David, Nabal and Abigail
1Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran.#25:1 Hebrew and some Septuagint manuscripts; other Septuagint manuscripts Maon
2A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings – he was a Calebite.
4While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. 5So he sent ten young men and said to them, ‘Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. 6Say to him: “Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!
7‘ “Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not ill-treat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. 8Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favourable towards my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.” ’
9When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited.
10Nabal answered David’s servants, ‘Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?’
12David’s men turned round and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13David said to his men, ‘Each of you strap on your sword!’ So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies.
14One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, ‘David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15Yet these men were very good to us. They did not ill-treat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no-one can talk to him.’
18Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs#25:18 That is, probably about 27 kilograms of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19Then she told her servants, ‘Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.’ But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
20As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending towards her, and she met them. 21David had just said, ‘It’s been useless – all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22May God deal with David,#25:22 Some Septuagint manuscripts; Hebrew with David’s enemies be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!’
23When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24She fell at his feet and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. 25Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name – his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.
28‘Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, 31my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.’
32David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.’
35Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought to him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’
36When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 38About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
39When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.’
Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, ‘David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.’
41She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, ‘I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.’ 42Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife. 43David had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, and they both were his wives. 44But Saul had given his daughter Michal, David’s wife, to Paltiel#25:44 Hebrew Palti, a variant of Paltiel son of Laish, who was from Gallim.