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Retribution for the Gibeonites

21 One time there was a famine during David’s reign that went on for three straight years. David sought the Lord, who[a] said, “Saul and his household are guilty because he executed the Gibeonites.”

So the king called together the Gibeonites and conferred with them. Now the Gibeonites weren’t part of the nation of Israel, but were the survivors from the Amorites. Although the Israelis had promised to spare them, Saul had started to execute them in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.

So David asked the Gibeonites, “What am I to do for you? How am I to make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s heritage?”

“We’re not looking for mere silver or gold to be paid by Saul or his household to us,” the Gibeonites responded to him. “And it’s not for us to execute anyone in Israel.”

In reply, David[b] asked, “So what are you asking me to do for you?”

They told the king, “The man who consumed us, who planned our destruction—intending to leave us with nothing in the territory of Israel— is to have[c] seven of his sons turned over to us. We will hang[d] them in the presence of the Lord at Gibeah, which belonged to Saul, whom the Lord chose.”

So the king answered, “I will give them.”[e] The king exempted Mephibosheth, the son of Saul’s son Jonathan, because of the promise to the Lord that existed between David and Saul’s son Jonathan.

Instead, the king arrested Aiah’s daughter Rizpah’s two sons Armoni and Mephibosheth, whom she had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Barzillai the Meholathite’s son Adriel. Then he turned them over to the custody of the Gibeonites, who hanged them on the mountain in the presence of the Lord. All seven of them died at the same time. They were executed during the first days of harvest, just as the barley began to be gathered in.

10 Then Aiah’s daughter Rizpah grabbed some sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock where her children had been hanged[f] from the beginning of harvest until the first rain fell from the sky. She would not allow any scavenger birds[g] to land on them during the day nor the beasts of the field to approach them[h] at night.

11 When David was informed what Rizpah, the daughter of Saul’s mistress[i] had done, 12 David had Saul’s bones and the bones of his son Jonathan removed from the custody of certain men from Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square in Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them—that is, back on the day when the Philistines had killed Saul on Mount[j] Gilboa. 13 He brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there along with the bones of those who had been hanged, 14 and they buried Saul’s bones and his son Jonathan’s bones in the territory of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Saul’s[k] father Kish. After they had done everything that the king commanded, God responded to prayers for the land.[l]

Israel Battles Four Giants from Gath(A)

15 Afterwards, war broke out between the Philistines and Israel, so David went down to fight the Philistines. David became weary, 16 and Ishbi-benob, who had been fathered by giants,[m] said he intended to kill David. (His bronze spearhead weighed 300 shekels,[n] and he carried state-of-the-art[o] weaponry.) 17 But Zeruiah’s son Abishai came to David’s aid, attacked the Philistine, and killed him. After this, David’s army told him, “You’re not going out anymore with us to battle, so Israel’s beacon won’t be extinguished!” 18 Sometime later after this incident, there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob. Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, who had been fathered by giants. 19 In yet another battle at Gob, Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite’s son Elhanan killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear resembled that of a weaver’s beam. 20 Later on, there was another battle at Gath, where there was a very tall man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—24 in number—who had also been fathered by giants. 21 When he defied Israel, David’s brother Shimeah’s son Jonathan killed him. 22 These four giants, who had been fathered by a giant in Gath, were killed at the hands of David and his servants.


  1. 2 Samuel 21:1 Lit. sought the face of the Lord, and the Lord
  2. 2 Samuel 21:4 Lit. he
  3. 2 Samuel 21:6 Lit. IsraelLet seven
  4. 2 Samuel 21:6 Or impale; i.e. they would execute them and then expose the bodies
  5. 2 Samuel 21:6 The Heb. lacks them
  6. 2 Samuel 21:10 The Heb. lacks where her children had been hanged
  7. 2 Samuel 21:10 Lit. any birds of the sky
  8. 2 Samuel 21:10 The Heb. lacks to approach them
  9. 2 Samuel 21:11 Lit. concubine; a secondary wife
  10. 2 Samuel 21:12 The Heb. lacks Mount
  11. 2 Samuel 21:14 Lit. his
  12. 2 Samuel 21:14 Cf. 2Sam 24:25
  13. 2 Samuel 21:16 Lit. by the Rapha; and so throughout the chapter
  14. 2 Samuel 21:16 I.e., about seven and a half pounds at 0.4 shekels per ounce
  15. 2 Samuel 21:16 Or newly-issued; lit. newly girded

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