Ishbosheth, born Esh-Baal, was the fourth son of Saul, born early in his reign. He was the brother of Jonathan, the heir to the throne of the what would become the united kingdom of Israel. After the death of his father and three older brothers, he was proclaimed to be king on the authority of Abner, the captain of the army. He would rule at Mahanaim only two years before assassins killed him as he slept.
His reign followed the expectations of the times, for he was the surviving son of the king. However, due to his father's unfaithfulness to Yahweh, the throne had been promised to another, David, the son of Jesse, who had anointed by Samuel years before. Nonetheless, he was an honorable man, having admonished Abner for adultery with the deceased king's concubine. For this, his chief of staff defected to the camp of David.
This defection proved disastrous to the young king's army, When David demanded that he return his sister Michal, who Saul had promised as a wife years before, Esh-Baal conceded. This caused descension among his own staff, leading to his assassination soon afterwards.