2 Samuel 21 – “A Deal with the Gibeonites; David’s Close Call; Victory in Philistia”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Saul’s descendants are killed by the Gibeonites. After a close call in battle, David retires from the military. His men defeat many Philistine warriors.

II. Photo
A famine strikes the land: “There was a famine during the reign of David, year after year for three years. David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord replied, ‘It is because of the bloodguilt of Saul and [his] house, for he put some Gibeonites to death.’” (v. 1)

III. Important Verses
1:  There was a famine during the reign of David, year after year for three years. David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD replied, “It is because of the bloodguilt of Saul and [his] house, for he put some Gibeonites to death.”
3-6: David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make expiation, so that you may bless the LORD’s own people?” The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no claim for silver or gold against Saul and his household; and we have no claim on the life of any other man in Israel.” And [David] responded, “Whatever you say I will do for you.” Thereupon they said to the king, “The man who massacred us and planned to exterminate us, so that we should not survive in all the territory of Israel — let seven of his male issue be handed over to us, and we will impale them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king replied, “I will do so.”
8-10: Instead, the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons that Rizpah daughter of Aiah bore to Saul, and the five sons that Merab daughter of Saul bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite, and he handed them over to the Gibeonites. They impaled them on the mountain before the LORD; all seven of them perished at the same time. They were put to death in the first days of the harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest. Then Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it on a rock for herself, and she stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until rain from the sky fell on the bodies; she did not let the birds of the sky settle on them by day or the wild beasts [approach] by night.
15-17: Again war broke out between the Philistines and Israel, and David and the men with him went down and fought the Philistines; David grew weary, and Ishbi-benob tried to kill David. — He was a descendant of the Raphah; his bronze spear weighed three hundred shekels and he wore new armor. — But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid; he attacked the Philistine and killed him. It was then that David’s men declared to him on oath, “You shall not go with us into battle any more, lest you extinguish the lamp of Israel!”
19-21: Again there was fighting with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, whose spear had a shaft like a weaver’s bar. Once again there was fighting, at Gath. There was a giant of a man, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all; he too was descended from the Raphah. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimei, killed him.

IV. Outline
1. The famine and its cause
2-6. David makes a deal with the Gibeonites
7-9. David hands over Saul’s descendants to die
10. Rizpah stands guard over the corpses
11-14. David gives Saul and his descendents a proper burial
15-16. War with the Philistines; David almost dies
17. David promises not to fight again
18-22. David’s men defeat the Philistine warriors

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Anderson, A. A. “2 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 11 (Waco Texas: Wordbooks, 1989).
Campbell, Antony F. “2 Samuel” The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, vol 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eedrdmans, 2005).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Photo taken from http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/files/imagecache/news/files/news/20090203_drought.jpg