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Ish-Bosheth

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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[many Ish'-bosheth,' (Heb. Ish-bo'sheth, אַישׁאּבּשֶׁת , man of shame, i.e. bashful, otherwise disgraceful; Sept. Ι᾿σβόσεθ v. r. Ι᾿εβοσθέ, Joseph. Ι᾿έβοσθος , Vulg. Isboseth), the youngest of Saul's four sons, and his legitimate successor, being the only one who survived him (2 Samuel 2-4).. His name appears (1 Chronicles 8:35; 1 Chronicles 9:39) to have been originally. ESHBAAL, אַשׂאּבִּעִל, "the man of Baal." Whether this indicates that Baal was used as equivalent to Jehovah, or that the reverence for Baal still lingered in Israelitish families, is uncertain; but it can hardly be doubted that the name (Ish-bosheth, "the man of shame") by which he is commonly known must have been substituted for the original word, with a view of removing the scandalous sound of Baal from the name of an Israelitish king see Ewald, Isr. Gesch. 2, 383), and superseding it by the contemptuous word (Bosheth. "shame") which was sometimes used as its equivalent in later times (Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 11:13; Hosea 9:10). A similar process appears in the alteration of Jerubbaal (Judges 8:35) into Jerubbesheth (2 Samuel 11:21); Meri-baal (2 Samuel 4:4) into Mephibosheth (1 Chronicles 8:34; 1 Chronicles 9:40). The last three cases all occur in Saul's family. (See SAUL).

He is thought by some to be the same with ISHUI (יַשְׁוַי, 1 14:49), these two names having considerable resemblance; but this is forbidden by 1 Samuel 31:2, comp. with 1 Chronicles 8:33. (See ABINADAB).

He appears to have been forty years of age at the time of the battle of Gilboa (B.C. 1053), in which he was not himself present, but in which his father and three older brothers perished; and therefore, according to the law of Oriental, though not of European succession, he ascended the throne, as the oldest of the royal family, rather than Mephibosheth, son of his elder brother Jonathan, who was a child of five years old. Too feeble of himself to seize the scepter which had just fallen from the hands of Saul, he was immediately taken under the care of Abner, his powerful kinsman, who brought him to the ancient sanctuary of Mahanaim, on the east of the Jordan, beyond the reach of the victorious Philistines, and he was there recognized as king by ten of the twelve tribes (2 Samuel 2:8-9). There was a momentary doubt even in those remote tribes whether they should not close with the offer of David to be their king (2 Samuel 2:7; 2 Samuel 3:17). But this was overruled in favor of Ish-bosheth by Abner (2 Samuel 3:17), who then for five years slowly but effectually restored the dominion of the house of Saul over the trans-Jordanic territory, the plain of Esdraelon, the central mountains of Ephraim, the frontier tribe of Benjamin, and eventually "over all Israel" (except the tribe of Judah, 2 Samuel 3:9). In 2 Samuel 2:10 Ish-bosheth is said to have reigned two years, which some understand as the whole amount of his reign. As David reigned seven and a half years over Judah before he became king of all Israel upon the death of Ish-bosheth, it is conceived by the Jewish chronologer (Seder Olam Rabba, p. 37), as well as by Kimchi and others, that there was a vacancy of five years in the throne of Israel. It is not, however, agreed by those who entertain this opinion whether this vacancy took place before or after the reign of Ish-bosheth. Some think it was before, it being then a matter of dispute whether he or Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, should be made king; but others hold that after his death five years elapsed before David was generally recognized as king of all Israel. If the reign of Ish-bosheth be limited to two years, the latter is doubtless the best way of accounting for the other five, since no ground of delay in the succession of Ish-bosheth is suggested in Scripture itself; for the claim of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, which some have produced, being that of a lame boy five years old, whose father never reigned, against a king's son forty years-of age, would have been deemed of little weight in Israel. Besides, our notions of Abner do not allow us to suppose that under him the question of the succession could have remained five years in abeyance. But it is the more usual, and perhaps the better course, to settle this question by supposing that the reigns of David over Judah, and of Ish-bosheth over Israel, were nearly contemporaneous, namely, about seven years each; and that the two years named are only the first of this period, being mentioned as those from which to date the commencement of the ensuing events - namely, the wars between the house of Saul and that of David. This appears to be the view taken by Josephus (Ant. 7, 1, 3; comp. 2, 1).

Ish-bosheth thus reigned seven, or, as some will have it, two years-if a power so uncertain as his can be called a reign. Even the semblance of authority which he possessed he owed to the will and influence of Abner, who kept the real control of affairs in his own hands. The wars and negotiations with David were entirely carried on by Abner (2 Samuel 2:11; 2 Samuel 3:6; 2 Samuel 3:12). After various skirmishes between the forces of the rival kings, a pitched battle was fought, in which the army of David under Joab was completely victorious. After this the interest of David continually waxed stronger, while that of Ish-bosheth declined (2 Samuel 3:1). At length Ish-bosheth accused Abner (whether rightly or wrongly does not appear) of an attempt on his father's concubine, Rizpah, which, according to Oriental usage, amounted to treason (2 Samuel 3:7; comp. 1 Kings 2:13; 2 Samuel 16:21; 2 Samuel 20:3). Although accustomed to tremble before Abner, even Ish-bosheth's temper was roused to resentment by the discovery that Abner had thus invaded the harem of his late father Saul, which was in a peculiar manner sacred under his care as a son and a king. By this act Abner exposed the king to public contempt, if it did not indeed leave himself open to the suspicion of intending to advance a claim to the crown on his own behalf Abner resented this suspicion in a burst of passion, which vented itself in a solemn vow to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul to the house of David, a purpose which from this time he appears steadily to have kept in view. Ish- bosheth was too much cowed to answer; and when, shortly afterwards, through Abner's negotiation, David demanded the restoration of his former wife, Michal, he at once tore his sister from her reluctant husband, and committed her to Abner's charge (2 Samuel 3:14-15). It is, perhaps, right to attribute this act to his weakness; although, as David allows that he was a righteous man (2 Samuel 4:10), it may have been owing to his sense of justice. This trust seems to have given Abner a convenient opportunity to enter into negotiations with David; but in the midst of them he himself fell a victim to the resentment of Joab for the death of Abishai. The death of Abner deprived the house of Saul of their last remaining support. (See ABNER).

When Ish-bosheth heard of it, "his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled" (2 Samuel 4:1). In this extremity of weakness he fell a victim, probably, to a revenge for a crime of his father. The guard of Ish-bosheth, as of Saul, was taken from their own royal tribe of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 12:29). But among the sons of Benjamin were reckoned the descendants of the old Canaanitish inhabitants of Beeroth, one of the cities in league with Gibeon (2 Samuel 4:2-3). Two of those Beerothites, Baana and Rechab, in remembrance, it has been conjectured, of Saul's slaughter of their kinsmen the Gibeonites, determined to take advantage of the helplessness of the royal house to destroy the only representative that was left, excepting the child Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 4:4). They were "chiefs of the marauding troops" which used from time to time to attack the territory of Judah (comp. 2 Samuel 4:2; 2 Samuel 3:22, where the same word גְּדוּד is used; Vulg. princim es latronum). They knew the habits of the king and court, and acted accordingly. In the stillness of ail Eastern noon they entered the palace, as if to carry off the wheat which was piled up near the entrance. The female slave,' who, as usual in Eastern houses, kept the door, and was herself sifting the wheat, had, in the heat of the day, fallen asleep at her task (2 Samuel 4:5-6, in Sept. and Vulg.). They stole in, and passed into the royal bedchamber, where Ish-bosheth was asleep on his couch during his midday siesta. They stabbed him in the stomach, cut off his head, made their escape, all that afternoon, all that night, down the valley of the Jordan (Arabah, A.V. "plain;" 2 Samuel 4:7), and presented the head to David as a welcome present. B.C. 1046. They met with a stern reception from the monarch, who-as both right feeling and good policy required- testified the utmost horror and concern. He rebuked them for the cold- blooded murder of an innocent man, and ordered them to be executed; their hands and feet were cut off, and their bodies suspended over the tank at Hebron. The head of Ish-bosheth was carefully buried in the sepulchre of his great kinsman Abner, at the same place (2 Samuel 4:9-12). (See DAVID). I'shi (Heb. Yishi', יַשְׁעַי, salutary; Sept. Ι᾿εσεί, ῎Ες, Ι᾿εσεϊ v ), the name of four men.

1. The son of Appaim, and father of Sheshan, the eighth in descent from Judah (1 Chronicles 2:31). B.C. prob. post 1612.

2. The father of Zoheth and Ben-zoheth, a descendant of Judah, but through what line does not appear (1 Chronicles 4:20). The name is possibly a corruption for the ISMIBAH of 1 Chronicles 4:17. B.C. perh. cir. 1017.

3. Father (progenitor) of several (four only are named) Simeonites who invaded Mt. Seir and dispossessed the Amalekites (1 Chronicles 4:42). B.C. ante 726.

4. One of the chiefs of Manasseh East, of famous valor (1 Chronicles 5:24). B.C. cir. 720.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ish-Bosheth'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​i/ish-bosheth.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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