Shmuel 1-Chapter 24: Shaul makes peace with Dovid and ends his quest to take his life

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

   Buy now on

Chapter 24: Shaul makes peace with Dovid and ends his quest to take his life

1. Dovid hides in the desert of Ein Gedi and Shaul is informed:

  • Dovid escaped from that area and went to dwell in the Citadels of Ein Gedi. When Shaul returned from battling against the Philistines he was informed that Dovid was hiding in the desert of Ein Gedi.
  • Shaul gives chase to Dovid in the desert of Ein Gedi: Shaul took with him 3000 young men from amongst all of Israel and he went to search for Dovid and his men on the surface of the high rocks where the rams dwell.

2. Dovid with an opportunity to kill Saul instead simply cuts his cloak:

  • Shaul uses the bathroom in a cave found near the shepherd area: On the way to the location where they believe Dovid was found, Shaul arrived in an area that was segregated for the shepherds to bring their herds of sheep [to graze]. In that area there was a cave into which Saul entered in order to defecate [believing that Dovid was nowhere close to be found as he would not be in an area that was occupied by the shepherds[1]].
  • Dovid cuts the cloak of Saul: In truth, however, Dovid and his men were sitting at the end of that cave inside. Dovid’s men said to him look, this is the day that will be fulfilled that which G-d told you, “I am handing you your enemies into your hands and you may do with them as you see fit in your eyes.” So, Dovid got up [in the guise of darkness] and discreetly [used his sword to] snip off the corner of the cloak that Saul was wearing [however, he refused to kill him, as will be explained]. Later on, after this incident, Dovid felt a pain of conscience for what he did having cut off the corner of Shaul’s coat [as Shaul was the anointed one of G-d and perhaps it was forbidden for him to have done so[2]]. [Chazal[3] explain that Shaul was very modest when he went to the bathroom, having covered his feet, and revealing only the bare minimum necessary to defecate.[4] It was in this merit that Dovid spared Saul’s life seeing how righteous he truly was. It is also due to this reason that Dovid showed Shaul the piece of his cloak that he cut off, coming to state to him that it is in the merit of his modesty that he was spared.]
  • Dovid tells his men that he and they will not kill or harm Shaul: Dovid said to his men [who agreed amongst themselves to kill Shaul[5]], “G-d forbid that I will do any harm to my master the anointed one of G-d to assassinate him, as he is the anointed one Hashem.” Dovid talked to his men extensively and forcefully persuading them with words that they not take vengeance against Saul, and practically he prevented them from striking him. Shaul then got up and left the cave and went on his way.

3. Dovid confronts Shaul and peace is made between them:

  • Dovid leaves the cave and confronts Shaul: After Shaul left, Dovid got up and came out the cave and he called after Shaul saying, “My master the king.” When Shaul heard the voice, he turned around to look at who was calling him. When Dovid saw this he immediately prostrated his face to the ground and bowed before him.
  • Dovid chastises Shaul for trying to kill him, and shows Saul that he means no harm: Dovid then said to Shaul, “Why do you listen to the words of [Lashon Hara[6] that] people [such as Doeg[7]] tell you that Dovid seeks to do you harm and evil? Let today be a proof for your eyes that I seek no harm to you, as today G-d had handed you over into my hands and I could’ve killed you [as is my full right under the law the one who comes to kill you, you may kill them first[8]] but I had mercy on you [due to the fact that I saw you were very modest and you went to defecate[9]], saying that I will not stretch my hand against my master as he is the anointed one of G-d. Now, pay attention to what I am about to show you, look carefully at what I’m holding in my hand, as it is the corner of your cloak. The fact that I simply cut off the corner of your coat and did not kill you should suffice for you to understand and see that I seek no harm or evil to you and I have not sinned against you and you are unjustifiably seeking to take my soul. Let G-d judge between me and you and G-d will take vengeance against you, but my hand will not be involved in harming you. As the [Torah which is the] pre-mortal parable tells us that from a wicked man will come out wickedness but my hand will not strike against you [meaning that G-d will arrange for a wicked man to take your life if you continue doing harm to me even though I will have nothing to do with your death [10]]. After whom is the king of Israel chasing after? After whom are you pursuing? After a dead dog and after a small flea. May G-d be a judge between me and you and He will fight my battles and He will save me from your hands.”
  • Shaul replies to Dovid with regret for his actions, acknowledgment of Dovid’s future reign, and a request for his descendants to be spared: When Dovid finished speaking the above words to Shaul, Shaul said to him, “Is this your voice my son Dovid?” Shaul then raised his voice and wept. Shaul then said to Dovid, “You are the righteous one in this battle between you and me as you have only caused me good and I have paid you back with evil. And you have now informed me today that you have done kindness with me, as G-d has handed me into your hands and you did not kill me. I don’t think it has ever occurred in history that a man found his enemy and instead of killing him he sent him off in a good way. May G-d repay you for your kindness that you have done with me on this day. Now behold I do know that you will indeed become the king and your monarchy will be established to reign over the Jewish people [as I see that G-d helped save you from my hands,  as well as that Shmuel  told me that the person who tears my garment will be king after me[11]]. Now, please swear to me by the name of G-d that you will not annihilate my descendants after my passing and you will not destroy my name from the house of my forefathers.”
  • Dovid swears to Shaul that he will not harm his descendants and they both part ways: So, Dovid swore to Shaul that he will not harm his descendants, and Saul returned and went back to his home while Dovid and his men went up to the Citadel.


[1] Malbim 24:4

[2] Metzudos Dovid 24:5; Pirush Rabbeinu Yeshaya 24:6

[3] Brachos 62a

[4] See Metzudos Tziyion 24:4

[5] Metzudos Dovid 24:8

[6] Rashi 24:10

[7] Rashi 24:10

[8] Radak 24:11; Brachos 62b

[9] Radak 24:11; Brachos 62b

[10] Rashi 24:14

[11] Rashi 24:21

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.