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1 Samuel 21:1--22:23

Context
21:1 (21:2) David went to Ahimelech the priest in Nob. Ahimelech was shaking with fear when he met 1  David, and said to him, “Why are you by yourself with no one accompanying you?” 21:2 David replied to Ahimelech the priest, “The king instructed me to do something, but he said to me, ‘Don’t let anyone know the reason I am sending you or the instructions I have given you.’ 2  I have told my soldiers 3  to wait at a certain place. 4  21:3 Now what do you have at your disposal? 5  Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.”

21:4 The priest replied to David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread at my disposal. Only holy bread is available, and then only if your soldiers 6  have abstained from sexual relations with women.” 7  21:5 David said to the priest, “Certainly women have been kept away from us, just as on previous occasions when I have set out. The soldiers’ 8  equipment is holy, even on an ordinary journey. How much more so will they be holy today, along with their equipment!”

21:6 So the priest gave him holy bread, for there was no bread there other than the bread of the Presence. It had been removed from before the Lord in order to replace it with hot bread on the day it had been taken away. 21:7 (One of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord. His name was Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s shepherds.) 21:8 David said to Ahimelech, “Is there no sword or spear here at your disposal? I don’t have my own sword or equipment in hand due to the urgency of the king’s instructions.”

David Goes to Gath

21:9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the valley of Elah, is wrapped in a garment behind the ephod. If you wish, take it for yourself. Other than that, there’s nothing here.” David said, “There’s nothing like it! Give it to me!” 21:10 So on that day David arose and fled from Saul. He went to King Achish of Gath. 21:11 The servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one that they sing about when they dance, saying,

‘Saul struck down his thousands,

But David his tens of thousands’?”

21:12 David thought about what they said 9  and was very afraid of King Achish of Gath. 21:13 He altered his behavior in their presence. 10  Since he was in their power, 11  he pretended to be insane, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting his saliva run down his beard.

21:14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at this madman! Why did you bring him to me? 21:15 Do I have a shortage of fools, that you have brought me this man to display his insanity in front of me? Should this man enter my house?”

David Goes to Adullam and Mizpah

22:1 So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father’s family 12  learned about it, they went down there to him. 22:2 All those who were in trouble or owed someone money or were discontented 13  gathered around 14  him, and he became their leader. He had about four hundred men with him.

22:3 Then David went from there to Mizpah in Moab, where he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother stay 15  with you until I know what God is going to do for me.” 22:4 So he had them stay with the king of Moab; they stayed with him the whole time 16  that David was in the stronghold. 22:5 Then Gad the prophet said to David, “Don’t stay in the stronghold. Go to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Saul Executes the Priests

22:6 But Saul found out the whereabouts of David and the men who were with him. 17  Now Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree at an elevated location with his spear in hand and all his servants stationed around him. 22:7 Saul said to his servants who were stationed around him, “Listen up, you Benjaminites! Is Jesse’s son giving fields and vineyards to all of you? Or is he making all of you 18  commanders and officers? 19  22:8 For all of you have conspired against me! No one informs me 20  when my own son makes an agreement with this son of Jesse! Not one of you feels sorry for me or informs me that my own son has commissioned my own servant to hide in ambush against me, as is the case today!”

22:9 But Doeg the Edomite, who had stationed himself with the servants of Saul, replied, “I saw this son of Jesse come to Ahimelech son of Ahitub at Nob. 22:10 He inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions. He also gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

22:11 Then the king arranged for a meeting with the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and all the priests of his father’s house who were at Nob. They all came to the king. 22:12 Then Saul said, “Listen, son of Ahitub.” He replied, “Here I am, my lord.” 22:13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and this son of Jesse? You gave 21  him bread and a sword and inquired of God on his behalf, so that he opposes 22  me and waits in ambush, as is the case today!”

22:14 Ahimelech replied to the king, “Who among all your servants is faithful like David? He is the king’s son-in-law, the leader of your bodyguard, and honored in your house! 22:15 Was it just today that I began to inquire of God on his behalf? Far be it from me! The king should not accuse 23  his servant or any of my father’s house. For your servant is not aware of all this – not in whole or in part!” 24 

22:16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house! 22:17 Then the king said to the messengers 25  who were stationed beside him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, for they too have sided 26  with David! They knew he was fleeing, but they did not inform me.” But the king’s servants refused to harm 27  the priests of the Lord.

22:18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests. He killed on that day eighty-five 28  men who wore the linen ephod. 22:19 As for Nob, the city of the priests, he struck down with the sword men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep – all with the sword.

22:20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub escaped and fled to David. His name was Abiathar. 22:21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22:22 Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day when Doeg the Edomite was there that he would certainly tell Saul! I am guilty 29  of all the deaths in your father’s house! 22:23 Stay with me. Don’t be afraid! Whoever 30  seeks my life is seeking your life as well. You are secure with me.”

1 tn Heb “trembled to meet.”

2 tn Heb “let not a man know anything about the matter [for] which I am sending you and [about] which I commanded you.”

3 tn Heb “servants.”

4 tn The Hebrew expression here refers to a particular, but unnamed, place. It occurs in the OT only here, in 2 Kgs 6:8, and in Ruth 4:1, where Boaz uses it to refer to Naomi’s unnamed kinsman-redeemer. A contracted form of the expression appears in Dan 8:13.

5 tn Heb “under your hand.”

6 tn Heb “servants.”

7 tn Heb “have kept themselves from women” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “haven’t had sexual relations recently”; NLT “have not slept with any women recently.”

8 tn Heb “servants’.”

9 tn Heb “placed these matters in his heart.”

10 tn Heb “in their eyes.”

11 tn Heb “in their hand.”

12 tn Heb “house.”

13 tn Heb “bitter of soul.”

14 tn Heb “to.”

15 tn Heb “go forth.”

16 tn Heb “all the days.”

17 tn Heb “and Saul heard that David and the men who were with him were known.”

18 tc The MT has “to all of you.” If this reading is correct, we have here an example of a prepositional phrase functioning as the equivalent of a dative of advantage, which is not impossible from a grammatical point of view. However, the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and Vulgate all have “and.” A conjunction rather than a preposition should probably be read on the front of this phrase.

19 tn Heb “officers of a thousand and officers of a hundred.”

20 tn Heb “uncovers my ear.”

21 tn Heb “by giving.”

22 tn Heb “rises up against.”

23 tn Heb “set a matter against.”

24 tn Heb “small or great.”

25 tn Heb “runners.”

26 tn Heb “their hand is.”

27 tn Heb “to extend their hand to harm.”

28 tc The number is confused in the Greek ms tradition. The LXX, with the exception of the Lucianic recension, has the number 305. The Lucianic recension, along with a couple of Old Latin mss, has the number 350.

29 tc The translation follows the LXX, which reads “I am guilty,” rather than the MT, which has “I have turned.”

30 tn Or “the one who.” This may refer specifically to Saul, in which case David acknowledges that Abiathar’s life is endangered because of his allegiance to David. The translation assumes that the statement is more generalized, meaning that any enemy of Abiathar is an enemy of David. In other words, David promises that he will protect Abiathar with his very own life.



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