2 Samuel 21

The Gibeonites Punish Saul’s Family

21 During the time David was king, there was a shortage of food that lasted for three years. So David prayed to the Lord.

The Lord answered, “Saul and his family of murderers are the reason for this shortage, because he killed the Gibeonites.” 2 (Now the Gibeonites were not Israelites; they were a group of Amorites who were left alive. The Israelites had promised not to hurt the Gibeonites, but Saul had tried to kill them, because he was eager to help the people of Israel and Judah.)

King David called the Gibeonites together and spoke to them. 3 He asked, “What can I do for you? How can I make up for the harm done so you can bless the Lord’s people?”

4 The Gibeonites said to David, “We cannot demand silver or gold from Saul or his family. And we don’t have the right to kill anyone in Israel.”

Then David asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

5 The Gibeonites said, “Saul made plans against us and tried to destroy all our people who are left in the land of Israel. 6 So bring seven of his sons to us. Then we will kill them and hang them on stakes in the presence of the Lord at Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, the Lord’s chosen king.”

The king said, “I will give them to you.” 7 But the king protected Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the promise he had made to Jonathan in the Lord’s name. 8 The king did take Armoni and Mephibosheth,[a] sons of Rizpah and Saul. (Rizpah was the daughter of Aiah.) And the king took the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab. (Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite was the father of Merab’s five sons.) 9 David gave these seven sons to the Gibeonites. Then the Gibeonites killed them and hung them on stakes on a hill in the presence of the Lord. All seven sons died together. They were put to death during the first days of the harvest season at the beginning of barley harvest.

10 Aiah’s daughter Rizpah took the rough cloth that was worn to show sadness and put it on a rock for herself. She stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until the rain fell on her sons’ bodies. During the day she did not let the birds of the sky touch her sons’ bodies, and during the night she did not let the wild animals touch them.

11 People told David what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s slave woman, was doing. 12 Then David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan from the men of Jabesh Gilead. (The Philistines had hung the bodies of Saul and Jonathan in the public square of Beth Shan after they had killed Saul at Gilboa. Later the men of Jabesh Gilead had secretly taken them from there.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from Gilead. Then the people gathered the bodies of Saul’s seven sons who were hanged on stakes. 14 The people buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan at Zela in Benjamin in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish. The people did everything the king commanded.

Then God answered the prayers for the land.

Wars with the Philistines

15 Again there was war between the Philistines and Israel. David and his men went out to fight the Philistines, but David became tired. 16 Ishbi-Benob, one of the sons of Rapha, had a bronze spearhead weighing about seven and one-half pounds and a new sword. He planned to kill David, 17 but Abishai son of Zeruiah killed the Philistine and saved David’s life.

Then David’s men made a promise to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle. If you were killed, Israel would lose its greatest leader.”

18 Later, at Gob, there was another battle with the Philistines. Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, another one of the sons of Rapha.

19 Later, there was another battle at Gob with the Philistines. Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim from Bethlehem killed Goliath[b] from Gath. His spear was as large as a weaver’s rod.

20 At Gath another battle took place. A huge man was there; he had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four fingers and toes in all. This man also was one of the sons of Rapha. 21 When he challenged Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.

22 These four sons of Rapha from Gath were killed by David and his men.


  1. 21:8 Mephibosheth This is not Jonathan’s son but another man with the same name.
  2. 21:19 Goliath In 1 Chronicles 20:5 he is called Lahmi, brother of Goliath.

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