Nob, from the Hebrew word pronounced nobe, meaning high place (coincidentally, the English words noble and nobleman are pronounced the same as the ancient Hebrew word Nob; the Hebrew Nob meant high place while the English noble means high born) was an ancient Israelite city. The precise location of Nob is uncertain, although Scripture references to it place it somewhat near Jerusalem (i.e. see the Fact Finder question below). Some think that it was located somewhere over the northern slope of Jerusalem's Mount of Olives (shown in the photo), while others believe that it was more to the northwest. Nob is nevertheless best known in the Scriptures as the place (see also Bible Places) where a great slaughter of innocent Levite priests, and their families, and the destruction of the city of Nob itself, was carried out by the order of King Saul.
"Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest"
The primary Biblical mention of Nob, by that name, in Bible History is in reference to David (who later became King David) when he was on the run from King Saul. When the Tabernacle was at Nob (see also What Happened To The Tabernacle?), Ahimelech, a Levite priest there (see Levites), while unware of David's troubles with Saul, gave David assistance:
"Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?"
"And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present."
"And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread [see Bread of the Presence]; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women."
"And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the showbread, that was taken from before The Lord, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away."
"Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before The Lord; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul." (1 Samuel 21:1-7 KJV)
Although Ahimelech had innocently helped David, Doeg the Edomite reported to King Saul that Ahimelech was disloyal to the king. For that, Saul ordered the slaughter of Ahimelech and all other Levite priests of Nob, including all of their families.
"Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of The Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine." [see Trophy]
"Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king. And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub."
"And he answered, Here I am, my lord."
"And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?"
"Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more."
"And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house."
"And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of The Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not show it to me."
"But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of The Lord."
"And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword." (1 Samuel 22:9-19 KJV)
Fact Finder: (a) Where is Nob mentioned in prophecy? (b) Who is the "daughter of Zion" mentioned in that prophecy?
(a) Isaiah 10:32-33
(b) See Daughter of Zion