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The Civil War

Originally named Esh-baal (1 Chronicles 8:33), in Hebrew meaning man of Baal, the youngest of the four sons of King Saul was later known as Ish-bosheth, from the Hebrew meaning man of shame. After Saul and his other three sons, including Jonathan, were killed by the Philistines at the battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-13), Ish-bosheth was proclaimed king of the Israelites, except for the tribe of Judah who made David their king. An Israelite civil war (one of a number of lesser and greater conflicts within the Children of Jacob during Israel's history, see also Jews At War With Israel) between King David and Ish-bosheth that followed ended when Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his own troopers.

The Civil War

Tower of David Ish-bosheth made king:

"Now Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; and he made him king over Gilead and the Ashurites and Jezreel and Ephraim and Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David." (2 Samuel 2:8-10 RSV)

The Israelite civil war between the house of David and the house of Saul:

"There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker." (2 Samuel 3:1 RSV)

Ish-bosheth assassinated:

"Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ish-bosheth, as he was taking his noonday rest. And behold, the doorkeeper of the house had been cleaning wheat, but she grew drowsy and slept; so Rechab and Baanah his brother slipped in. When they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him. They took his head, and went by the way of the Arabah all night, and brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron. And they said to the king, "Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life; The Lord has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring." (2 Samuel 4:5-8 RSV)

The assassins believed that they would be rewarded, however David, despite all that he gained from the death of Ish-bosheth, did not reward their treachery against their own leader. David lived with his own personal dangers from those closest to him, including his own son Absalom, so David had only loathing for king killers:

"But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, "As The Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, when one told me, 'Behold, Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and slew him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous man in his own house upon his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand, and destroy you from the earth?" And David commanded his young men, and they killed them, and cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron." (2 Samuel 4:9-12 RSV)

Fact Finder: How many royal dynasties did Israel and Judah have after the Israelites again split into two kingdoms after the death of David's son Solomon?
See Israelite Dynasties


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