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Doeg the Edomite
by Wayne Blank
"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."
"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."
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."
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."
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?