2 Samuel 4

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 4

The Murder of Ishbosheth

      • When Saul’s son Ishbosheth heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost his courage, and all of Israel was afraid. Now Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands: one named Baanah and the other named Rechab. They were both sons of Rimmon, who was a Benjaminite from Beeroth. Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and live there as resident foreigners to this very day.

        • Guzik notes, “When Ishbosheth heard that the man who put and propped him on the throne was dead, he knew that his day was almost over. He trusted in man to gain his position, so when the man was gone, he knew his position would be soon gone.”

      • ESV Study Bible adds, “Beeroth is about 2 miles south of Gibeon and is one of the cities, led by Gibeon, that tricked Joshua into making a treaty with them (Josh 9:17). The Beerothites had probably fled to Gittaim (which according to Neh 11:33 was a city in Benjamin) at the time Saul put the Gibeonites to death (see 2 Sam 21:1). Apparently after that the Benjaminites, including Rimmon and his family, came to live there. If this is correct, it suggests that the incident of the Gibeonites occurred early in Saul’s reign, since Rimmon, the father of Baanah and Rechab, is described as being ‘from Beeroth.’ This passage also stresses that those who killed Ishbosheth were not partisans of David but were from Saul’s own tribe.”

      • Saul’s son Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who was cripped in his feet. He was five years old when the report about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up to run away, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The information about Mephibosheth is probably put here to show why there was no move to make him king after Ishbosheth’s death- he was still a child, and he was crippled. He is further mentioned in 9:1-13; 16:1-4; 19:24-29; and 21:7. (The Mephibosheth in 21:8 is a different person, the son of Saul and Rizpah.) Apparently his real name was ‘Merib-baal’ (1 Chron 8:34; 9:40). Because ‘baal’ could mean ‘lord’ in general, the name probably referred to the Lord of Israel (as in 2 Sam 5:20), but at some point, in order to avoid using the name of the god Baal, it was euphemistically changed in Samuel to ‘Mephibosheth,’ boshet meaning ‘shame.’ Similarly, Saul’s son Ishbosheth is called ‘Eshbaal’ in 1 Chron 8:33 and 9:39, but ‘Ishbosheth’ in Samuel; and Jerubbaal (Judg 9:1, 57) is called ‘Jerubbesheth’ in 2 Sam 11:21.”

      • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “That…Mephibosheth…is described as lame in both feet may suggest that he had received a spinal cord injury. It is possible, however, that he received (compound) fractures that either were not or could not be set properly…”

      • Rimmon the Beerothite’s sons, Rechab and Baanah, went to Ishbosheth’s home during the hottest part of the day while the king was taking his midday rest. The doorkeeper, who had been sifting wheat, became drowsy and fell asleep so Rechab and Baanah slipped past her. They went into the house, found Ishbosheth sleeping on his bed, and stabbed and killed him, then beheaded him. Taking his head with them, they fled by way of the Jordan Valley all through the night and brought Ishbosheth’s head to David in Hebron. They said to the king, “Here is the head of Saul’s son Ishbosheth- your enemy who tried to kill you. Today Yahweh has avenged my lord and king against Saul and his offspring.”

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes explains why verse 6 is rendered variously among translations, “The reference to getting wheat is obscure and traditionally inferred to mean that they came under the pretense of obtaining wheat (KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, Holman). However the plausibility of this scenario is not culturally certain. The LXX (followed by NLT) reads, ‘behold the house doorkeeper was cleaning wheat and became drowsy and fell asleep and the brothers Rekcha and Baana avoided notice.’ Josephus refers to the LXX with a slight expansion on the tradition in Ant. 7:48. The last sentence appears to follow the Hebrew MT, although understanding the final ven …(nimlatu; Niphal of…malat) ‘to escape’ as ‘escaping notice’ is without parallel. The beginning of the verse in the LXX shares at least the words ‘midst of house’ and ‘wheat’ with the Hebrew MT. What sort of textual corruption through common scribal copying errors could lead to the different texts is unclear.”

      • HCSB adds, “Both readings stem from ancient sources, and it is impossible to know today which one represents the original text. In either case the essential meaning of the passage is the same: Recab and Baanah entered the king’s house and murdered him in a shameful and gory manner.”

      • David answered Rimmon the Beerothite’s sons, Rechab and Baanah, “As surely as Yahweh lives, who has delivered my life from every adversity, when someone once told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ thinking he was bringing me good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag. That was my reward to him for his news. How much more then, when wicked men kill a righteous man in his own house on his own bed! Should I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “As far as we know, David never referred to Saul as an enemy. Wrongdoers often presume upon God’s favor to justify political ambition. However, David would not reward treachery.”

      • So David gave orders to his men and they killed them. Then they cut off their hands and feet and hung them by the pool in Hebron. They took Ishbosheth’s head and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.

        • Guzik says, “David swiftly made an example of these murderous men. They were not soldiers fighting together with him; they were murderers who deserved just punishment.”

Click here to go to chapter 5