2 Samuel 4
Death of Saul’s family dynasty
Ishbosheth’s two commanders1News of Abner’s death stunned the people of Israel and terrified Ishbosheth.
2Saul’s son had two raiding parties. A pair of brothers commanded them: Baanah and Rechab. The men came from Beeroth,  a city considered part of Benjamin’s tribe. 3Original citizens of Beeroth fled earlier to Gittaim.  That’s where they live today, as foreigners.
4Saul’s son Jonathan had a young boy who couldn’t walk. The son, named Mephibosheth, was five years old when his father and grandfather died in battle. When the boy’s nurse got that news, in her panic to escape the enemy, she dropped him. He couldn’t walk right after that.
Ishbosheth’s last seista5One hot day about noon, the brothers Baanah and Rechab went into Ishbosheth’s house while he was resting. 6They said they were coming for some wheat supplies. But they stabbed Ishbosheth in the abdomen and ran away. 7They snuck into his bedroom while he was sleeping, stabbed him to death, hacked off his head, and ran away with it. They walked south along the Jordan River Valley all night. 8They took the head of Ishbosheth to David in Hebron. They told him, “This is the head of your enemy, Ishbosheth, the son of Saul who tried to kill you. Today the LORD is giving you justice for what Saul and his family did to you.”
9David told Rechab and Baanah, sons of Rimmon from Beeroth, “As God is my witness—the same God who saved me from every danger I’ve faced— 10I killed the man who told me Saul was dead. He came to me in Ziklag to deliver what he thought was welcome news. I welcomed him to death. That was his reward. 11I’m going to do more than that to you, a couple of men evil enough to assassinate a good man sleeping at home in his own bed. You’ll pay for that with your blood and your death.”
12David ordered his men to kill the two, cut off their hands and feet, and hang their bodies by the Hebron pool so everyone could see them. David’s men buried Ishbosheth’s head in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.
The people of Beeroth, some scholars say, were likely not the original Canaanites, but Israelites who had moved into the city. That would mean Baanah and Rechab were Israelites of Benjamin’s tribe and not Canaanites from a town annexed by Benjamin. Centuries earlier, Beeroth was one of four cities of Gibeon that had tricked Joshua into making a peace treaty with them. The location of Beeroth is uncertain, but likely near Gibeon. Original citizens of the town were among the people Saul tried to wipe out, in spite of the ancient treaty (2 Samuel 21:1-9). Survivors later convinced King David to give them revenge and let them kill everyone in Saul’s family except Jonathan’s son, a crippled boy named Mephibosheth. As a cripple, he was no threat to becoming king. People considered him unfit.
Gittaim’s location remains uncertain. The name means “two winepresses,” which is double the meaning of “Gath.” One guess is a town in Philistine territory, about five miles (8 km) northeast of the Philistine town of Ekron. It was called Gath but wasn’t the large Philistine town of Gath. “Gath” was a common name for a town, often half the name, as in Gath-Rimmon (Joshua 19:45). Some say Gittaim may have been Gath-Rimmon.
It’s unclear why David cut off the hands and feet of the men’s bodies. People in ancient times occasionally cut off the hands and feet of living people, to disable them and force them to live in misery. But here, cutting off the hands and feet of the dead may have been to simply show contempt for two dishonorable human beings.
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