2 Samuel 21
Contemporary English Version

The Gibeonites Hang Saul's Descendants

1While David was king, there were three years in a row when the nation of Israel could not grow enough food. So David asked the Lord for help, and the Lord answered, “Saul and his family are guilty of murder, because he had the Gibeonites killed.”

2 The Gibeonites were not Israelites; they were descendants of the Amorites. The people of Israel had promised not to kill them,+ but Saul had tried to kill them because he wanted Israel and Judah to control all the land.

David had the Gibeonites come, and he talked with them. 3He said, “What can I do to make up for what Saul did, so that you'll ask the Lord to be kind to his people again?”+

4The Gibeonites answered, “Silver and gold from Saul and his family are not enough. On the other hand, we don't have the right to put any Israelite to death.”

David said, “I'll do whatever you ask.”+

5They replied, “Saul tried to kill all our people so that none of us would be left in the land of Israel. 6Give us seven of his descendants. We will hang+ these men near the place where the Lord is worshiped in Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, the Lord's chosen king.”

“I'll give them to you,” David said.

7 David had made a promise to Jonathan with the Lord as his witness, so he spared Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul. 8 But Saul and Rizpah the daughter of Aiah had two sons named Armoni and Mephibosheth. Saul's daughter Merab+ had five sons whose father was Adriel the son of Barzillai from Meholah.+ David took Rizpah's two sons and Merab's five sons and 9turned them over to the Gibeonites, who hanged+ all seven of them on the mountain near the place where the Lord was worshiped. This happened right at the beginning of the barley harvest.+

Rizpah Takes Care of the Bodies

10Rizpah spread out some sackcloth+ on a nearby rock. She wouldn't let the birds land on the bodies during the day, and she kept the wild animals away at night. She stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until it started to rain.+

The Burial of Saul and His Descendants

11-12 Earlier the Philistines had killed Saul and Jonathan on Mount Gilboa and had hung their bodies in the town square at Beth-Shan. The people of Jabesh in Gilead had secretly taken the bodies away, but David found out what Saul's wife+ Rizpah had done, and he went to the leaders of Jabesh to get the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. 13-14David had their bones taken to the land of Benjamin and buried in a side room in Saul's family burial place. Then he gave orders for the bones of the men who had been hanged+ to be buried there. It was done, and God answered prayers to bless the land.

The Descendants of the Rephaim

(1 Chronicles 20.4-8)

15One time David got very tired when he and his soldiers were fighting the Philistines. 16One of the Philistine warriors was Ishbibenob, who was a descendant of the Rephaim,+ and he tried to kill David. Ishbibenob was armed with a new sword,+ and his bronze spearhead+ alone weighed about three and a half kilograms. 17 But Abishai+ came to the rescue and killed the Philistine.

David's soldiers told him, “We can't let you risk your life in battle anymore! You give light to our nation, and we want that flame to keep burning.”

18There was another battle with the Philistines at Gob, where Sibbecai from Hushah killed a descendant of the Rephaim named Saph.

19There was still another battle with the Philistines at Gob. A soldier named Elhanan killed Goliath+ from Gath, whose spear shaft was like a weaver's beam.+ Elhanan's father was Jari+ from Bethlehem.

20There was another war, this time in Gath. One of the enemy soldiers was a descendant of the Rephaim. He was as big as a giant and had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. 21But when he made fun of Israel, David's nephew Jonathan killed him. Jonathan was the son of David's brother Shimei.

22David and his soldiers killed these four men who were descendants of the Rephaim from Gath.


21.2 promised … them: See Joshua 9.3-27.
21.3 ask … again: Saul's guilt had become a curse on Israel that had resulted in famine. For the effects of this curse to be removed, the Gibeonites would have to ask the Lord to be kind to Israel.
21.4 I'll … ask: Or “What are you asking me to do for you?”
21.6 hang: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
21.8 Merab: Some Hebrew manuscripts and some manuscripts of one ancient translation. Most other manuscripts have “Michal,” Saul's daughter who was one of David's wives, but she never had any children (see 2 Samuel 6.23). According to 1 Samuel 18.19, Merab was Saul's daughter, and she married Adriel from Meholah.
21.8 Meholah: Also known as Abel-Meholah.
21.9 hanged: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
21.9 This … harvest: This would have been late in April.
21.10 sackcloth: See the note at 3.31.
21.10 started to rain: This may have been the beginning of the rainy season in September or October. It usually didn't rain from May to September. Or, it may have been a sign that now there would be enough rain again.
21.11,12 wife: See the note at 3.7.
21.13,14 hanged: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
21.16 Rephaim: This may refer to a group of people that lived in Palestine before the Israelites and who were famous for their large size.
21.16 new sword: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
21.16 spearhead: Or “helmet.”
21.17 Abishai: David's nephew, the brother of Joab.
21.19 Goliath: According to 1 Chronicles 20.5, Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath.
21.19 weaver's beam: A large wooden rod used by a weaver when making cloth.
21.19 Jari: Or “Jaare.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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