2 Samuel 21:8
But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
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(8) Took the two sons of Rizpah.—The suggestion that David took advantage of this opportunity to strengthen himself further against the house of Saul is utterly set aside by two considerations: (1) David could not lawfully refuse the demand of the Gibeonites, since the Law absolutely required that blood-guiltiness should be expiated by the blood of the offender (Numbers 35:33), which, in this case, became that of his representatives; and (2) David’s choice of victims was directly opposed to such a supposition. He spared, for Jonathan’s sake, the only descendants of Saul in the male line, who only could have advanced any claim to the throne, and took (1) the two sons of Rizpah, a concubine of Saul, with whom Abner had committed adultery (2Samuel 3:7), and (2) five sons of Saul’s eldest daughter Merab, who had been promised in marriage to David himself, and then given to another (1Samuel 18:17-19). The text has Michal instead of Merab; but this must be an error of the scribe, since it was Merab, not Michal, who was married to “Adriel the Meholathite” (1Samuel 18:19), and Michal was childless (2Samuel 6:23). The English phrase “brought up for” is taken from the Chaldee; the Hebrew, as noted in the margin, is bare to.

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.Rizpah - See the marginal reference. A foreign origin was possibly the cause of the selection of Rizpah's sons as victims.

Sons of Michal - An obvious error for "Merab" (1 Samuel 18:19 note).

8. the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel—Merab, Michal's sister, was the wife of Adriel; but Michal adopted and brought up the boys under her care. Rizpah; Saul’s concubine, 2 Samuel 21:11 2 Samuel 3:7.

The five sons of Michal, or, of Michal’s sister, to wit, Merab; for Michal had no children, 2 Samuel 6:23, nor was she married to this Adriel, but to Phalti, or Phaltiel, the son of Laish, 1 Samuel 25:44 2 Samuel 3:15; and Merab her sister was married to this very Adriel the Meholathite, 1 Samuel 18:19. And it must be remembered, that the Hebrew language is very short, and full of ellipses or defects of words, which yet may be easily understood from the sense. Particularly relative words are oft lacking, and to be supplied; as Goliath is put for Goliath’s brother, here, 2 Samuel 21:19, and uncle for uncle’s son, Jeremiah 32:7,12. Or, the sons of Merab are called the sons of Michal, to wit, by adoption; or, the near kindred and next heirs of Michal, and brought up by her; for upon that and such-like accounts the title of son is oft given in Scripture, as Genesis 48:5 Exodus 2:10 Deu 25:5,6 Rth 1:11,12 4:17.

Quest. But why then are not these called the sons of Merab?

Answ. Because they were better known by their relation to Michal, who was David’s wife, and, it may be, alive at this time, and having no children of her own, took these, and bred them up as her own; when Merab was now a more obscure person, and possibly dead many years before this.

Whom she brought up; for so this Hebrew verb, which primarily and properly signifies to bear, is sometimes used, as Genesis 1:23 Ruth 4:17, because the education of children is a kind of bearing of them, as requiring frequently no less care and pains than the bearing doth; whence it is that nurses are reputed as mothers, and sometimes go under that name both in sacred and profane writers. See Ruth 4:16,17; and compare Genesis 16:2 30:3 Numbers 11:12 Galatians 4:19.

The Meholathite; of Abel-meholah in the tribe of Benjamin, Judges 7:22; so he is here called by way of distinction from Barzillai the Gileadite, 2 Samuel 19:31.

But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah,.... Saul's concubine, 2 Samuel 3:7,

whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; of whom we read nowhere else; after the name of the latter, it is probable, Jonathan's son was called, before mentioned:

and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; Michal had no children to the day of her death, nor was she the wife of Adriel, but Merab her sister, 1 Samuel 18:19; wherefore these sons were not whom she "bare", as the word used signifies, but, as we rightly render it, whom she "brought up" or educated, so the Targum, her sister being dead; and so the Jews say (k), Merab brought them forth, and Michal brought them up, therefore they were called by her name; or the words may be supplied thus, "and the five sons of the sister of Michal", and, as in 2 Samuel 21:19, is supplied, "the brother of Goliath". Barzillai is here called the Meholathite, to distinguish him from Barzillai the Gileadite, spoken of in a former chapter, see 2 Samuel 17:27.

(k) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 2.

But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of {f} Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

(f) Here Michal is named for Merab Adriel's wife, as it appears in 1Sa 18:19 for Michal was the wife of Paltiel, 1Sa 25:44 and never had a child 2Sa 6:23.

8. the five sons of Michal … whom she brought up for Adriel] The Heb. text can only mean whom she bare to Adriel. But it was Merab, not Michal, who was married to Adriel (1 Samuel 18:19). Consequently we must either read Merab for Michal, or take the explanation given in the Targum and adopted by the E. V.: “the five sons of Merab, (whom Michal the daughter of Saul brought up), whom she bare to Adriel.”

the Meholathite] Of Abel-Meholah, a town in the Jordan valley near Beth-shan, famous as the birth-place of Elisha (1 Kings 19:16).

Verse 8. - Michal. It was Merab who became the wife of Adriel the Meholathite (1 Samuel 18:19). Michal was childless (see 2 Samuel 6:23). Whom she brought up for. This is one of the many cases of untrustworthiness in the renderings of the Authorized Version. We have noticed a very flagrant instance before in 2 Samuel 5:21. The object of these mistranslations is always the same, namely, to remove some verbal discrepancy in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew says here "five sons of Michal, whom she bare to Adriel;" but Michal never bore a child, therefore something must be substituted which will save the Hebrew from this verbal inaccuracy, and Michal must be represented as having taken Merab's place (perhaps at her death), and been foster mother to her children. This explanation is, it is true, taken from the Jewish Targum; but the Targum never professes to be an exact translation, and constantly perverts the meaning of the plainest passages for preconceived reasons. 2 Samuel 21:8David 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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