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David at Nob

21 [a]David went to the priest Ahimelech at Nob. Ahimelech was trembling as he went to meet David. “Why are you alone?” he asked David. “Why is no one with you?”

“The king ordered me to do something,” David answered the priest Ahimelech, “and he told me, ‘No one must know anything about this mission I’m sending you on and about the orders I’ve given you. I’ve stationed[b] my young men at a certain place.’” David added, “Now, what do you have to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or whatever you can find.”

“I don’t have any ordinary bread,” the chief priest answered David. “But there is holy bread for the young men if they haven’t had sexual intercourse today.”

David answered the priest, “Of course women have been kept away from us as usual when we go on a mission. The young men’s bodies are kept holy even on ordinary campaigns. How much more then will their bodies be holy today?”

So the priest gave him holy bread because he only had the bread of the presence which had been taken from Yahweh’s presence and replaced with warm bread that day.

That same day one of Saul’s servants who was obligated to stay in Yahweh’s presence was there. His name was Doeg. A foreman for Saul’s shepherds, he was from Edom.

David asked Ahimelech, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I didn’t take either my spear or any other weapon because the king’s business was urgent.”

The chief priest answered, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Elah Valley, is here. It is wrapped in a cloth behind the priestly ephod.[c] If you want to take it, take it. There’s no other weapon here.”

David said, “There’s none like it. Let me have the sword.”

David at Gath

10 That day David left. He was still fleeing from Saul when he came to King Achish of Gath. 11 Achish’s officers asked, “Isn’t this David, the king of his country? He’s the one they used to sing about in the dances:

‘Saul has defeated thousands
    but David tens of thousands.’”

12 When David realized what they had said, he was terrified of King Achish of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior when he was in their presence and acted insane as long as he was under their authority. He scribbled on the doors of the city gate and let his spit run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his officers, “Look at him! Don’t you see that he’s insane? Why bring him to me? 15 Do I have such a shortage of lunatics that you bring this man so that he can show me he is insane? Does this man have to come into my house?”


  1. 1 Samuel 21:1 1 Samuel 21:1–15 in English Bibles is 1 Samuel 21:2–16 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. 1 Samuel 21:2 Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek; Masoretic Text “I’ve informed.”
  3. 1 Samuel 21:9 Ephod is a technical term for a part of the priest’s clothes. Its exact usage and shape are unknown.

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