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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

("man of shame"); substituted for his original name Esh-baal ( 1 Chronicles 8:33;  1 Chronicles 9:39) in contempt of Baal, from some connection of the family with whom he had been named; so Jerub-baal, Jerub-besheth ( Judges 8:35;  Hosea 9:10). (See Abner ; David Youngest of Saul's four sons, and his successor according to eastern usage, though Mephibosheth (whose name was similarly changed from Meribbaal), son of his oldest brother Jonathan, was alive. At Mahanaim, the ancient sanctuary E. of Jordan, beyond the reach of the Philistine conquerors, he was raised to the throne by Abner his valiant kinsman ( 2 Samuel 2:8). This was after a five years' interregnum during which the Philistines and David had the country divided between them; for David had reigned according to  2 Samuel 2:10-11 "seven years and six months" over Judah in the old capital Hebron, while Ishbosheth reigned only "two years."

Even northern and eastern Israel, but for Abner, was inclined to have accepted David ( 2 Samuel 2:7;  2 Samuel 3:17). Ishbosheth was 35 at the battle of Gilboa, and 40 when, by Abner's influence, after a five years' effort he ascended the throne "over all Israel" except Judah. His charge against Abner of connection with his father Saul's concubine Rizpah was, in eastern usage, tantamount to a charge of treasonously aspiring to the throne ( 2 Samuel 3:7; compare  1 Kings 2:13-22). Abner in a passion vowed to transfer the kingdom to David. Ishbosheth did not dare to answer; and when David, sending the message to Ishbosheth direct, required him to restore his former wife Michal, Ishbosheth, constrained by Abner, forced his sister to leave her weeping husband Phaltiel and accompany Abner to David ( 2 Samuel 3:13-16), for her restoration was demanded by David as the first preliminary in treating with Abner.

Abner's death deprived Ishbosheth of the last prop of his throne; "his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled" ( 2 Samuel 4:1). Two sons of Rimmon of Beeroth, formerly a Canaanite city leagued with Gibeon ( Joshua 9:17), Baana and Rechab, captains of marauding "bands" which used to make raids on Judah ( 2 Samuel 3:22;  2 Samuel 4:2), took this opportunity of revenging Saul's slaughter of their kinsmen the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21) on Ishbosheth. Pretending to fetch wheat from the inner court for their men, in the still noon when Ishbosheth was taking his midday sleep on his bed, they smote and took away his head, making their escape all that night through the valley of the Jordan.

Presenting it to David, as though it would be a welcome gift because Saul the father had been David's "enemy who sought his life," and suppressing mention of their own murderous treachery, they with hypocritical profanation of God's name said: "Behold ... the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul and his seed." But David reproached them with their wicked murder of "a righteous person in his own house upon his bed," and commanded his young men to slay them, and to hang up over the pool in Hebron their severed hands and feet. The head of Ishbosheth was duly buried in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

ISHBOSHETH. 1. The fourth son of Saul; on the death of his father and three brothers on Mt. Gilboa, he contested the throne of Israel with David for seven years. Driven by David over the Jordan, he took up his headquarters at Mahanaim, where, after having been deserted by Abner, he was murdered by two of his captains. His name is given in   1 Chronicles 8:33;   1 Chronicles 9:39 as Esh-baal . The same variation meets us in the name of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth or Meribbaal and in the case of Jerubbaal or Jerubbesheth  ; similarly, we have Beeliada and Eliada . In   1 Samuel 14:49 Ishbaal has become Ishvi , which in its turn is a corruption for Ishiah , or ‘man of Jahweh.’ The change of Ish-baal , ‘man of Baal,’ into Ishbosheth , ‘man of the shameful thing,’ is ordinarily accounted for on the supposition ‘that the later religion wished to avoid the now odious term Baal.’ The theory, however, is met by the difficulty that it is in the Chronicler that the form compounded with Baal occurs. Hence it has been suggested that Bosheth is the fossilized name of a Babylonian deity Bast, for which theory, however, little support is forthcoming. 2. Ishbosheth or Ishbaal is probably the true reading for Jashobeam in   1 Chronicles 11:11 etc., which is corrupted to Josheb-basshebeth in   2 Samuel 23:8 .

W. F. Cobb.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

Youngest of the four sons of Saul, and who claimed the throne on the death of his father and his elder brothers. Apparently he did not begin to reign till five years after, and then reigned two years, over all the tribes except Judah, Benjamin, and perhaps Simeon. He was supported by Abner the head of Saul's army; but made his head quarters at Mahanaim, east of the Jordan. There was long war between the two houses, but David waxed stronger and stronger, and Ish-bosheth became weaker and weaker. Abner's pride was deeply wounded by a remonstrance from Ish-bosheth, and he revolted to David, and then spoke to the elders of Israel in David's favour. After the treacherous murder of Abner by Joab, Baanah and Rechab, captains of bands, slew Ish-bosheth as he lay on his bed, and cutting off his head brought it to David, doubtless expecting a reward; they were however at once put to death, for David could not sanction such wickedness. David was then made king of all the tribes, being God's chosen and anointed one.  2 Samuel 2:8-17;  2 Samuel 3:6-16;  2 Samuel 4:5-12 . Apparently Ish-bosheth is called Esh-Baal in  1 Chronicles 8:33;  1 Chronicles 9:39 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Ish-bo'sheth. (Man Of Shame). The youngest of Saul's four sons, and his legitimate successor. (B.C. 1068). Ish-bosheth was "forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years."  2 Samuel 3:10.

During these two years, he reigned at Mahanaim, though only in name. The wars and negotiations with David were entirely carried on by Abner.  2 Samuel 2:12;  2 Samuel 3:6;  2 Samuel 3:12. The death of Abner deprived the house of Saul, of its last remaining support. When Ish-bosheth heard of it, "his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled." He was murdered in his bed.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

Son and successor of Saul. Abner, Saul's kinsman and general so managed that Ishbosheth was acknowledged king at Mahanaim by the greater part of Israel, while David reigned at Hebron over Judah. He was forty-four years of age when he began to reign, and he reigned two years peaceably; after which he was involved in a long and unsuccessful war against David. Being abandoned by Abner, whom he had provoked, he became more and more feeble, and was at last assassinated,  2 Samuel 2:8-11   3:1-4:12 . See Eshbaal .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

a son of King Saul, and his successor in the throne. He was acknowledged king by a part of the tribes of Israel, A.M. 2949, while David reigned at Hebron, over the tribe of Judah,  2 Samuel 2:8-9 , &c; 3. He reigned two years in peace, but the remaining eight years were spent in perpetual wars between his troops and those of David, till in the end he perished, and with him ended the royal dignity of the house of Saul.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

The son of Saul; ( 2 Samuel 2:8) a man of shame; from Ish, a man; and bosh, shame.