From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

1. Saul's son by Rizpah ( 2 Samuel 21:8); "crucified" ( Yaqah ; not Talah , which would mean "hanged up") with six others before Jehovah by the Gibeonites to avert the famine; from barley harvest until the rains of October the bodies remained exposed to the sun (compare  Numbers 25:4), but watched by Rizpah's pious care, and finally were committed to Kish's sepulchre.

2. Saul's grandson, son of Jonathan. Originally Merib-baal, an ancestor being named Baal ( 1 Chronicles 8:30;  1 Chronicles 8:33;  1 Chronicles 8:24;  1 Chronicles 9:36). (See Ishbosheth ; Jerubbaal When Saul and Jonathan fell at Gilboa Mephibosheth was but five years old. His nurse at the sad tidings took him up and fled; in her haste she let him fall from her shoulders (Josephus Ant., vii. 5, section 5), whereon children in the East are carried, and he became lame of both feet ( 2 Samuel 4:4;  2 Samuel 9:13). He had been for a considerable time living in obscurity with Machir in Lodebar beyond Jordan, near Mahanaim, his uncle Ishbosheth's seat of government, when David through Ziba heard of him, and for the sake of Jonathan, and his promise respecting Jonathan's seed ( 1 Samuel 20:15;  1 Samuel 20:42), restored to him all the land of Saul and admitted him to eat bread at his table at Jerusalem continually. (See Machir .)

Ziba, from being a menial of Saul's house, had managed to become master himself of 20 servants; with these and his 15 sons he, by David's command, tilled the land for Mephibosheth, for though Mephibosheth was henceforth David's guest, and needed no provision, he had a son Micha (1 Samuel 9;  1 Chronicles 8:34-35) and a retinue to maintain as a prince. His deformity, added to the depression of Saul's family, produced in him an abject fear and characteristic humility which are expressed in a manner sad to read of when one remembers the bygone greatness of Saul's house. It is a retribution in kind that the representative of Saul's family now calls himself before David by the contemptuous title which once David in self abasement used before Saul, "dead dog" ( 2 Samuel 9:8;  1 Samuel 24:14).

The same depressed spirit appears in  2 Samuel 19:26-28. Seventeen years subsequently, in Absalom's rebellion, Ziba rendered important service to David by meeting him as he crossed Olivet, with two strong "he donkeys" ( Chamor ) ready saddled for the king's use, bread, raisins, fruits, and wine. With shrewd political forecast, guessing the failure of the rebellion, Ziba gained David's favor at the cost of Mephibosheth, whom he misrepresented as staying at Jerusalem in expectation of regaining the kingdom ( 2 Samuel 16:1-4). David in hasty credulity ( Proverbs 18:13;  John 7:51 on the spot assigned all Mephibosheth's property to Ziba. On David's return to Jerusalem Mephibosheth made known the true state of the case, that Ziba had deceived him when he desired to saddle the donkey and go to the king, and had slandered him ( 2 Samuel 19:24-30). His squalid appearance, with unwashed feet, unattended beard, and soiled clothes, indicating the deepest mourning ever since the king departed, attested his truthfulness.

David saw his error, but had not the courage to rectify it altogether. Ziba's service to him in his extremity outweighed his perfidy to Mephibosheth. Impatiently (For Conscience Told Him He Had Been Unjust To Mephibosheth And Still Was Only Half Just) David replied, "why speakest thou any more of thy matters? Thou and Ziba divide the land." Mephibosheth had everything to lose and nothing to gain from Absalom's success. A cripple and a Benjamite could never dream of being preferred by Judah to the handsome Absalom; interest and gratitude bound him to David. Ziba had it completely in his power to leave him unable to stir from Jerusalem during the rebellion, by taking away the asses; the king and his friends were gone. So not merely servility, but sincere satisfaction at David's return, prompted his reply: "let Ziba take all, forasmuch as my lord is come again in peace." David's non-mention of Mephibosheth on his death bed is doubtless because Mephibosheth had died in the eight years that intervened between David's return and his death.

Mephibosheth typifies man once son of the King; then having lost his right by the fall, as Mephibosheth did by Saul's and Jonathan's death at Gilboa. Bearing a name of reproach like Mephibosheth, instead of his name of innocence; banished to the outskirts of the moral wilderness, like Mephibosheth in Lodebar; liable to perish by the sword of justice, as Saul's other sons (2 Samuel 21); paralyzed by original sin, as Mephibosheth lamed from infancy in both feet; invited by the Lord and Savior, after having spoiled principalities, to sit down at the royal table ( Matthew 8:11;  Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 19:9), as Mephibosheth was by David after conquering all his foes, on the ground of the everlasting covenant ( Jeremiah 31:3); as David regarded Mephibosheth because of his covenant with Jonathan ( 1 Samuel 20:15;  1 Samuel 20:42). Fear is man's first feeling in the Lord's presence ( Luke 5:8); but He reassures the trembling sinner ( Isaiah 43:1;  Revelation 2:7), as David did Mephibosheth, restoring him to a princely estate.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

MEPHIBOSHETH. 1 . A son of Jonathan (  2 Samuel 4:4 ), called also in   1 Chronicles 8:34;   1 Chronicles 9:40 Merib ( b ) aal , really the original form of the name ‘Baal contends’ or ‘Baal’s warrior.’

David, on succeeding to the throne, instead of destroying all the family of Saul, as was usual on such occasions, spared Mephibosheth out of regard for his father Jonathan ( 2 Samuel 9:1 ). Mephibosheth was five years old when Saul fell on Mt. Gilboa, and in the flight of the royal household after the battle he was so seriously injured by a fall as to become lame in both his feet (  2 Samuel 4:4 ). In that warlike age such a bodily weakness prevented him from becoming a rival of David, and no doubt inclined the latter to mercy. David was informed of his place of concealment in Lo-debar, on the east of the Jordan, by Ziba , who had been steward of Saul (  2 Samuel 9:1 ff.). The king restored to Mephibosheth all the estates of Saul, Ziba became his steward, and Mephibosheth himself was maintained as a permanent guest at David’s table (  2 Samuel 9:13 ).

At the flight of David from Jerusalem after Absalom’s rebellion, Ziba met him on the Mount of Olives with provisions. He also stated that his master had remained in Jerusalem, in hope of obtaining the kingdom of Saul. Notwithstanding the doubtful nature of the story, David said, ‘Behold, thine is all that pertaineth to Mephibosheth’ ( 2 Samuel 16:4 ). On David’s return, Mephibosheth came out to meet him, and declared that Ziba had accused him falsely, taking advantage of his lameness. David seems to have doubted the truthfulness of Mephibosheth or did not wish to alienate Ziba, who had also been faithful, and divided the land of Saul between the two. Mephibosheth expressed his willingness that Ziba should have all, ‘forasmuch as my lord the king is come in peace unto his own house.’

From  2 Samuel 9:12 we learn that Mephibosheth had a son Mica, who was regarded as the founder of a well-known family of warriors (  1 Chronicles 8:35;   1 Chronicles 9:41 ).

2. One of the sons of Saul’s concubine Rizpah, slain by the Gibeonites (  2 Samuel 21:8 ).

W. F. Boyd.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

1. Son of Jonathan, the son of Saul. When five years old he fell from his nurse's arms or shoulder, and became lame on both his feet. When David came into power he inquired if there were any of Saul's descendants to whom he could show the kindness of God for Jonathan's sake, and Mephibosheth was found. All that had been Saul's possessions were given to Mephibosheth under the care of Ziba as his servant, and Mephibosheth was made to sit at the king's table continually. David and Jonathan had made a league together as to their seed.  1 Samuel 20:15,42 . David fully respected this and far exceeded it, for it was true grace in him to bring Mephibosheth to sit at his table.

When Absalom revolted, Ziba brought presents to David, and slandered Mephibosheth, saying that he sought the kingdom. David thereupon gave to Ziba all the possessions of Mephibosheth; but on hearing subsequently Mephibosheth's explanations, David divided the inheritance between them. His doing this, and the way he answered Mephibosheth, "Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land," makes it doubtful whether David was quite convinced of Mephibosheth's innocence. While the king was away Mephibosheth had not dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes; and when David decided that the land should be divided, he said, "Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace." When Saul's descendants were required for a recompense to the Gibeonites David spared Mephibosheth for Jonathan's sake, nor was he mentioned when the king died.  2 Samuel 4:4;  2 Samuel 9:3-13;  2 Samuel 16:1-4;  2 Samuel 19:24-30;  2 Samuel 21:7 . In  1 Chronicles 8:34;  1 Chronicles 9:40 he is called Merib-Baal 'Baal contendeth.'

2. Son of Saul and Rizpah: he and his brother Armoni were among the seven given up to death, on account of the famine that God brought upon the land because Saul's sin against the Gibeonites had not been atoned for. Rizpah protected the bodies by day and by night, until David caused their remains to be buried with those of Saul and Jonathan.   2 Samuel 21:8-14 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Mephib'osheth. (Exterminating The Idol). The name borne by two members of the family of Saul - his son and his grandson.

1. Saul's son, by Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, his concubine.  2 Samuel 21:8. He and his brother, Armoni, were among the seven victims, who were surrendered by David to the Gibeonites, and by them, crucified to avert a famine, from which the country was suffering.

2. The son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul, and nephew of Mephibosheth, 1 ; called also Merib-Baal .  1 Chronicles 8:34. His life seems to have been, from beginning to end, one of trial and discomfort. When his father and grandfather were slain on Gilboa, he was an infant, but five years old. At this age, he met with an accident which deprived him, for life, of the use of both feet.  2 Samuel 4:4. After this, he is found a home with Machir ben-Ammiel, a powerful Gadite, who brought him up, and while here, was married.

Later on, David invited him to Jerusalem, and there treated him, and his son, Micha, with the greatest kindness. From this time forward, he resided at Jerusalem. Of Mephibosheth's behavior during the rebellion of Absalom, we possess two accounts - his own,  2 Samuel 13:24-30, and that of Ziba,  2 Samuel 16:1-4. They are naturally, at variance with each other. In consequence of the story of Ziba, he was rewarded by the possessions of his master.

Mephibosheth's story - which however, he had not the opportunity of telling, until several days later, when he met David returning to his kingdom, at the western bank of Jordan - was very different from Ziba's. That David did not disbelieve it, is shown by his revoking the judgment, he had previously given. That he did not entirely reverse his decision, but allowed Ziba to retain possession of half the lands of Mephibosheth, is probably due partly to weariness at the whole transaction, but mainly to the conciliatory frame of mind in which he was at that moment. "Shall there any man be put to death this day?" is the keynote of the whole proceeding.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

  • The son of Jonathan, and grandson of Saul ( 2 Samuel 4:4 ). He was but five years old when his father and grandfather fell on Mount Gilboa. The child's nurse hearing of this calamity, fled with him from Gibeah, the royal residence, and stumbling in her haste, the child was thrown to the ground and maimed in both his feet, and ever after was unable to walk (19:26). He was carried to the land of Gilead, where he found a refuge in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar, by whom he was brought up.

    Some years after this, when David had subdued all the adversaries of Israel, he began to think of the family of Jonathan, and discovered that Mephibosheth was residing in the house of Machir. Thither he sent royal messengers, and brought him and his infant son to Jerusalem, where he ever afterwards resided ( 2 Samuel 9 ).

    When David was a fugitive, according to the story of Ziba ( 2 Samuel 16:1-4 ) Mephibosheth proved unfaithful to him, and was consequently deprived of half of his estates; but according to his own story, however (19:24-30), he had remained loyal to his friend. After this incident he is only mentioned as having been protected by David against the vengeance the Gibeonites were permitted to execute on the house of Saul (21:7). He is also called Merib-baal ( 1 Chronicles 8:34;  9:40 ). (See Ziba .)

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Mephibosheth'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

    A son of Jonathan, also called Merib-baal,  1 Chronicles 8:34 . See  2 Samuel 4:4 , and his nurse was in such consternation at the news, that she let the child fall; and from this accident he was lame all his life. When David found himself in peaceable possession of the kingdom, he sought for all that remained of the house of Saul, that he might show them kindness, in consideration of the friendship between him and Jonathan. He gave Mephibosheth the estate of his grandfather Saul. Of a part of this, however, he was afterwards deprived by the treachery of his steward Zeba, and the hasty injustice, as it appears, of David towards and unfortunate but noble and loyal prince,  2 Samuel 9:1-13   16:1-4   19:24-30 . David subsequently took care to exempt him from the number of the descendants of Saul given up to the vengeance of the Gibeonites,  2 Samuel 21:1-14 , though another Mephibosheth, a son of Saul was slain,  2 Samuel 21:8 .

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

    Mephibosheth ( Me-Phĭb'O-Shĕth ), End Of Shame or Abasement. 1. The son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul,  2 Samuel 4:4; also called "Meribbaal"= Contender Against Baal.  1 Chronicles 8:34;  1 Chronicles 9:40. He was only about five years of age when his father was slain, and on the news of this catastrophe the nurse who had charge of him, apprehending that the whole house of Saul would be exterminated, fled away with him; but in her flight stumbled with the child, and lamed him for life. David made provision for Mephibosheth and his family.  2 Samuel 9:9-13;  2 Samuel 16:1-4;  2 Samuel 19:24-30. 2. A son of Saul by his concubine Rizpah.  2 Samuel 21:8.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

    Saul had a son of this name, and so had Jonathan his son, ( 2 Samuel 4:4 and  2 Samuel 21:8-9) His name signifies reproach from the mouth, from Pe, a mouth—and Bosh, shame. It is thought by some, that the proper name of Jonathan's son was Merib-baal, (see  1 Chronicles 8:34) and that his name was changed to Mephibosheth, because the Israelites were cautious of using the name of Baal. Idolatry was not then so much in fashion, as in the after days of the kings of Israel. But this point cannot be ascertained.

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [9]

     2 Samuel 9:6 (c) This interesting person has been taken as a type of all those whose walk is imperfect, their way of life is crooked, but they heard the call of the Lord, came to Him, were forgiven, were brought into His family, and their crooked feet were hidden under the table of His bounty, grace and mercy. This is such a wonderful type of the Saviour receiving the sinner, that the Queen of England recommended to Charles Stanley that he carry this message to all the armed forces.

    Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

     2 Samuel 9:1 2 Samuel 4:4 1 Chronicles 8:34 2 Samuel 16:1 2 Samuel 19:1 2 2 Samuel 21:1-9

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

    mḗ - fib´ṓ - sheth ( מפיבשׁת , mephı̄bhōsheth , "idol-breaker," also Merib-Baal (which see); Μεμφιβόσθε , Memphibósthe ):

    (1) Son of Saul by his concubine Rizpah (which see), daughter of Aiah ( 2 Samuel 21:8 ). See also Armoni .

    (2) Grandson of Saul, son of Jonathan, and nephew of Mephibosheth (1) ( 2 Samuel 4:4 ). He was 5 years old when his father and grandfather were slain. He was living in charge of a nurse, possibly because his mother was dead. Tidings of the disaster at Jezreel and the onsweep of the Philistines terrified the nurse. She fled with her charge in such haste that a fall lamed the little prince in both feet for life. His life is a series of disasters, disappointments, and anxieties. It is a weary, broken, dispirited soul that speaks in all his utterances. The nurse carried him to Lo-debar among the mountains of Gilead, where he was brought up by Machir, son of Ammiel ( 2 Samuel 9:4 ). There he evidently married, for he had a son Mica when he returned later at David's request. When David had settled his own affairs and subdued his enemies, he turned his inquiries to Saul's household to see whether there were any survivors to whom he might show kindness for Jonathan's sake ( 2 Samuel 9:1 ). The search caused the appearance of Ziba, a servant of Saul's house ( 2 Samuel 9:2 ), who had meanwhile grown prosperous by some rapid process which can only be guessed at ( 2 Samuel 9:9 ,  2 Samuel 9:10 ). From him David learned about Mephibosheth, who was sent for. His humble bearing was consistent with his chronically broken spirit. David put Ziba's property (which had belonged to Saul) at Mephibosheth's disposal and made Ziba steward thereof. Mephibosheth was also to be a daily guest at David's table ( 2 Samuel 9:11-13 ). Seventeen years pass, during which Mephibosheth seems to have lived in Jerusalem. Then came Absalom's rebellion. David determined to flee, so distraught was he by the act of his son. At the moment of flight, in great depression and need, he was opportunely met by Ziba with food, refreshment and even means for travel. Naturally, the king inquired for Ziba's master. The treacherous reply was made ( 2 Samuel 16:1-4 ) that Mephibosheth had remained behind for his own ends, hoping the people would give him, Saul's grandson, the kingdom. David believed this and restored to Ziba the property lost. Not till many days after did the lame prince get his chance to give David his own version of the story. He met David on his return from quelling Absalom's rebellion. He had not dressed his feet, trimmed his beard nor washed his clothes since the hour of David's departure ( 2 Samuel 19:24 ). At David's anxious request Mephibosheth told his story: his servant had deceived him; he wanted to go with David, had even asked for his beast to be saddled; but Ziba had left him, and had slandered him to the king. But he would not plead his cause any more; David is "as an angel of God"; whatever he decides will be well! ( 2 Samuel 19:26 ,  2 Samuel 19:27 ). Thus characteristically continued the speech of this lame, broken, humble man, son of a proud family ( 2 Samuel 19:28 ). David wearily settled the matter by dividing the property between the prince and his servant, the prince expressing utmost content that Ziba should take all so long as David remained friendly ( 2 Samuel 19:29 ,  2 Samuel 19:30 ). That David accepted Mephibosheth's explanation and was drawn out in heart toward the character of the broken man is shown by the fact that when some expiation from Saul's household was considered necessary to turn away the famine sent by an offended deity, Mephibosheth is spared when other members of Saul's household were sacrificed ( 2 Samuel 21:7 ). The character of Mephibosheth well illustrates the effect of continued disaster, suspicion and treachery upon a sensitive mind.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

    Mephib´osheth (extermination of idols; also in , merib-baal), son of Jonathan and nephew of Saul . He was only five years of age when his father and grandfather were slain in Mount Gilboa: and on the news of this catastrophe, the woman who had charge of the child, apprehending that David would exterminate the whole house of Saul, fled away with him; but in her hasty flight she stumbled with the child, and lamed him for life (B.C. 1055). Under this calamity, which was very incapacitating in times when agility and strength were of prime importance, Mephibosheth was unable to take any part in the stirring political events of his early life. According to our notions, he should have been the heir of the house of Saul; but in those times a younger son of an actual king was considered to have at least as good a claim as the son of an heir apparent who had never reigned, and even a better claim if the latter were a minor. This, with his lameness, prevented Mephibosheth from ever appearing as the opponent or rival of his uncle Ishbosheth on the one hand, or of David on the other (2 Samuel 9). He thus grew up in quiet obscurity in the house of Machir, one of the great men of the country beyond the Jordan ; and his very existence was unknown to David till that monarch, when firmly-settled in his kingdom, inquired whether any of the family of Jonathan survived, to whom he might show kindness for his father's sake. Hearing then of Mephibosheth from Ziba, who had been the royal steward under Saul, he invited him to Jerusalem, assigned him a place at his own table, and bestowed upon him lands, which were managed for him by Ziba, and which enabled him to support an establishment suited to his rank. He lived in this manner till the revolt of Absalom, and then David, in his flight, having noticed the absence of Mephibosheth, inquired for him of Ziba, and being informed that he had remained behind in the hope of being restored to his father's throne, instantly and very hastily revoked the grant of land and bestowed it on Ziba . Afterwards, on his return to Jerusalem, he was met with sincere congratulations by Mephibosheth, who explained that being lame he had been unable to follow the king on foot, and that Ziba had purposely prevented his beast from being made ready to carry him: and he declared that so far from having joined in heart, or even appearance, the enemies of the king, he had remained as a mourner, and, as his appearance declared, had not changed his clothes, or trimmed his beard, or even dressed his feet, from the day that the king departed to that on which he returned. David could not but have been sensible that he had acted wrong, and ought to have been touched by the devotedness of his friend's son, and angry at the imposition of Ziba; but to cover one fault by another, or from indifference, or from reluctance to offend Ziba, who had adhered to him when so many old friends forsook him, he answered coldly, 'Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, thou and Ziba divide the land.' The reply of Mephibosheth was worthy of the son of the generous Jonathan:—'Yea, let him take all; forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house' .

    We hear no more of Mephibosheth, except that David was careful that he should not be included in the savage vengeance which the Gibeonites were suffered to execute upon the house of Saul for the great wrong they had sustained during his reign . Another Mephibosheth, a son of Saul by his concubine Rizpah, was, however, among those who suffered on that occasion .

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

    On the transaction between David and Mephibosheth, see J. G. Elsner, Ueb. die gerechte Unschuld u. Redlichkeit Mephiboseths (Frankf. u. Leipz. 1760); Niemever, Charakt. 4:434 sq.; Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.; Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, ad loc.; Hall, Contemplations, ad loc.; H. Lindsay, Lectures, 2:102; Doddridge, Sermons, 1:177; Ewald, Hist. of Israel (Engl. transl. 3:191). (See Ziba).