Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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At first glance, I wouldn't call this a sacrifice - seven of Saul's sons/grandsons were executed.2 Samuel 21:1 There was a famine during the reign of David, year after year for three years. David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD replied, "It is because of the bloodguilt of Saul and his house, for he put some Gibeonites to death."
2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. -- Now the Gibeonites were not of Israelite stock, but a remnant of the Amorites, to whom the Israelites had given an oath; and Saul had tried to wipe them out in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. --
3 David asked the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? How shall I make expiation, so that you may bless the LORD's own people?"
4 The Gibeonites answered him, "We have no claim for silver or gold against Saul and his household; and we have no claim on the life of any other man in Israel." And David responded, "Whatever you say I will do for you."
5 Thereupon they said to the king, "The man who massacred us and planned to exterminate us, so that we should not survive in all the territory of Israel --
6 let seven of his male issue be handed over to us, and we will impale them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD." And the king replied, "I will do so."
7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between the two, between David and Jonathan son of Saul.
8 Instead, the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons that Rizpah daughter of Aiah bore to Saul, and the five sons that Merab daughter of Saul bore to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite,
9 and he handed them over to the Gibeonites. They impaled them on the mountain before the LORD; all seven of them perished at the same time. They were put to death in the first days of the harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest.
10 Then Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it on a rock for herself, and she stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until rain from the sky fell on the bodies; she did not let the birds of the sky settle on them by day or the wild beasts approach by night.
11 David was told what Saul's concubine Rizpah daughter of Aiah had done.
12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh-gilead, who had made off with them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hung them up on the day the Philistines killed Saul at Gilboa.
13 He brought up the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan from there; and he gathered the bones of those who had been impaled.
14 And they buried the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan in Zela, in the territory of Benjamin, in the tomb of his father Kish. And when all that the king had commanded was done, God responded to the plea of the land thereafter.
However, Compositry and Creativity in 2 Samuel 21:1-14
Author(s): Simeon Chavel
Source: Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 122, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), pp. 23-52
In the Gibeonite pericope, Saul's violation of the vow in hunting down the Gibeonites creates two victims or plaintiffs, the Gibeonites, obviously, but YHWH as well, whose name and reputation Saul has willy-nilly put to the test. The impalement of the sons, then, which lasts for months, does more than exact judicial vengeance for the Gibeonites through vicarious talionic punishment.44 The setting of the famine, the divine oracle, David's use of the term כַפֵּ֔ר (2 Sam. 21:3 WTT) , the Gibeonites' power to bring blessing to "YHWH's estate," the ritual impalement of Saul's sons "before YHWH" (see 2 Sam 20:8; 1 Kgs 3:14-15), their nonburial, and the emphasis on YHWH's propitiation at the story's end, particularly the term וַיֵּעָתֵ֧ר (2 Sam. 21:14 WTT)-all combine to affirm that impaling the sons amounts to a sacrificial offering to YHWH.
THE SANCTUARY OF THE GIBEONITES REVISITED NADAV NA'AMAN
is an important article about the Gibeonites available on academia.edu.
The article examines three biblical narratives in which the city of Gibeon and its inhabitants play a major role ( Joshua 9; II Sam 21:1-14; I Kgs 3:3-15a). It is suggested that Gibeon’s sanctuary played—directly or by inference—a significant role in the plot of the three stories. The story of Joshua’s treaty with the Gibeonites, ostensibly describing an event in the conquest of Canaan, in reality reflects a hidden Deuteronomistic satirical polemic whose background must be sought in the time of its Jerusalemite author of the late 7th to early 6th centuries BCE. The polemic’s stimulus lies in a Gibeonite reaction to Josiah’s cancellation of their sanctuary in the time of the author. Clarifying the relation of the Jerusalem and Gibeon temples is important for understanding the rise of the former, as well as the absence of the latter in the Dtr historiography.