Ziba

ZIBA (zī'ba, Heb. tsîvā’, tsivā’, a plant). A servant or slave of King Saul (2Sam.9.2). He had fifteen sons and twenty servants. David, desiring to show kindness to the house of his departed friend Jonathan, appointed Ziba to work for Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son. When David was in trouble, Ziba brought him supplies (2Sam.19.1-2Sam.19.43), but lied and said that Mephibosheth had been disloyal to David. David therefore gave Ziba his master’s property; but later (2Sam.19.24-2Sam.19.30) when Mephibosheth declared his innocence, David altered the decree.


ZIBA zī bə (צִיבָא; LXX, Σειβα). Ziba was a servant of Saul whose life and activities are known in the Biblical record only during the reign of David. Knowledge of Ziba is limited to 2 Samuel 9, 16 and 19.

Ziba in response to the king’s request introduced Mephibosheth, a crippled son of Jonathan, to David. By royal provision the land that formerly belonged to King Saul was given to Mephibosheth and placed under the management of Ziba. Even though Mephibosheth received personal provisions from the king’s table, the produce of the land was allotted to Mephibosheth’s family. This may have been an estate of considerable size, since Ziba employed his fifteen sons and twenty servants to cultivate the land (2 Sam 9:2-12).

When David fled during Absalom’s rebellion, Ziba brought supplies to David and reported falsely that Mephibosheth was disloyal (2 Sam 16:1-4). David responded by assigning Mephibosheth’s estate to Ziba. Subsequently when David met Mephibosheth it became apparent that Ziba had betrayed his master. By royal decree half of the estate was returned to Mephibosheth while Ziba retained the remainder.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(tsibha’, tsibha’ (2Sa 16:4 a), meaning unknown; Seiba): A former servant or probably dependent of Saul’s house (2Sa 9:1 ), who was brought to David when the king inquired if there was not a member of Saul’s family that he could show kindness to (compare David’s oath to Jonathan in 1Sa 20:14 ff). Ziba tells David of Mephibosheth (Meribbaal), Jonathan’s son, who is thereupon taken to the king from Lodebar, East of the Jordan, and given Saul’s estate. Ziba is also bidden to till the land and bring in its produce, and "it shall be food for thy master’s son," according to Massoretic Text in 2Sa 9:10 b; but the Septuagint and Lucian have a better reading, "thy master’s household." Mephibosheth himself is to eat at David’s table. Ziba is to be assisted in this by his sons and servants; he had 15 sons and 20 servants (9:10).

When David has to leave Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s revolt, Ziba (2Sa 16:1-4) takes two asses for members of the king’s household to ride on, and 200 loaves and 100 clusters of raisins as provisions for the youths. When asked where Mephibosheth is, he accuses his master of remaining behind purposely in hopes that his father’s kingdom would be restored to him. David then confers upon Ziba his master’s estate.

After Absalom’s death, David sets out to return to Jerusalem from Mahanaim, East of Jordan. Ziba with his sons and servants, as we are told in a parenthesis in 2Sa 19:17,18 a (Hebrew verses 18,19a), by means of a ferry-boat goes backward and forward over Jordan, and thus enables the king’s household to cross. But he has wrongly accused his master of treacherous lukewarmness toward David, for Mephibosheth meets the king on his return journey to Jerusalem (2Sa 19:24-30 (Hebrew verses 25-31)) with signs of grief. When he is asked why he had not joined the king at the time of the latter’s flight, he answers that Ziba deceived him, "for thy servant said to him, Saddle me (so read in 2Sa 19:26 (Hebrew text, verse 27) with Septuagint and Syriac for Massoretic Text `I will have saddled me’) the ass." He then accuses Ziba of falsehood, and David divides the estate between the two, although Mephibosheth is quite willing that Ziba should retain the whole of it.