The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
When David and his men reached Siceleg, the next day but one, they found that the Amalecites from the south had attacked and overpowered it, and burnt it to the ground;
the women, too, they had carried off. They did not put anyone to death, of high or low degree, but carried off all they found, and so went on their way.
So David and his men, coming back to the city to find it burnt down, and their wives and sons and daughters taken prisoner,
raised a great cry of lamentation, and wept till their tears would flow no more.
David’s two wives, Achinoam from Jezrahel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel, had been carried off like the rest,
and his was a heavy lot to bear; his followers came near to stoning him, so sore were their hearts at the loss of son and daughter. But David found refuge in the Lord his God.
Bring out the sacred mantle, he said to the priest Abiathar, Achimelech’s son, and when Abiathar had brought it,
he asked the Lord, Shall I give these freebooters chase? Is there hope of overtaking them? And the Lord said, Go in pursuit; past doubt thou wilt overtake them, and rob them of their prey.
So David and his six hundred followers marched all the way to the ravine of Besor, where some, for very weariness, must halt;
but David himself still gave chase, with four hundred men at his back, leaving the other two hundred to rest from their weariness in the ravine of Besor.
Then they came upon an Egyptian, out there on the plain, and brought him to David; but first they must give him bread and water,
and part of a cake of dried figs, and two bunches of raisins; he must be restored and revived, after three days and three nights without food or drink.
When David asked who he was, whence he came and whither he was bound, he said, I am a serving-man from Egypt; my master is an Amalecite; three days ago I fell sick, and he left me behind here.
We had been making a foray over the southern border of the Cherethites, against Juda, too, and the south of Caleb, and we burned Siceleg to the ground.
Then David asked him, Canst thou shew me where to find the company of which thou speakest? First, said he, thou must needs swear to me in God’s name that thou wilt neither kill me nor give me up into my master’s power; then I will shew thee where this company is to be found. So David took the oath asked of him,
and the Egyptian led him to where they lay, scattered pell-mell over the ground, eating and drinking and making holiday over their plunder, the spoils they had won from the Philistine country and from Juda.
All the rest of that day and all the next David drove them before him, and not one man escaped, except four hundred drivers who mounted their camels and fled.
So David recovered all the Amalecites had carried off, and his two wives with the rest;
never boy or girl or chattel was missing; all that had been carried away David brought back.
And as he came home, driving before him all the sheep and cattle he had won, the cry rose, This is David’s booty.
So he reached the two hundred men that halted, too weary to follow, and were left behind in the ravine of Besor; and as they came out to meet him and his followers, David went up and gave them friendly greeting.
But there were churlish, graceless fellows among his own following who reasoned thus: Here are men that did not bear us company; for them, then, no share in the booty we have recovered. Let each of them take his own wife and children, and with these go away content.
Nay, brethren, David answered, that will not serve. All these gifts the Lord has given, besides protecting us and winning us the mastery over these marauding enemies.
Over this you shall get no hearing; the man that stays behind with the baggage has the same rights as the man who went into battle, all must share alike.
Ever since that day this rule has been recognized and established; it is the law still observed in Israel.
When David reached Siceleg, he sent presents to the elders of the neighbouring cities in Juda, bidding them accept his offering taken out of the spoil of the Lord’s enemies.
These were Bethel, Ramoth in the South, Jether,
Aroer, Sephamoth, Esthamo,
Rachal, the cities of Jerameel, the cities of Ceni,
Arama, the Hollow of Asan, Athach,
and Hebron; and other places besides, where David and his men had once made their home.
The Holy Bible