In 2 Samuel 3:7-11, Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of taking one of Saul's concubines: Rizpah, daughter of Aiah. It seems that were this accusation true, it would be an affront to Ish-bosheth's throne. In the text, Abner bristles at the claim, emphasizing his loyalty to the house of Saul; yet, he doesn't outright deny the accusation. Did Abner go into Saul's concubine?

The three commentaries I've read are split on this, but none of them argue their side; they simply assume that he did or did not. My leaning is to say that he did not, since his response to swear his loyalty to David's house makes little sense if Abner himself has his sights on the throne. But it surprised me that others disagreed and now I'm not so confident I'm reading the story correctly.

  • I would venture a guess that if the affront to the throne is accurate, then Abner probably did not take Saul's concubine, given the broader context of Abner's coalition with David to reunify the kingdom under David's reign. Additionally, Abner calls down a curse upon himself during this confrontation with Ish-Bosheth if he does not complete this activity.
    – swasheck
    Aug 22, 2012 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


Yes, he probably did as the cowardly Ish-Bosheth would never have accused the man he feared without absolute proof. Here is a plausible explaianation based simply on the personalities involved which often serves as a good context to work from.

Possibly the key is to recognize that Abner, Saul’s uncle was a powerful and older general who looked down on the little boy Ish-Bosheth (son of King Saul) --> who was a mere puppet to achieve Abner's own goals. From the 2 Samuel 2:8, we see Abner actually made him King, along with the rest of the history, implies that Abner was 'the man' in control. At some point Abner may have just lost his patience with ‘the puppet kid’ acting like a fearful King. His disgust manifested itself in serving his own lusts while insulting him. Offend him while enjoying his concubine would be a pleasure for a disgruntled and hardened general!

This act of Abner seems then to have solidified his real desire with just switching sides in the war. He was not willing suffer the slightest rebukes from Ish-Bosheth his inferior. In fact, Ish-Bosheth was so weak that he feared Abner as soon as he called him on his offensive behavior. Abner then defected to David showing that his offence was not in the ambition to steal the throne, but simply to 'offend for the pleasure of it' and join the forces of a more respectable King.

  • Thanks for the edits; your answer is starting to convince me.
    – Soldarnal
    Sep 1, 2012 at 16:25
  • @Soldarnal - Yes, when I read my original post I could understand why people were not accepting it. Cheers.
    – Mike
    Sep 2, 2012 at 8:04

I think Abner was sleeping with Rizpah because the previous sentence talks about Abner strengthening his position in the house of Saul. Abner knows that David has been anointed as the future king from Dan to Beersheba and yet he still acts in defiance by setting up Ish-Bosheth and waging war against David? To what end is he waging war? I assume to his own selfish ambitions. When Ish-Bosheth calls him out, he reacts with pride by switching sides because his selfish plans have been discovered.

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    Oct 2, 2020 at 3:06

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