“the two sons of Rizpah.” Rizpah is one of the many sad stories in the Bible and in life. She must have been born a beautiful but lower-class woman, or perhaps even a slave, because she was a concubine of Saul’s. Then when Saul died, Abner took her and slept with her (2 Sam. 3:7), but then Abner was killed also, and what happened to her after that is lost in history. Now her two sons, certainly the light of her life and her support in old age, were executed for something her ungodly husband king Saul had done.
“Merab the daughter of Saul.” Merab was the oldest daughter of Saul and was promised to David in marriage, but when it came time for the wedding Saul changed his mind and gave Merab to Adriel (1 Sam. 18:17-19). Now, in a terrible twist of fate, her five sons are sentenced to death for something their grandfather did. The Masoretic Hebrew text has an error in copying and says “Michal” instead of “Merab,” but there are ancient Hebrew texts that read “Merab,” including the Samaritan Pentateuch and an Aramaic targum. Unless something unfortunate had happened to Merab, she would have been alive at this time and experienced this terrible tragedy.