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The priest replied to David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread at my disposal. Only holy bread is available, and then only if your soldiers[a] have abstained from relations with women.”[b] David said to the priest, “Certainly women have been kept away from us, just as on previous occasions when I have set out. The soldiers’[c] equipment[d] is holy, even on an ordinary journey. How much more so will they be holy today, along with their equipment!”

So the priest gave him holy bread, for there was no bread there other than the Bread of the Presence. It had been removed from before the Lord in order to replace it with hot bread on the day it had been taken away.

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  1. 1 Samuel 21:4 tn Heb “servants.”
  2. 1 Samuel 21:4 tn Heb “have kept themselves from women” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “haven’t had sexual relations recently”; NLT “have not slept with any women recently.” sn Temporary sexual abstinence was part of the requirements of a war campaign (Deut 23:9-14), since God was pictured as coming among the camp (compare the abstinence in Exod 19:15). Besides David’s claim that it was standard practice for he and his men, it is also evident through the account of Uriah (2 Sam 11:11-12).
  3. 1 Samuel 21:5 tn Heb “servants’.”
  4. 1 Samuel 21:5 tn Or “things”; or “weapons”; Heb “vessels,” which some understand as a reference to the soldiers’ bodies (so NIV).

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