1 Samuel 23
New English Translation
David Delivers the City of Keilah
23 They told David, “The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors.” 2 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go and strike down these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said to him, “We are afraid while we are still here in Judah. What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 So David asked the Lord once again. But again the Lord replied, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”
5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them.[a] David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.
David Eludes Saul Again
6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod.[b] 7 When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered[c] him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates.”[d] 8 So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.[e]
9 When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him,[f] he told Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” 10 Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning[g] to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, please inform your servant.”
Then the Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul’s hand?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you over.”
13 So David and his men, who numbered about 600, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another.[h] When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition. 14 David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time,[i] but God did not deliver David[j] into his hands. 15 David realized[k] that Saul had come out to seek his life; at that time David was in Horesh in the wilderness of Ziph.
16 Then Jonathan son of Saul left and went to David at Horesh. He encouraged him[l] through God. 17 He said to him, “Don’t be afraid! For the hand of my father Saul cannot find you. You will rule over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul realizes this.” 18 When the two of them had made a covenant before the Lord, David stayed at Horesh, but Jonathan went to his house.
19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now at your own discretion,[m] O king, come down. Delivering him into the king’s hand will be our responsibility.”
21 Saul replied, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. 22 Go and make further arrangements. Determine precisely[n] where he is[o] and who has seen him there, for I am told that he is extremely cunning. 23 Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information.[p] Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will find him[q] among all the thousands of Judah.”
24 So they left and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the rift valley[r] to the south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men went to look for him.[s] But David was informed and went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard about it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon. 26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, while David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, but Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to capture them. 27 But a messenger came to Saul saying, “Come quickly, for the Philistines have raided the land!”
28 So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. Therefore that place is called Sela Hammahlekoth.[t] 29 (24:1)[u] Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.
- 1 Samuel 23:5 tn Heb “and struck them down with a great blow.”
- 1 Samuel 23:6 tn Heb “an ephod went down in his hand.”
- 1 Samuel 23:7 tn The MT reading (“God has alienated him into my hand”) in v. 7 is a difficult and uncommon idiom. The use of this verb in Jer 19:4 is somewhat parallel, but not entirely so. Many scholars have therefore suspected a textual problem here, emending the word נִכַּר (nikkar, “alienated”) to סִכַּר (sikkar, “he has shut up [i.e., delivered]”). This is the idea reflected in the translations of the Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate, although it is not entirely clear whether they are reading something different from the MT or are simply paraphrasing what for them too may have been a difficult text. The LXX has “God has sold him into my hands,” apparently reading מָכַר (makar, “sold”) for MT’s נִכַּר. The present translation is a rather free interpretation.
- 1 Samuel 23:7 tn Heb “with two gates and a bar.” Since in English “bar” could be understood as a saloon, it has been translated as an attributive: “two barred gates.”
- 1 Samuel 23:8 tn Heb “So Saul mustered all his army for battle to go down to Keilah to besiege against David and his men.”
- 1 Samuel 23:9 tn Heb “Saul was planning the evil against him.”
- 1 Samuel 23:10 tn Heb “seeking.”
- 1 Samuel 23:13 tn Heb “they went where they went.”
- 1 Samuel 23:14 tn Heb “all the days.”
- 1 Samuel 23:14 tn Heb “him”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 1 Samuel 23:15 tn Heb “saw.”
- 1 Samuel 23:16 tn Heb “strengthened his hand.”
- 1 Samuel 23:20 tn Heb “to all the desire of your soul to come down.”
- 1 Samuel 23:22 tn Heb “know and see.” The expression is a hendiadys. See also v. 23.
- 1 Samuel 23:22 tn Heb “his place where his foot is.”
- 1 Samuel 23:23 tn Heb “established.”
- 1 Samuel 23:23 tn Heb “I will search him out.”
- 1 Samuel 23:24 sn This section of the rift valley is along the western part of the Dead Sea.
- 1 Samuel 23:25 tn Heb “to search.”
- 1 Samuel 23:28 sn The name הַמַּחְלְקוֹת סֶלַע (selaʿ hammakhleqot) probably means “Rock of Divisions” in Hebrew, in the sense that Saul and David parted company there (cf. NAB “Gorge of Divisions”; TEV “Separation Hill”). This etymology assumes that the word derives from the Hebrew root II חָלַק (khalaq, “to divide”; HALOT 322 s.v. II חלק). However, there is another root I חלק, which means “to be smooth or slippery” (HALOT 322 s.v. I חלק). If the word is taken from this root, the expression would mean “Slippery Rock.”
- 1 Samuel 23:29 sn Beginning with 23:29, the verse numbers through 24:22 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 23:29 ET = 24:1 HT, 24:1 ET = 24:2 HT, 24:2 ET = 24:3 HT, etc., through 24:22 ET = 24:23 HT. With 25:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.