Two women in the Old Testament were given the name of Ahinoam: the wife of King David who came from Jezreel (who married David before he married Abigail, Nabal's widow); and Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz, who married Saul. Ahinoam may have attracted a man who would be king, but her life was marred by tragedy. Her story is the focus of this section.
Marriage to Israel's First King
Ahinoam's husband Saul was Israel's first king; that made her the Israelite's first queen. Saul ruled from 1020 B.C. to 1000 B.C. The Old Testament book of Samuel states he was the son of Kish, belonged to the Benjamite tribe, and may have been anointed king by the prophet Samuel at Gilgal, although some sources say he may have simply drawn lots or been selected by the majority of a crowd.
Her Husband Falls Out of Favor with God
Saul defeated the Ammonites and started a war with the Philistines. In preparation for his upcoming battle, he made a burnt offering to God, but since such offerings were supposed to be done ritually by a priest, Saul fell out of favor with the Lord (sources note that God's displeasure with Saul was either because of that, or for failing to completely wipe out the Amalikites). This led Samuel to anoint David king in place of Saul.
Ahinoam Produces Heirs
The Bible does not reveal much about Ahinoam's life, apart from her marriage to Saul (Samuel 14:50). The children of Saul included Jonathan, Ishvi, Malchishua, Merab, and Michal. Saul had promised both his daughters to David; however, in the case of Merab, Saul gave her to Adriel the Meholathite. He agreed to let David have Michal as a wife if David first brought him 100 Philistine foreskins (after killing the men first in battle). David met the price for Michal, making Ahinoam his mother-in-law.
Was Saul Really Samuel?
Some biblical scholars have theorized that a scribe may have tweaked the text of the original book of Samuel. The name of the child born to Hannah and her husband Elkanah may originally have been Saul, and then changed to Samuel. Yet, in a poem in the original book of Samuel (1 Samuel: 2:1–10), Hannah offers God words that, some scholars assert, seem more like praise for a future monarch than the Lord's prophet.
Ahinoam Loses Her Husband and Sons
Saul received a critical wound while waging a battle against the Philistines. As the fighting grew worse, Saul told his armorbearer to run his sword through him so the Philistines couldn't kill him and abuse his body. The soldier could not bring himself to kill Saul, so Saul fell upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4). The armorbearer followed his king's example. The next day, the Philistines found not only Saul dead, but also his three sons.
Ahinoam's beauty captivated a king, and she bore him princes, but in the end, she grieved as a mother and widow. As for her son-in-law David, he mourned the passing of Saul in spite of all of the bad feelings between them.