It happened that a grievous famine, which lasted for three years, fell upon the land during the earlier half of David's reign at Jerusalem. This calamity was sent "for Saul and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." David inquired of the Gibeonites what satisfaction they demanded, and was answered that nothing would compensate for the wrong Saul had done to them but the death of seven of Saul's sons. David accordingly delivered up to them the two sons of Rizpah and five of the sons of Merab (q.v.), Saul's eldest daughter, whom she bore to Adriel. These the Gibeonites put to death, and hung up their bodies before the Lord at the sanctuary at Gibeah. Rizpah thereupon took her place on the rock of Gibeah (q.v.), and for five months watched the suspended bodies of her children, to prevent them from being devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, till they were at length taken down and buried by David.
Her marriage to Abner was the occasion of a quarrel between him and Ishbosheth, which led to Abner's going over to the side of David ( 2 Samuel 3:17-21 ).
bed; extension; a coal
concubine to King Saul, and mother of his two sons Armoni and Mephibosheth. (B.C. 1080.) The tragic story of the love and endurance with which she watched over the bodies of her two sons, who were killed by the Gibeonites, ( 2 Samuel 21:8-11 ) has made Rizpah one of the most familiar objects in the whole Bible.
riz'-pa (ritspah, "hot stone"; Josephus, Rhaispha):
In 2 Samuel 3:7 the subject of a coarse slander. 2 Samuel 21 contains the pathetic story of Rizpah's faithful watch over the bodies of her dead sons Mephibosheth and Armoni (21:10,11). Did this story suggest Tennyson's "Rizpah"? A three years' famine had made David anxious, and in seeking a reason for the affliction he concluded that it lay in Saul's unavenged conduct to the Gibeonites (21:2). To appease Yahweh he gave up to the Gibeonites the two sons of Saul, Mephibosheth and Armoni, as well as Saul's 5 grandsons (whether by Michal or Merab; see MERAB). These seven were hanged at Gibeah. Rizpah watched 5 months over their exposed bodies, but meanwhile the famine did not abate. Word was brought to David of Rizpah's act (21:10,11), and it is possible that her action suggested to David his next step in expiation. At any rate, he remembered the uncared-for bones of Jonathan and Saul lying in ignominy at Jabesh-gilead, whither they had been carried by stealth after the Philistines had kept them hung in the streets of Beth-shan for some time. The bones were recovered and apparently mingled with the bones Rizpah had guarded, and they were together buried in the family grave at Zelah. We are told that then "God was entreated for the land" (21:14).
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