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2 Samuel 21:7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, a whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning. 10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

Were they just bones or dead bodies?

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2 Samuel 21:13

David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

the bones
עַצְמ֣וֹת (‘aṣ·mō·wṯ)
Noun - feminine plural construct Strong's Hebrew 6106: A bone, the body, the substance, selfsame

Indeed, the Hebrew word for bone/bones has a variety of meanings.

Brown-Driver-Briggs

1 bone:

a. of living person
b. ׳ע + בָּשָׂר = body, Job 2:5, plural = bodily frame Jeremiah 20:9 (simile), limbs, members, לַעֲצָמֶיהָ Judges 9:29 i.e. limb by limb (GFM); as seat of vigour Job 20:11, etc.

c. (poetry) as seat of disease and pain Job 30:17,30

d. plural as representing entire person = one's whole being,

When it is in the plural form, it can mean the bodies of dead people.

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This ties back to 1 Samuel 31, when Saul, his armor bearer, 3 sons and others who with with Saul that day when they were slain by the Philistines. Some time later, David retrieved their bones (bodies) out of respect, similarly to Joseph's bones being brought back from Egypt upon their release from slavery.

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