2 Samuel 21:1-14

2 Samuel 21:1-14
A Women’s Lectionary – Proper 24


Now there wasI a famineII in the daysIII of DavidIV for threeV years,VI year afterVII year,

Notes on verse 1a

I “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
II “famine” = raab. From raeb (to be hungry). This is hunger, death, or hunger from famine.
III “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
IV “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
V “three” = shalosh. This is three, fork, three times.
VI “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
VII “after” = achar. From achar (to remain behind, linger, continue, be behind, or delay; can also imply procrastination). This is after or the last part, following.

and David inquiredVIII ofIX the Lord.X

Notes on verse 1b

VIII “inquired” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
IX {untranslated} = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
X “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “was” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note I above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

The Lord said, “There is bloodguiltXI on SaulXII and on his houseXIII because he put the GibeonitesXIV to death.”XV 

Notes on verse 1c

XI “bloodguilt” = dam. Perhaps from damam (to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, die). This is blood, bloodshed, bloodguilt, lifeblood, and death. It is used for people and animals. More often blood from a wound or the blood of the innocent. Used figuratively for violence or for wine. Closely tied to life and death.
XII “Saul” = Shaul. From shaal (to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request; can also mean demand). This is Saul or Shaul, meaning “asked of the Lord.”
XIII “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XIV “Gibeonites” = Giboni. 8x in OT. From Gibon (Gibeon or Gibon, meaning hilly); from the same as Geba (Geba or Gibeah; hillock); from the same as gabia (cup, bowl, flower; root might mean being convex). This is Gibeonite.
XV “put…to death” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

So the kingXVI calledXVII the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not of the peopleXVIII of IsraelXIX

Notes on verse 2a

XVI “king” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.
XVII “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XVIII “people” = ben. Literally, “children.” Related to “house” in v1. From banah (see note XIII above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
XIX “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

but of the remnantXX of the Amorites;XXI although the people of Israel had sworn to spareXXII them,

Notes on verse 2b

XX “remnant” = yether. From yathar (to jut over, remain behind, preserve, to excel). This is a remainder or excess. It can imply abundant or superiority. Additionally, it can be cord a free-hanging rope.
XXI “Amorites” = Emori. From amar (to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report). This is Amorite or Emori, perhaps meaning talkers.
XXII “sworn to spare” = shaba. Perhaps from sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is to swear, curse, vow, make a covenant. Properly, it can mean to be complete. This is to seven oneself – as in affirming something so strongly it is as though it were said seven times.

Saul had triedXXIII to wipe them outXXIV in his zealXXV for the people of Israel and Judah.)XXVI 

Notes on verse 2c

XXIII “tried” = baqash. Same as “inquired” in v1. See note VIII above.
XXIV “wipe…out” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
XXV “zeal” = qanah. From qinah (zeal, jealousy). This is to be zealous or to provoke to jealousy.
XXVI “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”

David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I doXXVII for you? How shall I make expiation,XXVIII that you may blessXXIX the heritageXXX of the Lord?” 

Notes on verse 3

XXVII “do” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XXVIII “make expiation” = kaphar. This is to appease, cover, pacify, cancel, make atonement, placate. Specifically, it can mean to cover with bitumen.
XXIX “bless” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
XXX “heritage” = nachalah. Related to nachal (to inherit, occupy, distribute, take as heritage). This is properly something that was inherited. It can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate. This can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion.

The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silverXXXI or goldXXXII between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put anyoneXXXIII to death in Israel.”

He said, “What do you say that I should do for you?” 

They said to the king, “The manXXXIV who consumedXXXV us and plannedXXXVI to destroyXXXVII us

Notes on verses 4-5a

XXXI “silver” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
XXXII “gold” = zahab. Root may mean to shimmer. This is gold or something that has the color of gold like oil. It can also refer to a clear sky – to good weather.
XXXIII “anyone” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
XXXIV “man” = ish. Same as “anyone” in v4. See note XXXIII above.
XXXV “consumed” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
XXXVI “planned” = damah. This is to be like, resemble, devise. It can be to think using analogies.
XXXVII “destroy” = shamad. This is to demolish, destroy, perish, overthrow, pluck down.

so that we should have no placeXXXVIII in allXXXIX the territoryXL of Israel, let sevenXLI, XLII of his sonsXLIII

Notes on verses 5b-6a

XXXVIII “have…place” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.
XXXIX “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XL “territory” = gebul. Perhaps from gabal (to border, twist like rope). This is boundary, limit, coast, space. Properly, it is a line that is twisted, which implies a boundary and, by extension, the boundaries of a territory or other enclosed space.
XLI “seven” = sheba. Related to “sworn to spare” in v2. See note XXII above.
XLII {untranslated} = ish. Same as “anyone” in v4. See note XXXIII above.
XLIII “sons” = ben. Same as “people” in v2. See note XVIII above.

be handed overXLIV to us, and we will impaleXLV them before the Lord at GibeonXLVI, XLVII on the mountain of the Lord.” 

The king said, “I will hand them over.”

Notes on verse 6b

XLIV “handed over” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XLV “impale” = yaqa. 8x in OT. This is dislocated, severed, alienated, or figuratively abandoned. It can also mean rotting, which causes pieces to drop off bit by bit.
XLVI “Gibeon” = Gibah. Related to “Gibeonites” in v1. From the same as geba (see note XIV above). This is Gibeah or Gibeon, meaning “hill.”
XLVII Some manuscripts add, “of Saul, the chosen by the Lord” = Shaul + bachir + YHVH. Bachir is from bachar (to choose, appoint, try, excellent). This is chosen or choice. So, it implies excellence.

But the king sparedXLVIII Mephibosheth,XLIX, L the son of Saul’s son Jonathan,LI

Notes on verse 7a

XLVIII “spared” = chamal. This is to spare, commiserate, show compassion.
XLIX “Mephibosheth” = Mephibosheth. 15x in OT. From paah (to cut in pieces, scatter, blow away) + bosheth (shame as a feeling and a thing that creates shame; humiliation, confusion, or an idol); {from bosh (properly, to be pale, which implies shame, disappointment, or confusion)}. This is Mephibosheth, meaning “dispeller of shame” (a reference to Baal).
L {untranslated} = bosheth. Related to “Mephibosheth” in v7. See note XLIX above.
LI “Jonathan” = Yehonatan. Related to “was” and “Lord” in v1 & “handed over” in v6. From YHVH (see note X above) + natan (see note XLIV above). This is Jonathan or Jehonathan, meaning “the Lord has given.”

because of the oathLII of the Lord that was betweenLIII them, between David andLIV Jonathan son of Saul. The king tookLV the twoLVI sons

Notes on verses 7b-8a

LII “oath” = shebuah. Related to “sworn to spare” in v2 & “seven” in v6. From sheba (see note XXII above). This is oath or curse.
LIII “between” = bayin. From bin (to discern, consider, attend to; distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand). This is among, between, interval.
LIV {untranslated} = bayin. Same as “between” in v7. See note LIII above.
LV “took” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
LVI “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.

of RizpahLVII daughterLVIII of Aiah,LIX whom she boreLX to Saul, ArmoniLXI and Mephibosheth;

Notes on verse 8b

LVII “Rizpah” = Ritspah. 4x in OT. From the same as ritspah (live coal, glowing stone, patterned pavement); from retseph (coal; baking stone); from resheph (a flame, thunderbolt, spark, arrow, fever, plague; earliest sense a burning coal and all other senses derive from that by analogy); perhaps from saraph (to burn or kindle). This is Rizpah or Ritspah, meaning “pieced together” or “cooking stone” or “glowing coal.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Rizpah.html
LVIII “daughter” = bat. Related to “house” in v1 & “people” in v2. From ben (see note XVIII above). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
LIX “Aiah” = Ayyah. 6x in OT. From ayah (a large predatory bird like a hawk, falcon, or vulture); perhaps from iy (alas, woe); from oy (alas, woe, oh!); from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is Aiah, a name meaning “falcon.”
LX “bore” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
LXI “Armoni” = Armoni. 1x in OT. From the same as armon (any fortified building – castle, citadel, palace). This is Armoni, meaning “palatial.”

and the fiveLXII sons of MerabLXIII daughter of Saul, whom she bore to AdrielLXIV son of BarzillaiLXV the Meholathite;LXVI 

Notes on verse 8c

LXII “five” = chamesh. This is five or fifth.
LXIII “Merab” = Mikal. 18x in OT. Perhaps from the same as mikal (stream, container, brook); {from yakol (to be able, endure, overcome, prevail)} OR from mi (who) + k– (like) + el (God, a god). This is Michal, whose name may mean “rivulet” or “who is like God” or “what is like God?” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Michal.html
LXIV “Adriel” = Adriel. Related to “Israel” in v2. 2x in OT. From adar (to dig, help, keep rank; properly, to muster troops as for battle; to miss or lack since you can see who is missing following muster; to arrange like a vineyard and so to hoe) or eder (arrangement – of animals, a flock or herd); {from adar (fail, missing)} + el (see note XIX above). This is Adriel, meaning “my help is God” or “flock of God.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adriel.html
LXV “Barzillai” = Barzillay. 12x in OT. From barzel (iron as something used as a cutting implement; an ax head); from the same as Birzoth (a name meaning holes; root may mean to pierce). This is Barzillai or Barzillay, meaning “man of iron” or “iron-hearted” or “ironlike” or “Iron of the Lord.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Barzillai.html
LXVI “Meholathite” = Mecholathi. 2x in OT. Perhaps from Abel Mecholah (Abel-meholah or Abel Mecholah, meaning “meadow of dancing”); {from abel (meadow, plain – grassy) + mecholah (dancing, a company); {from machol (round dance); from chul (whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain; used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear; can also be falling in pain or waiting)} OR from machashabah (thought, scheme, imagination, purpose, or a plan either good or evil); from chashab (literally to weave; figuratively to think or plot something malicious). This is Meholathite, which is someone from Abel-meholah.

he gaveLXVII them into the handsLXVIII of the Gibeonites, and they impaled them on the mountainLXIX beforeLXX the Lord. The seven of them perishedLXXI together.LXXII

Notes on verse 9a

LXVII “gave” = natan. Same as “handed over” in v6. See note XLIV above.
LXVIII “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
LXIX “mountain” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
LXX “before” = paneh. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note IX above.
LXXI “perished” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
LXXII “together” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.

They were put to death in the firstLXXIII days of harvest,LXXIV at the beginningLXXV of barleyLXXVI harvest.

Notes on verse 9b

LXXIII “first” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.
LXXIV “harvest” = qatsiyr. From qatsar (to cut down, be short, reap, curtail; used especially for harvesting grass or grain; figuratively, to be discouraged or grieve). This is branch, harvest, one who harvests. Properly, this means severed, reaped. It is the crop being harvested, the time of harvest or the one who harvests. It can also be a bough.
LXXV “beginning” = techillah. From chalal (to pierce, which implies to wound; used figuratively for making someone or something profane or breaking your word; to begin as though one opened a wedge; to eat something as a common thing). This is beginning, first, previously.
LXXVI “barley” = seorah. From the same as sear (hair, hairy, rough); perhaps from sa’ar (to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, storm tossed; this is to toss in a literal or figurative sense). This is barley, perhaps as hairy.

10 Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackclothLXXVII and spreadLXXVIII it on a rockLXXIX for herself, from the beginning of harvest until rainLXXX fellLXXXI on them from the heavens;LXXXII

Notes on verse 10a

LXXVII “sackcloth” = saq. Perhaps from shaqaq (to run, rush; by implication having an appetite, seeking greedily). This is sack or sackcloth used as bags for grain and so on. Also worn during times or mourning or when seeking humility. The word “sack” in English is derived from this Semitic root.
LXXVIII “spread” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
LXXIX “rock” = tsur. From tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, stone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.
LXXX “rain” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
LXXXI “fell” = nathak. This is to pour out, melt, flow out, liquify. It can be to pour in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXII “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.

she did not allowLXXXIII the birdsLXXXIV of the airLXXXV to comeLXXXVI

Notes on verse 10b

LXXXIII “allow” = natan. Same as “handed over” in v6. See note XLIV above.
LXXXIV “birds” = oph. From uph (to fly, flee, shine, be weary, be faint). This is a flying creature.
LXXXV “air” = shamayim. Same as “heavens” in v10. See note LXXXII above.
LXXXVI “come” = nuach. This is to rest, calm, camp, free, place, remain, satisfy, settle, station, or wait. It is rest and so implies settling down in a literal or figurative sense. This is perhaps the root verb of the name “Noah.”

on the bodies by dayLXXXVII or the wildLXXXVIII animalsLXXXIX by night.XC 

Notes on verse 10c

LXXXVII “day” = yomam. Related to “days” in v1. From yom (see note III above). Root may mean to be hot. So, this is day as the hours that are hot. This can be daytime in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXVIII “wild” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
LXXXIX “animals” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
XC “night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.

11 When David was toldXCI what Rizpah daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 David wentXCII and took the bonesXCIII of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the peopleXCIV of Jabesh-gilead,XCV

Notes on verses 11-12a

XCI “told” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
XCII “went” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XCIII “bones” = etsem. From atsam (vast, numerous, strong; to close one’s eyes, to make powerful; to break bones). This is self, life, strength, bone, or substance.
XCIV “people” = baal. From baal (to marry, have dominion, be master). This is lord, owner, ally, master, or archer.
XCV “Jabesh-gilead” = Yabesh gilad. From Yabesh (Jabes or Yabesh); {from yabesh (to be dry, withered, confused, or ashamed; to fail)} + gilad (Gilead, meaning “perpetual fountain” or “heap of testimony”); {from gala (to lay bare, quarrel, expose) OR from gal’ed (heap of testimony); {from gal (wave, billow, rock pile; something rolled; a spring of water); {from galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense)} + ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve)}}}. This is Jabesh-gilead, meaning “dry” or “arid” and “perpetual fountain” or “heap of testimony.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Gilead.html#.Xw_EFShKhPY. & https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jabesh.html

who had stolenXCVI them from the public squareXCVII of Beth-shan,XCVIII

Notes on verse 12b

XCVI “stolen” = ganab. This is to steal in a stealthy way rather than through violence. It can also mean to deceive. There is a Yiddish word ganef that derives from this root. It means thief or scoundrel.
XCVII “public square” = rechob. From rachab (to grow wide or enlarge in a literal or figurative sense; extend, relieve, rejoice, or speak boldly). This is a wide, open place like a plaza, square, or avenue.
XCVIII “Beth-shan” = Beth Shean. Related to “house” in v1 & “people” in v2 & “daughter” in v8. 9x in OT. From bayit (see note XIII above) + shaan (to rest, be quiet, be peaceful) OR from bayit (see above) + shaman (to sharpen). This is Beth-shean or Beth-shan, meaning “place of quiet” or “house of ease” or “house of security” or “house of perpetuity” or “house of sharpness” or “house of the tooth.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Beth-shan.html

where the PhilistinesXCIX had hung them up,C on the day the Philistines killedCI Saul on Gilboa.CII 

Notes on verse 12c

XCIX “Philistine” = Pelishti. From Pelesheth (Philistia); from palash (to mourn, wallow, maybe roll in). This is Philistines. Their name may mean “griever” or “burrower” or “weakener.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Philistine.html.
C “hung…up” = talah. This is to hang or suspend. It can also be used for hanging someone on gallows.
CI “killed” = nakah. Same as “wipe…out” in v2. See note XXIV above.
CII “Gilboa” = Gilboa. Related to “Gilead” in v12. 8x in OT. Perhaps from gal (see note XCV above). This is Gilboa, a mountain whose name may mean “fountain of ebullition.”

13 He brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan, and they gatheredCIII the bones of those who had been impaled. 14 They buriedCIV the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan in the landCV of BenjaminCVI in Zela,CVII

Notes on verses 13-14a

CIII “gathered” = asaph. This is to gather, assemble, or bring. It can also mean to take away, destroy, or remove.
CIV “buried” = qabar. This is to bury or inter. It could also refer to the person who does the burying.
CV “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
CVI “Benjamin” = Binyamin. Related to “house” in v1 & “people” in v2 & “daughter” in v8 & “Beth-shan” in v12. From ben (see note XVIII above) + from yamin (right hand or side; that which is stronger or more agile; the south); {perhaps yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm)}. This is Benjamin, meaning “son of the right hand.” It could refer to Benjamin himself, his offspring, their tribe, or their territory.
CVII “Zela” = Tsela. 2x in OT. From the same as tsela (rib, side, leaf, plank, side of a person or object; quarter of the sky); perhaps from tsala (to limp, be lame). This is Zela, Zelah, or Tsela, meaning “leaning” or “buttress” or “rib” or “side.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Zelah.html

in the tombCVIII of his fatherCIX Kish;CX they did all that the king commanded.CXI

Notes on verse 14b

CVIII “tomb” = qeber. Related to “buried” in v14. From qabar (see note CIV above). This is a place where one is buried such as a grave or tomb.
CIX “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
CX “Kish” = Qish. Perhaps from qush (to set a trap, lure, ensnare); perhaps from yaqosh (to set a snare in a literal or figurative sense; a fowler). This is Kish or Qish, meaning “a bow” or “snaring” or “bird catcher.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Kish.html
CXI “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

After that,CXII GodCXIII heeded supplicationsCXIV for the land.

Notes on verse 14c

CXII “that” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
CXIII “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v2. See note XIX above.
CXIV “heeded supplications” = athar. This is to pray or entreat. It could mean burning incense as one does as part of worship or to intercede. It could also mean listening to or being moved by prayer.

Image credit: “Sleeping Nymph” by Alphonse Osbert, 1905.

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