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BARZILLAI (bar-zĭl'ā-ī, Heb. bārzillay, made of iron)

A wealthy Gileadite of Rogelim, east of the Jordan, who brought provisions to David and his army when the king fled from Absalom (2Sam.17.27-2Sam.17.29). When David was returning to Jerusalem, after Absalom’s defeat, David invited Barzillai to come to live in the capital. Barzillai, who was then eighty, refused because of his age but arranged that his son Kimham should go instead (2Sam.19.31-2Sam.19.40). Before his death David charged Solomon to “show kindness to the sons of Barzillai” (1Kgs.2.7).One of the returning exiles living in Ezra’s time. He “married a daughter of Barzillai the Gileadite” and adopted his wife’s family name (Ezra.2.61-Ezra.2.62).A Meholathite, whose son Adriel married Saul’s daughter, either Michal (2Sam.21.8) or Merab (1Sam.18.19).

BARZILLAI bär zĭl’ ī (בַּרְזִלָּ֑י, bār-zillay, LXX, Βερζελλι, iron or of iron). 1. An aged and wealthy Gileadite of Rogelim who, with Shobi of Ammon and Machir of Lo-debar, brought provisions to David and his army at Mahanaim while they were fleeing from Absalom (2 Sam 17:27). After David defeated Absalom and was returning to Jerusalem, Barzillai escorted him over the Jordan, but, because of his age, declined the king’s invitation to come and live at the capital. In his place he sent his son, Chimham (19:31-39).

In his charge to Solomon when the latter succeeded his father as king of the United Kingdom, David urged Solomon to show kindness to Barzillai’s sons for their father’s loyalty to David at Mahanaim (1 Kings 2:7).

2. The father of a family of priests who came to Jerusalem in the return from exile under Joshua and Zerubbabel in 538 b.c. The priestly family was deemed polluted and forbidden to partake of holy food because they could not trace their genealogy to prove they belonged to Israel. Barzillai had taken his name from his wife’s family when he married a daughter (a daughter five centuries later) of Barzillai, the Gileadite. His unclean status was to remain until there should be a priest who could consult Urim and Thummim (Ezra 2:61-63; cf. Neh 7:63-64); 1 Esdras 5:38 gives his name as Jaddus.

3. The Meholathite whose son married Merab, Saul’s daughter, and whose five grandsons were given to the Gibeonites to avenge Saul’s blood guilt (2 Sam 21:8, 9).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

bar-zil’-a-i, bar-zil’-i (barzillay; Berzelli, "man of iron" (BDB, but compare Cheyne, Encyclopedia Biblica)):

(1) A Gileadite of Rogelim who brought provisions to David and his army to Mahanaim, in their flight from Absalom (2Sa 17:27-29). When David was returning to Jerusalem after Absalom’s defeat, Barzillai conducted him over Jordan, but being an old man of 80 years of age, he declined David’s invitation to come to live in the capital, and sent instead his son Chimham (2Sa 19:31-39). David before his death charged Solomon to "show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai." (1Ki 2:7). Cheyne in Encyclopedia Biblica, without giving any reason, differentiates this Barzillai from Barzillai the Gileadite (Ezr 2:61 = Ne 7:63). See (2) below.

(2) The father of a family of priests who in Ezra’s time, after the return of the exiles, could not trace their genealogy. "Therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood." This Barzillai had taken "a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite," and had adopted his wife’s family name (Ezr 2:61,62 = Ne 7:63,64). His original name is given as Jaddus (the King James Version Addus) (1 Esdras 5:38). (See Zorzelleus; the Revised Version, margin "Phaezeldaeus.")

(3) Barzillai the Meholathite, whose son Adriel was married to Saul’s daughter, either Michal (2Sa 21:8) or Merab (1Sa 18:19).