2 Samuel 21
The Gibeonites Demand Revenge1 During David’s reign there was a famine for three consecutive years. So David inquired of the Lord. ▼
▼ Heb “sought the face of the Lord.”The Lord said, “It is because of Saul and his bloodstained family, ▼
▼ Heb “and the house of bloodshed.”because he murdered the Gibeonites.”
2 So the king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke with them. (Now the Gibeonites were not descendants of Israel; they were a remnant of the Amorites. The Israelites had made a promise to ▼
▼ Heb “swore an oath to.”them, but Saul tried to kill them because of his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.) 3 David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you, and how can I make amends so that you will bless ▼
▼ After the preceding imperfect verbal form, the subordinated imperative indicates purpose/result. S. R. Driver comments, “…the imper. is used instead of the more normal voluntative, for the purpose of expressing with somewhat greater force the intention of the previous verb” (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 350).the Lord’s inheritance?”
4 The Gibeonites said to him, “We ▼
▼ The translation follows the Qere and several medieval Hebrew mss in reading לָנוּ (lanu, “to us”) rather than the MT לִי (li, “to me”). But for a contrary opinion see S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 53, 350.have no claim to silver or gold from Saul or from his family, ▼
▼ Heb “house.”nor would we be justified in putting to death anyone in Israel.” David asked, ▼
▼ Heb “and he said”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.“What then are you asking me to do for you?” 5 They replied to the king, “As for this man who exterminated us and who schemed against us so that we were destroyed and left without status throughout all the borders of Israel – 6 let seven of his male descendants be turned over to us, and we will execute ▼
▼ The exact nature of this execution is not altogether clear. The verb יָקַע (yaqa’) basically means “to dislocate” or “alienate.” In Gen 32:26 it is used of the dislocation of Jacob’s thigh. Figuratively it can refer to the removal of an individual from a group (e.g., Jer 6:8; Ezek 23:17) or to a type of punishment the specific identity of which is uncertain (e.g., here and Num 25:4); cf. NAB “dismember them”; NIV “to be killed and exposed.”them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, who was the Lord’s chosen one.” ▼ The king replied, “I will turn them over.”
7 The king had mercy on Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, in light of the Lord’s oath that had been taken between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab ▼ whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He turned them over to the Gibeonites, and they executed them on a hill before the Lord. The seven of them ▼
▼ The translation follows the Qere and several medieval Hebrew mss in reading שְׁבַעְתָּם (sheva’tam, “the seven of them”) rather than MT שִׁבַעְתִּים (shiva’tim, “seventy”).died ▼
▼ Heb “fell.”together; they were put to death during harvest time – during the first days of the beginning ▼
▼ The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading בִּתְחִלַּת (bithkhillat, “in the beginning”) rather than MT תְחִלַּת (tekhillat, “beginning of”).of the barley harvest.
10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest until the rain fell on them, ▼
▼ Heb “until water was poured on them from the sky.”she did not allow the birds of the air to feed ▼
▼ Heb “rest.”on them by day, nor the wild animals ▼
▼ Heb “the beasts of the field.”by night. 11 When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he ▼
▼ Heb “David.” For stylistic reasons the name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation.went and took the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan ▼ from the leaders ▼
▼ Heb “lords.”of Jabesh Gilead. (They had secretly taken ▼
▼ Heb “stolen.”them from the plaza at Beth Shan. It was there that Philistines ▼
▼ Against the MT, this word is better read without the definite article. The MT reading is probably here the result of wrong word division, with the letter ה (he) belonging with the preceding word שָׁם (sham) as the he directive (i.e., שָׁמָּה, samah, “to there”).publicly exposed their corpses ▼
▼ Heb “had hung them.”after ▼
▼ Heb “in the day.”they ▼
▼ Heb “Philistines.”had killed Saul at Gilboa.) 13 David ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.brought the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son from there; they also gathered up the bones of those who had been executed.
14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin at Zela in the grave of his father Kish. After they had done everything ▼
▼ Many medieval Hebrew mss have here כְּכֹל (kekhol, “according to all”).that the king had commanded, God responded to their prayers ▼
▼ Heb “was entreated.” The verb is an example of the so-called niphal tolerativum, with the sense that God allowed himself to be supplicated through prayer (cf. GKC 137 #51.c).for the land.
Israel Engages in Various Battles with the Philistines15 Another battle was fought between the Philistines and Israel. So David went down with his soldiers ▼
▼ Heb “his servants.”and fought the Philistines. David became exhausted. 16 Now Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, ▼
▼ This name has the definite article and may be intended to refer to a group of people rather than a single individual with this name.had a spear ▼
▼ This is the only occurrence of this Hebrew word in the OT. Its precise meaning is therefore somewhat uncertain. As early as the LXX the word was understood to refer to a “spear,” and this seems to be the most likely possibility. Some scholars have proposed emending the text of 2 Sam 21:16 to כוֹבַעוֹ (khova’o; “his helmet”), but in spite of the fact that the word “helmet” appears in 1 Sam 17:5, there is not much evidence for reading that word here.that weighed three hundred bronze shekels, ▼
▼ Either the word “shekels” should be supplied here, or the Hebrew word מִשְׁקַל (mishqal, “weight”) right before “bronze” is a corrupted form of the word for shekel. If the latter is the case the problem probably resulted from another occurrence of the word מִשְׁקַל just four words earlier in the verse.▼
▼ Three hundred bronze shekels would have weighed about 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg).and he was armed with a new weapon. ▼
▼ The Hebrew text reads simply “a new [thing],” prompting one to ask “A new what?” Several possibilities have been proposed to resolve the problem: perhaps a word has dropped out of the Hebrew text here; or perhaps the word “new” is the result of misreading a different, less common, word; or perhaps a word (e.g., “sword,” so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, CEV, NLT) is simply to be inferred. The translation generally follows the latter possibility, while at the same time being deliberately nonspecific (“weapon”).He had said that he would kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to David’s aid, striking the Philistine down and killing him. Then David’s men took an oath saying, “You will not go out to battle with us again! You must not extinguish the lamp of Israel!”
18 Later there was another battle with the Philistines, this time in Gob. On that occasion Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the descendants of Rapha. 19 Yet another battle occurred with the Philistines in Gob. On that occasion Elhanan the son of Jair ▼ the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, ▼
▼ The Hebrew text as it stands reads, “Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite.” Who killed Goliath the Gittite? According to 1 Sam 17:4–58 it was David who killed Goliath, but according to the MT of 2 Sam 21:19 it was Elhanan who killed him. Many scholars believe that the two passages are hopelessly at variance with one another. Others have proposed various solutions to the difficulty, such as identifying David with Elhanan or positing the existence of two Goliaths. But in all likelihood the problem is the result of difficulties in the textual transmission of the Samuel passage; in fact, from a text-critical point of view the books of Samuel are the most poorly preserved of all the books of the Hebrew Bible. The parallel passage in 1 Chr 20:5 reads, “Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath.” Both versions are textually corrupt. The Chronicles text has misread “Bethlehemite” (בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי, bet hallakhmi) as the accusative sign followed by a proper name אֶת לַחְמִי (’et lakhmi). (See the note at 1 Chr 20:5.) The Samuel text misread the word for “brother” (אַח, ’akh) as the accusative sign (אֵת, ’et), thereby giving the impression that Elhanan, not David, killed Goliath. Thus in all probability the original text read, “Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath.”the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 Yet another battle occurred in Gath. On that occasion there was a large man ▼
▼ Heb “a man of stature.”who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all! He too was a descendant of Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, killed him. 22 These four were the descendants of Rapha who lived in Gath; they were killed ▼
▼ Heb “they fell.”by David and his soldiers. ▼
▼ Heb “his servants.”
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