Illustration from the Morgan Bible
depicting the death of Ish-bosheth.
|King of Israel|
|Reign||c. 1012-1010 BCE|
|Born||c. 1052 BCE|
|Died||c. 1010 BCE|
|House||House of Saul|
Ish-bosheth (Hebrew: , Ishboshet), also called Eshbaal (, Eshbaal; also Ashbaal or Ishbaal), was one of the four sons of King Saul and the second king over the Kingdom of Israel, after the death of his father and three brothers at the Battle of Mount Gilboa.
In the biblical story, Ish-bosheth was proclaimed king over Israel by Abner, the captain of Saul's army, at Mahanaim in Transjordan (2 Samuel 2:8), after his father and brothers were slain in the battle of Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1). Ish-bosheth was 40 years old at this time and reigned for two years (2 Samuel 2:10).
However, after the death of King Saul, the tribe of Judah seceded from the rule of the House of Saul by proclaiming David as its king (2 Samuel 2:4), and war ensued (2 Samuel 2:12). David's faction eventually prevailed against Ish-bosheth's (2 Samuel 3:1), but the war did not come to a close until Abner joined David (2 Samuel 3:6).
Before the death of Saul, David had been married to Saul's daughter Michal, Ishbosheth's sister, until Saul and David had a falling out and Saul gave her to another man (1 Samuel 25:44). Later, at the conclusion of the war with Ishbosheth, David's terms for peace required that Michal be returned to him, and Ish-bosheth complied (2 Samuel 3:14). After Abner's death, Ish-bosheth seems to have given up hope of retaining power (2 Samuel 4:1).
Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his own army-captains, Rechab and Baanah (2 Samuel 4:5), who expected a reward from David because of this. David, however, refused to give any commendation for high treason; he had both killers hanged with their hands and feet cut off. The head of Ishbosheth was buried in Abner's grave at Hebron. (2 Samuel 4:12)
The names Ish-bosheth and Eshbaal have ambiguous meanings in the original Hebrew. In Hebrew, Ish-bosheth means "Man of shame". He is also called Eshbaal, in Hebrew meaning "Baal exists", or "fire of Baal".
Critical scholarship suggests that Bosheth was a substitute for Ba?al, beginning when Ba?al became an unspeakable word; as (in the opposite direction) Adonai became substituted for the ineffable Tetragrammaton (see taboo deformation).
When he was prematurely assassinated and King David punished the killers:
One possible explanation to that would be that Esh-ba?al (? 'man of the Lord') was his birth name, and that Judahites (i.e., from the South kingdom) could not find it in themselves to pronounce the name of a heathen divinity, and so called him Ish-boshet ('man of shame') instead. Similarly, e.g., Mephiboshet for Merib-ba`al son of Jonathan and Merib-ba'al son of Saul. Note that the Bible unashamedly uses ba?al as a common name meaning 'master', as in 'the master of this dog'.
The Israel Antiquities Authority says archaeologists have discovered a rare 3,000-year-old inscription of a name mentioned in the Bible. The name "Eshbaal Ben Beda" appears on a large ceramic jar found in Khirbet Qeiyafa. Eshbaal of the Bible was a son of King Saul. Archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor say the jar belonged to a different Eshbaal, likely the owner of an agricultural estate. They said it is the first time the name was discovered in an ancient inscription. It is one of only four inscriptions discovered from the biblical 10th century B.C. Kingdom of Judah, when King David is said to have reigned. Archaeologists pieced together the inscription from pottery shards found at a 2012 excavation in the Valley of Elah in central Israel.