1 Kings xxiii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Barns. The floors were composed of earth and the dregs of oil, made into a sort of mortar, so that rain, mice, &c., could not hurt them. (Cato 91 and 129.) — Hither the people of Ceila had gathered their corn, and the enemy came to plunder, or to spoil, according to custom, Judges v. 4., and xv. 5. (Calmet) — Ceila was about seven miles from Hebron, and as many from Eleutheropolis. (St. Jerome)

Ver. 2. Lord, by the prophet Gad, (Salien; ver. 6.; Menochius) or by Abiathar, who brought the ephod along with him. David undertakes nothing without his advice.

Ver. 3. Judea, in the midst of the country, remote from the Philistines; and in a forest, where Saul cannot so easily attack us, as in a city.

Ver. 4. Again, in the presence of his soldiers. (Calmet) — Thus Gedeon requested a double miracle of the Lord, to encourage his men. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. An ephod, or the ephod. That is, the vestment of the high priest, with the Urim and Thummim, by which the Lord gave his oracles.

Ver. 7. Bars. This was what David’s men apprehended. Saul thinks this is a fit opportunity for taking them all prisoners; and he supposes that God was on his side, though, after his repeated crimes, he had little reason to flatter himself with hopes of this nature. The wicked, however, easily delude themselves. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. People, in the neighbourhood. It is hardly probable that all Israel should be put in motion to take a few men. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Secretly. He might have pretended that the armament was against the Philistines. (Menochius) — Ephod. Some say that David put it on. But this was the privilege of the high priest, who gave the answer to David’s consultation, which he might perhaps repeat after him. (Calmet) — He put on the rational to consult God, Exodus xxviii., and Leviticus viii. (Worthington)

Ver. 12. Up. God had only answered the first question before. He now informs David, that it is the intention of the men of Ceila to deliver him into the hands of Saul, who was preparing to attack their city, and that he would inevitably fall into his hands, (Calmet) if he did not retire. (Worthington) — God sees contingent events with the same certainty as those which will really take place. (Haydock) — The people of Ceila could not have justly delivered up the innocent David, but they might have insisted that he should quit their city, to save it from destruction; or they might have forced him. (Scholastic) (Tirinus)

Ver. 14. Ziph, eight miles east of Hebron, (St. Jerome) towards the southern Carmel. (Eusebius) — Abdias (ver. 3) takes notice of the clefts of the rocks of Edom. St. Jerome says, this mountain was “dark and cloudy.” (Menochius)

Ver. 16. In God exceedingly, reminding him of God’s promises. (Calmet) — He hoped to see David king, and himself next to him in power. (Haydock)

Ver. 17. Next, in dignity; thy helper and associate. See Ecclesiastes iv. 8, 11. — This, our league, (Calmet) or the decree appointing David to be king. (Menochius)

Ver. 18. Lord, Gad or Abiathar being present. (St. Jerome) — This is the third time they had confirmed their alliance, to satisfy their love. (Menochius)

Ver. 19. Hand, to the south. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 22. Him, and therefore will be upon his guard. (Haydock) — Syriac, “because I am told he is crafty.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, “because Saul said, lest this crafty man should exert all his art;” or, “lest he should be very cunning.” (Haydock) — Saul foreboded that he would again elude his pursuit. (Vatable)

Ver. 23. And if. Hebrew, “if he be in the land, I will.” — Thousands; the cities, or with all the troops. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 24. Maon, in Arabia Petrea, not far from Bersabee. (Calmet)

Ver. 26. Other side, to the south. — Despaired, without the divine assistance. (Salien) — Hebrew nechpaz, “feared, or (Du Hamel) made haste to flee.” Septuagint, “David was screened to depart.” He used all possible precautions not to fall into Saul’s hands, though he knew he should succeed him. He might still experience some fear of ill treatment. (Haydock)

Ver. 28. Division, as it alone had been between the two rivals. Saul was obliged to leave the place, though he and his men were in suspense what to do. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

David relieveth Ceila, besieged by Philistines. He fleeth into the desert of Ziph. Jonathan and he confirm their former covenant. The Ziphites discover him to Saul, who pursuing close after him, is called away by an invasion from the Philistines.

1 And *they told David, saying: Behold the Philistines fight against Ceila, and they rob the barns.

2 Therefore David consulted the Lord, saying: Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said to David: Go, and thou shalt smite the Philistines, and shalt save Ceila.

3 And the men that were with David, said to him: Behold we are in fear here in Judea, how much more if we go to Ceila against the bands of the Philistines?

4 Therefore David consulted the Lord again. And he answered and said to him: Arise, and go to Ceila: for I will deliver the Philistines into thy hand.

5 David, therefore, and his men, went to Ceila, and fought against the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and made a great slaughter of them: and David saved the inhabitants of Ceila.

6 Now at that time, when Abiathar, the son of Achimelech, fled to David, to Ceila, he came down, having an ephod with him.

7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Ceila: and Saul said: The Lord hath delivered him into my hands, and he is shut up, being come into a city that hath gates and bars.

8 And Saul commanded all the people to go down to fight against Ceila, and to besiege David, and his men.

9 Now when David understood that Saul secretly prepared evil against him, he said to Abiathar, the priest: Bring hither the ephod.

10 And David said: O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath heard a report, that Saul designeth to come to Ceila, to destroy the city for my sake:

11 Will the men of Ceila deliver me into his hands? and will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, tell thy servant. And the Lord said: He will come down.

12 And David said: Will the men of Ceila deliver me and my men into the hands of Saul? And the Lord said: They will deliver thee up.

13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose, and departing from Ceila, wandered up and down, uncertain where they should stay: and it was told Saul that David was fled from Ceila, and had escaped: wherefore he forbore to go out.

14 But David abode in the desert in strong holds, and he remained in a mountain of the desert of Ziph, in a woody hill. And Saul sought him always: but the Lord delivered him not into his hands.

15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life. And David was in the desert of Ziph, in a wood.

16 And Jonathan, the son of Saul, arose, and went to David, into the wood, and strengthened his hands in God: and he said to him:

17 Fear not: for the hand of my father, Saul, shall not find thee, and thou shalt reign over Israel, and I shall be next to thee; yea, and my father knoweth this.

18 And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood: but Jonathan returned to his house.

19 *And the Ziphites went up to Saul, in Gabaa, saying: Lo, doth not David lie hid with us in the strong holds of the wood, in Mount Hachila, which is on the right hand of the desert.

20 Now therefore come down, as thy soul hath desired to come down: and it shall be our business to deliver him into the king’s hands.

21 And Saul said: Blessed be ye of the Lord, for you have pitied my case.

22 Go, therefore, I pray you, and use all diligence, and curiously inquire, and consider the place where his foot is, and who hath seen him there: for he thinketh of me, that I lie craftily in wait for him.

23 Consider, and see all his lurking holes, wherein he is hid, and return to me with the certainty of the thing, that I may go with you. And if he should even go down into the earth to hide himself, I will search him out in all the thousands of Juda.

24 And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: and David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the plain at the right hand of Jesimon.

25 Then Saul and his men went to seek him: and it was told David, and forthwith he went down to the rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon: and when Saul had heard of it, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.

26 And Saul went on this side of the mountain: and David and his men were on the other side of the mountain: and David despaired of being able to escape from the face of Saul: and Saul and his men encompassed David and his men round about, to take them.

27 And a messenger came to Saul, saying: Make haste to come, for the Philistines have poured in themselves upon the land.

28 Wherefore Saul returned, leaving the pursuit of David, and went to meet the Philistines. For this cause, they called that place the rock of division.



1: Year of the World 2945, Year before Christ 1059.

19: 1 Kings xxvi. 1.