Mephibosheth’s Other Name

Ner was the father of Kish, Kish of Saul, Saul of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab and Eshbaal; and the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal; and Merib-baal was the father of Micah. The sons of Micah: Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. Ahaz fathered Jehoaddah, and Jehoaddah fathered Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri. Zimri fathered Moza. Moza fathered Binea; Raphah was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son. Azel had six sons, and these are their names: Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel. The sons of Eshek his brother: Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second, and Eliphelet the third. The sons of Ulam were men who were mighty warriors, bowmen, having many sons and grandsons, 150. All these were Benjaminites. 1 Chronicles 8:33-40.

This is one of those places where it seems there is a discrepancy in the Bible, but it turns out more interesting than that. This record calls Jonathan’s only son “Merib-baal” instead of Mephibosheth, as it appears in 2 Samuel 4:4. It may be that he was renamed later. It happened sometimes, when someone “made a name for himself.” It may be that he was renamed what means “dispeller of shame” because honor was restored to his family through him. His grandfather had been on God’s bad side throughout most of his reign and died rather ignobly in battle . But as Mephibosheth he became King David’s friend and had many warrior decendants.

Counting the Men

The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their fathers’ houses, namely of Tola, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being 22,600. The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Isshiah, all five of them were chief men. And along with them, by their generations, according to their fathers’ houses, were units of the army for war, 36,000, for they had many wives and sons. Their kinsmen belonging to all the clans of Issachar were in all 87,000 mighty warriors, enrolled by genealogy. 1 Chronicles 7:1-5.

I can think of a couple of reasons why only the men are counted, and neither of those reasons are because women were treated like herd animals. The first is that a people’s fighting force was it’s most important asset. Brute strength and heavy weapons were the order of the day, and if your people were not a force to be reckoned with, some other people who were would kill you, and start fathering the children of your widows and daughters. And now someone could protect them.

Another reason is that naming the families after the men was a convenient filing system. A man named Uzzi might have three wives, but all those sons were the sons of Uzzi. Women didn’t have three husbands. That would make a woman part of the commons. Today we are familiar with “the tragedy of the commons”: if nobody owns you, nobody loves you.

The Spoils of War

These are their dwelling places according to their settlements within their borders: to the sons of Aaron of the clans of Kohathites, for theirs was the first lot, to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasturelands, but the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. To the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah with its pasturelands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, Hilen with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, Ashan with its pasturelands, and Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands; and from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon, Geba with its pasturelands, Alemeth with its pasturelands, and Anathoth with its pasturelands. All their cities throughout their clans were thirteen. 1 Chronicles 6:54-60.

These genealogies didn’t only keep records of birth, but of their inheritance in the land God gave them. And He promised them cities they had not built, weeks they had not dug, and fruit trees they had not planned. This is why they are given cities. They weren’t being ordered to build them.

Likewise, it is the meek who will inherit the earth. It will be given to those who believe in the son of God, and who obey Him.