with south Judaean clans of Caleb, Jezreel, and probably Geshur.