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Who was Mephibosheth mother?

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan and grandson of King Saul in the Hebrew Bible. His mother’s identity is not explicitly stated in the scriptures, but some information can be pieced together to make an educated guess as to who she might have been.

Quick Summary

In summary, the key points regarding Mephibosheth’s mother are:

  • She was likely the wife of Jonathan, son of King Saul
  • Her name is not mentioned in the Bible
  • She may have been the daughter of Aiah, if Aiah in 2 Samuel 8:8 refers to Mephibosheth’s grandfather
  • Other suggestions are that she was the daughter of Yeshua/Ithra, Barzillai, or Machir
  • She bore Jonathan at least one son, Mephibosheth, who was 5 when his father and grandfather Saul died in battle

Examining the Biblical References

The first key passage about Mephibosheth’s ancestry is 2 Samuel 4:4:

Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.

This establishes that Mephibosheth was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. It also mentions that he was 5 years old at the time of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths. But his mother is not named.

The second passage is 2 Samuel 9:1-13, where David shows kindness to Mephibosheth:

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.
The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
“Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

Again, Mephibosheth’s mother is not named, but we learn his father was Jonathan and his grandfather was Saul. We also see that he had land inheritance from Saul that David restored to him.

Clues About Mephibosheth’s Mother’s Identity

While Mephibosheth’s mother is unnamed in the Bible, some clues about her identity emerge from these other details:

  • She was likely the wife of Jonathan
  • Her social status was high enough to marry the prince, son of the king
  • She may have been related to Saul’s family in some way
  • If Aiah from 2 Samuel 8:8 refers to Mephibosheth’s grandfather, then she may have been Aiah’s daughter

Let’s examine each of these points further:

Wife of Jonathan

Though not definitively stated, the strong implication is that Mephibosheth’s mother was Jonathan’s wife. As Jonathan’s son, the most reasonable conclusion is that she was married to Jonathan.

High Social Status

For Jonathan to marry her, she would have needed high social standing as a member of an aristocratic or noble family. This fits with the culture and practices of royal families intermarrying within their social class.

Possibly Related to Saul

Royal families often preferred keeping marriages within the family, so it is plausible Jonathan’s wife was somehow related to the house of Saul. However, there is no Biblical evidence explicitly supporting this.

Potential Daughter of Aiah

One cryptic verse may point to her father’s identity:

From Betah and Berothai, towns that had belonged to Aiah son of Jephunneh, King David took a great quantity of bronze. (2 Samuel 8:8)

Here Aiah is described as the “son of Jephunneh.” Some scholars believe this Aiah may have been the maternal grandfather of Mephibosheth, which would make his unnamed mother the daughter of Aiah.

However, this verse is difficult to connect definitively to Mephibosheth’s family line. The name Aiah means “falcon” and Jephunneh means “for whom a way is prepared,” so these could refer to multiple figures. There is still debate if this verse refers to the same Aiah as Mephibosheth’s grandfather.

Other Suggestions for Mephibosheth’s Mother

Beyond speculation about Aiah’s daughter, other tentative theories for Mephibosheth’s mother include:

  • Daughter of Barzillai: Barzillai supported David when he fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27-29). David later tells Barzillai’s sons “your sons will find favor in my sight” (2 Samuel 19:39). Some suggest David may have married Barzillai’s daughter to Jonathan.
  • Daughter of Yeshua/Ithra: 2 Samuel 17:25 mentions Yeshua/Ithra as the father of David’s sister Abigail. Some propose Yeshua may have been a maternal ancestor of Mephibosheth.
  • Daughter of Machir: Machir helped care for Mephibosheth’s son Micah (2 Samuel 9:4-5), leading to speculation about a family connection.

However, there is little hard evidence for any of these proposals. They remain speculative suggestions without further proof.

When Was Mephibosheth Born?

Though we don’t know precisely when Mephibosheth was born, we can estimate a plausible range based on a few key events:

  • He was 5 years old when his father Jonathan was killed in battle (around 1012 BC)
  • Jonathan was born after Saul became king of Israel (around 1052 BC)
  • Working back, if Jonathan was around 20-40 when Mephibosheth was born, this puts his birth range roughly around 1022-1042 BC

So while the exact year is unknown, it’s likely Mephibosheth was born sometime in the middle of the 11th century BC.

Did Mephibosheth Have Siblings?

The Bible does not mention any siblings of Mephibosheth. Some speculate his lameness may have been caused by a difficult birth that also resulted in the death of his mother, which could explain the lack of other children. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this idea.

It’s possible Jonathan and his wife had other children who simply are not named in the scriptural accounts. But based on the Bible text alone, it appears Mephibosheth was their only son who survived and was recorded.

Mephibosheth’s Activities After David’s Kindness

After David showed him kindness and invited him to dine at the royal table, the Bible does not record much further activity from Mephibosheth’s life. A few key points we know:

  • His land and property were restored to him by David (2 Samuel 9:7)
  • He permanently lived in Jerusalem near David (2 Samuel 9:13)
  • He continued eating meals with David (2 Samuel 19:24)
  • He remained loyal to David when Absalom revolted (2 Samuel 19:30)

Based on these limited details, it seems Mephibosheth lived a comfortable life in Jerusalem supported by David’s favor. He likely managed his inherited lands while benefiting from close access to the royal court.

Table of Key Events in Mephibosheth’s Life

Event Date Description
Birth c. 1022-1042 BC Born to Jonathan and his unnamed wife
Saul & Jonathan’s Death c. 1012 BC Father Jonathan & grandfather Saul die in battle when Mephibosheth is 5 years old
Moved to Lo Debar Unknown Relocated from Gibeah to Lo Debar at some point, likely for protection
Taken in by David c. 1005 BC Brought to Jerusalem by David and granted privileges at the royal court
Supported David over Absalom c. 975 BC Remained loyal to David when Absalom revolted

This timeline summarizes the major life events of Mephibosheth that are documented in the scriptural accounts.


In summary, the identity of Mephibosheth’s mother remains uncertain. She was likely Jonathan’s wife, of high social standing, and possibly related to Saul’s household. But her name and exact pedigree are never confirmed in the Bible text. While some suggest she may have been the daughter of Aiah, Barzillai, Yeshua/Ithra, or Machir, these connections are not definitive. Her critical role was as the mother of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, through whom the lineage of Saul continued after his tragic death. Despite the mystery surrounding her personally, the favor David showed Mephibosheth out of respect for Jonathan testifies to the remarkable influence of this unnamed woman who raised the future heir to Saul’s dynasty.