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by Wayne Blank
David's first recorded meeting with Barzillai was after David fled Jerusalem during Absalom's coup and crossed The Jordan River into Gilead. There, Barzillai was among those who provided David with food and supplies:
"And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat; for they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness." (2 Samuel 17:26-29 RSV)
After Absalom's rebellion was defeated, David invited Barzillai to come and live in Jerusalem as David's honored guest, but Barzillai chose to remain in Gilead where he had lived his eighty years. Barzillai did however send his son Chimham along with David.
"Now Barzillai the Gileadite had come down from Rogelim; and he went on with the king to the Jordan, to escort him over the Jordan. Barzillai was a very aged man, eighty years old; and he had provided the king with food while he stayed at Mahanaim; for he was a very wealthy man. And the king said to Barzillai, "Come over with me, and I will provide for you with me in Jerusalem."
Fact Finder: In later years, when the people of Judah (i.e. Judah and Benjamin) returned from the Babylonian captivity (see Why Babylon?) in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, were descendants of Barzillai (who had married into Judah) among them?