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Mephibosheth

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This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.


Meri-baal - "beloved of Baal"/"beloved of the Lord". In view of later religious sensibilities, textually later parts of the Bible rename Meribaal to Mephibosheth - "exterminator of the shameful one", while textually earlier parts preserve the name Meribaal. This change from "-Baal" to "-Bosheth" is common throughout other Biblical names, the exception being Beliah (Yahweh is Lord/Yahweh is Baal) since this couldn't be allowed to become Boshethiah or Jebosheth (Yahweh is shameful).

(1.) The name of Saul's son by the concubine Rizpah, daughter of Aiah. During the reign of King David, some members of Saul's family were punished for what had been done unto the Gibeonites. Saul and his brother Armoni along with five others, were "hanged on a hill before the Lord" by the Gibeonites, and their bodies left exposed in the sun for five months (2 Sam. 21:8-10).

(2.) The son of Jonathan, and grandson of Saul (2 Sam. 4:4). He was lame in his feet. He was five years old when his father and grandfather fell in the Battle of Mount Gilboa. Hearing of this calamity, his nurse fled with him from Gibeah, the royal residence, and in her haste stumbled, dropping him on the ground and causing his paralysis (2 Sam. 19:26). He was carried to the land of Gilead, where he found refuge in the house of Machir, son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar, by whom he was reared.

Some years later, when King David had subdued all the adversaries of Israel, he recalled the family of Jonathan, and discovered that Mephibosheth was residing in the house of Machir. So he sent royal messengers there, and brought Mephibosheth and his infant son Micah to Jerusalem, where they resided from that point on (2 Sam. 9).

When David was a fugitive, according to the story of Ziba (2 Sam. 16:1-4), Mephibosheth proved unfaithful to him, and Ziba was subsequently awarded all of Mephibosheth's estate. However (2 Sam. 19:24-30), Mephibosheth later told David that he had remained loyal to him, and that Ziba had lied. David then ordered the estate divided between the two; Mephibosheth allowed Ziba to keep everything as he was simply content in knowing that David was safe.

After this incident, Mephibosheth is only mentioned as having been protected by David against the vengeance the Gibeonites were permitted to execute on the house of Saul (2 Sam. 21:7).

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