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1 Samuel 22

David's Refuge at Adullam and Saul's Slaughter at Nob

Adullam

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam (22:1).

Located about 16 miles (25 km) southwest of Jerusalem and 10 miles (16 km) east of Gath, Adullam is situated on the eastern end of the Elah Valley. The site seems to have been an ideal place of refuge at the time of David, in a “no man’s land” between Israelite and Philistine-controlled areas. Adullam is identified at Khirbet Tell Sheikh Madhkûr. The archaeological, toponymic, and geographic evidence make this identification quite strong.

 

Foreign Allies

Everyone in distress, in debt, or discontented gathered to him and he was their captain (22:2).

David’s initial fighting force comprised of a band of about 400 outcasts from society that also included foreigners (e.g., Uriah the Hittite, Ittai the Gittite, etc.). It should also be noted that those who gathered to David at this time included some of his greatest warriors (cf. 1 Sam 23:8-17), illustrated here by armed Hittite warriors. This limestone relief was photographed at the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Crossing to Moab

And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab, and he said to the king of Moab, “Let my father and my mother come and stay with you” (22:3).

The fact that David sought asylum for his parents in Moab may have been due to his Moabite ancestry through Ruth (cf. Ruth 4:18-22). The Dead Sea was located between David and Moab, and it is possible that he descended from Judah along the Tekoa Ridge Route toward En Gedi and then crossed into Moab via the Lisan Peninsula. This option would depend on either low water levels or access to some kind of boat. In recent decades, the level of the Dead Sea has been low enough that the route is dry, and it is thought that this was true at some periods in antiquity as well.

Gifted Fields

Hear this, you Benjamites, will the son of Jesse give each of you fields and vineyards? (22:7)

Saul implies that he had himself given fields and vineyards to his underlings. Since land ownership was normally passed down through families, it is difficult to understand how this would have been possible unless Saul had taken fields and vineyards from other Israelites. In fact, this seems to be a fulfillment of the warning that Samuel had given earlier, that a king would take the best of the fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants (1 Sam 8:14).

Nob

And he struck Nob, the city of the priests, with the edge of the sword (22:19).

The exact location of Nob is uncertain. A number of different locations have been suggested. It is certain that it was within sight of Jerusalem, and perhaps the best candidate is at or near the area of Augusta Victoria/et-Tur. This view from the Old City of Jerusalem toward Augusta Victoria (Umm et-Tala) and et-Tur looks across the Kidron Valley. The northern end of the Herodian Temple Mount platform is visible in the lower right portion of the photo. This illustrates the way in which this area overlook Jerusalem (cf. Isa 10:32).

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