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This name is a deliberate alteration of the name "Ishbaal," offensive to Jews because it mans "man of Baal." Ishbaal was the son of Saul, the king of Israel who was wounded and then committed suicide in the battle of Gilboa (I Samuel 31:6). Abner, Saul's commander, installed Ishbaal as successor, but David, now King of Judah, aspired to take over Israel (II Samuel 2:8-9). In the war that ensued Ishbaal antagonized Abner, who was the only one who could have kept him in power (II Samuel 3:6-11). Both Ishbaal and Abner were murdered, and the Israelites invited David to unite Judah and Israel under his rule (II Samuel 5:1-3).
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.