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1 Samuel 23:1-14

Context
David Delivers the City of Keilah

23:1 They told David, “The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors.” 23:2 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go and strike down these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”

23:3 But David’s men said to him, “We are afraid while we are still here in Judah! What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 23:4 So David asked the Lord once again. But again the Lord replied, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”

23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them. 1  David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.

David Eludes Saul Again

23:6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod. 2  23:7 When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered 3  him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates.” 4  23:8 So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men. 5 

23:9 When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him, 6  he told Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!” 23:10 Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning 7  to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 23:11 Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, please inform your servant!”

Then the Lord said, “He will come down.” 23:12 David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul’s hand?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you over.”

23:13 So David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another. 8  When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition. 23:14 David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the desert of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time, 9  but God did not deliver David 10  into his hand.

1 tn Heb “and struck them down with a great blow.”

2 tn Heb “an ephod went down in his hand.”

3 tn The MT reading (“God has alienated him into my hand”) in v. 7 is a difficult and uncommon idiom. The use of this verb in Jer 19:4 is somewhat parallel, but not entirely so. Many scholars have therefore suspected a textual problem here, emending the word נִכַּר (nikkar, “alienated”) to סִכַּר (sikkar, “he has shut up [i.e., delivered]”). This is the idea reflected in the translations of the Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate, although it is not entirely clear whether they are reading something different from the MT or are simply paraphrasing what for them too may have been a difficult text. The LXX has “God has sold him into my hands,” apparently reading מַכַר (makar, “sold”) for MT’s נִכַּר. The present translation is a rather free interpretation.

4 tn Heb “with two gates and a bar.” Since in English “bar” could be understood as a saloon, it has been translated as an attributive: “two barred gates.”

5 tn Heb “So Saul mustered all his army for battle to go down to Keilah to besiege against David and his men.”

6 tn Heb “Saul was planning the evil against him.”

7 tn Heb “seeking.”

8 tn Heb “they went where they went.”

9 tn Heb “all the days.”

10 tn Heb “him”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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