Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 21

Nobody buries the seven bodies

2 Samuel 21:9

Barley was the first grain that the people in Israel harvested. It was therefore a very important crop – but the harvest failed that year, as it had done in the previous two years. In Israel, that harvest happens in Spring, about the month that is today called April.

At that time, therefore, David permitted the people from Gibeon to punish their enemies, the seven men from Saul’s family. They first killed the seven men, who all died together, on the same day. Then they took the bodies, and they hung them up. That showed that God’s curse was upon them – in other words, God’s judgment was against them (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).

Usually, God’s law directed the people to take down the bodies of criminals and to bury them that day (Deuteronomy 21:23). However, on this occasion, the people from Gibeon simply left the bodies. They had carried out the punishment and they asked God to send the rain, and to provide harvests again in Israel (21:3). However, it was not clear either to them, or to the people in Israel, what to do next. The rain had not yet come, and the ground remained hard and dry. Only God can send rain – so everyone had to wait for God to act. Until he did, nobody wanted to remove the bodies. This punishment had satisfied the people from Gibeon – but it was not yet clear whether it had satisfied God’s anger. So, it would be wrong to remove the bodies too soon.

Usually, the birds called vultures and wild dogs would attack any body that people did not bury. So, that was what most people expected to happen to those bodies.

Next part: Rizpah protects the dead bodies (2 Samuel 21:10)


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