The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
And now the Israelites must bewail the death of Samuel; all gathered with one accord and gave him burial at Ramatha, his home. Afterwards, David betook himself to the wilderness of Pharan.
There was a man who lived in the desert of Maon, and had lands at Carmel, a very rich man, owning three thousand sheep and a thousand goats; it happened just then that he was shearing his flocks at Carmel.
Nabal was his name, and he had a wife called Abigail, that was a woman of good sense and of great beauty; but this husband of hers, descended from Caleb, was a churlish fellow, wicked and spiteful in all his dealings.
When news came to David, there in the desert, that Nabal was at his shearing,
he sent ten of his men to Carmel, to find Nabal and wish him well in David’s name.
And they were to bear this message: My brethren wish thee well, and thy kindred too, and all that is thine.
News has come to me that they are shearing, those herdsmen of thine whom we met out in the desert; all the time we were at Carmel, we left them unmolested, and never a beast was missing from their herds;
ask thy men, and they will assure thee of it. My servants come at an auspicious time; look kindly on their request, and send such a present as thou canst best afford to thy servants here, and thy son David.
So David’s men went on their errand, gave him the message in David’s name, and waited for his answer.
From David? said he. From the son of Jesse? There is no lack, in these days, of slaves that run away from their masters.
Tell him that bread of mine and water of mine and the meat I kill are for my shearers here, not for strangers that have sprung up I know not whence.
So David’s men must make their way home again, and bring him his answer.
Whereupon he bade all his followers gird on their swords. Gird themselves they did, and so did he; some four hundred men went with him, and the other two hundred were left to guard the baggage.
Meanwhile Abigail, Nabal’s wife, had been warned by one of the servants, Some messengers came here, sent by David from the desert to greet our master, and he has turned them away.
And yet these men were good friends to us, leaving us ever unmolested; loss had we none all the time they were with us in the desert;
nay, they were a protection to us, night and day, while we pastured our flocks among them.
Take thought, then, and resolve what thou wilt do; thy husband and thy house are marked down for vengeance, and he is so cross-grained a man that there is no reasoning with him.
Abigail wasted no time; she brought out two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five rams ready cooked, five pecks of flour, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of dried figs; all these she loaded on asses,
and bade the drivers go on before; she herself would follow. But she said no word of this to her husband Nabal.
She had mounted her ass, and was now at the bottom of the valley, when she saw David and his men coming down towards her; and she went to meet them.
And still, as he came, David uttered threats; It was a thankless care of mine to protect all this man’s goods, out in the desert, so that he never felt loss; it is an ill return he makes me for such a service.
God grant David’s enemies all they desire and more than they desire, if I let any male in this man’s house live till morning!✻
But Abigail no sooner met David than she dismounted from her ass and fell down before him, her face bowed to earth,
and said, kneeling at his feet, For this fault, my lord, let me bear the blame! Listen to thy handmaid, that craves audience of thee.
My lord, pay no heed to this cross-grained fellow Nabal, a fool in nature as in name; I myself saw nothing of the men that came from thee.
Oh, then, as thou art a living man, and the Lord is a living God, the Lord who has restrained thee from deeds of blood and kept thy hands clean, (may all my Lord’s enemies and ill-wishers be as ill-advised as Nabal!),✻
I entreat thee to accept this offering I have brought thee, as a handmaid to her master; share it, my lord, with thy followers.
And so let the fault of thy handmaid be forgiven! Sure it is the Lord means to grant thee abiding posterity, so well, my lord, dost thou fight his battles; and never may ill fortune attend thee, long as thou livest!✻
Rise up who may to wrong thee and plot against thee, yet shall that soul of thine be in safe keeping with the Lord thy God, stored up in his casket of life; it is the souls of thy enemies he shall cast away, as from the whirling heart of a sling.
Why then, when the Lord has granted thee all his promised blessings, and made thee master of Israel,
let there be no sigh of remorse in my Lord’s heart, at the memory of innocent blood shed, or vengeance cruelly taken! Rather, when the Lord has so blessed thee, mayest thou think gratefully of me, thy handmaid.
And David said to her, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! A blessing, too, on these words of thine,
and on thyself, who hast prevented me this day from going on a bloody errand, using violence to avenge my wrongs!
Nay, as the Lord is a living God, the Lord who has preserved me from doing thee hurt, if thou hadst not come to meet me thus early, never a male in Nabal’s house should have lived till morning.
So David accepted all the gifts she brought him; Go home in peace, he said to her; thy prayer is granted, thy suit has prospered.
So she went home to Nabal, and found him feasting royally. His heart was merry, for he had drunk deep; and she said no word to him, of little import, or great, till morning.
But in the morning, when he had slept away his carouse, his wife told him of all that had passed, and his heart went dead within him, cold as a stone;
and when ten days had passed, the Lord struck Nabal down, and he died.
When David heard of his death, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that has given me redress for Nabal’s ill usage of me, keeping his servant clear of wrong, and himself punishing Nabal’s spite! Then he sent a message to Abigail, offering her marriage.
And when David’s messengers reached her at Carmel, and told her David had sent them on this errand,
she rose up, and bowed down to earth; Let thy handmaid be a waiting-woman, she said, to wash the feet of my Lord’s retainers!
Then, without more ado, Abigail mounted her ass, took five maidens with her to wait on her needs, and went with David’s messengers; and so he made her his wife.
He wedded Achinoam, too, from Jezrahel; both of these were wives to David.
But as for Michol, that had been his wife once, her father Saul gave her in marriage to Phalti, son of Lais, a man of Gallim.
The Holy Bible