Rizpah

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Rizpah ("coal", "hot stone") was the daughter of Aiah, and one of Saul's concubines. She was the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 3:7; 21:8-11).

After the death of Saul, Abner took her as wife, resulting in a quarrel between him and Saul's son and successor, Ishbosheth. (2 Samuel 3:7-8) The quarrel led to Abner's going over to the side of David, (2 Samuel 3:17-21) who was then king of the breakaway Kingdom of Judah. This incident led to the downfall of Ishbosheth and the rise of David as king of a reunited Kingdom of Israel.

A famine lasting three years hit Israel during the earlier half of David's reign at Jerusalem. This calamity was believed to have happened because of "Saul and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." The Gibeonites were not Israelites, but the remnant of the Amorites, which Saul pursued from within Israel. David inquired of the Gibeonites what satisfaction they demanded, and was answered that nothing would compensate for the wrong Saul had done to them but the death of seven of Saul's sons.(2 Samuel 21:1-6)

David accordingly delivered up to them the two sons of Rizpah and five of the sons of Merab, Saul's eldest daughter, whom she bore to Adriel. These the Gibeonites put to death, and hung up their bodies at the sanctuary at Gibeah. (2 Samuel 21:8-9) Rizpah thereupon took her place on the rock of Gibeah, and for five months watched the suspended bodies of her children, to prevent them from being devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, (2 Samuel 21:10) till they were at length taken down and buried by David.(2 Samuel 21:13)

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.

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