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Doeg the Edomite

"Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before The Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul's herdsmen. And David said to Ahimelech, "And have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste." And the priest said, "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah [see Shochoh], behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here." And David said, "There is none like that; give it to me." And David rose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath." (1 Samuel 21:7-10 RSV)

"Doeg the Edomite turned and fell upon the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod"

It was during the time when David was on the run from King Saul, prior to David replacing Saul as king of Israel (see Israelite Monarchy - The Civil War and Israelite Monarchy - The Origin). David sought food and weapons from Ahimelech the priest, who was aware only of David's heroic killing of Goliath before that time, not of his political troubles with Saul then. Ahimelech gave David the help that he requested, an innocent act that was reported to Saul by Doeg, "the chief of Saul's herdsmen."

Sword

"Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, "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 provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine." (1 Samuel 22:9-10 RSV)

Saul then summoned Ahimelech the priest on a charge of treason.

"Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests [see Levites] who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. And Saul said, "Hear now, son of Ahitub."

And he answered, "Here I am, my lord."

And Saul said to him, "Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?" (1 Samuel 22:11-13 RSV)

Ahimelech admitted helping David, but even at that point he still didn't realize that David had been forced on the run from Saul because Saul sought to kill him.

"Then Ahimelech answered the king, "And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law [see Michal], and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house? Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little." (1 Samuel 22:14-15 RSV)

Saul then proved once again why The Lord had rejected him as king; Saul's foolish judgment of the matter was to order the execution of all of The Lord's priests in the town, a criminal act that Saul's servants refused to obey.

"And the king said, "You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house."

And the king said to the guard who stood about him, "Turn and kill the priests of The Lord; because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me."

But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of The Lord." (1 Samuel 22:16-17 RSV)

There was one exception to that refusal to commit a mass murder however - Doeg the Edomite. He butchered 85 priests and nearly everyone else in the town, "men and women, children and sucklings."

"Then the king said to Doeg, "You turn and fall upon the priests."

And Doeg the Edomite turned and fell upon the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both men and women, children and sucklings, oxen, asses and sheep, he put to the sword." (1 Samuel 22:18-19 RSV)

One of the sons of Ahimelech managed to survive the massacre and fled to David.

"But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of The Lord. And David said to Abiathar, "I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Stay with me, fear not; for he that seeks my life seeks your life; with me you shall be in safekeeping." (1 Samuel 22:20-23 RSV)

Fact Finder: King David later wrote an entire Psalm about Doeg's evil. What did David write about him?
Psalm 52:1-9


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