The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
Afterwards David moved on, and took refuge in the cave of Odollam. His brethren and all his father’s kindred followed him there;
and soon a band of men gathered about him, the ill-used, the debtors, the disaffected, and David became their leader, so that he had some four hundred men at his heels.
From Odollam, he went on to Maspha, in the domains of Moab, and asked the king of Moab to let his father and mother dwell there, until they should find out what fortune the Lord meant to send him;
under the protection of the Moabite king they were left there, and remained with him all the time David was in the hills.
But the prophet Gad bade him leave his hill-fastness and make his way back to the domain of Juda; so he moved on, and betook himself to the forest of Haret.
When the news reached Saul that David and his followers had come into view, Saul was dwelling at Gabaa, and held his court, spear in hand, in the wood of Rama.
Listen, men of Jemini, he said to his vassals who stood there at his side, do you think the son of Jesse is like to give all of you lands and vineyards, make all of you chiefs and captains under him?
How is it that you are all in conspiracy against me, and none of you will tell me the truth, even when my own son is in league with the son of Jesse? Is there none of you that will feel my wrongs, and bring me news of it when my own son encourages my own servant in disaffection, a man that has ever plotted against me, and plots against me still?
And the answer came from Doeg, the man of Edom, who was chief among Saul’s servants. I was by, he said, at Nobe, when the son of Jesse was there with the priest Achimelech, son of Achitob,
who consulted the Lord for him, and gave him food for his journey; armed him, too, with the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
Thereupon the king sent out his summons to the high priest Achimelech, son of Achitob, and all his priestly kindred at Nobe, and they all came into his presence.
Listen, son of Achitob, Saul began, and Achimelech answered, I am here, my lord, at thy command.
Why hast thou conspired against me, asked Saul, with the son of Jesse? Why didst thou give him bread, and a sword, and consult the Lord in his behalf, to help him in his rebellion, a man that has ever plotted against me, and plots against me still?
Why, my lord, answered Achimelech, what servant of thine was ever so trusted as David, a king’s son-in-law; one who ever goes on thy errands, and fills so high a place in thy household?
This was not the first time I had consulted the Lord for him. God forbid, my lord king, that either I, thy servant, or any of my kindred should be brought under any such suspicion! Nay, I knew nothing of this business from first to last.
And the king said, Achimelech, thou must die for it; thou and all thy kindred;
then he bade his retainers, that stood about him, set to and kill the Lord’s priests, men who had helped David by being privy to his flight and giving no tidings of it. But the king’s retainers were afraid to lay hands on the priests of the Lord;
so the king bade Doeg set to, and fall upon the priests. Fall upon them he did, Doeg the man of Edom, and slew that day eighty men that wore the linen mantle.
Nobe, too, the city of the priests, the king put to the sword; man and woman, child and infant, ox and ass and sheep, all put to the sword.
There was only one descendant of Achimelech, son of Achitob, that escaped; his name was Abiathar, and he took refuge with David,
bringing him the news that Saul had killed all the Lord’s priests.
I knew well, David told him, when I found Doeg the Edomite there that day, that he would not fail to tell Saul of it. I am answerable for the slaughter of all thy kinsmen.
Stay with me here, and fear nothing; my enemies are thine, and here thou wilt be in safety.
The Holy Bible