2 Samuel 4
New English Translation
Ish Bosheth is killed
4 When Ish Bosheth[a] the son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he was very disheartened,[b] and all Israel was afraid. 2 Now Saul’s son[c] had two men who were in charge of raiding units; one was named Baanah and the other Recab. They were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, who was a Benjaminite. (Beeroth is regarded as belonging to Benjamin, 3 for the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have remained there as resident foreigners until the present time.)[d]
4 Now Saul’s son Jonathan had a son who was crippled in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan arrived from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but in her haste to get away, he fell and was injured.[e] Mephibosheth was his name.
5 Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite—Recab and Baanah—went at the hottest part of the day to the home of Ish Bosheth, as he was enjoying his midday rest. 6 They[f] entered the house under the pretense of getting wheat[g] and mortally wounded him[h] in the stomach. Then Recab and his brother Baanah escaped.
7 They had entered[i] the house while Ish Bosheth[j] was resting on his bed in his bedroom. They mortally wounded him[k] and then cut off his head.[l] Taking his head,[m] they traveled on the way of the rift valley[n] all that night. 8 They brought the head of Ish Bosheth to David in Hebron, saying to the king, “Look! The head of Ish Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who sought your life! The Lord has granted vengeance to my lord the king this day against[o] Saul and his descendants!”
9 David replied to Recab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered my life from all adversity, 10 when someone told me that Saul was dead—even though he thought he was bringing good news[p]—I seized him and killed him in Ziklag. That was the good news I gave to him! 11 Surely when wicked men have killed an innocent man as he slept[q] in his own house, should I not now require his blood from your hands and remove[r] you from the earth?”
12 So David issued orders to the soldiers and they put them to death. Then they cut off their hands and feet and hung them[s] near the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish Bosheth[t] and buried it in the tomb of Abner[u] in Hebron.[v]
- 2 Samuel 4:1 tn The MT does not specify the subject of the verb here, but the reference is to Ish Bosheth, so the name has been supplied in the translation for clarity. 4QSama and the LXX mistakenly read “Mephibosheth.”
- 2 Samuel 4:1 tn Heb “his hands went slack.”
- 2 Samuel 4:2 tc The present translation, “Saul’s son had two men,” is based on the reading “to the son of Saul,” rather than the MT’s “the son of Saul.” The context requires the preposition to indicate the family relationship.
- 2 Samuel 4:3 tn Heb “until this day.”
- 2 Samuel 4:4 tn Heb “and was lame.”
- 2 Samuel 4:6 tc For the MT’s וְהֵנָּה (vehennah, “and they,” feminine) read וְהִנֵּה (vehinneh, “and behold”). See the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Targum.
- 2 Samuel 4:6 tc The LXX (followed by NLT) reads, “behold the house doorkeeper was cleaning wheat and became drowsy and fell asleep and the brothers Rekcha and Baana avoided notice.” Josephus refers to the LXX with a slight expansion on the tradition in Ant. 7:48. The last sentence appears to follow the Hebrew MT, although understanding the final verb נִמְלָטוּ (nimlatu; Niphal of מָלַט, malat) “to escape” as “escaping notice” is without parallel. The beginning of the verse in the LXX shares at least the words “midst of house” and “wheat” with the Hebrew MT. What sort of textual corruption through common scribal copying errors could lead to the different texts is unclear.tn Heb “taking wheat.” The reference to getting wheat is obscure and traditionally inferred to mean that they came under the pretense of obtaining wheat (KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, Holman). However the plausibility of this scenario is not culturally certain.
- 2 Samuel 4:6 tn Heb “and they struck him down.”
- 2 Samuel 4:7 tn After the concluding disjunctive clause at the end of v. 6, the author now begins a more detailed account of the murder and its aftermath.
- 2 Samuel 4:7 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Ish Bosheth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Samuel 4:7 tn Heb “they struck him down and killed him.” The expression is a verbal hendiadys.
- 2 Samuel 4:7 tn Heb “and they removed his head.” The Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate lack these words.
- 2 Samuel 4:7 tc The Lucianic Greek recension lacks the words “his head.”
- 2 Samuel 4:7 sn The rift valley is a large geographic feature extending form Galilee to the gulf of Aqaba. The portion in view here runs along the west of the Dead Sea.
- 2 Samuel 4:8 tn Heb “from.”
- 2 Samuel 4:10 tn Heb “and he was like a bearer of good news in his eyes.”
- 2 Samuel 4:11 tn Heb “on his bed.”
- 2 Samuel 4:11 tn See HALOT 146 s.v. II בער. Some derive the verb from a homonym meaning “to burn; to consume.”
- 2 Samuel 4:12 tn The antecedent of the pronoun “them” (which is not present in the Hebrew text, but implied) is not entirely clear. Presumably it is the corpses that were hung and not merely the detached hands and feet; cf. NIV “hung the (their NRSV, NLT) bodies”; the alternative is represented by TEV “cut off their hands and feet, which they hung up.”
- 2 Samuel 4:12 tc 4QSama mistakenly reads “Mephibosheth” here.
- 2 Samuel 4:12 tc The LXX adds “the son of Ner” by conformity with common phraseology elsewhere.
- 2 Samuel 4:12 tc Some mss of the LXX lack the phrase “in Hebron.”