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The Famine Brings Justice

21 There was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David inquired of Yahweh,[a] and Yahweh said, “The bloodguilt is on Saul and on his household, because he killed the Gibeonites.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not from the Israelites;[b] they were from the remainder of the Amorites. Now the Israelites[c] had sworn to them,[d] but Saul tried to wipe them out in his zeal for the Israelites[e] and Judah. So David asked the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you, and with what can I make amends that you may bless the inheritance of Yahweh?” Then the Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter for us of[f] silver or gold with Saul or with his household. It is not for us to put to death anyone in Israel.” He asked, “What are you saying that I should do for you all?” Then they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and who plotted against us so that we were destroyed from existing in all of the territory of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given over to us, and we will execute them before Yahweh in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen one of Yahweh.” Then the king said, “I will give them over.” But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the sworn oath of Yahweh which was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. So the king took two of the sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, namely Armoni and Mephibosheth, and five of the sons of Michal the daughter of Saul whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they executed them on the mountain in the presence of Yahweh, and the seven fell together. Now they were put to death in the days of the harvest, at the beginning of the harvest of barley.

10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took the sackcloth, and she spread it for herself on the rock at the beginning of the harvest until water gushed forth on them from heaven, but she did not allow the birds of heaven to rest on them by day nor the animals of the field by night. 11 David was told about what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. 12 So David left and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the rulers of Jabesh Gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth Shan, where the Philistines hung them when[g] the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13 He brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there, and they gathered the bones of the executed. 14 And they buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the land of Benjamin at Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. They did all that the king had commanded, and afterward God was entreated for the land.

Battles with the Philistines Recounted

15 There was war again for the Philistines with Israel, and David and his servants with him went down, and they fought the Philistines, and David grew weary. 16 Now Yishbi in Nob, who was among the descendents of Raphah[h] (now the weight of his spearhead was three hundredweight of bronze, and he was newly armed), said that he would kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and he attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall not go out with us any longer to the battle, so that you do not quench the lamp of Israel.”

18 It happened afterward that there was again battle at Gob with the Philistines. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph who was among the descendants of the Raphah.

19 There was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. And Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath[i] the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like the beam of a weaver.

20 Once again there was battle at Gath, and there was a man of great size.[j] The fingers of his hand and the toes of his feet were six and six, twenty-four in number. He was also born to the Raphah. 21 He taunted Israel but Jonathan the son of Shimei, the brother of David, killed him. 22 These four were born for the Raphah in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.


  1. 2 Samuel 21:1 Literally “sought the face of Yahweh”
  2. 2 Samuel 21:2 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  3. 2 Samuel 21:2 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  4. 2 Samuel 21:2 The treaty between Israel and the Gibeonites is found in Josh 9
  5. 2 Samuel 21:2 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  6. 2 Samuel 21:4 Literally “There is not for me (Qere ‘us’)”
  7. 2 Samuel 21:12 Literally “on the day”
  8. 2 Samuel 21:16 The descendants of Raphah (i.e., the Rephaim) were thought to be giants
  9. 2 Samuel 21:19 In view of the account of David and Goliath in 1 Sam 17, it is likely that Elhanan actually killed the brother of Goliath, Lahmi, in 1 Chr 20:5
  10. 2 Samuel 21:20 Literally “a man of measurement”