Shmuel 1-Chapter 26: A second confrontation with Shaul

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Chapter 26: A second confrontation with Shaul

1. Shaul has a change of heart and chases after Dovid a second time:

  • The people of Zifim came [a second time[1]] to Shaul, who was at that time located in Giva, and told him that David was hiding in the Valley of Chakila which is on the plain of Yeshimon.
  • Shaul gathers an army and sets out to find Dovid: So Shaul got up and ascended to the desert of Ziff together with 3000 young and choicest warriors of Israel in order to search for Dovid in the desert of Ziff [and kill him]. Shaul encamped on the road in the Valley of Chakila which is on the plain of Yeshimon.

2. Dovid discovers their area of encampment and has the opportunity to kill Shaul:

  • Dovid sends spies and discovers their location: At that time Dovid was living in the desert and he suspected that Shaul was searching after him in the desert. Dovid sent spies and they discovered that Shaul had indeed come to search for him there. Dovid got up and went towards the area that Shaul was encamped. Dovid saw the exact location that Shaul and his general Avner Ben Ner were laying down. Shaul was sleeping in the center and was surrounded by the rest of the soldiers.
  • Dovid descends to the camp of Shaul in the midst of the night: Dovid responded and said to Achimelech the Hitite and to Avishaiy the son of Tzeruyah the brother of Yoav, asking them if they would be willing to come down with him toward Shaul to their area of encampment. Avishai responded that he would agree to go down with him. So Dovid and Avishaiy arrived in the middle of the night to the area that the people were encamped.
  • They steal Shaul’s sword and jug of water and leave: They saw that Shaul was lying down sleeping in middle of the circle and he had his sword stabbed into the earth right next his head. Avner was lying down around him. Avishaiy said to Dovid, “G-d today has given you your enemy into your hands, now please let’s smite him with the sword into the ground just one time and get this over with without needing to give him a second blow.” Dovid replied to Avishaiy that he may not do so, as who is the one who can send his hand against the anointed one of G-d and not be liable for retribution. Dovid continued and said, “I swear by the name of G-d [not to kill him and that if you kill him then I will kill you and will mix your blood with his blood[2] and rather]. Rather, G-d Himself will [punish him and] smite him with a disease, or his day will arrive, and he will die, or he will die in war [earlier than his time[3]]. However, heaven forbid for me to send my hand against an anointed one of G-d. Now, please let us take the sword that is next to the head of Saul and the jar of water that is there and let us leave.” So Dovid [himself] took the sword and the jug of water from near the head of Shaul [as he no longer trusted Avishaiy to do so, as perhaps he would not control himself and kill Shaul[4]] and they left. [Miraculously[5]] no one saw him come and no one saw him leave and no one woke up, as everyone was sleeping [a deep sleep[6]], as G-d had placed a spell of slumber onto all the men that were there [and they all fell into a very deep sleep].

3. Dovid confronts Shaul and his general and peace is once again made:

  • Dovid confronts Shaul’s general: Dovid crossed [the channel of water that was there and went[7]] to the opposite side of where Shaul was encamped and he stood on the mountaintop a very great distance from them [due to fear that they may nevertheless decide to chase after him[8]]. Dovid then called out to the people and to Avner Ben Ner and said to them, “Will you not answer me Avner?” Avner said back to him, “who are you calling and how dear you wake the king from his sleep.”
  • Dovid confronts Avner and Shaul with the sword: Dovid said to Avner, “Aren’t you a [great[9]] man and who is like you almost Israel. Why didn’t you guard your master the King, as a certain member of the nation came to annihilate the king your master. It is not good what you have done. I swear by the life of G-d you Are all liable for death over the fact that you did not guard your master, the anointed one of G-d. Now, look where the sword of the king is and where is his jar of water that was placed near his head.” Shaul recognized the voice of Dovid and he said to him, “Is this your voice my son Dovid?” Dovid replied, “Yes my master the King is my voice.” Dovid then said, “Why does my master chase after me as one of my done and what evil is in my hand? Now please my master my King, please listen to the words of your servant. If it is G-d who has incited you against me [to hate me[10] due to my sins[11]], then I can try to nullify that with a Mincha [i.e. prayer[12]] to G-d. However, if it is man [who has freedom of choice[13]] that has incited you against me, then let these men be cursed before G-d, as they have banished me from being able to dwell within the portion of G-d [i.e. Eretz Yisrael[14]] and have told me to go serve other deities [as one who lives in the Diaspora is as if he serves idols[15], as now I see that I have no choice but will need to flee outside of Israel to escape your hand[16]]. Now do not allow my blood to be spilled on the earth opposite of G-d [as He will constantly see it and take vengeance for my death[17]]. After all, the king of Israel has come out to search for a single flea similar to [a bird named] Korei who chases after the nests of other birds on the mountaintops.[18]
  • Shaul replies with regret: Saul responded to Dovid saying, “I have sinned against my son Dovid. I will no longer do any evil to you as I see that I am considered of importance to your eyes as I have seen today. I have made a grave error and mistake in what I have done.”
  • Dovid returns the sword to the king: Dovid answered and said, “Here is the sword of the king,” and one of the lads went and took it [and brought it back to Shaul, however he did not allow Shaul himself to take it as he feared that he may have change of hearty and kill him[19]].” Dovid then said the following prayer address towards Shaul, “Let G-d reward man for his righteousness and trustworthiness, as G-d had given you into my hands today and I did not desire to send my hand to harm the anointed one of G-d. The same way that your soul is viewed so great in my eyes on this day, so too may my soul rise in greatness in the eyes of G-d, and may He protect me from all suffering.”
  • Shaul blesses Dovid and they depart each their own way: Saul said to Dovid, “Blessed be you my son Dovid and may you be successful in all of your endeavors [in becoming king over Israel[20]].” So Dovid and Shaul each departed to their own ways, with Shaul returning back to his city.


[1] Metzudos Dovid 26:1

[2] Rashi 26:10

[3] Radak 26:10

[4] Metzudos Dovid 26:12

[5] Metzudos Dovid 26:12

[6] Metzudos Tziyon 26:13

[7] Metzudos Dovid 26:13

[8] Ralbag 26:13

[9] Metzudos Dovid 26:15

[10] Rashi 26:19

[11] Ralbag 26:19; Metzudos Dovid ibid

[12] Rashi 26:19

[13] Metzudos Dovid 26:19

[14] Rashi 26:19

[15] Rashi 26:19

[16] Radak and Ralbag and Metzudos Dovid 26:19

[17] Radak 26:20

[18] Rashi 26:10; See However Metzudos Dovid ibid for another explanation

[19] Metzudos Dovid 26:22

[20] Mahariy Karo 26:25

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