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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