2 Samuel, Chapter 21

- מ ל ה -

David Atones for the Massacre of the Gibeonites

David interprets the famine that has struck the land for three years to be divine punishment. He asks God to reveal the reason for this calamity. God answers that it is due to Saul’s massacre of the Gibeonites. Saul’s victims seek to avenge the death of their loved ones. David hands them two of the former king’s sons. However, he doesn’t give them any of Jonathan’s children, as he had personally promised Jonathan that he would never hurt his offspring. 

Atonement and compensation are an integral part of repentance, especially in the case of a grave sin. God is the one who administers punishments. Our duty as human beings is to continue increasing the light in this world. The children of Israel panic when they see David almost killed in battle. They perceive their king to be an earthly messenger of the divine presence and the light of Israel. This is the reason they ask him to not stand on the frontline during battles.

“Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD? And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, thatwill I do for you” (2 Samuel 21:3-4)

“But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel” (2 Samuel 21:17)

Giving must be done freely, without expectation of reward.