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.
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.