1 Samuel 21:1-9

1 Samuel 21:1-9
Narrative Lectionary


DavidA cameB to NobC to the priestD Ahimelech.E

Notes on verse 1a

A “David” = David. From the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
B “came” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
C “Nob” = Nob. 6x in OT. From naar (to abandon, reject) OR from the same as nob (fruit, praise; that which is generated in a literal or figurative sense); {from nub (to bear fruit, increase, flourish; also used for speaking words)} OR from nabah (to be high). This is Nob, a place whose name may mean “fruit, “height,” or “high place.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Nob.html
D “priest” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
E “Ahimelech” = Achimelek. 17x in OT. From ach (brother, kindred, another, other, like) + melek (king, royal). This is Ahimelech, meaning “brother of a king.” It is a name used by Israelites and Hittites.

Ahimelech came tremblingF to meetG David, and said to him, “WhyH are you alone,I and no oneJ with you?” 

Notes on verse 1b

F “came trembling” = charad. This is trembling, being afraid, or being terrified. It can also refer to moving quickly due to anxiety.
G “meet” = qara. This is to meet, befall, happen upon. It can be to encounter by chance or for aggression.
H “why” = maddua. From mah (what, how long) + yada (to know, be aware, see and so understand – includes observation, care, recognition; can also be used as a euphemism). This is why or how.
I “alone” = bad. From badad (to divide or be separated; alone, solitary, lonely, isolated, straggler). This is apart, alone, separation, body part, tree branch, except. It can also be a city’s chief.
J “one” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.

David said to the priest Ahimelech, “The kingK has chargedL me with a matter,M and said to me, ‘No one must knowN anythingO of the matter about which I sendP you, and with which I have charged you.’

Notes on verse 2a

K “king” = melek. Related to “Ahimelech” in v1. See note E above.
L “charged” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
M “matter” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
N “know” = yada. Related to “why” in v1. See note H above.
O “anything” = meumah. From the same as mum (defect – an ethical one or a literal bodily one). Its root may mean to stain. This can mean a speck or fault. More broadly, it can also refer to anything or nothing.
P “send” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.

I have made an appointmentQ with the young menR for such and suchS a place.T 

Notes on verse 2b

Q “made an appointment” = yada. Same as “know” in v2. See note N above.
R “young men” = naar. May be from na’ar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a child or a servant. It is a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence.
S “such and such” = peloni + almoni. Peloni is 3x in OT. From palah (to distinguish in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be to sever, set apart, or show self to be marvelous). This is such a one, someone specific.  Almoni is 3x in OT. From alam (to bind or tie fast; to be silent or speechless, whether voluntary or involuntary). This is someone who is not named particularly. These two words always occur together in the Bible.
T “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.

3 Now then, what have you at hand?U GiveV, W me five loaves of bread,X or whatever is here.”Y 

Notes on verse 3

U “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
V “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
W {untranslated} = yad. Same as “hand” in v3. See note U above.
X “loaves of bread” = lechem. From lacham (to eat, feed on). This is bread, food, loaf. It can refer to food more generally for people or for animals.
Y “is here” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.

The priest answeredZ David, “I have no ordinaryAA bread at hand, only holyBB bread—provided that the young men have keptCC themselves from women.”DD 

Notes on verse 4

Z “answered” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
AA “ordinary” = chol. 7x in OT. From chalal (to defile, pollute). This is profaneness or common use. Literally, it is exposed and therefore profane.
BB “holy” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.
CC “kept” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
DD “women” = ishshah. Related to “one” in v1. Perhaps from ish (see note J above). This is woman, wife, or female.

David answered the priest, “Indeed women have been keptEE from us as alwaysFF when I go on an expedition;GG

Notes on verse 5a

EE “kept” = atsar. To inclose, restrain, keep, hold back, or prevail. It can also mean to maintain, rule, or gather together.
FF “always” = temol + shilshom. Temol may be from ethmol (formerly, before, yesterday, time); {from et (with, among, beside, including, toward, near); from anah (to meet, happen, approach)} + mul (front, opposite, toward); {from mul (to cut short, circumcise, blunt, destroy)}. This is ago, recently, yesterday, past. Shilshom is from shalash (to make triplicate, do a third time); from the same as shalosh (three, fork, three times). This is three days ago, before, yesterday in the past.
GG “go on an expedition” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.

the vesselsHH of the young men areII holy even when it is a commonJJ journey;KK how much more todayLL will their vessels be holy?”MM 

Notes on verse 5b

HH “vessels” = keli. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.
II “are” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
JJ “common” = chol. Same as “ordinary” in v4. See note AA above.
KK “journey” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LL “today” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
MM “be holy” = qadash. Related to “holy” in v4. From qodesh (see note BB above). This is set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified. This is something or someone that is set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean.

6 So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence,NN which is removedOO from beforePP the Lord,QQ to be replacedRR by hotSS bread on the day it is taken away.TT

Notes on verse 6

NN “Presence” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
OO “removed” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
PP “from before” = paneh. Same as “Presence” in v6. See note NN above.
QQ “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “are” in v5. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note II above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
RR “replaced” = sum. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
SS “hot” = chom. 14x in OT. From chamam (to be warm, heat; to be hot in a literal or figurative sense; to mate). This is hot or warmth.
TT “taken away” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.

7 Now a certain manUU of the servantsVV of SaulWW was there that day, detainedXX beforeYY the Lord;ZZ

Notes on verse 7a

UU “certain man” = ish. Same as “one” in v1. See note J above.
VV “servants” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
WW “Saul” = Shaul. From shaal (to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request; can also mean demand). This is Saul or Shaul, meaning “asked of the Lord.”
XX “detained” = atsar. Same as “kept” in v5. See note EE above.
YY “before” = paneh. Same as “Presence” in v6. See note NN above.
ZZ “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “are” in v5 & “Lord” in v6. This has the same meaning as “Lord,” but it has a different vowel pointing. See note QQ above.

his nameAAA was DoegBBB the Edomite,CCC the chiefDDD of Saul’s shepherds.EEE

Notes on verse 7b

AAA “name” = shem. Related to “replaced” in v6. May be from sum (see note RR above). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
BBB “Doeg” = Doeg. 6x in OT. From daag (to fear, be worried, sorrow, be concerned, be anxious, be sorry). This is Doeg, “anxious.”
CCC “Edomite” = Adomi. 11x in OT. From Edom (Edom or Idumaea); from adom (to be red or flushed). This is Edomite, meaning “red.”
DDD “chief” = abbir. 17x in OT. From abir (strong, mighty); from abar (to fly, soar). This is mighty or valiant. It could refer to a mighty one broadly, an angel, or a bull.
EEE “shepherds” = roi. 11x in OT. From raah (to graze, tend a flock, keep company with; to pasture in a literal or figurative sense). This is pastoral or a shepherd.

8 David said to Ahimelech, “Is there no spearFFF or swordGGG here with you?HHH I did not bringIII my sword or my weaponsJJJ with me,KKK because the king’s businessLLL requiredMMM haste.”NNN 

Notes on verse 8

FFF “spear” = chanit. From chanah (to decline, bending down, or living in tents; can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle). This is a spear or lance as a weapon that is thrust in the same way one pitches a tent.
GGG “sword” = chereb. From charab (to attack, slay). This is any sharp instrument like a sword, dagger, axe, or mattock.
HHH “with you” = tachat + yad. Literally “on hand.” Yad is the same as “hand” in v3. See note U above.
III “bring” = laqach. Same as “taken away” in v6. See note TT above.
JJJ “weapons” = keli. Same as “vessels” in v5. See note HH above.
KKK “with me” = yad. Literally “at hand.” Same as “hand” in v3. See note U above.
LLL “business” = dabar. Same as “matter” in v2. See note M above.
MMM “required” = hayah. Same as “are” in v5. See note II above.
NNN “haste” = nachats. 1x in OT. This is urgent or needing haste.

9 The priest said, “The sword of GoliathOOO the Philistine,PPP whom you killedQQQ in the valleyRRR of Elah,SSS, TTT

Notes on verse 9a

OOO “Goliath” = Golyath. 6x in OT. From galah (to remove, bring, carry, lead, appear; to strip someone or something bare in a negative sense; captives were typically stripped before being sent into exile; figuratively, in a positive sense, to reveal, disclose, discover). This is Goliath, a name meaning “exposer,” “conspicuous,” or “exile.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Goliath.html
PPP “Philistine” = Pelishti. From Pelesheth (Philistia); from palash (to mourn, wallow, maybe roll in). This is Philistines. Their name may mean “griever” or “burrower” or “weakener.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Philistine.html.
QQQ “killed” = nakah. This is to hit whether lightly or severely. It can be used in a literal or figurative sense. So, this could be beat, punish, give wounds, kill, or slaughter.
RRR “valley” = emeq. From amoq (to be deep in a literal or figurative sense; profound). This is Vale or valley – frequently part of place names.
SSS “Elah” = Elah. 16x in OT. From elah (oak or terebinth; or some other kind of tree that is strong); from ayil (terebinth, oak); from the same as ulam (porch, hall); from the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is Elah, a personal and place name that means “terebinth” or “oak.”
TTT {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!

is here wrappedUUU in a clothVVV behind the ephod;WWW if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.”

David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

Notes on verse 9b

UUU “wrapped” = lut. 3x in OT. This is to wrap or envelop tightly.
VVV “cloth” = simlah. Perhaps from semel (image, figure, likeness). This is mantle, clothes, wrapper.
WWW “ephod” = ephod. This is an ephod, shoulder piece – perhaps a breastplate or apron. It can refer specifically to a ritual garment worn by the high priest. Alternately, it can refer to an image.

Image credit: “The Priest Ahimelech Gives the Bread and the Sword to David” by Juan Antonio de Frías y Escalante, between 1667 and 1668.

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