Shmuel 1-Chapter 18: The hatred of Shaul for Dovid

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Chapter 18: The hatred of Shaul for Dovid

1. The love of Yehonason for Dovid:

  • When Dovid finished speaking with Shaul, and the soul of Yehonason connected with the soul of Dovid, and Yehonason loved him like his soul.
  • Dovid remains by Shaul: Shaul took Dovid on that day and did not allow him to return home to the house of his father.
  • The covenant between Yehonason and Dovid: Yehonason and Dovid made a covenant with each other in expression of his love for him like his own soul.
  • Yehonason gives his armor to Dovid: Yehonason removed the coat that was on him and he gave it to Dovid. He gave him all his gear and armor, including his sword and bow and arrow, and belt.

2. Dovid’s rise to power and fame:

  • Dovid is appointed general: Dovid would successfully do all the bids that Shaul sent him to do, and Shaul appointed him the head of his army. He found favor in the eyes of the nation and also in the eyes of the servants of Shaul [i.e. his generals[1]].
  • The women sing to Shaul and Dovid: When they [i.e. Dovid and Shaul] returned from Dovid smiting the Philistine, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to greet them. They sang towards Shaul the king with musical instruments including tambourines and a vessel called Mecholos and a Shalishim [made up of three strings[2]]. The women who played the instruments and rejoiced with the public sang in a loud voice: Shaul smote the thousands and Dovid smote the tens of thousands.
  • Shaul’s anger: Shaul became very angry and it was very disturbing in his eyes that they sang that Dovid smote tens of thousands while he was only praised for smiting thousands, and that all that Dovid was now lacking was the kingship.

3. Shaul’s hatred for Dovid:

  • Shaul hated Dovid from that day and onwards.
  • Shaul attempts to kill Dovid while in a state of insanity: The next day, an evil spirit of G-d resided on Shaul and he began prophesizing [i.e. saying incomprehensible words like an insane person, which is also similar to how prophets prophesize[3]] within his house. In the meantime, Dovid was playing the harp with his hand as he would do daily [to help banish the evil spirit from Shaul]. Shaul was holding a sword in his hand while this was taking place. Shaul took the sword and stated that he will smite Dovid and the wall [i.e. throw the sword in a way that it will pierce through Dovid and the wall[4]], and Dovid swerved away from him twice [with Divine providence[5]].
  • Shaul fears Dovid, and sees Dovid’s fame and success: Shaul feared Dovid, as G-d was with him and from Shaul He had removed Himself. So Shaul decided to remove Dovid from his presence and appointed him a general of thousands, and so Dovid would pass back and forth before the nation. Dovid was successful in all his ways, and G-d was with him. Shaul saw that he was very successful, and he feared him. All the Jewish people and Judea loved Dovid, as he would pass back and forth from before them.

4. Shaul offers his daughter to Dovid as a wife in an attempt to kill him:

  • Meirav is offered to Dovid as a wife: Shaul said to Dovid: Here is my eldest daughter Meirav which I shall give to you as a wife. However, it is on condition that you become a soldier in my army and fight the wars of G-d. Shaul said [to himself[6]] that it is better that he not have a direct hand in the death of Dovid [lest he be punished[7]] and that rather Dovid should fall prey to the hands of the Philistines [and hence made the above offer as a ploy to get Dovid killed, rather than out of desire to have him become his son in-law].
  • Dovid turns down the offer in humility: Dovid responded to Shaul: Who am I and what is the worth of the life of my father’s family amongst Israel that I shall become a son in law of the King?
  • Meirav is married to someone else: In the meantime [in the delay] of marrying the daughter of Shaul off to Dovid, she was given to Adiriel the Micholosi as a wife. [Some say that she in fact did this on her own accord without the permission of her father.[8] Some say that she did so while already consecrated to Dovid in marriage.]
  • Michal is offered to Dovid in marriage and Dovid again turns it down: Michal the daughter of Shaul fell in love with Dovid, and the matter was told to Shaul who had it find favor in his eyes. Shaul said [to himself] that he will give her to him in marriage, and she will become for him an ambush, as he will then fall in the hands of the Philistines. So Shaul then said to Dovid: With [one of my[9]] two daughters you shall become married into my family today. He also instructed his servants to speak to Dovid in private and tell him that the king desires him [to become his son in-law] and that all of his servants love him, and that he should now agree to marry into the family of the king. So, the servants of Shaul spoke to the ears of Dovid the above words and Dovid replied: Is it light in your eyes for someone to marry into the family of the king? I am a poor and low stature of a man [who cannot provide a dowry as is befit for the daughter of the king[10]]. So, the servants of Shaul returned to him and informed him as to Dovid’s reply.

5. Dovid brings a dowry of 100 Philistine foreskins:

  • Shaul makes Dovid an offer in exchange for his daughter: Shaul told his servants that they should return and tell Dovid that the king does not desire any dowry money, but rather 100 foreskins of the Philistines in order to take revenge against the enemies of the king. Shaul said this with intent to have Dovid fall in battle against the Philistines. So, his servants told Dovid these words and it found favor in his eyes [to be a befitting dowry to give the king] to be able to marry into his family.
  • Dovid fulfills the request: The set amount of days that were allocated for Dovid to fulfill that which was requested had yet to pass and Dovid got up anyways, and went together with his people and smote 200 Philistine men and brought their foreskins to the king in fulfillment of his pledge to then be able to marry his daughter.

6. Dovid marries Michal:

  • So Shaul gave Dovid his daughter Michal as a wife.
  • Shaul saw and understood that G-d was with Dovid, and that Michal his daughter loved him [and he would hence not be successful in killing him[11]]. Shaul continued to fear Dovid [that he would eventually snatch the monarchy from him] and he thus became his enemy throughout all the days.
  • The generals [and armies[12]] of the Philistines would attempt to attack the Jewish people to loot their camps, and Dovid was successful [in fighting them back] more than any other of the servants of Shaul, and he became very famous.


[1] Metzudos David 18:5

[2] Metzudos Tziyon 18:7

[3] Rashi 18:10

[4] Rashi 18:11

[5] Metzudos David 18:12

[6] Rashi 18:17

[7] Rashi 18:17

[8] Metzudos David 1819

[9] Rashi 18:21

[10] Metzudos David 18:23

[11] See Ralbag 1829

[12] Rashi 18:30

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