I know of three lists of Saul's children:

  1. 1 Samuel 14:49 - Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal.

  2. 1 Samuel 31:2 - The Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed Saul's sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua.

  3. 1 Chronicles 8:33 - Ner was the father of Kish, Kish the father of Saul, and Saul the father of Jonathan, Malki-Shua, Abinadab and Esh-Baal.

The second list causes no problems, as it's not esclusory, listing only those sons of Saul who died in battle. The first and second list, however, appear to contradict each other. Eshba'al(Ishbosheth) is missing from the first list. Perhaps you could say that Saul's sons by his concubines, Armoni and Mephibosheth, were born after this list's creation, but the same cannot be done for Eshba'al, as we know he was between 35 and 40 at Saul's death(2 Samuel 2:10).

1 Answer 1


The Abarbanel on that passuk explains that it didn’t mention him because he became king later on and so he was discussed there:

והנה יראה שלא זכר מהבנים כי אם אשר לא ירשו מלכותו, והם השלשה בנים שמתו עמו במלחמה, אבל אישבושת אשר מלך אחריו לא זכרו כי הוא היה מלך והספר יגיד ענינו אחרי זה. ובדברי הימים (סימן ח' ל"ג) נקרא איש בעל, והסבה בזה אבאר בספור אישבשת

The Malbim agrees as well.

However the Metzudas Dovid says that Ishvi is indeed IshBoshes: (he says that Avinadav was not born yet at this point)

וישוי. הוא איש בושת, כי בדברי הימים (א ח לג) לא זכר ישוי, וזכר במקומו אשבעל, והוא איש בושת, וכן ירובעל נקרא גם ירובשת (שמואל ב יא כא) ואף בעת נהרגו בני שאול במלחמה (לקמן לא ב), לא חשב ישוי, וזהו כי הוא איש בושת, ונשאר חי ומלך

The Radak says that it only mentioned the three sons that went to war with him, IshBoshes didn’t, so he wasn’t mentioned here:

ולא זכר איש בושת כי אלו השלשה היו יוצאים עמו במלחמה ולפי שזכרם בענין המלחמה לא זכר איש בושת ובדברי הימים שזכרם בענין התולדת זכרו

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