21:1 During David’s reign there was a famine for three consecutive years. So David inquired of the Lord.1 The Lord said, “It is because of Saul and his bloodstained family,2 because he murdered the Gibeonites.”
21:2 So the king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke with them. (Now the Gibeonites were not descendants of Israel; they were a remnant of the Amorites. The Israelites had made a promise to3 them, but Saul tried to kill them because of his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah.) 21:3 David said to the Gibeonites, “What can I do for you, and how can I make amends so that you will bless4 the Lord’s inheritance?”
21:4 The Gibeonites said to him, “We5 have no claim to silver or gold from Saul or from his family,6 nor would we be justified in putting to death anyone in Israel.” David asked,7 “What then are you asking me to do for you?” 21:5 They replied to the king, “As for this man who exterminated us and who schemed against us so that we were destroyed and left without status throughout all the borders of Israel—21:6 let seven of his male descendants be turned over to us, and we will execute8 them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, who was the Lord’s chosen one.”9 The king replied, “I will turn them over.”
21:7 The king had mercy on Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, in light of the Lord’s oath that had been taken between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 21:8 So the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab10 whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 21:9 He turned them over to the Gibeonites, and they executed them on a hill before the Lord. The seven of them11 died12 together; they were put to death during harvest time—during the first days of the beginning13 of the barley harvest.
21:10 Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest until the rain fell on them,14 she did not allow the birds of the air to feed15 on them by day, nor the wild animals16 by night. 21:11 When David was told what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 21:12 he17 went and took the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan18 from the leaders19 of Jabesh Gilead. (They had secretly taken20 them from the plaza at Beth Shan. It was there that Philistines21 publicly exposed their corpses22 after23 they24 had killed Saul at Gilboa.) 21:13 David25 brought the bones of Saul and of Jonathan his son from there; they also gathered up the bones of those who had been executed.
21:14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin at Zela in the grave of his father Kish. After they had done everything26 that the king had commanded, God responded to their prayers27 for the land.
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