2 Samuel 21:6
Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.
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(6) Let seven men of his sons.—The head of the house and his household were closely identified in all the ideas of antiquity. Saul being dead, his male descendants were considered as standing in his place, representing him, and responsible for his acts, just as is largely the case in legal affairs and matters of property at the present day. The number seven is, doubtless, fixed upon as being first, a considerable and sufficient number; and then, on account of its sacred associations, and as the representative of completeness.

We will hang them up.—The sons of Saul are only to be given up by David; their actual execution is to be by the Gibeonites, and the method is that of hanging or fastening to a stake, either by impaling or by crucifixion, the word being used for both methods of execution.

Unto the Lord—i.e., publicly. (Comp. a similar expression in Numbers 25:4.) The sin had been outrageous; its punishment must be conspicuous. The place of execution is fitly chosen in the home of Saul. It seems strange that he should be here spoken of as “the Lord’s chosen;” but this and the expression “unto the Lord” go together; what Saul had done he had done as the head of the theocracy, as God’s chosen ruler, and now his family must be punished in the presence of Him against whom he had offended—“before the Lord.” The idea of regarding the execution of these men as a propitiatory human sacrifice is utterly destitute of any shadow of support.

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.Seven men - Seven was a sacred number not only with the Hebrews but with other Oriental nations Numbers 23:1, Numbers 23:29, and is therefore brought in on this occasion when the judicial death of the sons of Saul was a religious act intended to appease the wrath of God for the violation of an oath Numbers 25:4.

Whom the Lord did choose - Rather, "the Lord's chosen," or elect. The same phrase is applied to Moses Psalm 106:23, to the Israelites Isaiah 43:20, and to Christ Isaiah 42:1.

6. Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul—The practice of the Hebrews, as of most Oriental nations, was to slay first, and afterwards to suspend on a gibbet, the body not being left hanging after sunset. The king could not refuse this demand of the Gibeonites, who, in making it, were only exercising their right as blood-avengers; and, although through fear and a sense of weakness they had not hitherto claimed satisfaction, yet now that David had been apprised by the oracle of the cause of the long-prevailing calamity, he felt it his duty to give the Gibeonites full satisfaction—hence their specifying the number seven, which was reckoned full and complete. And if it should seem unjust to make the descendants suffer for a crime which, in all probability, originated with Saul himself, yet his sons and grandsons might be the instruments of his cruelty, the willing and zealous executors of this bloody raid.

the king said, I will give them—David cannot be charged with doing this as an indirect way or ridding himself of rival competitors for the throne, for those delivered up were only collateral branches of Saul's family, and never set up any claim to the sovereignty. Moreover, David was only granting the request of the Gibeonites as God had bidden him do.

Unto the Lord; to vindicate his honour, which was injured by Saul’s violation of the oath and covenant of God, and to appease his wrath.

In Gibeah of Saul; Saul’s country, 1 Samuel 10:26 11:4, for their greater shame.

Whom the Lord did choose; this is added to aggravate Saul’s offence, that it was committed not only against them, but also against the Lord, who had chosen and advanced him, and therefore did little deserve this from Saul’s hand, to have his laws broken, and his name dishonoured by perjury.

I will give them; having doubtless consulted God in the matter, who as he had before declared Saul’s bloody house to be the causes 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 satisfied and 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, Deu 21:23 24:16, which none but God himself could dispense with.

Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us,.... They settled upon this number, either because they were seven, and no more of the Gibeonites, whom Saul slew, as the Jew say (i); two hewers of wood, two drawers of water, a keeper (of a synagogue), a scribe, and a servant; but perhaps the true reason was, they knew there were no more besides Mephibosheth, for whom David had a great respect, and therefore required no more:

and we will hang them up unto the Lord; not to gratify a revengeful spirit of theirs, but in honour to the justice of God, and to appease his wrath:

in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose; which was Saul's native place, and where he always lived; so that to hang them there was to the greater disgrace of him and his family; and he being chosen of the Lord to be a king of Israel, was an aggravation of his crime in violating the oath made to the Gibeonites

and the king said, I will give them; for though he had sworn to Saul that he would not cut off his seed, yet as he had a divine direction in this case, as appears by the Lord's being pleased with it, and was entreated for the land by it, this oath of his was dispensed with; nor did he cut them off himself but delivered them to others, according to the will of God.

(i) T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 65. 2.

Let seven men of his {d} sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up {e} unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

(d) Of Saul's kinsmen.

(e) To pacify the Lord.

6. seven men] A sacred number, for their execution was to be a solemn religious act of expiation.

we will hang them up] They were to be impaled or crucified, as a public exhibition of the punishment inflicted. In all probability they were put to death first. The practice corresponds to that of hanging a criminal’s body in chains on the scene of his crime, which was once common in England.

unto the Lord] For the punishment was demanded by divine justice. Cp. Numbers 25:4.

in Gibeah] The home of Saul was to be the scene of the punishment.

whom the Lord did choose] The exact title, the chosen of Jehovah, is nowhere else given to Saul, but is implied by 1 Samuel 10:24. That it should be thus used by his enemies is strange. Was it from a feeling that the fact of his divine election aggravated his guilt?

Verse 6. - We will hang them. The punishment indicated here really was impalement, but in Numbers 25:4, where the same verb is used, we find that the criminals were put to death first, and that the impalement was for the purpose of exposing their bodies to view, like the practice a century ago of gibbeting. But the Gibeonites were probably very barbarous, and, when David had delivered the seven lads into their hands, would perhaps wreak upon them a cruel vengeance. Seven were chosen, because it is the perfect number, with many religious associations; and unto the Lord means "publicly." So among the Romans sub Jove meant "in the open air" (comp. Numbers 25:4). In Gibeah. This was Saul's native place and home, and was selected by the Gibeonites as the spot where the bodies should be exposed, to add to the humiliation and shame of the fallen dynasty. Saul, whom the Lord did choose. If this reading is correct, the phrase can only be used as a taunt. But in ver. 9 we find bahar, "on the hill," instead of behir, "chosen," and the right reading probably is, "in Gibeah, or, the hill of Jehovah." 2 Samuel 21:6David granted the request, because, according to the law in Numbers 35:33, blood-guiltiness when resting upon the land could only be expiated by the blood of the criminal; but in delivering up the members of Saul's house for whom they asked, he spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, for the sake of the bond of friendship which he had formed with Jonathan on oath (1 Samuel 18:3; 1 Samuel 20:8, 1 Samuel 20:16), and gave up to the Gibeonites two sons of Rizpah, a concubine of Saul (vid., 2 Samuel 21:11 and 2 Samuel 3:7), and five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel of Meholah. The name of Michal, which stands in the text, is founded upon an error of memory or a copyist's mistake; for it was not Michal, but Merab, Saul's eldest daughter, who was given to Adriel the Meholathite as his wife (1 Samuel 18:19). The Gibeonites crucified those who were delivered up to them upon the mountain at Gibeah before Jehovah (see the remarks on 2 Samuel 21:6). "Thus fell seven at once." The Chethib שׁבעתים, at which the Masoretes took such offence that they wanted to change it into שׁבעתּם, is defended by Bttcher very properly, on the ground that the dual of the numeral denotes what is uniformly repeated as if by pairing; so that here it expresses what was extraordinary in the even tin a more pictorial manner than the Keri: "They fell sevenfold at once," i.e., seven in the same way. The further remark, "they were slain in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of the barley harvest," belongs to what follows, for which it prepares the way. The two Keris, והמּה for והם, and בּתחלּת for תּחלּת, are needless emendations. תּחלּת is an adverbial accusative (vid., Ges. 118, 2). The harvest began with the barley harvest, about the middle of Nisan, our April.
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