1 Kings xxv.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Samuel died. The Rabbins say four months before Saul. (Seder, olam 13.) (Tirinus) — Others believe about two years; and suppose that he was 98 years old, twenty of which he had been judge: (Calmet) Salien says 38, and that he lived seventy-seven years. (Menochius) — On all these points the learned are divided, chap. vii. 15. They are more unanimous in praising (Haydock) the conduct of this most holy statesman. Grotius compares him with Aristides. (Calmet) — But he Holy Ghost gives Samuel a far more glorious character, Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 16., &c. (Haydock) — Both he and his mother are figures of the two testaments. Anna becomes fruitful — Samuel is substituted in the place of Heli. The sterility of Anna represents the incapacity of the Synagogue, to produce living and virtuous children. She bears Samuel, the figure of Jesus Christ, who reunites in his person the royal and the sacerdotal dignity. But under another point of view, Samuel, how perfect soever, must give place to the more perfect David, the glorious type of Jesus Christ, and thus the Synagogue, notwithstanding all her prerogatives, must yield to the Church. See St. Augustine, de C.[City of God?] xvii. 1, 4. Many of the ancients have looked upon Samuel as the high priest: but the generality have acknowledged that he was only a Levite, (Calmet) or an extraordinary priest, like Moses. (Haydock) — All Israel, or many from every tribe, assembled to attend his funeral; (Tirinus) and all mourned for him, as they had done for Moses and Aaron. (Salien) — House, or among his kindred, (Tirinus) in a place which he had chosen for his tomb. This is called the house of the wicked for ever; but the just raise their hopes much higher, and await a more splendid palace above, and a glorious resurrection. (Haydock) — They would not bury Samuel in his dwelling-house, as it could not then be entered without incurring an uncleanness. (Calmet) — His bones were translated with great respect to Constantinople, and a noble mausoleum was built for them by the emperor Justinian. (Procop. v.; St. Jerome, contra Vigil.) (Tirinus)
Ver. 2. Maon. Vatican Septuagint has the same word in the preceding verse, instead of Pharan. (Haydock) — Possessions. Hebrew, “work.” Cattle then formed the chief source of riches. Carmel and Maon were not far from Pharan, in Arabia. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Caleb, the famous companion of Josue. His name means, “a dog;” whence the Septuagint, “he was a Cynic.” Josephus, “he followed the manners of the Cynics,” who were remarkable for their impudence, like dogs. Caleb was of the same tribe as David, and ought to have been more favourable to him on that account, ver. 6. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Molested them. This deserved some acknowledgment, as they might have done it with impunity. But David had also been of service to Nabal’s men, as one of them told Abigail, ver. 16—21.
Ver. 8. Good day, set aside for rejoicing, when the sheep were shorn, 2 Kings xiii. 24.
Ver. 10. Masters. As if he had said, you and David are but fugitive slaves. (Calmet) — He might also insinuate, that David encouraged such practices, chap. xxii. 2. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Water, under which name all sorts of drink are included. Nabal had plenty of wine, and was much intoxicated, ver. 36. Septuagint translate, “wine.” Syriac and Arabic, “drink.” — Cattle. Hebrew, “victim,” which is a term used both for sacred and profane feasts.
Ver. 14. Rejected them. Hebrew, “flew against them.” Chaldean, “saw them with disgust.”
Ver. 17. Determined, and as if it had already taken place, chap. xx. 7.
Ver. 18. Raisins. Hebrew tsimmukim, “dried raisins,” or clusters of an extraordinary size. Roger speaks of some gathered in the vale of Sorec, which weighed 25½ pounds. (the year of the Lord 1634.) Septuagint, “a gomer of dry raisins.” Syriac and Arabic, “a hundred cheeses.” — Cakes. Chaldean, “pounds.” Hebrew is imperfect, two hundred….of figs. We must supply (Calmet) cakes, with the Protestants, &c., or pounds, with the Chaldean, (Haydock) as each of the cakes perhaps weighed so much. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. Nabal. Knowing his churlish temper, and that he was drunk at this time, (ver. 36.; Haydock) she might be well excused from the ordinary laws which forbid a wife to dispose of her husband’s property, without his consent. The emergency left no time for consultation. She gave a part to save the whole. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Foot. Hebrew, “in the obscurity,” or road covered with trees. Septuagint, “in the shade.” Chaldean, “on the side.” David was descending from the mountains of Pharan, at the same time.
Ver. 22. The enemies, is left out in some editions of the Septuagint. But David wishes all evils to himself, though, to avoid the ominous expression, he specifies his enemies, if he do not punish Nabal. — Leave. David certainly sinned in his designs against Nabal and his family, as he himself was afterwards sensible, when he blessed God for hindering him from executing the revenge he had proposed. (Challoner) — All. Chaldean, “any one who is come to the use of reason.” Syriac and Arabic, “the least thing hanging upon the wall.” I will destroy the guilty, and plunder all the valuable effects. (Calmet) — But the Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., agree with the Vulgate and the meaning is, either that every man, or that every dog, and even the meanest things, should be enveloped in the general ruin. (Haydock) — The manners of men vary, but those of dogs are always the same. Hence, it is more generally supposed that this expression (Calmet) denotes that even dogs shall be exterminated, and consequently other things for which Nabal would have a greater affection. (Haydock) — Aurelian being irritated against the inhabitants of Thiane, swore, “I will not leave a dog in this town;” which all people explained as if he meant to leave nothing alive in it. But being afterwards moved with compassion at the distress of the people, he executed his threat literally, and killed all the dogs. (Vopisc.) See 3 Kings xiv. 10., and xv. 29., and xxi. 21., and 4 Kings v. 6. (Bochart, Anim. ii. 55.; Delrio, adag. 184.) (Calmet) — The unhappy Geddes translates, “a dog,” to avoid the indelicate allusion. It would have been well if he had allowed himself no greater liberties! (Haydock) — The Hebrew mashtin, may denote a shepherd’s or a mastiff dog. (Menochius)
Ver. 24. Iniquity, or the punishment of this fault, ver. 28. (Calmet) — She wishes to divest the mind of David from the consideration of her husband’s incivility; and, after condemning it herself, insinuates that it would be unbecoming for a great king to mind so insignificant an enemy, ver. 28. (Haydock) — Thus the emperor Adrian, and Louis XII, would not resent the affronts which they had received before they were raised to that high dignity. (Tirinus)
Ver. 25. The king, is not in Hebrew, Septuagint, &c. David’s title was not yet publicly acknowledged. (Calmet) —But Abigail plainly alludes to it, ver. 28. (Haydock) — Name. Nabal, in Hebrew, signifies a fool. (Calmet) — Thus she extenuates his fault, by attributing it to a deficiency in understanding.
Ver. 26. To thee. She felicitates David on not having put his design in execution. (Calmet) — Theodoret thinks he might lawfully have done it; but others believe that the fault bore no proportion with the intended punishment. (Tirinus) — As Nabal, devoid of sense. Abigail displays the eloquence of nature. (Calmet)
Ver. 27. Blessing, or present. (Menochius) See 2 Corinthians ix. 5. (Calmet)
Ver. 28. House. Thy family shall long continue in the enjoyment of the royal power. Chaldean, “an established kingdom.” (Haydock) — Lord, as his general. — Evil. Do no manner of injustice. Hebrew, “and evil hast not been found,” &c. Hitherto thy life has been irreproachable. (Calmet)
Ver. 29. Bundle. Such things are more secure than those which are loose. (Worthington) — Of the living, or predestinate, over whom Providence watches in a particular manner. She seems to allude to the method of carrying pieces of silver in bundles, Proverbs vii. 20. Chaldean, “the soul of my lord shall be in the treasury of the lives of the age, before the Lord God.” (Calmet) — It shall be preserved for length of days, like something most precious, (Haydock) while the wicked shall be in continual danger and anxiety, like a stone in a sling, Zacharias ix. 15. By substituting c for b in Hebrew, the sense may be still more striking: “the soul of my lord shall be preserved like a living (precious, serviceable,) stone. But the soul of thy enemies shall be whirled in a sling.” The Hebrews had a great esteem for slingers, so that this comparison would be sufficiently noble. A living stone is often mentioned both is sacred and in profane authors, 1 Peter ii. 4. (Virgil, Æneid i. 171.) Vivoque sedilia saxo.
Ver. 30. Israel, a thing which all expected, and even Saul himself, chap. xxiv. 21.
Ver. 31. Scruple. Hebrew, “scandal,” or sin, for David might defend himself, but ought not to attack or take revenge, like a king. (Grotius) — Innocent. Many of Nabal’s family were such, and even his fault did not deserve death. Hebrew, “shed blood without cause.” (Calmet) — Handmaid, who has suggested this good advice. (Menochius) — David was so much pleased with her prudence and beauty, that he afterwards married her.
Ver. 32. Speech. Hebrew, “advice, or wisdom.” Septuagint, “conduct.” (Calmet)
Ver. 35. Face. I have been pleased with thy coming, and granted thy request. (Haydock) — David had sworn with too much haste. (Calmet) — “It is sometimes wrong to perform what has been promised, and to keep an oath.” (St. Ambrose, Off. i. C. ult.[last chapter])
Ver. 36. Morning. Admirable pattern of discretion, and how reprimands may be made with advantage. (Calmet) — A medicine given at an improper time often does harm. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xvii. 27.) When a person said to Cleostratus, “Are you not ashamed to get drunk?” he replied, “Are you not ashamed to rebuke a drunken man?”
Ver. 37. Stone. Stupified at the thought of the imminent danger to which he had foolishly exposed himself. So the poets represent Niobe as metamorphosed into a stone, at hearing of her children’s death. (Tirinus) — Josephus intimates that Nabal was killed by the malignant influence of the stars, sideratus. (Antiquities, vi. 14.) Thus, says he, David “learnt that no wicked person can escape the vengeance of God, and that Providence does not neglect human affairs, and abandon them to chance.”
Ver. 39. Blessed be, &c. David praises God on this occasion, not out of joy for the death of Nabal, (which would have argued a rancour of heart) but because he saw that God had so visibly taken his cause in hand, in punishing the injury done to him; whilst, by a merciful providence, he kept him from revenging himself. (Challoner) (Psalm lvii. 10.)
Ver. 41. Thy servant. She speaks to David’s representatives, as if he had been present. (Haydock) — The marriage was proposed probably a month or two after the death of Nabal; and Abigail followed the messengers, in a short time. (Menochius)
Ver. 43. Took, or “had taken before,” according to Josephus. Hence she is placed first, (Calmet) as the mother of David’s first-born, Amnon, 2 Kings iii. 2. (Menochius) — Michol, whom he married first, had no children. (Haydock) — Jezrahel, a city of Juda. (Menochius) (Josue xv. 56.) — There was another more famous place of this name is Issachar.
Ver. 44. Phalti, or Phaltiel, 2 Kings iii. 15. Saul violated all laws by so doing, and David took her back when he came to the throne, which he could not have done if he had given her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy xxiv. 4. (Calmet) — Michol was not blameless in living thus with another man. (Menochius) — The Rabbins say that a sword hindered Phalti from approaching her. (Horn in Sulp.) — Gallim, a city of Benjamin, Isaias x. 30. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The death of Samuel. David, provoked by Nabal, threateneth to destroy him: but is appeased by Abigail.
1 And *Samuel died, and all Israel was gathered together, and they mourned for him, and buried him in his house in Ramatha. And David rose, and went down into the wilderness of Pharan.
2 Now there was a certain man in the wilderness of Maon, and his possessions were in Carmel, and the man was very great: and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and it happened that he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 Now the name of the man was Nabal: and the name of his wife was Abigail. And she was a prudent and very comely woman, but her husband was churlish, and very bad and ill natured: and he was of the house of Caleb.
4 And when David heard in the wilderness, that Nabal was shearing his sheep,
5 He sent ten young men, and said to them: Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and salute him in my name with peace.
6 And you shall say: Peace be to my brethren, and to thee, and peace to thy house, and peace to all that thou hast.
7 I have heard that thy shepherds that were with us in the desert were shearing: we never molested them, neither was there ought missing to them of the flock at any time, all the while they were with us in Carmel.
8 Ask thy servants, and they will tell thee. Now therefore let thy servants find favour in thy eyes: for we are come in a good day, whatsoever thy hand shall find give to thy servants, and to thy son David.
9 And when David’s servants came, they spoke to Nabal all these words in David’s name, and then held their peace.
10 But Nabal answering the servants of David, said: Who is David? and what is the son of Isai? servants are multiplied now a days who flee from their masters.
11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and the flesh of my cattle, which I have killed for my shearers, and give to men whom I know not whence they are?
12 So the servants of David went back their way, and returning came and told him all the words that he said.
13 Then David said to his young men: Let every man gird on his sword. And they girded on every man his sword. And David also girded on his sword: and there followed David about four hundred men, and two hundred remained with the baggage.
14 But one of the servants told Abigail, the wife of Nabal, saying: Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness, to salute our master: and he rejected them.
15 These men were very good to us, and gave us no trouble: neither did we ever lose any thing all the time that we conversed with them in the desert.
16 They were a wall unto us, both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Wherefore consider, and think what thou hast to do: for evil is determined against thy husband, and against thy house, and he is a son of Belial, so that no man can speak to him.
18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves, and two vessels of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of dry figs, and laid them upon asses:
19 And she said to her servants: Go before me: behold I will follow after you: but she told not her husband, Nabal.
20 And when she had gotten upon an ass, and was coming down to the foot of the mountain, David and his men came down over against her, and she met them.
21 And David said: Truly in vain have I kept all that belonged to this fellow in the wilderness, and nothing was lost of all that pertained unto him: and he hath returned me evil for good.
22 May God do so and so, and add more to the foes of David, if I leave of all that belong to him till the morning, any that pisseth against the wall.
23 And when Abigail saw David, she made haste and lighted off the ass, and fell before David, on her face, and adored upon the ground.
24 And she fell at his feet, and said: Upon me let this iniquity be, my lord: let thy handmaid speak, I beseech thee, in thy ears: and hear the words of thy servant.
25 Let not my lord the king, I pray thee, regard this naughty man, Nabal: for according to his name, he is a fool, and folly is with him: but I, thy handmaid, did not see thy servants, my lord, whom thou sentest.
26 Now therefore, my lord, the Lord liveth, and thy soul liveth, who hath withholden thee from coming to blood, and hath saved thy hand to thee: and now let thy enemies be as Nabal, and all they that seek evil to my lord.
27 Wherefore receive this blessing, which thy handmaid hath brought to thee, my lord: and give it to the young men that follow thee, my lord.
28 Forgive the iniquity of thy handmaid: for the Lord will surely make for my lord a faithful house, *because thou, my lord, fightest the battles of the Lord: let not evil therefore be found in thee all the days of thy life.
29 For if a man at any time shall rise, and persecute thee, and seek thy life, the soul of my lord shall be kept, as in the bundle of the living, with the Lord thy God: but the souls of thy enemies shall be whirled, as with the violence and whirling of a sling.
30 And when the Lord shall have done to thee, my lord, all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have made thee prince over Israel,
31 This shall not be an occasion of grief to thee, and a scruple of heart to my lord, that thou hast shed innocent blood, or hast revenged thyself: and when the Lord shall have done well by my lord, thou shalt remember thy handmaid.
32 And David said to Abigail: Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, who sent thee this day to meet me, and blessed be thy speech:
33 And blessed be thou, who hast kept me to-day from coming to blood, and revenging me with my own hand.
34 Otherwise, as the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, who hath withholden me from doing thee any evil, if thou hadst not quickly come to meet me, there had not been left to Nabal by the morning light, any that pisseth against the wall.
35 And David received at her hand all that she had brought him, and said to her: Go in peace into thy house, behold I have heard thy voice, and honoured thy face.
36 And Abigail came to Nabal: and behold he had a feast in his house, like the feast of a king: and Nabal’s heart was merry, for he was very drunk: and she told him nothing less or more until morning.
37 But early in the morning, when Nabal had digested his wine, his wife told him these words, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
38 And after ten days had passed, the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.
39 And when David had heard that Nabal was dead, he said: Blessed be the Lord, who hath judged the cause of my reproach, at the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil, and the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his head. Then David sent and treated with Abigail, that he might take her to himself for a wife.
40 And David’s servants came to Abigail, to Carmel, and spoke to her, saying: David hath sent us to thee, to take thee to himself for a wife.
41 And she arose, and bowed herself down with her face to the earth, and said: Behold, let thy servant be a handmaid, to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.
42 And Abigail arose, and made haste, and got upon an ass, and five damsels went with her, her waiting maids, and she followed the messengers of David, and became his wife.
43 Moreover David took also Achinoam of Jezrahel: and they were both of them his wives.
44 But Saul gave Michol, his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti, the son of Lais, who was of Gallim.
1: Year of the World 2947, Year before Christ 1057.; 1 Kings xxviii. 3.; Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 23.
28: 1 Kings xvi. 18. and xvii. 40.