Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 22

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.

David ... escaped to the cave Adullam - supposed to be that now called Deir-Dubb'an, a number of pits, or underground vaults, some nearly square, and all about fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides in the soft limestone or chalky rocks. They are on the borders of the Shephelah, or Philistine plain, at the base of the Judean mountains; placed by Eusebius and Jerome about Ramah, ten miles (about three and a half hours) east from Eleutheropolis (Beit-Jebrin). Psalms 14:1-7 was composed in that cave, well adapted for concealing a great number of refugees.

His brethren and all his fathers house ... went down - to escape the effects of Saul's rage, which seems to have extended to all David's family. From Beth-lehem to Deir-Dubb'an it is indeed a descent all the way (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 175; 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 254; Van de Velde, 2:, pp. 140, 157; Porter's 'Handbook,' pp. 229, 230: see the note at John 15:35 ).

Verse 2

And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

And every one that was in distress ... gathered themselves unto him - (see the note at Judges 11:3.) While lurking in the caverns of those rocky fastnesses, they were on the confines of extensive pasture lands, over which were spread the vast flocks of the neighbouring proprietors. David rendered useful service in protecting these from the Bedouins of the desert, and in return received from the shepherds supplies of food, as well as seasonable intelligence of the movements of the roving government spies sent to search for them (see the note at 1 Samuel 25:8-9). It is evident from the respect which he inculcated upon his followers for the rights of property and for the person of Saul, that he meditated neither treason against the king nor rebellion against his government. Similar associations exist in the same localities at the present day-a motley crew of desperate men from all parts of the country: some wild and marauding outlaws, others tolerated by the governments, and empowered to keep the desert tribes in check (see Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 200; Drew's 'Scripture Lands,' p. 121; Rogers' 'Domestic Life,' p., 179; Wolff, 'Missionary Labours and Researches,' p. 507).

Verse 3

And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.

And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab. Mizpeh signifies a watch-tower; and its association with Moab determines the direction in which it is to be sought for. The search is still further limited by the application to it (1 Samuel 22:4) of the term "hold" [ mªtsuwdaah (H4686)] - a fortress, stronghold; and all these circumstances combined point evidently to Masada, now Sebbeh, described by Josephus ('Jewish Wars,' b.

iv., 7, 2; 7:8,2; 'Antiquities,' 13:, 9, 14; b. 2:, 7) as a lofty rock of considerable circuit, overhanging the Dead Sea, surrounded by profound valleys, unfathomable to the eye. It was inaccessible to the foot of animals in every part, except by two paths hewn in the rock. One of these, the least difficult, was on the west; the other, on the east, was carried up from the lake itself by zig-zags cut along the crags of the precipice, and was exceedingly difficult and dangerous. 'A fortress was built on it,' adds the Jewish historian, 'by our ancient kings, as a place of safe deposit for their wealth during war, and as a place of safety for their persons' (Trail, 'Josephus,' vol. 2:, p. 109; Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 2: p. 240; Porter's 'Handbook," p. 238; Van de Velde,' 2:, pp. 101-103).

The king of Moab was an enemy of Saul (1 Samuel 14:17), and the great-grandson of Ruth-of course, related to the family of Jesse. David therefore had less anxiety in seeking an asylum within the dominions of this prince than those of Achish, because the Moabites had no grounds for entertaining vindictive feelings against him, and their enmity to Saul rendered them the more willing to receive so illustrious a refugee from his court.

Verse 4

And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.

The prophet Gad ... Abide not in the hold. This sound advice no doubt came from a higher source than Gad's own sagacity. It was necessary to preserve in David's mind a strong feeling of nationality, as well as to keep him from being contaminated by the influence of pagan superstition. It was right also that he should appear publicly among the people of his own tribe, as one conscious of innocence, and trusting in God; and it was expedient that, on the death of Saul, his friends might be encouraged to support his interest.

Depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 6:, ch. 12:, sec. 4) calls it [teen kleerouchia] the portion (inheritance) of the tribe of Judah.

David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth. It is said to have been on the southwest of Jerusalem; but it has long ago disappeared. [The Septuagint version has `iyr (H5892), instead of ya`ar (H3293); ekathisen en polei Sarik.] Josephus also says, 'Coming to the city Hareth, which was in that tribe, he remained ekathisen en polei Sarik.] Josephus also says, 'Coming to the city Hareth, which was in that tribe, he remained there.'

Verse 6

When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)

Saul abode ... under a tree in Ramah, [ tachat (H8478) haa'eeshel (H815) baaraamaah (H7413)] - under the tamarisk upon the hill. Oriental princes frequently sit with their court under some shady canopy in the open air. A spear was the early sceptre, as we are informed by Justin, who says, 'Anciently kings had spears as signs of royal authority.' Saul's spear might be distinguished from common spears by its length as well as its decorations; and that this was likely to be the case may be inferred from the relics of Egypt and Assyria, in both of which a massive mace was used as a royal sceptre.

Having his spear in his hand - or at his hand; i:e., near beside him. When a band of Arabs is preceded by one carrying a long pike, it indicates that there is a chief or prince among them. On his alighting, the pike is fixed upright in the ground, close to the center where the head man is seated (Pocock's 'Description of the East).

And all his servants were standing about him - not under the tree; because the text distinctly represents the king only as enjoying the arboreal shade; and the tamarisk is too diminutive and limited in its dimensions to admit of a group of royal attendants standing under it.

Verse 7

Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;

Saul said ... Hear now, ye Benjamites ... Saul had recently attacked the Beerothites, the inhabitants of Beeroth, anciently one of the cities of the Gibeonites, but afterward included within the territory of Benjamin, and having, either by the massacre or expulsion of the original occupiers, notwithstanding their solemnly-covenanted incorporation with Israel (Joshua 9:1-27), seized their possessions, he bestowed them on his family and favourites (cf. 2 Samuel 21:2). The appeal that he now made to the courtiers by whom he was surrounded was to stimulate the patriotism or jealousy of his own tribe, from which he insinuated it was the design of David to transfer the kingdom to another. This address seems to have been made on hearing of David's return with his 400 men to Judah. A dark suspicion had risen in the jealous mind of the king that Jonathan was privy to this movement, which he dreaded as a conspiracy against the crown.

Verse 8

That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.

Doeg ... set over the servants - Septuagint, over the mules of Saul.

Verse 10

And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.

He inquired of the Lord for him. Some suppose that this was a malicious fiction of Doeg, to curry favour with the king; but Ahimelech seems to acknowledge the fact.

Verses 11-14

Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.

Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? The reply of Ahimelech implies that he had frequently done so on former occasions, consulting for him as for one engaged in the public service, and that he did so on the occasion of David's arrival in Nob, without having the smallest idea of any change. The poor simple-minded high priest knew nothing of the existing family feud between Saul and David. The informer, if he knew it said nothing of the cunning artifice by which David obtained the aid of Ahimelech. The facts looked against him, and the whole priesthood along with him were declared abettors of conspiracy.

Verse 16

And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 17

And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.

The footmen that stood about him - his body-guard, or his runners (1 Samuel 8:11; 2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5; 1 Kings 14:28), who held an important place at court (2 Chronicles 12:10). But they chose rather to disobey the king than to offend God by imbruing their hands in the blood of his ministering servants. A foreigner alone (Psalms 52:1-3) could be found willing to be the executioner of this bloody and sacrilegious sentence. Thus was the doom of the house of Eli fulfilled, (see the notes at 1 Samuel 2:1-36.)

Verse 18

And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 19

And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

Nob ... smote he with the edge of the sword. The barbarous atrocities perpetrated against this city seem to have been designed to terrify all the subjects of Saul from affording either aid or an asylum to David. But they proved ruinous to Saul's own interest, as they alienated the priesthood, and disgusted all good men in the kingdom, (see the notes at 2 Samuel 21:1-22.)

Verse 20

And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.

One of the sons of Ahimelech ... escaped. This was Abiathar, who repaired to David in the forest of Hareth, rescuing with his own life the high priests vestments (1 Samuel 23:6; 1 Samuel 23:9). On hearing his sad tale, David declared that he had dreaded such a fatal result from the malice and intriguing ambition of Doeg; and accusing himself as having been the occasion of all the disaster to Abiathar's family [ 'aanokiy (H595) cabotiy (H5437) bªkaal (H3605) nepesh (H5315) beeyt (H1004) 'aabiykaa (H1), 'I am the cause to all the persons of thy father's house:' i:e. I have brought about the death of all thy family], invited him to remain, because, firmly trusting himself in the accomplishment of the divine promise, David could guarantee protection to him.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.