The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 21


Then David departed on his way, while Jonathan went back into the city.


David went to Ahimelech, the priest of Nob, who came trembling to meet him and asked, "Why are you alone? Is there no one with you?"


David answered the priest: "The king gave me a commission and told me to let no one know anything about the business on which he sent me or the commission he gave me. For that reason I have arranged a meeting place with my men.


Now what have you on hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever you can find."


1 But the priest replied to David, "I have no ordinary bread on hand, only holy bread; if the men have abstained from women, you may eat some of that."


David answered the priest: "We have indeed been segregated from women as on previous occasions. Whenever I go on a journey, all the young men are consecrated - even for a secular journey. All the more so today, when they are consecrated at arms!"


So the priest gave him holy bread, for no other bread was on hand except the showbread which had been removed from the LORD'S presence and replaced by fresh bread when it was taken away.


One of Saul's servants was there that day, detained before the LORD; his name was Doeg the Edomite, and he was Saul's chief henchman.


David then asked Ahimelech: "Do you have a spear or a sword on hand? I brought along neither my sword nor my weapons, because the king's business was urgent."


The priest replied: "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Vale of the Terebinth, is here (wrapped in a mantle) behind an ephod. If you wish to take that, take it; there is no sword here except that one." David said: "There is none to match it. Give it to me!"


That same day David took to flight from Saul, going to Achish, king of Gath.


But the servants of Achish said, "Is this not David, the king of the land? During their dances do they not sing, 'Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands'?"


David took note of these remarks and became very much afraid of Achish, king of Gath.


So, as they watched, he feigned insanity and acted like a madman in their hands, drumming on the doors of the gate and drooling onto his beard.


Finally Achish said to his servants: "You see the man is mad. Why did you bring him to me?


Do I not have enough madmen, that you bring in this one to carry on in my presence? Should this fellow come into my house?"



1 [5-6] From women: the high priest, willing to distribute the holy bread to David and his men, requires that they be free from ritual uncleanness, associated in Old Testament times ( Lev 15:18) with the marriage act. David's answer supposes the discipline of a military campaign under the conditions of "holy war" ( Deut 23:10).

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