A son of Jonathan, also called Merib-baal, 1Ch 8:34. See ESHBAAL. Mephibosbeth was very young when his father was killed in the battle of Gilboa, 2Sa 4:4, and his nurse was in such consternation at the news, that she let the child fall; and from this accident he was lame all his life. When David found himself in peaceable possession of the kingdom, he sought for all that remained of the house of Saul, that he might show them kindness, in consideration of the friendship between him and Jonathan. He gave Mephibosheth the estate of his grandfather Saul. Of a part of this, however, he was afterwards deprived by the treachery of his steward Zeba, and the hasty injustice, as it appears, of David towards and unfortunate but noble and loyal prince, 2Sa 9; 16:1-4; 19:24-30. David subsequently took care to exempt him from the number of the descendants of Saul given up to the vengeance of the Gibeonites, 2Sa 21:1-14, though another Mephibosheth, a son of Saul was slain, 2Sa 21:8.
exterminator of shame; i.e., of idols. (1.) The name of Saul's son by the concubine Rizpah (q.v.), the daughter of Aiah. He and his brother Armoni were with five others "hanged on a hill before the Lord" by the Gibeonites, and their bodies exposed in the sun for five months (2Sa 21:8-10). (2.) The son of Jonathan, and grandson of Saul (2Sa 4:4). He was but five years old when his father and grandfather fell on Mount Gilboa. The child's nurse hearing of this calamity, fled with him from Gibeah, the royal residence, and stumbling in her haste, the child was thrown to the ground and maimed in both his feet, and ever after was unable to walk (2Sa 19:26). He was carried to the land of Gilead, where he found a refuge in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar, by whom he was brought up.
Some years after this, when David had subdued all the adversaries of Israel, he began to think of the family of Jonathan, and discovered that Mephibosheth was residing in the house of Machir. Thither he sent royal messengers, and brought him and his infant son to Jerusalem, where he ever afterwards resided (2Sa 9).
When David was a fugitive, according to the story of Ziba (2Sa 16:1-4) Mephibosheth proved unfaithful to him, and was consequently deprived of half of his estates; but according to his own story, however (2Sa 19:24-30), he had remained loyal to his friend. After this incident he is only mentioned as having been protected by David against the vengeance the Gibeonites were permitted to execute on the house of Saul (2Sa 21:7). He is also called Merib-baal (1Ch 8:34; 9:40). (See Ziba.)
1. Saul's son by Rizpah (2Sa 21:8); "crucified" (yaqah; not talah, which would mean "hanged up") with six others before Jehovah by the Gibeonites to avert the famine; from barley harvest until the rains of October the bodies remained exposed to the sun (compare Nu 25:4), but watched by Rizpah's pious care, and finally were committed to Kish's sepulchre.
2. Saul's grandson, son of Jonathan. Originally Merib-baal, an ancestor being named Baal (1Ch 8:30,33,24; 9:36). (See ISHBOSHETH; JERUBBAAL.) When Saul and Jonathan fell at Gilboa Mephibosheth was but five years old. His nurse at the sad tidings took him up and fled; in her haste she let him fall from her shoulders (Josephus Ant., vii. 5, section 5), whereon children in the East are carried, and he became lame of both feet (2Sa 4:4; 9:13). He had been for a considerable time living in obscurity with Machir in Lodebar beyond Jordan, near Mahanaim, his uncle Ishbosheth's seat of government, when David through Ziba heard of him, and for the sake of Jonathan, and his promise respecting Jonathan's seed (1Sa 20:15,42), restored to him all the land of Saul and admitted him to eat bread at his table at Jerusalem continually. (See MACHIR.)
Ziba, from being a menial of Saul's house, had managed to become master himself of 20 servants; with these and his 15 sons he, by David's command, tilled the land for Mephibosheth, for though Mephibosheth was henceforth David's guest, and needed no provision, he had a son Micha (1 Samuel 9; 1Ch 8:34-35) and a retinue to maintain as a prince. His deformity, added to the depression of Saul's family, produced in him an abject fear and characteristic humility which are expressed in a manner sad to read of when one remembers the bygone greatness of Saul's house. It is a retribution in kind that the representative of Saul's family now calls himself before David by the contemptuous title which once David in self abasement used before Saul, "dead dog" (2Sa 9:8; 1Sa 24:14).
The same depressed spirit appears in 2Sa 19:26-28. Seventeen years subsequently, in Absalom's rebellion, Ziba rendered important service to David by meeting him as he crossed Olivet, with two strong "he donkeys" (chamor) ready saddled for the king's use, bread, raisins, fruits, and wine. With shrewd political forecast, guessing the failure of the rebellion, Ziba gained David's favor at the cost of Mephibosheth, whom he misrepresented as staying at Jerusalem in expectation of regaining the kingdom (2Sa 16:1-4). David in hasty credulity (Pr 18:13; Joh 7:51 on the spot assigned all Mephibosheth's property to Ziba. On David's return to Jerusalem Mephibosheth made known the true state of the case, that Ziba had deceived him when he desired to saddle the donkey and go to the king, and had slandered him (2Sa 19:24-30). His squalid appearance, with unwashed feet, unattended beard, and soiled clothes, indicating the deepest mourning ever since the king departed, attested his truthfulness.
David saw his error, but had not the courage to rectify it altogether. Ziba's service to him in his extremity outweighed his perfidy to Mephibosheth. Impatiently (for conscience told him he had been unjust to Mephibosheth and still was only half just) David replied, "why speakest thou any more of thy matters? Thou and Ziba divide the land." Mephibosheth had everything to lose and nothing to gain from Absalom's success. A cripple and a Benjamite could never dream of being preferred by Judah to the handsome Absalom; interest and gratitude bound him to David. Ziba had it completely in his power to leave him unable to stir from Jerusalem during the rebellion, by taking away the asses; the king and his friends were gone. So not merely servility, but sincere satisfaction at David's return, prompted his reply: "let Ziba take all, forasmuch as my lord is come again in peace." David's non-mention of Mephibosheth on his death bed is doubtless because Mephibosheth had died in the eight years that intervened between David's return and his death.
Mephibosheth typifies man once son of the King; then having lost his right by the fall, as Mephibosheth did by Saul's and Jonathan's death at Gilboa. Bearing a name of reproach like Mephibosheth, instead of his name of innocence; banished to the outskirts of the moral wilderness, like Mephibosheth in Lodebar; liable to perish by the sword of justice, as Saul's other sons (2 Samuel 21); paralyzed by original sin, as Mephibosheth lamed from infancy in both feet; invited by the Lord and Savior, after having spoiled principalities, to sit down at the royal table (Mt 8:11; Re 19:7,9), as Mephibosheth was by David after conquering all his foes, on the ground of the everlasting covenant (Jer 31:3); as David regarded Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan (1Sa 20:15,42). Fear is man's first feeling in the Lord's presence (Lu 5:8); but He reassures the trembling sinner (Isa 43:1; Re 2:7), as David did Mephibosheth, restoring him to a princely estate.
David, on succeeding to the throne, instead of destroying all the family of Saul, as was usual on such occasions, spared Mephibosheth out of regard for his father Jonathan (2Sa 9:1). Mephibosheth was five years old when Saul fell on Mt. Gilboa, and in the flight of the royal household after the battle he was so seriously injured by a fall as to become lame in both his feet (2Sa 4:4). In that warlike age such a bodily weakness prevented him from becoming a rival of David, and no doubt inclined the latter to mercy. David was informed of his place of concealment in Lo-debar, on the east of the Jordan, by Ziba, who had been steward of Saul (2Sa 9:1 ff.). The king restored to Mephibosheth all the estates of Saul, Ziba became his steward, and Mephibosheth himself was maintained as a permanent guest at David's table (2Sa 9:13).
At the flight of David from Jerusalem after Absalom's rebellion, Ziba met him on the Mount of Olives with provisions. He also stated that his master had remained in Jerusalem, in hope of obtaining the kingdom of Saul. Notwithstanding the doubtful nature of the story, David said, 'Behold, thine is all that pertaineth to Mephibosheth' (2Sa 16:4). On David's return, Mephibosheth came out to meet him, and declared that Ziba had accused him falsely, taking advantage of his lameness. David seems to have doubted the truthfulness of Mephibosheth or did not wish to alienate Ziba, who had also been faithful, and divided the land of Saul between the two. Mephibosheth expressed his willingness that Ziba should have all, 'forasmuch as my lord the king is come in peace unto his own house.'
2. One of the sons of Saul's concubine Rizpah, slain by the Gibeonites (2Sa 21:8).
W. F. Boyd.
1. Son of Jonathan, the son of Saul. When five years old he fell from his nurse's arms or shoulder, and became lame on both his feet. When David came into power he inquired if there were any of Saul's descendants to whom he could show the kindness of God for Jonathan's sake, and Mephibosheth was found. All that had been Saul's possessions were given to Mephibosheth under the care of Ziba as his servant, and Mephibosheth was made to sit at the king's table continually. David and Jonathan had made a league together as to their seed. 1Sa 20:15,42. David fully respected this and far exceeded it, for it was true grace in him to bring Mephibosheth to sit at his table.
When Absalom revolted, Ziba brought presents to David, and slandered Mephibosheth, saying that he sought the kingdom. David thereupon gave to Ziba all the possessions of Mephibosheth; but on hearing subsequently Mephibosheth's explanations, David divided the inheritance between them. His doing this, and the way he answered Mephibosheth, "Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land," makes it doubtful whether David was quite convinced of Mephibosheth's innocence. While the king was away Mephibosheth had not dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes; and when David decided that the land should be divided, he said, "Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace." When Saul's descendants were required for a recompense to the Gibeonites David spared Mephibosheth for Jonathan's sake, nor was he mentioned when the king died. 2Sa 4:4; 9:3-13; 16:1-4; 19:24-30; 21:7. In 1Ch 8:34; 9:40 he is called MERIB-BAAL, 'Baal contendeth.'
2. Son of Saul and Rizpah: he and his brother Armoni were among the seven given up to death, on account of the famine that God brought upon the land because Saul's sin against the Gibeonites had not been atoned for. Rizpah protected the bodies by day and by night, until David caused their remains to be buried with those of Saul and Jonathan. 2Sa 21:8-14.
(exterminating the idol), the name borne by two members of the family of Saul --his son and his grandson.
1. Saul's son by Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, his concubine.
He and his brother Armoni were among the seven victims who were surrendered by David to the Gibeonites, and by them crucified to avert a famine from which the country was suffering.
2. The son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul and nephew of the preceding; called also Merib-baal.
His life seems to have been, from beginning to end, one of trial and discomfort. When his father and grandfather were slain on Gilboa he was an infant but five years old. At this age he met with an accident which deprived him for life of the use of both feet.
After this he is found a home with Machir ben-Ammiel a powerful Gadite, who brought him up, and while here was married. Later on David invited him to Jerusalem, and there treated him and his son Micha with the greatest kindness. From this time forward he resided at Jerusalem, of Mephibosheth's behavior during the rebellion of Absalom we possess two accounts--his own,
and that of Ziba,
They are naturally at variance with each other. In consequence of the story of Ziba, he was rewarded by the possessions of his master. Mephibosheth's story --which however, he had not the opportunity of telling until several days later, when he met David returning to his kingdom at the western bank of Jordan --was very different from Ziba's. That David did not disbelieve it is shown by his revoking the judgment he had previously given. That he did not entirely reverse his decision, but allowed Ziba to retain possession of half the lands of Mephibosheth, is probably due partly to weariness at the whole transaction, but mainly to the conciliatory frame of mind in which he was at that moment. "Shall there any man be put to death this day?" is the keynote of the whole proceeding.