2 Samuel 21:5
And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,
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2 Samuel 21:5-6. They answered, The man that consumed us, &c. — They desired no reparation of private damages, or revenge of injuries; all they required was that a public sacrifice should be made to justice, and to the divine vengeance inflicted upon the land. Let seven of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up before the Lord — As a satisfaction to his honour for an injustice and cruelty committed in defiance of a solemn oath given in his holy name. But it may be inquired, if Saul was thus wicked in destroying a people contrary to a solemn oath, ratified in the name of God, why should his sons and grandsons be punished for it? To this it may be answered, with great reason, and upon a good foundation, that they were not punished because Saul was guilty, but because they themselves were guilty, and had been the executioners of his unjust decrees. We have reason to conclude that his sons and his grandsons were among his captains of hundreds, and captains of thousands, as that was the practice of those days: and if so, undoubtedly they were employed in executing his cruel and unjust commands in regard to the Gibeonites, especially as the purpose of destroying them seems to have been to take their possessions; for we can scarcely suppose Saul to have been so solicitous to increase the fortunes of any, as those of his sons and grandsons. And this supposition the text before us seems to prove, as it not only entitles Saul bloody, but his house too: Saul and his bloody house. And it is likely that some of these still possessed some of the possessions of the Gibeonites, and that they defended and commended this action of Saul whenever there was any question about it: and, therefore, they very justly and deservedly suffered for it. See Delaney. In Gibeah of Saul — To make the punishment more remarkable and shameful, this being the city where Saul lived both before and after he was king. Whom the Lord did choose — This aggravated his guilt, that he had broken the oath of that God by whom he had been so highly favoured.

And the king said, I will give them — Having doubtless consulted God in the matter; who, as he had before declared Saul’s bloody house to be the cause of this judgment, so now commanded that justice should be done upon it, and that the remaining branches of it should be cut off; as sufficiently appears from hence that God was well pleased with the action; which he would not have been if David had done it without his command; for then it had been a sinful action of David’s, and contrary to a double law of God. Deuteronomy 21:23; Deuteronomy 24:16.

But here another question arises; supposing Saul’s sons and grandsons engaged in the fact, and therefore justly punished for it, how came it, or for what reason was it, that the whole people of Israel were afflicted with famine on that account? Undoubtedly because they were partakers too in Saul’s guilt, and had been abetting, aiding, and assisting in it; or, at least, had not opposed it, as they ought to have done. It is said expressly that Saul sought to slay the Gibeonites in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. Is it not absurd to think that any thing was done in zeal for them which they did not approve of? Or is there much reason to doubt whether they did not lend their hand to it? Is there the least colour to believe that they in any degree remonstrated against or opposed this proceeding of their prince? as they had a right, nay, were obliged by all the laws of justice to do, as a nation bound to make good the public faith they had given, and sworn to preserve. And if this was the case, were they not guilty as well as Saul, and were they not with justice punished?

21:1-9 Every affliction arises from sin, and should lead us to repent and humble ourselves before God; but some troubles especially show that they are sent to bring sin to remembrance. God's judgments often look a great way back, which requires us to do so, when we are under his rebukes. It is not for us to object against the people's smarting for the sin of their king; perhaps they helped him. Nor against this generation suffering for the sin of the last. God often visits the sins of the fathers upon the children, and he gives no account of any matters. Time does not wear out the guilt of sin; nor can we build hopes of escape upon the delay of judgments. If we cannot understand all the reasons of Providence in this matter, still we have no right to demand that God should acquaint us with those reasons. It must be right, because it is the will of God, and in the end it will be proved to be so. Money is no satisfaction for blood. It should seem, Saul's posterity trod in his steps, for it is called a bloody house. It was the spirit of the family, therefore they are justly reckoned with for his sin, as well as for their own. The Gibeonites did not require this out of malice against Saul or his family. It was not to gratify any revenge, but for the public good. They were put to death at the beginning of harvest; they were thus sacrificed to turn away the wrath of Almighty God, who had withheld the harvest-mercies for some years past, and to obtain his favour in the present harvest. In vain do we expect mercy from God, unless we do justice upon our sins. Executions must not be thought cruel, which are for the public welfare.No silver, nor gold ... - Money payments as a compensation for blood-guilt were very common among many nations. The law, too, in Numbers 35:31-32, presupposes the existence of the custom which it prohibits. In like manner the speech of the Gibeonites implies that such a payment as they refuse would be a not unusual proceeding.

Neither ... shalt thou kill any man in Israel - They mean that it is not against the nation of Israel, but against the individual Saul, that they cry for vengeance. The demand for Saul's sons is exactly similar to that which dictated David's own expression in 2 Samuel 24:17, "against me, and against my father's house."

2. in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah—Under pretense of a rigorous and faithful execution of the divine law regarding the extermination of the Canaanites, he set himself to expel or destroy those whom Joshua had been deceived into sparing. His real object seems to have been, that the possessions of the Gibeonites, being forfeited to the crown, might be divided among his own people (compare 1Sa 22:7). At all events, his proceeding against this people was in violation of a solemn oath, and involving national guilt. The famine was, in the wise and just retribution of Providence, made a national punishment, since the Hebrews either assisted in the massacre, or did not interpose to prevent it; since they neither endeavored to repair the wrong, nor expressed any horror of it; and since a general protracted chastisement might have been indispensable to inspire a proper respect and protection to the Gibeonite remnant that survived. That we should be either killed, or banished from the land of Israel; which is as bad as death to us, because here, and here only, God is truly worshipped and enjoyed. Whereby it seems divers of them were hearty proselytes, and godly persons; and therefore God is more severe in punishing the injuries done to them. Compare 1 Samuel 26:19.

And they answered the king,.... Declaring expressly what they would have done: the man that consumed us; meaning Saul, who lessened their number by cruel oppressions of some, and by taking away the lives of others:

and that devised against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel; who had formed schemes, and published edicts, for banishing them out of the land; perhaps at the same time that he put away wizards and those that had familiar spirits out of the land, under the same pretence for zeal for the glory of God, and the good of the people of the land, 1 Samuel 28:3.

And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,
5. devised] This, and not the marginal alternative cut us off, is the right rendering.

in any of the coasts] In all the borders. Coast, from costa, a rib or side, originally meant any border or frontier-line, not the sea-line only; and then, like the Lat. fines, the territory enclosed by the border.

Verse 5. - The man that consumed us, etc. The strong language of this verse makes it plain that Saul had been guilty, not merely of some one great act of cruelty, but of a long series of barbarities intended to bring about their utter extirpation. 2 Samuel 21:5The Gibeonites answered, "I have not to do with silver and gold concerning Saul and his house" (lit. it is not, does not stand, to me at silver and gold with Saul and his house), i.e., I have no money to demand of Saul, require no pecuniary payment as compensation for the blood which he shed among us (vid., Numbers 35:31). The Chethib לי is not to be touched, notwithstanding the לנוּ which follows. The use of the singular may be explained on the simple ground that the speaker thought of the Gibeonites as a corporation. "And it does not pertain to us to put any one to death in Israel" (sc., of our own accord). When David inquired still further, "What do you mean, then, that I should do to you?" they replied, "(As for) the man who consumed us, and who thought against us, that we should be destroyed (נשׁמדנוּ without כּי, subordinately to דּמּה, like אעשׂה in the previous verse), so as not to continue in the whole of the territory of Israel, let seven men of his sons be given us, that we may crucify them to Jehovah at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of Jehovah." וגו אשׁר אישׁ is placed at the head absolutely (cf. Gesenius, 145, 2). On crucifixion as a capital punishment, see at Numbers 25:4, where it has already been observed that criminals were not impaled or fastened to the cross alive, but were first of all put to death. Consequently the Gibeonites desired that the massacre, which had taken place among them by the command of Saul, should be expiated by the execution of a number of his sons - blood for blood, according to Numbers 35:31. They asked for the crucifixion for Jehovah, i.e., that the persons executed might be impaled, as a public exhibition of the punishment inflicted, before the face of the Lord (vid., 2 Samuel 21:9), as the satisfaction required to expiate His wrath. Seven was a sacred number, denoting the performance of a work of God. This was to take place in Gibeah, the home and capital of Saul, who had brought the wrath of God upon the land through his crime. There is a sacred irony in the epithet applied to Saul, "chosen of the Lord." If Saul was the chosen of Jehovah, his actions ought to have been in accordance with his divine election.
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