Beware of Merchants Bearing WheatBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Ishboshes was distressed to hear about Avner’s death, as without Avner he had no hope of consolidating his rule. Two of his men, Baanah and Reichav, took the opportunity to overthrow Ishboshes. They either dressed as wheat merchants or entered the palace with a group of wheat merchants, and entered the king’s chambers while he was sleeping. After killing Ishboshes, they severed his head and brought it to David. This was not the best idea they could have had.
David’s reaction: “If I killed the person who claimed to have killed Shaul, rather than rewarding him, why do you think I’d reward you for killing an innocent man in his bed?” He had the two assassins executed and had the head of Ishboshes buried in Avner’s tomb in Hebron.
(This chapter tells us incidentally that Jonathan had a son named Mephiboshes who was dropped by his nurse as a small child and, as a result, could not walk. File that piece of information away, as it will become important in a few chapters.)