|King of Israel|
|Reign||c. 1012–1010 BCE|
|Born||c. 1052 BCE|
|Died||c. 1010 BCE|
|House||House of Saul|
In the biblical account, Abner, the captain of Saul's army, proclaimed Ish-bosheth king over Israel at Mahanaim in Transjordan (2 Samuel 2:8), after the slaying of Ish-bosheth's father and brothers 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, Ish-bosheth'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 Ish-bosheth, David's terms for peace required returning Michal 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).
Two of Ish-bosheth's own army-captains, Rechab and Baanah, assassinated the deposed king, (2 Samuel 4:5) expecting a reward from David because of this. David, however, refused to give any commendation for high treason; he had both killers executed and their hands and feet cut off. David's supporters buried the head of Ish-bosheth in Abner's grave at Hebron (2 Samuel 4:12).
Problem of naming
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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 Baʿal, beginning when Baʿal became an unspeakable word; as (in the opposite direction) Adonai became substituted for the ineffable Tetragrammaton (see taboo deformation).
- Now Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, had taken Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim; and he made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. (2 Samuel 2:8–10, Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
When he was assassinated and King David punished the killers:
- ... Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ish-bosheth, as he took his rest at noon, and they came into the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they struck him in the groin; and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. ... And they brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David in Hebron, and said to the king: "Behold the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul your enemy, who sought your life; and the Lord has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed." ... And David answered ... "shall I not now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?" ... But they took the head of Ish-bosheth, and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron.  (2 Samuel 4:5–12)
In 2012, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that archaeologists had discovered a 3,000-year-old inscription on a reconstructed large ceramic jar found in Khirbet Qeiyafa, containing the name "Eshbaal ben Beda". Though this Eshbaal is a different person than the Eshbaal/Ish-bosheth of the Bible, it was the first time the name was discovered in an ancient inscription. It is one of only four Hebrew inscriptions ever discovered dating to the 10th century BC.
- Garfinkel, Ganor & Hasel 2018, p. 182.
- Bright 2000, p. 195.
- Margalith 1994, p. 38.
- "Israeli archaeologists find inscription of name from Bible". Associated Press. June 16, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "Inscription bearing name from Davidic era found at ancient site". Times of Israel. June 16, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Bright, John (2000). A History of Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22068-6.
- Garfinkel, Yosef; Ganor, Saar; Hasel, Michael G. (2018). In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 9780500774281.
- Margalith, Othniel (1994). The Sea Peoples in the Bible. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-03516-3.
- Ish-bosheth (Article by: Emil G. Hirsch and M. Seligsohn in Jewish Encyclopedia)
- King Ishbosheth - Biography (Christian view)
- Easton's Bible Dictionary (Ish-bosheth)
- "Eshbaʽal Ben Bedaʽ" pottery inscription discovery, from the Time of King David
Cadet branch of the Tribe of Benjamin
|King of Israel||Succeeded by|