2 Samuel 21:9
And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.
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(9) The beginning of barley harvest.—This was immediately after the Passover (Leviticus 23:10-11), and therefore about the middle of April. The rains of autumn began in October, so that Rizpah’s watch must have been about six months. She spread the sackcloth as a tent to form a rough shelter during the long watch. For water dropped read water poured, the word being used for melting, flowing, and hence for heavy rain. It was not until these rains began (which may probably have been somewhat earlier than usual) that the people were assured of the Divine forgiveness, and therefore the bodies of the executed were left unburied until then.

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.In the first days - The barley harvest (about the middle or toward the end of April) was earlier than the wheat harvest Exodus 9:31; Ruth 1:22. 9. they hanged them in the hill before the Lord—Deeming themselves not bound by the criminal law of Israel (De 21:22, 23), their intention was to let the bodies hang until God, propitiated by this offering, should send rain upon the land, for the want of it had occasioned the famine. It was a heathen practice to gibbet men with a view of appeasing the anger of the gods in seasons of famine, and the Gibeonites, who were a remnant of the Amorites (2Sa 21:2), though brought to the knowledge of the true God, were not, it seems, free from this superstition. God, in His providence, suffered the Gibeonites to ask and inflict so barbarous a retaliation, in order that the oppressed Gibeonites might obtain justice and some reparation of their wrongs, especially that the scandal brought on the name of the true religion by the violation of a solemn national compact might be wiped away from Israel, and that a memorable lesson should be given to respect treaties and oaths. He delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites.

Quest. How could David do this, when he had sworn that he would not cut off Saul’s seed, 1 Samuel 24:21,22?

Answ. Because he had special warrant and direction from God about it, who, as all confess, can dispense with men’s oaths and with his own laws when he sees fit. And that he did so here is manifest, because God was pleased with it, and removed the judgment upon it; whereas otherwise David had been guilty of the same sin with Saul, to wit, of the breach of his oath and covenant, for which this famine was inflicted.

See Poole "1 Samuel 24:22".

In the hill, or, in a hill, in or near Gibeah; in a conspicuous place, for their greater infamy, and for the caution and terror of others who should make any attempt upon the Gibeonites for the future.

Before the Lord; as a sacrifice offered up to God to appease his wrath; or, unto the Lord, as was said, 2 Samuel 21:6.

They fell, i.e. died; for so the word to fall is oft used, as Exodus 19:21 1 Chronicles 21:14 Psalm 91:7 Jeremiah 39:18 Hosea 5:5; or were executed. The barley harvest was before the wheat harvest.

And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites,.... The two sons of Rizpah and the five sons of Merab, two sons of Saul and five grandsons:

and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord; in the hill at Gibeah, that they might be seen by all that passed by, and serve to deter from such evils, which brought on them that punishment; gibbetings or crucifixions were commonly made on hills and mountains (l): the phrase, "before the Lord", is either the same as "unto the Lord", 2 Samuel 21:6; to make atonement to the Lord, and in his sight; or it denotes that it was done publicly before the sun, and in the sight of it; for it cannot mean before the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence, for that was not there:

and they fell all seven together; they were hanged together, and died at one and the same time:

and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest; which began at the passover, the morrow after the first day of the feast, Leviticus 23:10; which was the sixteenth of Nisan, on which day, the Jews say (m), these men were hanged, and which must be about the beginning of our April.

(l) Vid. Lipsium de Cruce, l. 3. c. 13. (m) Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 190. 1.

And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the {g} first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

(g) Which was in the month Abib or Nisan which contained part of March and part of April.

9. in the first days] Barley harvest preceded wheat harvest, and began about the middle or end of April. Cp. Exodus 9:31-32; Ruth 1:22; Ruth 2:23.

Verse 9. - The beginning of barley harvest. The barley became ripe in April, about the time of the Passover (Deuteronomy 16:9). The wheat was not. ripe till Pentecost. 2 Samuel 21:9David 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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