Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 21:2

So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amorites;   Covenant;   David;   Gibeon;   Israel;   Saul;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Gibeonites;   Zeal;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mephibosheth;   Rizpah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gibeon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Murder;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Alliance;   Amorites;   David;   Gibeon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - David;   Gittaim;   Joshua;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Adriel;   Beeroth;   Court Systems;   Gibeon;   Mephibosheth;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ethics;   Gibeon;   Haggai;   Israel;   Rizpah;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Zeal;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Amorites ;   Gibeonites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Gibeon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Gib'eonites, the,;   Neth'inim;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Amorites;   Heredity;   Rizpah;   Salvation;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amorites;   Atonement;   Crime;   Saul;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The remnant of the Amorites - The Gibeonites were Hivites, not Amorites, as appears from Joshua 11:19; : but Amorites is a name often given to the Canaanites in general, Genesis 15:16; Amos 2:9, and elsewhere.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The way in which the writer here refers to the history of the league with the Gibeonites Joshua 9:7; Joshua 11:19; and in many enumerations of the Canaanite nations the Hivites are distinguished from the Amorites. But “Amorite” is often used in a more comprehensive sense, equivalent to “Canaanite” (as Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 1:27), and denoting especially that part of the Canaanite nation which dwelt in the hill country Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 1:7, Deuteronomy 1:20, Deuteronomy 1:24, and so includes the Hivites.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-21.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king called the Gibeonites,.... Sent messengers unto them, and summoned them to come to him:

and said unto them; what is expressed in 2 Samuel 21:3; for what follows is in a parenthesis:

(now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel; originally, though they were proselyted to the Jewish religion, and were employed in the menial services of the sanctuary:

but of the remnant of the Amorites; they were the remains of the old Canaanites, who sometimes in general were called Amorites, otherwise the Gibeonites were called Hivites; see Joshua 9:7,

and the children of Israel had sworn unto them; by their princes, as Joshua; yet:

and Saul, contrary to this oath, sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah); pretending a great concern for them, for their honour and profit; that these men ought not to live in their cities, and take the bread out of their mouths, and be employed in the service of the sanctuary; but that they ought to be expelled, and even cut off, being the old inhabitants of the land, the Lord ordered to be destroyed; and that though the Israelites had given an oath to the contrary, they were drawn into it by guile and deceit, and therefore not binding upon them; hence he sought by all means to harass and oppress them, and slew many of them, and destroyed them out of their cities, that they might be possessed by Judah and Benjamin; see 2 Samuel 4:2, compared with Joshua 9:17.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-21.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah — Under pretense of a rigorous and faithful execution of the divine law regarding the extermination of the Canaanites, he set himself to expel or destroy those whom Joshua had been deceived into sparing. His real object seems to have been, that the possessions of the Gibeonites, being forfeited to the crown, might be divided among his own people (compare 1 Samuel 22:7). At all events, his proceeding against this people was in violation of a solemn oath, and involving national guilt. The famine was, in the wise and just retribution of Providence, made a national punishment, since the Hebrews either assisted in the massacre, or did not interpose to prevent it; since they neither endeavored to repair the wrong, nor expressed any horror of it; and since a general protracted chastisement might have been indispensable to inspire a proper respect and protection to the Gibeonite remnant that survived.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-samuel-21.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(2) And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

The Reader, in order to have a clear apprehension of this subject, must look back as far as to the days of Joshua, and read the league of friendship entered into between Israel and Gibeon, See Joshua 9:15. The HOLY GHOST hath not recorded what the conduct was which Saul manifested towards the Gibeonites. It is sufficient to know, that it must have been particularly odious, because the LORD visited it upon Israel, in those three years famine, so long after Saul's death. Reader! do not fail to remark, how sure, though slow, sometimes the LORD's judgments are. The apostle, speaking of the awful certainty of such things, describes the tremendous visitation with which the LORD will in the end of the day, account with sinners, in those awful terms; whose judgment, (says he) now of a long time, lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Peter 2:3.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-samuel-21.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Sought — That is, he sought how he might cut them off with some colour of justice, aggravating their faults, and punishing them worse than they deserved; oppressing them with excessive labours, and intending by degrees to wear them out.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-samuel-21.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 21:2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites [were] not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Ver. 2. And Saul sought to slay them.] Taxing them with supposed faults, saith Diodate, aggravating their true faults, extending the particular ones into the general, depriving them of all commodity and favour, and raising great dissensions amongst them. Others think that when Saul expelled sorcerers and witches out of Israel, under that pretence he also sought to root out the Gibeonites, as being a remnant of the Canaanites, who were much addicted to those devilish studies.

In his zeal to the children of Israel.] Not to God - whose law, nevertheless, he might seem to have on his side, [Deuteronomy 7:16 Exodus 23:32-33] and would be ready to say as those vainglorious hypocrites, [Isaiah 66:5] Let the Lord be glorified - but to the children of Israel and Judah, whose good he pretended, whose applause he sought. And yet he might also be moved to this by covetousness, to gain their lands and goods: as also by malice against all that any way appertained to the priests whom he slew, as did these Gibeonites, who were hewers of wood and drawers of water to the tabernacle. The hypocrite is fitly compared to the eagle, which soareth aloft, not for any love of heaven, for her eye is all the while upon the prey which, by this means, she spyeth sooner, and seizeth upon better.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-21.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Saul sought to slay them, i. e. he sought occasions and pretences how he might cut them off with some colour of law or justice, diligently searching out and aggravating their faults, and punishing them worse than they deserved; oppressing them with excessive labours, and openly killing some of them, and intending by degrees to wear them out.

In his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah; conceiving, or rather pretending, that it was not for the honour, nor comfort, nor advantage of God’s people, to nourish any of that viperous broad in their bosoms; and that howsoever Joshua and the princes which then were, had by their fraud been drawn into an oath to preserve them, Joshua 9:15, yet in truth that oath was contrary to God’s command, Exodus 23:32 Deuteronomy 7:2, and therefore (as he thought) not to be observed. This was his pretence. But how little zeal he had for God, or for the public good of his people, is evident by the whole course of his life; and therefore it is more than probable he had some particular motive or design in the case; either because some of them had highly provoked him, for whose sake he would be revenged of the whole race; or because, they being cut off, their estates might be forfeited to the crown; or for some other reason now unknown.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.Of the Amorites — They are called Hivites at Joshua 9:7; but the name Amorites is more general and often used of all the Canaanitish tribes.

Genesis 15:16; Amos 2:9.

Had sworn — See Joshua 9:3-21.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-21.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 21:2. In his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah — When Joshua and the princes made a league with the Gibeonites, the people were greatly offended with them, as appears, Joshua chap. 9. Whatever the pretences of this resentment might be, the true reason seems sufficiently apparent; they were, by this league, deprived of the lands and spoils of the Gibeonites. Did these reasons cease in the days of Saul? Or rather, did they not still subsist, and with more force, in proportion as the people of Israel and their wants increased, in a narrow land? But however this may be, why did Saul slay them? The text plainly saith, that he did it in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. But the question still returns: How could the destroying these poor people manifest his zeal for Israel and Judah? There is seemingly but one imaginable way how this could be done. The Gibeonites had one city in the tribe of Judah, and three in Benjamin; and when they were destroyed out of these cities, who could pretend any right to them but Israel (that is, Benjamin) and Judah? So that Saul destroyed the Gibeonites, as the most obliging thing he could do for his people. See Delaney.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Amorrhites, by which name all the nations of Chanaan were frequently designated, Genesis xv. 16. (Menochius) --- They were properly Hevites. --- Juda. As if Josue, and all succeeding governors, had acted wrong, Exodus xxiii. 33., and Josue vi. 19. Saul ought, at least, to have consulted God. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Gibeonites. Compare Joshua 9:3, Joshua 9:16, Joshua 9:17.

now. Note the Figure of speech Parenthesis. App-6.

were = they [were].

children = sons.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

The king called the Gibeonites - i:e., David called the small remnant of them that survived, chiefly of the Beerothites (1 Samuel 22:7), and his addressing them was in consequence of the answer he had received from the oracle of Yahweh. Whether his consultation with the Gibeonites, as to the satisfaction they required was David's own spontaneous act, or commanded by God is not said; but the latter is most probable as a statue was involved which none but God Himself could dispense with (Deuteronomy 24:16).

In his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah. Under pretence of a rigorous and faithful execution of the divine law regarding the extermination of the Canaanites, Saul had set himself to expel or destroy those whom Joshua had been deceived into sparing. His real object seems to have been, that the possessions of the Gibeonites, being forfeited to the crown, might be divided among his own people (cf. 1 Samuel 22:7). At all events, his proceeding against this people being in violation of a solemn oath, and involving national guilt, the famine was, in the wise and just retribution of Providence, made a national punishment, since the Hebrews either assisted in the massacre or did not interpose to prevent it; since they neither endeavoured to repair the wrong nor express any horror of it; and since a general protracted chastisement might have been indispensable to inspire a proper respect and protection to the Gibeonite remnant that survived.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) For his bloody house.—Better, for the blood-guilty house. Saul’s family and descendants are regarded, according to the universal ideas of the times, as sharers in his guilt. The story of the Gibeonites and of Joshua’s league with them is told in Joshua 9, but Saul’s attempt to destroy them is mentioned only here. It is plain, from what is said of them in 2 Samuel 21:8, that they had never become incorporated with the Israelites by circumcision, but remained a distinct people. Saul’s sin consisted in the violation of the solemn oath, in the Lord’s name, by which the nation of Israel was bound to the Gibeonites. “His zeal” in that case was of the same ungodly character with many other acts of his reign, in which pride, arrogance, and self-will were cloaked under a zeal for God’s honour and His people’s welfare.

The Amorites.—More precisely, the Gibeonites were Hivites (Joshua 9:7); but they are called Amorites (=mountaineers) as a frequent general name for the old people of Palestine.

Two questions are often asked in connection with this narrative: (1) Why the punishment of Saul’s sin should have been so long delayed? and (2) why it should at last have fallen upon David and his people, who had no share in the commission of the sin? The answer to both questions is in the fact that Israel both sinned and was punished as a nation. Saul slew the Gibeonites, not simply as the son of Kish, but as the king of Israel, and therefore involved all Israel with him in the violation of the national oath; and hence, until the evil should be put away by the execution of the immediate offender or his representatives, all Israel must suffer. The lesson of the continuity of the nation’s life, and of its continued responsibility from age to age, was greatly enhanced by the delay. Besides this, there were so many other grievous sins for which Saul was to be punished, that it was hardly possible to bring out during his lifetime the special Divine displeasure at this one.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)
now the
Joshua 9:3-21
the Amorites
The Gibeonites were Hivites, not Amorites, as appears from Jos 6:19; but Amorites is a name often given to the Canaanites in general.
Genesis 15:16
in his zeal
Deuteronomy 7:16; 1 Samuel 14:44; 15:8,9; 2 Kings 10:16,31; Luke 9:54,55; John 16:2; Romans 10:2; Galatians 4:17
Reciprocal: Exodus 20:7 - guiltless;  Exodus 23:32 - shalt make;  Deuteronomy 7:2 - make no;  Joshua 2:17 - GeneralJoshua 5:1 - all the kings;  Joshua 6:22 - as ye sware unto her;  Joshua 9:15 - made peace;  1 Kings 2:43 - Why;  1 Kings 15:19 - break thy league;  1 Chronicles 1:14 - Amorite;  2 Chronicles 16:3 - break;  2 Chronicles 36:13 - who had;  Nehemiah 3:7 - the Gibeonite;  Esther 9:27 - and upon their seed;  Psalm 15:4 - sweareth;  Ezekiel 17:16 - whose oath;  Acts 22:3 - was;  Philippians 3:6 - zeal;  Hebrews 6:16 - an oath

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-21.html.