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21 After the people had suffered from a famine for three successive years, David asked the Eternal One why the famine lingered, and the answer came that the nation was guilty for not making amends for the bloodlust of King Saul, who slaughtered the people of Gibeon. (The Gibeonites were not from Israel—they were related to the Amorites. Saul tried to annihilate them in his zeal for Israel and Judah, although the people of Israel had promised to spare them during the days of Joshua.) So David called for the leaders of Gibeon.

David: What can I do, what can I give you, to lift this guilt from my land so that you will honor the Eternal’s chosen people?

Gibeonite Leaders: Silver and gold won’t make things right for us with Saul’s kingdom. And it is not for us to tell you who should be subject to capital punishment in Israel.

David: I will do whatever you ask.

Gibeonite Leaders: Saul attacked us and tried to destroy us, to wipe us off the map of Israel. Give us seven of his descendants, and we will hang them on a tree in Gibeah before the Eternal, on His mountain.

David: I will give them to you.

Now the king did not give them Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson and Jonathan’s son, because of the sacred oath between David and Jonathan. But he did take Saul’s two sons by Rizpah (daughter of Aiah), Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons of Merab (Saul’s daughter) that she had by Adriel (son of Barzillai the Meholathite). David had them seized and handed them over to the Gibeonites, who executed them before the Eternal One on the mountain. All seven of them died together, in the spring of the year during the first days of the barley harvest.

10 Rizpah, Aiah’s daughter, spread out sackcloth on a rock to make a place to sit; and from the time her sons died until rain fell in late autumn, she refused to let the birds or wild animals desecrate the bodies. 11 When David heard what Saul’s concubine Rizpah had done, 12 he went and gathered the bones of Saul and Jonathan (which the people of Jabesh-gilead had stolen from the place where they were hanged in the Philistine public square in Beth-shan on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa). 13 He took the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son and gathered the bones of those who had been impaled in Gibeon. 14 He had Saul and Jonathan buried in the tomb of their father Kish, in Zela in the land of Benjamin. All that David commanded was done; and afterward, God answered the prayers of the people of Israel for the land.

15 Philistia and Israel were at war again, and David and his soldiers fought them long and hard until at last he grew weary. 16 Then Ishbi-benob (who was a descendant of Raphah) announced that he had come to kill David. He carried a bronze spear, the head of which weighed nearly 10 pounds, and he carried a new sword. 17 But Abishai, Zeruiah’s son, came to David’s aid. He attacked and killed this Philistine.

David’s Men (to David): You can’t go out to fight with us any longer. If you are killed, then the lamp of Israel will go out.

18 Later the Israelites fought the Philistines at Gob; and Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, another Philistine warrior descended from the giant. 19 In another fight at Gob with the Philistines, Elhanan (son of Jaare-oregim of Bethlehem), killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear shaft was as large as a weaver’s beam. 20 Then in a battle at Gath, they fought against another famous warrior. He was a huge man with 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot—24 in all—and he was also descended from the giant. 21 When he insulted the people of Israel, Jonathan (the son of David’s brother Shimei) killed him. 22 All four of these great warriors were descended from the giant of Gath, but all of them were defeated by the skill of David and his men.

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