The Madness of Saul
David fled to Nob, where lived Ahimelech, the priest. When Ahimelech asked him: "Why are you alone and no man with you?" David told him the king had sent him on a secret mission, for he did not wish the priest to know that he was fleeing from Saul. He then asked Ahimelech to give him bread to eat, for he was hungry. Ahimelech had nothing to give David but the shewbread, which was hallowed bread for use in the temple, so he gave him that to eat.
Then David asked Ahimelech to give him a sword, for he had no weapon in his hand, saying the king's business had required haste.
"The sword of Goliath, whom you slew in the valley, is here, wrapped in a cloth," replied Ahimelech. "You may have that, for there is no other."
David told the priest there was no sword like that, and so he took it and went his way.
He next came to Achish, the king of Gath, where lived the Philistines. When the servants of King Achish saw David, they said: "Is not this man named David, and is he not the one of whom the people say that he slew his ten thousands, while Saul slew but his thousands?" When David heard the servants say this he knew he was recognized and was afraid of the people and the king.
David now pretended he was a madman, and scrabbled on the doors of the gates of the city, and dribbled at the mouth as though he had lost his wits. When Achish saw David in this condition he said: "See, the man is mad, why have you brought him to me? Have I need of madmen that you have brought this fellow into my presence?" And they let David loose so that he could leave Gath and the Philistines.
He came to the cave Adullam and made his dwelling there. When his brethren and all his father's house heard where he was they came to see him. Others came also, those in distress, those in debt, those who were discontented, until at last, about four hundred people gathered around David as he dwelt in the cave. At length a prophet named Gad, said to David: "Live no longer in this cave, but arise
with your people and go into the land of Judah." And David listened to the word of the prophet and left the cave.
of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards and make you captains of hundreds and thousands? All of you have conspired against me, and there is none of you that is sorry for me."
Then Doeg, who was set over the servants of Saul, said to the king: "I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest, and Ahimelech gave him food to eat and the sword of Goliath."
At this Saul was very angry and sent at once for Ahimelech and all the priests and made them come before him. Angrily he demanded of the priest: "Why have you conspired against me, and given bread and a sword to David, the son of Jesse? Do you not know that he will rise against me and lie in wait for me?"
"There is none of your servants so faithful as David," replied the priest. "He is your son-in-law, and goes at your bidding, and is honored in your house. I made no inquiry of him as to his mission: far be it from me. Let not the king think evil of me or of my household."
But Saul was again in a great rage and shouted aloud: "You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your household," and he commanded the footmen that stood near to slay the priests, saying their hand was with David and that they knew where he fled and would not tell the king. But the servants of the king would not raise their hands against the priests of the Lord, and stood still before Saul.
The king turned to Doeg and told him: "Fall upon these priests and slay them, every one." And Doeg did as the king told him and slew all the priests and Ahimelech. Then Saul went with his soldiers to Nob, the city of the priests, and slew all the men, women and children, and all the cattle, because a great madness was upon him.