2 Samuel 21

The Gibeonites punish Saul's descendants

1 While David was king, there was a famine in Israel for three years. So David asked the Lord what had caused this trouble. The Lord said, ‘Saul's family is guilty of murder, because Saul killed many of the Gibeonites.’

2 The Gibeonites were not descendants of Israel. They were the only Amorite people who still lived. The Israelites had promised not to kill them. But Saul thought that he should kill them. He thought that this would help Israel and Judah to rule their land.

21:2See Joshua 9:3-27.

Now King David told the Gibeonites to come to speak with him. 3 He asked them, ‘What can I do to help you? How can I make things right between us? I want you to bring the Lord's blessing to his people again.’

4 The Gibeonites answered David, ‘We do not want Saul's family to give us money or gold. And it would not be right for us to kill anyone in Israel.’

So David asked them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

5 They answered the king, ‘You know that Saul tried to destroy us. That man wanted to kill all of our family who were living in Israel. 6 So we want you to give us seven of his male descendants. Then we will kill them. We will hang their bodies at the place where people worship the Lord in Gibeah. That was Saul's town, the man that the Lord had chosen to be king.’

The king said, ‘I will give them to you.’

7 The king did not give Jonathan's son Mephibosheth to them. He was kind to Mephibosheth because of David's promise to Jonathan, Saul's son. David had made that promise in the Lord's name. 8 Instead, the king took Saul's two sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth. Aiah's daughter Rizpah was their mother. He also took the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab. Adriel, the son of Barzillai from Meholath, was their father. 9 He gave them to the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites hanged them on a hill where people worshipped the Lord. All seven of them died together. That happened at the time when the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Aiah's daughter, Rizpah, put sackcloth on a rock and she sat on it. She stayed there to watch her sons' bodies, from the harvest time until the heavy rain came. During that time, she stopped the birds from eating the bodies in the daytime. At night, she kept the wild animals away.

11 They told David what Saul's slave wife, Rizpah, had done. 12 Then David went to fetch the bones of Saul and Saul's son Jonathan from the people at Jabesh Gilead. Their men had secretly taken their bodies from the open place in Beth Shan. The Philistines had killed Saul on Gilboa mountain and they had hung their bodies there. 13 Now David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan back from Jabesh Gilead. He also picked up the bones of the seven men that the Gibeonites had killed.

14 People buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan in the grave of Saul's father, Kish. The grave was in Zela, in land that belonged to Benjamin's tribe. The king had told them everything that they should do. After they had done all these things, God answered their prayers for their country.

Wars against the Philistines

15 Now the Philistines had started to attack the Israelites again. David went with his soldiers to fight against the Philistines. He became very tired. 16 A descendant of Rapha who was called Ishbi-Benob said that he would kill David. He had a bronze spear that weighed 3½ kilograms and he had a new sword. 17 But Zeruiah's son Abishai saved David. Abishai knocked down the Philistine and he killed him. So David's men said very strongly, ‘Our king, you must never again come out with us to fight a battle. You are like Israel's light. We do not want your life to finish.’

21:17This was David's last battle as the leader of the army.

18 Some time after that, the Israelites fought a battle against the Philistines at Gob. In that battle, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of Rapha.

19 In another battle against the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan, the son of Jaare-Oregim from Bethlehem, killed Goliath from Gath. Goliath's spear was very thick and heavy, like a big tree.

20 There was another battle at Gath. Another descendant of Rapha fought against the Israelites there. He was a very large man. He had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. 21 He shouted to insult the Israelite soldiers. So Jonathan, the son of David's brother Shimeah, killed him.

22 Those four Philistines were descendants of Rapha and they lived in Gath. David and his soldiers killed all of them.

21:22The descendants of Rapha were all very big men.