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2 Samuel 21:1-9

Context
The Gibeonites Demand Revenge

21:1 During David’s reign there was a famine for three consecutive years. So David inquired of the Lord. 1  The Lord said, “It is because of Saul and his bloodstained family, 2  because he murdered the Gibeonites.”

21:2 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 3  them, but Saul tried to kill them because of his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.) 21:3 David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you, and how can I make amends so that you will bless 4  the Lord’s inheritance?”

21:4 The Gibeonites said to him, “We 5  have no claim to silver or gold from Saul or from his family, 6  nor would we be justified in putting to death anyone in Israel.” David asked, 7  “What then are you asking me to do for you?” 21:5 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 – 21:6 let seven of his male descendants be turned over to us, and we will execute 8  them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, who was the Lord’s chosen one.” 9  The king replied, “I will turn them over.”

21:7 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. 21:8 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 10  whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 21:9 He turned them over to the Gibeonites, and they executed them on a hill before the Lord. The seven of them 11  died 12  together; they were put to death during harvest time – during the first days of the beginning 13  of the barley harvest.

1 tn Heb “sought the face of the Lord.”

2 tn Heb “and the house of bloodshed.”

3 tn Heb “swore an oath to.”

4 tn 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).

5 tc 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.

6 tn Heb “house.”

7 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn 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.”

9 tc The LXX reads “at Gibeon on the mountain of the Lord” (cf. 21:9). The present translation follows the MT, although a number of recent English translations follow the LXX reading here (e.g., NAB, NRSV, NLT).

10 tc The MT reads “Michal” here, but two Hebrew manuscripts read “Merab,” along with some LXX manuscripts. Cf. 1 Sam 18:19.

11 tc The translation follows the Qere and several medieval Hebrew mss in reading שְׁבַעְתָּם (shÿvatam, “the seven of them”) rather than MT שִׁבַעְתִּים (shivatim, “seventy”).

12 tn Heb “fell.”

13 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading בִּתְחִלַּת (bithkhillat, “in the beginning”) rather than MT תְחִלַּת (tÿkhillat, “beginning of”).



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