תְּרֵיסַר יַרְחֵי שַׁתָּא וְלָא דַּרְכֵּיהּ לְמִסְפְּדֵיהּ the twelve months of the year of mourning, i.e., several years have elapsed since the twelve-month mourning period for Saul, and it is not the proper way to eulogize after such a long time.
נְתִינִים נִיקְרִינְהוּ וּנְפַיְּיסִינְהוּ וַיִּקְרָא הַמֶּלֶךְ לַגִּבְעוֹנִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם וּבַמָּה אֲכַפֵּר וּבָרְכוּ אֶת נַחֲלַת ה׳ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ הַגִּבְעוֹנִים אֵין לָנוּ כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב עִם שָׁאוּל וְעִם בֵּיתוֹ וְאֵין לָנוּ אִישׁ וְגוֹ׳ יֻתַּן לָנוּ שִׁבְעָה אֲנָשִׁים מִבָּנָיו וְהוֹקַעֲנוּם לַה׳ וְגוֹ׳ פַּיְּיסִינְהוּ וְלָא מִיפַּיְיסוּ As for the Gibeonites, let us call them and appease them. Consequently, the verse states: “And the king called the Gibeonites and said to them…What shall I do for you, and with what shall I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord? And the Gibeonites said to him: It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel…Let seven men of his sons be delivered to us, and we will hang them up to the Lord…” (II Samuel 21:1–6). He tried to appease them in other ways, but they would not be appeased.
אָמַר שְׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִים יֵשׁ בְּאוּמָּה זוֹ הָרַחְמָנִים וְהַבַּיְישָׁנִין וְגוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים רַחְמָנִים דִּכְתִיב וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ בַּיְישָׁנִין דִּכְתִיב בַּעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה יִרְאָתוֹ עַל פְּנֵיכֶם גּוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים דִּכְתִיב לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת בֵּיתוֹ וְגוֹ׳ כֹּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה סִימָנִים הַלָּלוּ רָאוּי לְהִדָּבֵק בְּאוּמָּה זוֹ David said: There are three distinguishing marks of this nation, the Jewish people. They are merciful, they are shamefaced, and they perform acts of kindness.
They are merciful, as it is written: “And He will give you mercy, and have mercy upon you and multiply you” (Deuteronomy 13:18); not only will God have mercy upon you, but He will bestow the attribute of mercy upon you.
They are shamefaced, as it is written: “And that His fear shall be upon your faces” (Exodus 20:17), and the fear that is on one’s face is his shame.
They perform acts of kindness, as it is written: “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to practice righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19), i.e., to perform acts of kindness.
Whoever has these three distinguishing marks is fit to cleave to this nation. Those who lack these qualities, however, are unfit to be part of the Jewish people. When David saw the cruelty of the Gibeonites, he decreed that they may never enter into the congregation of Israel.
וַיִּקַּח הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי רִצְפָּה בַת אַיָּה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְשָׁאוּל אֶת אַרְמֹנִי וְאֶת מְפִבֹשֶׁת וְאֶת חֲמֵשֶׁת בְּנֵי מִיכַל בַּת שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְעַדְרִיאֵל בֶּן בַּרְזִילַּי הַמְּחֹלָתִי מַאי שְׁנָא הָנֵי אָמַר רַב הוּנָא הֶעֱבִירוּם לִפְנֵי אָרוֹן כֹּל שֶׁאָרוֹן קוֹלְטוֹ לְמִיתָה כֹּל שֶׁאֵין אָרוֹן קוֹלְטוֹ לְחַיִּים The Gemara continues with its understanding of the incident: “And the king took the two sons of Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, whom she bore unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth, and the five sons of Michal, daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite” (II Samuel 21:8). The Gemara asks: What is different about these sons that David chose them from among all the descendants of Saul? Rav Huna said: He passed all of Saul’s descendants before the Ark of the Covenant. Whoever was held back by the Ark, so that he could not move on, was condemned to death; whoever was not held back by the Ark was set apart for life.
מֵתִיב רַב חָנָא בַּר קַטִּינָא וַיַּחְמֹל הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל מְפִבֹשֶׁת בֶּן יְהוֹנָתָן בֶּן שָׁאוּל שֶׁלֹּא הֶעֱבִירוֹ Rav Ḥana bar Ketina raised an objection: The verse states: “And the king had pity on Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, son of Saul, because of the Lord’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan, son of Saul” (II Samuel 21:7). If the seven men were condemned by the Ark, how did the king’s pity affect their sentence? The Gemara answers: It means that he did not pass Mephibosheth before the Ark at all, so that he would not be in danger of being held back at all.
וְכִי מַשּׂוֹא פָּנִים יֵשׁ בַּדָּבָר אֶלָּא שֶׁהֶעֱבִירוֹ וּקְלָטוֹ וּבִקֵּשׁ עָלָיו רַחֲמִים וּפְלָטוֹ וְאַכַּתִּי מַשּׂוֹא פָּנִים יֵשׁ בַּדָּבָר אֶלָּא שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים שֶׁלֹּא יִקְלְטֶנּוּ הָאָרוֹן The Gemara questions this behavior: May favoritism be shown in this matter? Once the decision was placed in the hand of Heaven, how could David have intervened in matters of life and death and not pass Mephibosheth before the Ark? Rather, what happened was that David passed Mephibosheth before the Ark and the Ark held him back, but David immediately asked for mercy on his behalf, and the Ark released him. The Gemara asks: But the difficulty still remains: May favoritism be shown in this matter? Once the Ark condemned Mephibosheth to death, how could David have intervened so that another would have to die in his place? Rather, David asked for mercy on his behalf, that the Ark should not hold him back and performed no other action.
וְהָא כְּתִיב לֹא יוּמְתוּ אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְגוֹ׳ אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מוּטָב שֶׁתֵּעָקֵר אוֹת אַחַת מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְאַל יִתְחַלֵּל שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא The Gemara raises a difficulty with regard to the story as related by the Bible: But isn’t it written: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children; neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers” (Deuteronomy 24:16)? As Saul’s sons had not sinned, why were they put to death? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is better that one letter and one mitzva be uprooted from the Torah in this manner and thereby the name of Heaven not be desecrated in public [parhesya]. The killing of the Gibeonites by the Jewish people constituted a desecration of God’s name. In order to repair the damage, David acquiesced to the Gibeonites’ demands, even though they contradicted Torah law.
וַתִּקַּח רִצְפָּה בַת אַיָּה אֶת הַשַּׂק וַתַּטֵּהוּ לָהּ אֶל הַצּוּר מִתְּחִלַּת קָצִיר עַד נִתַּךְ מַיִם עֲלֵיהֶם מִן הַשָּׁמָיִם וְלֹא נָתְנָה עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם לָנוּחַ עֲלֵיהֶם יוֹמָם וְחַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה לַיְלָה וְהָא כְּתִיב לֹא תָלִין נִבְלָתוֹ עַל הָעֵץ The Gemara continues with its analysis of the incident. The verse states: “And Rizpah, daughter of Aiah, took sackcloth and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water was poured upon them from heaven; and she allowed neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night” (II Samuel 21:10). The Gemara raises a difficulty: How could they have left Saul’s executed sons unburied all that time? Isn’t it written: “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree; but you shall surely bury him the same day” (Deuteronomy 21:23)?
אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יְהוֹצָדָק מוּטָב שֶׁתֵּעָקֵר אוֹת אַחַת מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְיִתְקַדֵּשׁ שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹבְרִים וְשָׁבִים אוֹמְרִים מָה טִיבָן שֶׁל אֵלּוּ הַלָּלוּ בְּנֵי מְלָכִים הֵם וּמָה עָשׂוּ פָּשְׁטוּ יְדֵיהֶם בְּגֵרִים גְּרוּרִים אָמְרוּ אֵין לְךָ אוּמָּה שֶׁרְאוּיָה לְהִדָּבֵק בָּהּ כָּזוֹ וּמָה בְּנֵי מְלָכִים כָּךְ בְּנֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה וּמָה גֵּרִים גְּרוּרִים כָּךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: It is better that one letter be uprooted from the Torah and thereby the name of Heaven be sanctified in public. How so? As the gentile passersby would say: What is the nature of these people who have been left hanging here for so long? They were told that these are sons of kings. And what did they do to deserve such a fate? They had laid their hands upon and caused harm to calculating converts who had converted for personal gain and were never permitted to enter into the congregation. Those passersby said: There is no nation as worthy of cleaving to it as this one. If the sons of kings who harmed converts are treated in this manner, all the more so would the sons of ordinary people [hedyotot] be. And if calculating converts are related to in this way, all the more so would this apply to members of the Jewish people themselves.
מִיָּד נִתּוֹסְפוּ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אֶלֶף שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיְהִי לִשְׁלֹמֹה שִׁבְעִים אֶלֶף נוֹשֵׂא סַבָּל וּשְׁמֹנִים אֶלֶף חוֹצֵב בָּהָר וְדִלְמָא יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲווֹ לָא סָלְקָא דַּעְתָּךְ דִּכְתִיב וּמִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא נָתַן שְׁלֹמֹה עָבֶד Immediately, one hundred and fifty thousand converts joined the Jewish people, as it is stated: “And Solomon had seventy thousand that bore burdens and eighty thousand that were hewers in the mountains” (I Kings 5:29), all of whom were converts. The Gemara asks: But perhaps these carriers and hewers were Jews? The Gemara answers: This cannot enter your mind, as it is written: “But of the children of Israel Solomon made no slaves” (I Kings 9:22).
וְדִלְמָא דּוּגְזַר בְּעָלְמָא אֶלָּא מֵהָכָא וַיִּסְפֹּר שְׁלֹמֹה כׇּל הָאֲנָשִׁים הַגֵּרִים אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל [וְגוֹ׳] וַיִּמָּצְאוּ מֵאָה וַחֲמִשִּׁים אֶלֶף [וְגוֹ׳] וַיַּעַשׂ מֵהֶם שִׁבְעִים אֶלֶף (נוֹשֵׂא) סַבָּל וּשְׁמוֹנִים אֶלֶף חוֹצֵב בָּהָר The Gemara raises another difficulty: But from where may it be inferred that these men were slaves? Perhaps they were merely workers employed [dogzar] in the ranks of public service, in which case they could have been born Jews and not converts. Rather, the matter is derived from here: “And Solomon counted all the converted men that were in Eretz Yisrael…and they were found to be one hundred and fifty thousand…and he made seventy thousand of them to bear burdens, and eighty thousand to be hewers in the mountains” (II Chronicles 2:16–17). It is apparent from here that these carriers and hewers were in fact converts. These large numbers of converts had been influenced by the sanctification of God’s name in the wake of the punishment meted out to the descendants of Saul.
וּנְתִינִים דָּוִד גָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה גָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם דִּכְתִיב מֵחוֹטֵב עֵצֶיךָ עַד שׁוֹאֵב מֵימֶיךָ מֹשֶׁה גְּזַר לְהָהוּא דָּרָא דָּוִד גְּזַר לְכוּלֵּי דָּרֵא The Gemara returns to the main issue under discussion. As for the Gibeonites, was it David who issued a decree against them that they may not enter the congregation? Wasn’t it Moses who issued a decree against them, as it is written: “From the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water” (Deuteronomy 29:10), which indicates that there was a distinct class of wood hewers and water drawers already in the time of Moses. This class must have been composed of insincere converts who constituted a separate group unto themselves, apart from the rest of the Jewish people. The Gemara answers: Moses issued a decree only with regard to that generation that they must remain separate, whereas David decreed for all generations.
וְאַכַּתִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ גְּזַר עֲלַיְיהוּ דִּכְתִיב וַיִּתְּנֵם יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא חוֹטְבֵי עֵצִים וְשׁוֹאֲבֵי מַיִם לָעֵדָה וּלְמִזְבַּח ה׳ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ גָּזַר בִּזְמַן שֶׁבֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּים דָּוִד גָּזַר בִּזְמַן שֶׁאֵין בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּים The Gemara raises another difficulty: But still, it was Joshua who issued a decree against the Gibeonites, as it is written: “And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water, for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord” (Joshua 9:27). The Gemara answers: Joshua issued a decree for the period when the Temple is standing, as indicated by the phrase “for the altar of the Lord,” whereas David issued a decree even for the period when the Temple is not standing.