Death of Ishbaal. 1When Ishbaal, son of Saul, heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, he lost his resolve and all Israel was alarmed. 2Ishbaal, son of Saul, had two company leaders named Baanah and Rechab, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, of the tribe of Benjamin—Beeroth, too, was ascribed to Benjamin:a 3the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, where they have been resident aliens to this day.b 4(Jonathan, son of Saul, had a son with crippled feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; his nurse took him and fled, but in their hasty flight, he fell and became lame. His name was Meribbaal.)* c 5The sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, came into the house of Ishbaal during the heat of the day, while he was lying on his bed in the afternoon. 6The gatekeeper of the house had dozed off while sifting wheat, and was asleep. So Rechab and his brother Baanah slipped past her 7and entered the house while Ishbaal was lying asleep in his bedroom. They struck and killed him, and cut off his head. Then, taking the head, they traveled on the Arabah road all night long.
The Murder Avenged. 8They brought the head of Ishbaal to David in Hebron and said to the king: “This is the head of Ishbaal, son of your enemy Saul, who sought your life. Thus has the LORD this day avenged my lord the king on Saul and his posterity.” 9But David replied to Rechab and his brother Baanah, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite: “As the LORD lives, who rescued me from every distress: 10the man who reported to me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, that man I seized and killed in Ziglag: that was the reward I gave him.d 11How much more now, when wicked men have slain an innocent man in bed at home, must I require his blood from you and purge you from the land!” 12So at David’s command, the young men killed them and cut off their hands and feet, hanging them up near the pool in Hebron. But he took the head of Ishbaal and buried it in Abner’s grave in Hebron.e
* [4:4] Meribbaal: Hebrew has mephiboseth; see note on 2:8. His name, in fact, is Meribbaal; cf. 1 Chr 8:34; 9:40. He is the subject of chap. 9 below. The text of this verse may owe its present place to the fact that ancient copies of the Books of Samuel tended to confuse his name with that of his uncle Ishbaal, Saul’s son and successor, a principal figure in chaps. 2–4.
a. [4:2] 2 Sm 9:3; Jos 9:17–18.
d. [4:10] 2 Sm 1:6–10, 14, 16.
e. [4:12] Dt 21:22–23; 1 Sm 31:10.