International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
zi'-ba (tsibha', tsibha' (2 Samuel 16:4 a), meaning unknown; Seiba): A former servant or probably dependent of Saul's house (2 Samuel 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 1 Samuel 20:14;). 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 2 Samuel 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 (2 Samuel 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 2 Samuel 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 (2 Samuel 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 2 Samuel 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.
David Francis Roberts