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2 Samuel 21:7-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of Jehovah’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. 8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; 9 and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before Jehovah, and they fell all seven together. And they were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, at the beginning of barley harvest.
2 Samuel 21:7-9 describes an event in which King David is seeking to end a famine in the land by making a deal with the Gibeonites, a non-Israelite people who had made a treaty with Israel in the past. In the passage, it is said that the Gibeonites tell David that the famine will not end until seven of Saul’s descendants are handed over to them to be put to death as punishment for Saul’s past offenses against them.
This passage is significant in several ways. Firstly, it highlights the principle of collective guilt in ancient Israel. Saul, who had persecuted the Gibeonites, and his descendants are held accountable for his actions and are punished for the wrongs he committed against them. Secondly, this passage also illustrates the role of human mediation in the process of seeking atonement or forgiveness. The Gibeonites required satisfaction for Saul’s transgression, and David had to act as a mediator to placate them. Finally, it also points out to the seriousness of fulfilling agreements and treaties made in ancient times, both between nations as well as between God and His people.
It is worth noting that this passage is a historical account and not a moral or theological statement on the justice or morality of the actions described in it. These actions should be understood within the context of ancient near-eastern cultural norms.
This passage describes how King David handed over the sons of Saul, including Mephibosheth, to the Gibeonites for execution. This action appears to be in direct conflict with the earlier statement that David “showed compassion for Mephibosheth” as he spared his life.
One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that David had made a pledge or oath to the Gibeonites, who were demanding that he hand over the sons of Saul to them as punishment for Saul’s previous persecution of their people. In order to fulfill this oath, David handed over the sons of Saul, including Mephibosheth, to the Gibeonites, despite his personal feelings of compassion towards Mephibosheth.
It’s also possible that David had to balance his personal compassion with the greater good of his kingdom. There may have been a situation where the Gibeonites were causing disturbance to his kingdom, and this action pacified them and maintained peace in his kingdom.
It should also be noted that there are two different individuals named Mephibosheth in the story of 2 Samuel 21. The account does indeed involve King Saul’s son and grandson, both of whom were named Mephibosheth.
The account describes how King Saul had broken the covenant of peace that was made with the Gibeonites, and his actions resulted in the deaths of many of the Gibeonites. When David became king, the surviving Gibeonites approached him and asked for atonement for the wrongs committed by King Saul. David granted their request and handed over seven descendants of Saul, including two sons of Saul, one of whom was named Mephibosheth.
It’s also important to keep in mind that David acts in accordance with the law and the commandments of God, which stated that blood guilt required atonement and the guilty should be punished. The passage helps us understand the background context and the purpose of David’s actions, and the legal and moral reasoning behind them.
It’s important to keep in mind that this event is described within the narrative of the Bible, which is a complex work written over centuries, and sometimes its intention is not clear or might have multiple possible interpretations.
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