Rechab and Baanah

views updated


RECHAB AND BAANAH (Heb. רֵכָב, "rider"; and בַּעֲנָה, cf. Ugaritic bnʿna, "son of Ana"), sons of Rimmon from Beeroth, one of the four cities which constituted the Gibeonite (or Hivite) league, and which has been identified as the site of el-Bire, lying northwest of Jerusalem just outside the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Rechab and Baanah, captains of the army of Saul's son Ish-Bosheth (ii Sam. 4:2), murdered their king (verse 7). Entering Ish-Bosheth's house undetected, they decapitated him while he was sleeping (verse 7) and took his head to David, claiming to have carried out the will of God (verse 8). David, anxious to clear himself of the suspicion of complicity, had them summarily executed, reminiscent of the way he treated the man who brought the news of Saul's suicide. The assassins' bodies were mutilated and hanged beside the pool in Hebron, while the head of Ish-Bosheth was honorably buried in Abner's grave in the same town (verse 12). Several possible motives may explain the captains' regicide: the hope of being rewarded by David; the desire to realize Abner's plan for a united kingdom with David as king, by eliminating David's most dangerous opponent; and revenge for Saul's conquering the confederacy of the Hivite cities (cf. Josh. 9:17).

Saul's conquering of the confederacy explains why the Beerothites, including the sons of Rimmon, fled to Gittaim, where they lived as aliens (ii Sam. 4:3). In the course of time the sons of Rimmon became officers of Ish-Bosheth and at an opportune moment murdered him as an act of blood revenge.


M.H. Segal, in: jqr, 8 (1917/18), 98–99.