2 Samuel 20

Sheba’s Revolt

There happened to be there [a]a worthless and wicked man named Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. He blew a trumpet [to call Israel to revolt] and said,

“We have no portion in David
And no inheritance in the son of Jesse,
Every man to his tents, O Israel!”

So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah stayed faithfully with their king, from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

Then David came to his house (palace) at Jerusalem, and the king took the ten women, his [b]concubines whom he had left to take care of the house, and placed them under guard and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were confined, and lived as widows until the day of their death.

Now the king said to Amasa [the commander of his army], “Summon the [fighting] men of Judah to me within three days, and be present here yourself.” So Amasa went to summon [the fighting men of] Judah, but he delayed longer than the time which David had set for him. And David said to Abishai [his nephew], “Now Sheba the son of Bichri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your lord’s servants and pursue him, so that he does not find fortified cities for himself and [c]escape from our sight.” So Joab’s men went after him, along with [David’s bodyguards] the Cherethites and Pelethites and all the warriors; they went out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri. When they were at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Now Joab was wearing his military uniform, and over it he had a belt with a sheathed sword strapped around his hips; and as he went forward, [d]it fell out. Joab said to Amasa, “Is it going well with you, my [e]brother?” And with his right hand Joab took hold of Amasa by the beard [as if] to kiss him [in greeting].

Amasa Murdered

But Amasa [who had replaced Joab as David’s commander] was off guard and not attentive to the sword in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck Amasa in the abdomen with the sword, spilling his intestines to the ground. Without another blow Amasa died. Then Joab and Abishai his brother pursued Sheba the son of Bichri. Now one of Joab’s young men stood by him and said, “Whoever favors Joab and is for David, let him follow Joab!” But Amasa was wallowing in his blood in the middle of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people who came by stopped [to look], he moved Amasa from the highway into the field and threw a garment over him when he saw that everyone who came by Amasa stopped.

Revolt Put Down

When [the body of] Amasa was removed from the highway, everyone followed after Joab to pursue Sheba the son of Bichri.

Now Joab went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel, even Beth-maacah, and all the Berites; and they assembled and also went after Sheba. And [f]the army of Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth-maacah, and they built up an [g]assault ramp against the city, and it stood against the outer rampart; and all the people who were with Joab were wreaking destruction to make the wall fall. Then a wise woman cried out from the city, “Hear, hear! Tell Joab, ‘Come here so that I may speak to you.’” So when he approached her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your maidservant.” He answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “In the past people used to say, ‘They will certainly ask advice at Abel,’ and so they settled the dispute. I am one of the peaceable and faithful in Israel. You are seeking to destroy a city, and a mother in Israel. Why would you swallow up (devour) the inheritance of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it, far be it from me that I would swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has lifted up his hand [in rebellion] against King David. Only hand him over, and I will leave the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people [to inform them of the agreement]. And they beheaded Sheba the son of Bichri and threw his head [down] to Joab. So he blew the trumpet [signaling the end of the attack], and they dispersed from the city, every man to his own tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to [David] the king.

Now Joab was [commander] over the entire army of Israel; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was [commander] over the Cherethites and Pelethites [the king’s bodyguards]; Adoram was over the forced labor; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Sheva was the scribe; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; also Ira the Jairite was a priest to David.

  1. 2 Samuel 20:1 Lit a son of Belial.
  2. 2 Samuel 20:3 See note Gen 22:24.
  3. 2 Samuel 20:6 Lit pull out our eyes.
  4. 2 Samuel 20:8 Most likely a feigned “accident” so Joab could strike Amasa before he was on guard.
  5. 2 Samuel 20:9 Joab and Amasa were actually related as cousins.
  6. 2 Samuel 20:15 Lit they.
  7. 2 Samuel 20:15 Probably the most famous example of this was the huge ramp built against Masada by the Romans, which still stands.

Read More of 2 Samuel 20

2 Samuel 21

Gibeonite Revenge

There was famine in the days of David for three consecutive years; and David sought the presence (face) of the Lord [asking the reason]. The Lord replied, “It is because of Saul and his bloody house, because [a]he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons (descendants) of Israel but of the remnant (survivors) of the Amorites. The Israelites had sworn [an oath] to [spare] them, but Saul in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah had sought to strike down the Gibeonites). So David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? How can I make it good so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance (Israel)?” The Gibeonites said to him, “We will not accept silver or gold belonging to Saul or his household (descendants); nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” David said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to exterminate us from remaining in any territory of Israel, let seven men [chosen] from his sons (descendants) be given to us and we will hang them before the Lord [that is, put them on display, impaled with broken legs and arms] in [b]Gibeah of Saul, the chosen one of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

But the king spared Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that was between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons of [c]Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the Lord, and the seven died together. They were put to death in the first days of the grain harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest [in the spring].

Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest [in the spring] until [the autumn] rain fell on them; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on their bodies by day, nor the beasts of the field [to feed on them] by night. David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the [d]concubine of Saul, had done. Then David went and took the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day when the Philistines had killed Saul in Gilboa. He brought up the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son from there, and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged [with their arms and legs broken]. They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father; and they did all that the king commanded. After that, God was moved by prayer for the land.

Now the Philistines were at war again with Israel. David went down with his servants, and as they fought against the Philistines, David became weary. Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant, the weight of whose spear was three hundred shekels (six pounds) of bronze, was armed with a new sword, and he intended to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to David’s aid, and struck and killed the Philistine. Then David’s men swore to him, “You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel.”

After this, there was war again with the Philistines at Gob (Gezer). At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph (Sippai), who was among the descendants of the giant. There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, whose spear shaft was like a weaver’s beam. There was war at Gath again, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he also was a descendant of the giants. And when he taunted and defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, killed him. These four [warriors] were descended from the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hands of David and his servants.

  1. 2 Samuel 21:1 There is no more information about this elsewhere. The Gibeonites had tricked Israel into making a treaty with them (Josh 9:3-15) and Saul apparently tried to exterminate them to right the original wrong perpetrated by them against Israel (cf v 2).
  2. 2 Samuel 21:6 Saul’s home had been in Gibeah (1 Sam 10:26).
  3. 2 Samuel 21:8 So Greek and some Hebrew mss; MT has Michal.
  4. 2 Samuel 21:11 See note Gen 22:24.

Read More of 2 Samuel 21