2 Samuel 21:1-14

The Gibeonites Avenged

1 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.)
3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the LORD’s inheritance?”
4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.” “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel,
6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul—the LORD’s chosen one.” So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between David and Jonathan son of Saul.
8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite.
9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night.
11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done,
12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.)
13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.

2 Samuel 21:1-14 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 21

A famine being in the land three years, the Lord was inquired of, to know the reason of it; and it being answered, that it was on account of Saul's slaughter of the Gibeonites, they were summoned by David to know what satisfaction they required for the cruel usage of them, 2Sa 21:1-3; to which they replied, that they only desired seven of Saul's sons to be delivered up to them, to be hanged by them, which was granted, 2Sa 21:4-9; whose bones, with those of Saul and Jonathan, David buried in the sepulchre of their fathers, 2Sa 21:10-14; and the chapter is closed with an account of the various battles fought with the Philistines, in which four of their generals were slain, 2Sa 21:15-22.

2 Samuel 21:1-14 In-Context

1 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.)
3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the LORD’s inheritance?”
4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.” “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel,
6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul—the LORD’s chosen one.” So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between David and Jonathan son of Saul.
8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite.
9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night.
11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done,
12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.)
13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.
15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted.
16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David.
17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.”
18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.

Cross References 23

  • 1. S Genesis 12:10; S Deuteronomy 32:24
  • 2. S Exodus 32:11
  • 3. S Joshua 9:15
  • 4. S 1 Samuel 26:19; 2 Samuel 20:19
  • 5. Numbers 35:33-34
  • 6. Numbers 25:4
  • 7. S 1 Samuel 10:24
  • 8. 2 Samuel 4:4
  • 9. S 1 Samuel 18:3; 1 Samuel 20:8,15; S 2 Samuel 9:7
  • 10. 2 Samuel 3:7
  • 11. 1 Samuel 18:19
  • 12. S 2 Samuel 16:8
  • 13. S Ruth 1:22
  • 14. ver 8; S Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:23; S 1 Samuel 17:44
  • 15. 1 Samuel 31:11-13
  • 16. S Judges 21:8; S 1 Samuel 11:1
  • 17. S Joshua 17:11
  • 18. 1 Samuel 31:10
  • 19. S 1 Samuel 28:4
  • 20. Joshua 18:28
  • 21. Joshua 7:26
  • 22. 2 Samuel 24:25
  • 23. 1 Chronicles 8:34

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Two Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 1 Samuel 18:19); most Hebrew and Septuagint manuscripts "Michal"
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