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Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6.

From the death of Eli to the death of king Saul

1. Destruction of Philistines, for stealing the Ark. Its return to the Hebrews

2. Under Samuel, the Hebrews defeat the Philistines

3. Samuel's sons go wrong. The people demand a king, despite warnings

4. Samuel appoints Saul as king of Israel, by God's command

5. Saul defeats the Ammanites and takes their spoils

6. Saul's successful attack on the Philistines

7. Saul is told to wipe out the Amalekites

8. Prophet Samuel anoints David to be king in place of Saul

9. David kills Goliath the Philistine in single combat

10. Saul gives David his daughter in marriage, for six hundred heads

11. With Jonathan's help, David escapes from Saul's plotting

12. David flees to Abimelech, then to Philistines. Saul's revenge

13. David refuses his opportunity to kill king Saul. Death of Samuel

14. Saul and witch of Dor. Samuel's ghost. Death of Saul at Mount Gilboa

Chapter 1. [001-018]
Destruction of the Philistines, for taking away the Ark. The Ark's sacred power and its return to the Hebrews

001 When the Philistines had captured the ark of the Hebrews, as I said a little while back, they brought it to the city of Azotus and put it beside their own god, who was called Dagon, as one of the spoils. 002 Next morning, when they went into his temple to worship their god, they found him adoring the ark, for he lay there, having fallen down from the plinth on which he had stood. They lifted him and set him up again, disturbed by the episode, and when several times they came to Dagon and found him lying flat, as if adoring the ark, they were in terrible distress and turmoil. 003 At last a dreadful disease came on the city and region of The Azotians, for they died of dysentery or flux, a severe illness that suddenly killed them, for before the soul could properly be released from the body, as in a quiet death, they brought up their entrails and vomited what they had eaten, all rotted by the disease. Many mice also came up from the ground and damaged the produce of their region, sparing neither plants nor fruits. 004 While in this state and hardly able to bear their plight, the Azotians reckoned they were suffering this because of the ark, and that their victory in capturing it had done them no good. So they sent to the people of Askalon and asked them to take the ark from them. 005 This desire of the Azotians was not unwelcome, so they granted them that favour. When they received the ark, they fell into the same state as the Azotians, for the ark brought the same disasters to those who took it from them, so the Askalonites sent it away to others. 006 But it did not remain with those either, for since the same evils pursued them they sent it on to the neighbouring cities. In this way, the ark went around the five cities of the Philistines, as though imposing these evils as a tax to be paid for its arrival among them.

007 When those who experienced these woes were exhausted by them and those who heard about them learned not to admit the ark among them, since they paid so dear a tax for it, they finally looked for ways and means to be rid of it. 008 The officers of the five cities, Gitta and Ekron and Askalon, Gaza and Ashdod, met to consider what should be done. At first they thought it best to send the ark back to its own people, admitting that God had taken vengeance on them, and that the woes they had suffered had come to the cities with it and on account of it. 009 But some said they should not do that, or let themselves be tricked into regarding it as the reason for the evils, since it could not have such power and force over them, for if God had so highly regarded it, it would not have fallen into their hands. They urged them to calm down and accept patiently what had happened to them as something caused by nature, which, at certain times produces such changes in bodies, in the earth, in plants and in everything that grows from the earth. 010 But the advice that prevailed over this came from some men, believed to have been distinguished in former times for understanding and prudence and who just then seemed to speak most aptly. These said the right thing was neither to send the ark away nor to keep it, but to dedicate five golden images, one for each city, as thank-offerings to God, for saving them and keeping them alive when their lives were threatened by sicknesses that they could not avoid; and to make five golden mice like those that devoured and destroyed their region. 011 These they should put in a bag and lay them upon the ark, and making a new cart for it, they should yoke milch cows to it, and shut up their calves and keep them from them in case they slowed their mothers by following them and so the cows might return too soon, out of desire for those calves. Then they would drive these cows that carried the ark and leave it at a place where three roadways met, and so leave it to the cows to go along whichever of those paths they pleased. 012 If they went towards the Hebrews and up to their region, they should take it that the ark was the reason for their troubles, but if they turned to another path, "Let us follow it, knowing that it has no such power."

013 They judged that these had spoken well, and instantly followed their advice. Having made the objects described, they brought the cart to where three roads met and left it and retired, and the cows went the right way as if someone were driving them, with the officers of the Philistines following, to learn where they would stop and to whom they would go. 014 There was a village of the tribe of Judas named Bethshemesh, and though there was a large, fertile plain ahead of them, there the cows went and proceeded no further, but stopped the cart there. The villagers all saw it, and as it was summer and all were in the fields gathering their crops, as soon as they saw the ark, they dropped the work from their hands for sheer joy, and ran to the cart. 015 Then, taking down the ark and the vessel with the images, and the mice, they set them on a rock that stood in the plain, and after a splendid sacrifice to God and a festival, they offered the cart and the cows as a holocaust. When the Philistine officers saw this, they returned home.

016 But the wrath of God struck dead seventy persons of the village of Bethshemesh, who had approached the ark which, not being priests, they were unworthy to touch. The villagers wept for the victims and lamented them as was normal when so great a misfortune is sent from God, and each one mourned for his own. 017 Then, deeming themselves unworthy to have the ark stay with them, they sent to the general council of the Israelites to say that the ark had been sent back by the Philistines. Hearing it, they brought it away to Kariathjearim, a city in the neighbourhood of Bethes. 018 Living there was Abinadab, a Levite by birth, a man reputed for his just and religious lifestyle, and they brought the ark to his house, as a place fit for God to dwell, since a righteous man lived there. His sons tended to the ark and had charge of it for twenty years, for it stayed in Kariathjearim all that time, after being only four months with the Philistines.

Chapter 2. [019-030]
Under Samuel, the Hebrews defeat the Philistines

019 While the citizens of Kariathjearim had the ark, all the people turned to prayers and sacrifices to God and were careful and zealous in his worship. Seeing their fervour the prophet Samuel thought it time to speak of regaining their freedom and its blessings, so he spoke to them in words he felt would best move their hearts: 020 "Men of Israel, whose serious enemies are still the Philistines, now that God has begun to be your gracious friend you should not only yearn for freedom but take the means to gain it, nor simply wish to be rid of your lords and masters while continuing to behave as their subjects. 021 Be righteous, and casting evil from your souls, turn to the divine Majesty with all your hearts and persevere in honouring him. If you do so you will prosper and be freed from your slavery and win victory over your enemies, which you cannot achieve by weapons or physical prowess or the number of your allies. It is not by those means that God has promised to grant these blessings, but by being good and righteous. And I personally go as guarantor for these promises." 022 The people applauded his words, pleased with the exhortation, and devoted themselves to whatever God wished. So Samuel gathered them at a city called Masphate, which, in the Hebrew means a watch-tower, where they drew water and poured it out to God and fasted all day, devoting themselves to prayer.

023 Their gathering was not hidden from the Philistines, who on learning that so large a group had assembled attacked the Hebrews with an army of mighty strength hoping to catch them unawares and unprepared. 024 This terrified them with confusion and fear so they ran to Samuel and said that their spirits were low and fearful from their former defeat. "That is why we were doing nothing, for fear of rousing the might of our enemies, but while you brought us here for prayer and sacrifices and taking oaths, our enemies marched against us, and we are unprotected and unarmed. Our only hope of safety is through you and the God you implore, to help us escape from the Philistines." 025 But he bade them raise their spirits and promised them God's help, and then taking a suckling lamb, he sacrificed it for the crowds and implored God to raise his right hand over them when they fought the Philistines and not to abandon them or let them fall into a second defeat. God graciously heard and accepted his prayers and sacrifice and became their ally, giving them victory and power over their enemies. 026 While the sacrifice was still upon the altar it, not yet wholly consumed it by the sacred fire, the enemy forces marched from their camp and prepared for battle in hope of victory, since the Jews were badly placed without their weapons and not set up in fighting order. But the outcome was such as would hardly be credited even if it had been foretold. 027 For, firstly, God disturbed the enemy with an earthquake, moving the ground under them and making it tremble and shake, so that they staggered and some fell into its gaping chasms. Then he brought down thunder upon them and sent flashes os lightning which almost burned their faces, and shook the weapons from their hands so that they had to flee away unarmed. 028 Samuel and the people rushed upon them, killing many of them, as far as a place called Korraia, and there he set up a stone to mark their victory and the enemy's flight, calling it the Stone of Power, as a sign of the power that God had given them against their enemies.

029 After this blow, they invaded the Israelites no more, but stayed quiet from fear and the memory of what had happened. As a result of this victory the courage that the Philistines had formerly shown against them passed over to the Hebrews. 030 Samuel campaigned against them and slew many and entirely humbled their proud hearts and took from them the region they had previously taken from the Jews after defeating them in battle, the region stretching from the borders of Gitta to the city of Akaron. The other Canaanites were at this time in friendship with the Israelites.

Chapter 3. [031-044]
Samuel's sons go wrong, and the people call for a king. God's warning against the monarchy

031 When the prophet Samuel had set the people in order he assigned them a city in each district where they could come for judgment of any disputes they had. He himself visited the cities twice yearly, to sit as judge, and in this way he kept up a good standard of justice for a long time.

032 But when worn out with age and no longer able for his accustomed work, he handed over the leadership and presidency of the people to his sons, of whom the elder was called Joel and the younger's name was Abiah. He assigned them to stay and judge the people, one at the city of Bethel and the other at Beersheba, and divided the people into districts to be under the one or other. 033 These provide a clear example and proof of how people's characters differ. Some, though born of wicked parents, may be good and prudent while others can be evil, though born of good parents. 034 For, turning from their father's way and going the opposite way, these perverted justice for the filthy lucre of gifts and bribes and gave judgment not according to truth, but according to bribery, and they turned aside to luxury and high living. Not only was this offensive to God, it was also contrary to the will of their father the prophet, who had taken such care to teach the people righteousness.

035 But the people, angry at how the prophet's sons harmed their former constitution and government, hurried to the prophet, then living in the city of Armatha, to tell him what was going on, and of his sons' lawlessness. As he himself was old and too weakened by age to still oversee matters in the same way, they implored him to appoint someone as king over them, to rule the nation and punish the Philistines as they deserved, for their past wrongs. 036 The message greatly troubled Samuel, due to his innate love of justice and his hatred of kingly rule, for he strongly favoured aristocracy, as the system most conducive of godliness and prosperity for its followers. 037 His concern and turmoil at what they had said left him unable to either eat or sleep, but he lay awake all night thinking on these matters.

038 While he was in this state, God appeared to him and comforted him, saying that he need not worry about what the people wanted, for it was not he, but God Himself whom they despised, by not wanting him as their only king. They had been plotting this deed from the day they came out of Egypt, and would soon bitterly repent what they had done, but their future repentance could not undo what had been done. "They will be repaid for their contempt and ingratitude to me and to your prophetic office. 039 So I command you to appoint as their king the one I shall show you, but first describe the evils kingly government will bring upon them and tell them publicly what a great change they are hurrying into."

040 Hearing this, Samuel called the Jews early in the morning and declared that he was to appoint them a king, but that he must first describe to them how they would be treated by their kings and what evils they would have to bear. "You must realise that first of all they will take away your sons from you and force some to drive their chariots and be their cavalry and bodyguards, to be runners and captains of thousands and of hundreds. They will also make them artisans, armourers and makers of chariots and instruments. They will make them farm and cultivate their fields and dig their vineyards. 041 There will be nothing they will not do under orders, like servants bought at a price. Your daughters they will make confectioners and cooks and bakers, and they will have to do all sorts of work like female slaves, for fear of blows and punishments. They will take what you own, to give to their eunuchs and bodyguards, and give your herds of livestock to those who serve them. 042 Briefly, you and all that is yours, will be slaves to your king, like his domestic staff. When this happens, you will remember what I now say, and when you repent of what you have done, you will beg God for mercy and speedy relief from your kings, but he will not accept your prayers. He will ignore you and let you suffer the punishment your evil conduct has deserved."

043 But the foolish people turned a deaf ear to the predictions of what would happen, being too wicked to let go of the decision, however unwisely taken. They could not be turned from their purpose and would not heed Samuel's words, but stubbornly insisted on their demand that he appoint them a king now, and not worry about the future, 044 for they needed one to fight on their side and avenge them on their enemies. When their neighbours were ruled by kings, it was no way absurd that they too should have the same form of rule. So seeing that his words had not diverted them from their purpose but that they held firm, Samuel said, "Let each of you go home for now. I will send for you at the right time, when I have learned from God whom he gives you as king."

Chapter 4. [045-067]
Samuel appoints Saul as king of Israel, by God's command

045 There was a man of the tribe of Benjamin, well born and virtuous whose name was Kish. He had a son named Saul, a handsome and tall youth, whose prudence and understanding were even finer than his looks. 046 This Kish had some fine donkeys that had wandered from the pasture where they fed, and he valued them more than all his other animals. So he sent out his son along with a servant to search for the animals, and after searching through his own tribe and other tribes without finding them, he decided to go home, not to cause his father to worry about him. 047 As they were near the city of Armatha, his servant told him a prophet lived in it who declared truth, and advised him to go and find out from him what had happened the donkeys. He replied that if they went to him they had nothing to repay him for his prophecy, since their money was spent. 048 The servant said he had still the fourth of a shekel and that he could give this to him, not realising that the prophet would accept no reward. So they went to him and near the gates they met some girls going to fetch water and asked directions to the prophet's house. They pointed it out and told them to hurry before he sat down to supper, for he had invited many to a feast and used to take his seat before his guests arrived. 049 Now Samuel had gathered so many to his feast for a reason: every day he prayed God to foretell to him whom to make king, and the previous day he had said he would send a young man from the tribe of Benjamin about this hour. So he sat on his housetop waiting for the hour, and at the right moment he came down to supper. 050 Then, as he met Saul, God revealed to him that this was the one who was to rule. Saul came up to Samuel, greeted him and asked him which was the prophet's house, since as he was a stranger he did not know it. 051 Samuel said it was himself, and led him in to supper, assuring him that the donkeys he was seeking had been found, and that great things were destined for him. Saul replied, "But master, I am too small to hope for any such thing, and from a tribe too small to produce kings, and of a humbler family than many others. You only mock me and will make me a laughing-stock, by telling me of matters too high for my station." 052 Still, the prophet led him in to the feast followed by his servant, and made him sit above the other invited guests, seventy in number, and told the servants to set the royal portion before Saul. When it was time to go to bed, all the rest got up and went home, but Saul and his servant stayed on with the prophet, and slept there.

053 At daybreak, Samuel roused him from his bed to send him on his way, and when outside the city, he asked him to send his servant ahead, but to wait himself, as he had something to tell him with nobody else present. 054 So Saul sent away his servant. Then the prophet took a vessel of oil and poured it upon the head of the young man and kissed him and said, "Be king, ordained by God, against the Philistines, to avenge what the Hebrews have suffered from them, and here is a sign of it, that I want you to note. 055 When leave here, you will find on the road three men going to worship God at Bethel; you will see the first carrying three loaves of bread, the second a kid goat and the third will follow with a skinful of wine. These will greet you and speak nicely to you and give you two of their loaves, which you shall accept. 056 You will come to a place called Rachel's Monument, where you will be told the good news that your donkeys are safe. Then when you come to Gabatha, you shall meet a company of prophets and you will be seized with the divine Spirit and prophesy along with them, until everyone who sees you will be astounded and say, "How has the son of Kish reached such a height?' 057 When these signs happen to you, then know that God is with you. Say goodbye to your father and your relatives, and come to Galgala when I send for you, that we may offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to God for these blessings." When Samuel had said this and made these predictions, he sent the young man away, and everything happened to Saul as Samuel had predicted.

058 When Saul reached the house of his kinsman Abner, his favourite relative, and was asked about his journey and how he had fared during it, he concealed nothing from him about the rest, his coming to The prophet Samuel, and how he told him the donkeys were found, but about the kingdom and related matters, 059 news of which he thought would bring him envy and distrust, he was silent. He did not think it safe or prudent to tell him, although he seemed very friendly to him and he loved him above the rest of his relatives, for, I suppose, he reflected on how human nature really is, that none of our friends or relatives is so firm as to stay cordially disposed when God shines on one, but always feel malice and envy toward those who are highly placed.

060 Samuel called the people together to the city of Masphate and put these words before them, which he said he spoke at God's command: That when he had won them freedom and enslaved the enemy, they had forgotten his good deeds and rejected God as their King, not seeing the benefit of being ruled by the best of beings, for God is best of all. 061 They chose to have a man for their king, though kings will use their subjects as beasts, as their own will and inclination and other passions dictate, helplessly carried away by the lust of power, instead of trying to keep the race of mankind as God's work and creation, in the way that He would want. "But since you have planned and decided this insult to God, come by tribes and families and cast lots about it."

062 When the Hebrews did so, the lot fell on the tribe of Benjamin, and within it the Matri family was chosen; and individually it fell to Saul, son of Kish, to be their king. 063 When the young man knew of this, he quickly went away and hid himself, not wishing, I suppose, to seem to want to take over the leadership. He showed such restraint and modesty, that while most people are unable to contain their joy on winning even small prizes, but insist on displaying themselves to everyone, not only did he do nothing of that kind when he was appointed master of so many great tribes, but he stole away and hid himself from the sight of those he was to rule and made them seek him out with great difficulty. 064 When the people were at a loss and anxious at Saul's disappearance, the prophet implored God to show where he was and bring the young man before them. 065 Learning from God the place where Saul was hidden, he sent men to bring him and when he arrived, they set him in the middle of the people. He was taller than any of them and his stature was most majestic.

066 Then the prophet said, God gives you this man as your king: see how he is taller than any of the people and worthy of this dominion." So as soon as the people had acclaimed, "God save the king," the prophet wrote down what would happen and read it in the hearing of the king and deposited the book in the Tent of God, as a witness to future generations of what he had foretold. 067 With that accomplished, Samuel dismissed the people and came to his own region, the city of Armatha. Saul went off to Gaba where he came from, and many were loyal and paid him the respect due to him, but most were disloyal and despised him and scorned the others, and neither gave him giftts nor made an effort in act or word to win Saul's favour.

Chapter 5. [068-094]
Saul defeats the Ammanites and takes their spoils

068 In the following month his war with Naases, the king of the Ammanites, began to win him the respect of everybody, for this man had done great harm to the Jews living beyond the Jordan by his campaign against them with a great military force. 069 With violent force he also reduced their cities to slavery, subduing them not only for the present, but with subtlety and foresight weakening them so that later they could not escape from their slavery to him. He gouged out the right eyes of those who either came to him in trust or were captured by him under the rules of war, 070 which he did to render them completely unserviceable [in war,]
with their left eyes covered by their shields. 071 When the king of the Ammanites had done this to the men across the Jordan, he led his army against the people called Galadites and having encamped at the capital of his enemies, which was the city of Jabis, he sent envoys to them, ordering them either to hand themselves over, when they would have their right eyes gouged out, or be besieged and have their cities destroyed. Their choice was between losing a small member of their body, or being killed. 072 The Galadites were so frightened that they dared not make a choice, either to give themselves up or go to war, so they asked for a reprieve of seven days, to send envoys to their countrymen and ask them to be their allies. If they came to their help they would fight, but if they were unable to help them, they would submit and suffer whatever he decided.

073 With contempt for the Galadite populace and their response, Naases gave them a reprieve, allowing them to send to whoever they pleased for help. Immediately they sent to the Israelites, city by city, telling of Naases' threat and of the plight in which they stood. 074 The hearers wept and grieved about the situation of the Jabisenes, but their fear let them do nothing more. When the messengers came to the city of king Saul and declared the perils of the Jabisenes, the people were as troubled as in the other cities, about the disaster facing their relatives. 075 Then as Saul returned to the city from working on his farm he found his fellow citizens weeping, and on enquiring about the cause of their confusion and sadness learned the messengers' news. 076 Inspired with a divine fury he sent the envoys from the Jabisenes away with a promise to come to their help before sunrise on the third day and defeat their enemies, that the rising sun would see them beaten and the others set free from their fears. He ordered some of them to wait and serve them as guides on the route.

077 Wishing to stir the people towards this war on the Ammanites by fear of loss and to instantly get them together, he cut the sinews of his oxen and threatened to do the same to any who did not come with their armour to the Jordan the next day and follow him and the prophet Samuel wherever they would lead. 078 So out of fear of the threatened loss they came together at the appointed time to the city of Bala, where he counted them and found that those assembled, besides that of the tribe of Judas, were seven hundred thousand, plus seventy thousand of that tribe. 079 So he crossed the Jordan and continued marching thirty furlongs all that night, and came to Jabesh before sunrise and divided the army into three companies, and suddenly attacked from every side, when the enemy were unsuspecting, and in the ensuing battle they killed many of the Ammanites, including their king Naases. 080 Saul's splendid exploit was reported with high praise to all the Hebrews, so that he won a fine reputation for bravery. Any who had earlier despised him now changed their minds and honoured him and reckoned him the best of all, for not content with having saved the Jabisenes, he invaded the region of the Ammanites and laid it all waste and returned gloriously to his own region with a large booty. 081 The people were greatly pleased at Saul's excellent deeds and were glad that they had made him king, and turned on those who had claimed he would be of no benefit to their state, saying, "Where are they now, that we may deal with them?" and the usual things that people elated with success say of people who had recently disparaged those achieved it. 082 But while Saul appreciated their goodwill and affection he vowed not to see any of his countrymen killed that day, as it was wrong to mix this victory God had given them with the blood and murder of their kinsmen, instead of feasting with each other.

083 When Samuel had said he would confirm the kingdom to Saul by ordaining him a second time, they all came together to the city of Galgala, where he told them to meet. Once again in the sight of the people the prophet anointed Saul with the holy oil, appointing him king, and so the Hebrew polity changed into a monarchy. 084 Back in the days of Moses and his disciple their general, Joshua, they had remained an aristocracy, but after the death of Joshua, for a full eighteen years the people had been in an anarchy, 085 after which they returned to their former government, letting themselves be judged by whoever seemed to be the best and bravest warrior, which is why they called this the period of their polity that of the Judges.

086 The prophet Samuel called another assembly and said to them, "I appeal to you by God Almighty, who brought into the world those excellent brothers Moses and Aaron and rescued our forefathers from the Egyptians and their slavery, please do not say anything merely to gratify me, nor suppress anything out of fear, or be swayed by any other passion, but tell me, What have I ever done that was cruel or unjust? Or what have I done for profit or covetousness, or partiality? 087 Accuse me, if I have even taken such a thing as an ox or a sheep, or anything else which may lawfully be used for food. If I have caused grief by taking any man's beast of burden for my own use, let him accuse meof it here in the presence of your king." They cried out that he had done no such thing, but had ruled the nation in holiness and justice.

088 When all had testified to this, Samuel said, "Since you grant that you cannot accuse me of any wrong up, come now and listen while I speak with great freedom. You have acted most impiously against God, in asking for a king. 089 You should have remembered how in time of a famine our grandfather Jacob sent down into Egypt with seventy souls all of our stock, and how they multiplied there to many thousands, whom the Egyptians brought into slavery and cruel bondage, and how at the prayers of our fathers, God sent the brothers Moses and Aaron and enabled them, without a king, to save the people from their plight and bring them into this land you now possess. 090 Yet after enjoying these things from God, you became traitors to worship and religion. Not only that, but he saved you when you fell into the power of your enemies, first by raising you above the might of the Assyrians and then letting you defeat the Ammanites and the Moabites, and finally the Philistines. This you achieved not under the leadership of a king, but under Jephtha and Gideon as generals. 091 What madness makes you forsake God and ask to be under a king? Yes, I did appoint for you the one that He chose, but to show you how angry and displeased God is at your choice of kingly rule, I will arange for him to show you plainly through signs. For by my prayers I will have God show you something that none of you has ever seen before, a winter storm at harvest time." 092 As Samuel said this to the crowd, the divinity indicated the truth of all the prophet had said by thunder and lightning and hailstones, so that they were amazed and terrified and confessed their sins but said it had been through ignorance, and they implored the prophet, as a tender and gentle father, to get God to mercifully forgive their sin and any other offenses or transgressions they had committed. 093 He promised to implore God to forgive them these sins and persuade him on their behalf, but warned them to be righteous and good and to always remember the evils that had befallen them for their lapses from virtue, and to remember the signs God had shown them and the legislation of Moses, if it was their wish to be safe and prosperous under their king. 094 He said that if they grew careless of these things, God would strike them and their king with a mighty blow. When Samuel had prophesied this to the Hebrews he sent them home, having confirmed the kingdom to Saul the second time.

Chapter 6. [095-130]
Saul's successful attack on the Philistines

095 From among the people he chose about three thousand men, taking two thousand of them live in as his bodyguards in the city of Bethel and giving the rest as bodyguards to his son Jonathan, whom he sent to Gebala; and he besieged and took a garrison of Philistines, not far from Gebala. 096 When the Philistines had defeated the Jews they took away their weapons and put garrisons into the strongholds of the region and forbade them tools of iron, or the use of iron for any purpose. Under this embargo, if the farmers needed to sharpen any worktool, ploughshare or spade or anything else for farming, they had to come to the Philistines for it. 097 When the Philistines heard of the destruction of their garrison they were enraged and saw it as a terrible affront, and went to war against the Jews with three hundred thousand infantry and thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horses. 098 When they had pitched camp at the city of Machma the king of the Hebrews, Saul, learned of it and went down to the city of Galgala and sent heralds all over the region in the name of liberty, calling them to war against the Philistines, whose strength he downplayed, scorning them as not so powerful or great that one need fear a war with them. 099 When Saul's entourage realised the real numbers of the Philistines, they were very afraid and some of them hid in caves and underground dens, while the majority fled to the land beyond the Jordan belonging to Gad and Rubel.

100 Saul sent to call the prophet to come and confer with him about the war and public policy, and was told to wait there for him and to prepare sacrifices, for he would come to him after seven days, and on the seventh of those days he would sacrifice before going out to battle with their enemies. 101 So he waited as the prophet said but did not keep his other command, for as he saw the prophet delaying and that his soldiers were deserting, he took the sacrifices and offered them. Then hearing that Samuel had arrived, he went out to meet him. 102 The prophet said he had done wrong in disobeying the message he had sent him and not waiting until his arrival, as decreed by the divine will, but had acted too quickly in offering for the people the prayers and sacrifices he himself should have made. 103 Saul excused himself by saying that he had waited the days set by Samuel and had been forced to hurry in offering his sacrifice, as his soldiers were leaving him, fearing the enemy's camp at Machma, for a rumour had gone round that they were marching upon him at Galgala. 104 Samuel replied, "If you had been righteous and had not disobeyed me or slighted God's commands to me about this matter by acting too soon, you would have been allowed to reign a long time and your descendants after you." 105 So Samuel went home vexed by what had occurred, and Saul went with his son Jonathan to the city of Gebala with only six hundred men, most of them unarmed since iron and ironsmiths who could make weapons were scarce in that region, for as we explained a while back, the Philistines did not allow them. 106 The Philistines divided their army into three and going in three directions, ravaged the land of the Hebrews, while king Saul and his son Jonathan saw them but were unable to defend the land, having only six hundred men. 107 When he and his son and Abiah the high priest, a descendant of Eli the high priest, were sitting on a high hill watching the land being devastated, they were greatly disturbed. Then Saul's son agreed with his armour-bearer to go secretly to the enemy's camp and create commotion and uproar among them. 108 When the armour-bearer readily promised to follow wherever he should lead, even if he must die in the attempt, Jonathan and the young man descended from the hill and went toward the enemy. The enemy camp was on a clifftop with three peaks, ending in a long and narrow tip, with a crags around them like defence lines to prevent any attempted attack. 109 The nature of the place was so secure that the guarding of the camp was neglected, as they thought it impossible to ascend to the camp from that side, or even to approach it. 110 When they reached the camp, Jonathan encouraged his armour-bearer, "Let us attack the enemy" he said, "and if, when they see us, they bid us come up to them, take that for a sign of victory, but if they say nothing and do not call us to come up, let us turn back." 111 As they were approaching the enemy camp just after daybreak, the Philistines saw it and said to each other, "The Hebrews are coming from their dens and caves." To Jonathan and to his armour-bearer they said, "Come on up to us, and we will teach you a good lesson for this rash venture." 112 Saul's son accepted the call as a sign of victory and instantly left the place where they were seen by their enemies and relocated to the cliff where there was nobody on guard because of its strength. 113 From there, with great difficulty given the nature of the place, they toiled their way up until they got within reach of the enemy. Then they attacked them during their sleep and killed about twenty of them, causing great disorder and alarm. Some threw away all their armour and fled, 114 but most of them, being of different nations and never dreaming that only two of the Hebrews had climbed up to them, mistook each other for the enemy and fought it out, so that some were killed and others in their flight fell down headlong from the cliff.

115 When Saul's spies reported to their king that the camp of the Philistines was in a panic, Saul enquired if anyone had left the army and heard that his son was missing along with his armour-bearer, he ordered the high priest to put on his priestly vestments and prophesy to him what the outcome would be. As he said it would be victory and triumph over their enemies, he went out against the Philistines and attacked them as they were in confusion and killing each other. 116 On hearing that Saul was winning, those who had fled to the dens and caves came running to his help. When about ten thousand Hebrews showed up he pursued the enemy who were scattered all over the region. But then, whether from ignorance or from the joy of so surprising a victory, for people often fail to think clearly after a stroke of good fortune, he did something terrible and very blameworthy. 117 In his eagerness to take revenge and punish the Philistines, he invoked a curse upon the Hebrews if anyone stopped to eat and ceased killing the enemy or broke off the pursuit before nightfall made them do so. 118 When Saul had said this, when they reached a wood belonging to the tribe of Ephraim which was thick and full of bees, Saul's son, who did not hear his father make the curse, or hear the people confirming it, broke off part of a honeycomb and ate it. 119 Soon he learned of his father's curse forbidding them to taste anything before sunset, and stopped eating but said that his father's embargo was not good, for if they had taken along some food they would have pursued the enemy with more vigour and force and captured and killed many more of them.

120 Still they cut off many thousands of the Philistines, and late in the evening set to despoiling the Philistine camp, taking a large amount of booty and livestock which they killed and ate along with their blood. The scribes reported to the king how the people were sinning against God in their sacrifices and were eating before the blood was well washed off and the meat had been purified. 121 Then Saul had a great stone rolled into the middle and proclaimed that the crowd should sacrifice upon it and not eat the flesh along with the blood, as this was not pleasing to God. When all did as the king directed, Saul raised an altar there and offered holocausts to God there. This was the first altar built by Saul.

122 Before daylight Saul wished to lead his men into the enemy camp to loot it and the soldiers were not unwilling but were eager to do as he directed, the king called Ahitob the high priest and told him to find out if God would grant and allow them to go to the enemy camp, and destroy anyone they found in it. 123 When the priest said that God gave no answer, Saul replied, "Not without cause does God refuse to answer our queries, whereas a short while ago he told us in advance whatever we wanted to know. It must be some sin against him that is hidden from us, which is causing this silence. 124 I swear by him that even if the sinner should prove to be my own son Jonathan, I will kill him and so make atonement to God, just as if I were punishing a stranger not related to me, to avenge him." 125 When the populace shouted to him to do so, he put them all on one side and he and his son stood on the other side and he sought to find out the offender by lot; but the lot seemed to point to Jonathan. 126 When his father asked where he had erred and what guilt or profanity he was aware of in the course of his life, he replied, "Nothing father, except that yesterday while in pursuit of the enemy, I tasted of a honeycomb, not knowing of the curse and oath you had sworn." Saul then swore to kill him setting the keeping of his oath above the bonds of fatherhood and of nature. 127 Not appalled at the threat of death, the lad nobly and generously offered himself and said, "I do not ask you, father, to spare me. Death will be very acceptable to me if it comes from your piety and for a glorious victory, for it is the greatest consolation to me to leave the Hebrews victors over the Philistines." 128 At this all the people were full of sorrow and sympathy, and swore that they would not let Jonathan the cause of their victory be killed. So they rescued him from the danger of his father's curse, and prayed to God to forgive the young man's sin.

129 So having killed about sixty thousand of the enemy, Saul returned to his own city and ruled successfully and fought the neighbouring nations and subdued the Ammanites and Moabites and Philistines and Edomites and Amalekites, and the king of Zobah. He had three male children, Jonathan and Joshua and Melchis, and two daughters, Merob and Melcha. 130 He had also Abner, the son of his uncle Ner, as general of his army, for Ner and Saul's father Kish were brothers. Saul had also many chariots and cavalry and whenever he made war he returned victorious and brought the Hebrews to success and prosperity, raising them above other nations, and took for his bodyguards any of the young men who were of notable size and beauty.

Chapter 7. [131-155]
Saul is told to wipe out the Amalekites

131 Samuel came to Saul and told him that he was sent to remind him how God had preferred him before all others and ordained him king; that he must therefore defer to and obey him, since while he ruled over the other tribes, God still ruled over him and over all things. 132 He said that God's directions were "Since the Amalekites did the Hebrews much harm while they were in the wilderness in their flight from Egypt while journeying to the land that is now their own, I command you to punish the Amalekites with war. When you have subdued them, leave none of them alive, 133 but pursue them young and old and kill them, beginning with the women and the infants, for they must be punished for what they did to our ancestors. So spare nothing, whether beasts of burden or other cattle, and do not keep any of them for your own use and possession, but sacrifice them all to God, and blot out the name of Amalek entirely, as Moses commanded."
134 So Saul promised to do as he was ordered, and thinking that his obedience to God would be shown not just by making war on the Amalekites, but more fully by promptness and speed, he made no delay but instantly gathered all his forces, and after counting them in Galgala, he found them to be about four hundred thousand of the Israelites besides the tribe of Judas, and by itself that tribe contained thirty thousand. 135 Saul then invaded the region of the Amalekites and set many men in several parties in ambush at the river, so as not only to trounce them in open battle but also to attack them unexpectedly on the highway and thereby encircle and kill them. He fought and defeated the enemy and pursuing them as they fled, killed them all. 136 When that had succeeded as God had foretold, he attacked the cities of the Amalekites. He besieged them and took them by force, partly by war- machines, partly by mines dug underground and partly by building walls around them; and some they defeated by hunger and thirst and some they besieged in other ways. Having taken them by force he proceeded to kill the women and children, thinking that in this he was acting neither cruelly or inhumanly; first, because those he was dealing with were enemies, and also because it was done by God's command, whom it was dangerous not to obey. 137 He also captured the enemy king, Agag, whose beauty and size he admired so much that he thought him worth sparing. This, however, was not according to God's will, but giving way to human feeling and allowing himself to be moved with an untimely pity which was not safe for him to indulge. 138 For God hated the nation of the Amalekites so much that he ordered Saul not to pity even the infants, for whom by nature we feel most sympathy, but Saul spared their king and ruler from the ruin the Hebrews inflicted on his people, as though preferring the fine appearance of the enemy to the purpose for which God had sent him. 139 The populace was guilty along with him, for they spared the herds and the flocks and took them as booty, when God had ordered them not to spare them. They also carried off the rest of their wealth, destroying only what was worthless.

140 When Saul had conquered all these Amalekites from Pelusium in Egypt to the Red Sea, he ravaged all the rest of the enemy's region. But he did not touch the nation of the Sikimites, although they lived in the heart of the region of Madian, for before the battle Saul had sent to tell them to leave there in case they should share in the ruin of the Amalekites. He had a good reason to spare them, as they were related to Raguel, Moses's father-in-law.

141 At this Saul returned home with joy, for his glorious exploits and for defeating his enemies, as if he had not neglected anything the prophet had told him to do when he was going to war on the Amalekites and as if he had done exactly all that he should have done. 142 But God was grieved that the king of the Amalekites was spared alive and that the people had taken the livestock as booty, for these things were done without his permission. He thought it intolerable for them to conquer their enemies by the power he gave them and then so grossly scorn and disobey him, which even a mere mortal king would not endure. 143 So he told the prophet Samuel that he regretted having made Saul king since he did not obey him but followed his own inclinations. Samuel was distraught when he heard it and all that night implored God to forgive Saul and not to be angry with him, 144 but even at the prophet's request he did not pardon Saul, not seeing fit to forgive sins at his petition, since wrongs increase if those who are wronged are lenient, and if they seek to appear gentle and kindly, before they know it, other sins have flourished. 145 When God rejected the prophet's intercession and it was clear he would not change his mind, at break of day Samuel met Saul at Galgala. Seeing him, the king ran and embraced him and said, "I thank God, who gave me victory, for I have done everything he has commanded me." 146 Samuel replied, "Then how is it that I can hear the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the livestock in the camp?" Saul replied that the people had reserved them for sacrifices, but that the Amalekite nation was entirely destroyed as he had been ordered, and that nobody except their king was left alive. He had brought him to him, so that they could discuss what to do with him. 147 But the prophet said, "God does not delight in sacrifices, but in good and righteous men who follow his will and his laws and never think something is well done unless they do it as God directs them. He is offended not by failure to sacrifice, but by a person's disobeying him. 148 From those who do not obey him in the spirit of true and acceptable worship, he will not accept sacrifices, no matter how covered in fat, or gifts no matter how ornamental. Even if made of gold and silver, he will reject them and reckon them objects of evil and not of piety. 149 He delights in those who remember this one thing, to do whatever God says or tells them to do, preferring to die than to break any of those commands, and from he demands no sacrifice. When these do sacrifice, no matter how small their offering, he accepts it more from their poverty than the offerings of the richest men who sacrifice to him. 150 Be aware, therefore, that you are under the wrath of God, for you have despised and neglected what he ordered you. How do you think he will accept a sacrifice from things he has doomed to destruction? Do you imagine that offering a sacrifice to God is the same as to destroy it. Therefore your kingdom and the authority you have abused by disobeying the God who gave it to you, will be taken from you." 151 Saul confessed that he had acted wrongly and did not deny his sin, for breaking the prophet's orders. He said that it was from fear of the soldiers that he did not stop them from capturing the booty. "But forgive me," he said, "and be merciful to me, for I will be careful not to offend in the future." He implored the prophet to return with him so that he could offer his thank-offerings to God, but Samuel went home, knowing that God would not pardon him.

152 Eager to detain Samuel, Saul took hold of his cloak, and because Samuel went off with such a vigorous stride, the cloak was torn. 153 The prophet said that the kingdom would be torn from him in the same way and be given to a good and upright man. For God held to what he had decreed about him, since to change one's decisions is typical of human passions, but is not the way of divine power. 154 Saul said that he had done wrong, but that what was done could not be undone. All he asked was that he show him the honour of letting the people see them worshipping God together, so Samuel granted him that favour and went with him to worship God. 155 When Agag, king of the Amalekites, was brought to him, the king said, "How bitter is death?" Samuel replied, "As you have made many Hebrew mothers mourn and bewail the loss of their children, so by your death, you will cause your mother to mourn you too." He instantly gave orders to kill him at Galgala and then went off to the city of Armatha.

Chapter 8. [156-169]
The prophet Samuel anoints David as king, to replace Saul

156 Aware of the plight he had brought on himself and feeling at odds with God, king Saul went up to his palace at Gaba, which means a hill, and from that day no longer came into the presence of the prophet. 157 When Samuel grieved for him, God told him set aside this anguish and take the holy oil and go to Bethlehem, to Jesse, son of Obed, and anoint as their future king the one of his sons He would show him. Samuel said he was afraid that if he learned of it, Saul would kill him secretly or even openly. But he went to the aforesaid city, with the help of God brought him safely there. 158 When they all greeted him and asked about the reason for his coming, he said he came to sacrifice to God. After preparing the sacrifice, he called Jesse and his sons to share in it, and when he saw that his eldest son was a tall and handsome man, he guessed by his beauty that he was the one to be their future king. 159 But he misinterpreted God's providence, for when Samuel asked God if he should anoint this youth whom he admired and thought worthy of the kingship, God said, "Men do not see as God sees. 160 You admire this youth for his fine looks and so think him worthy to reign, while I give the kingship as a reward not for physical beauty but for spiritual virtue, and seek one perfect in beauty of that kind, in piety and righteousness and fortitude and obedience, for in these the beauty of the soul consists." 161 When God had said this, Samuel got Jesse to show him all his sons. So he had five more of his sons come to him. Eliab was the eldest, Aminadab the second, Shammall the third, Nathaniel the fourth, Rael the fifth and Asam the sixth. 162 When the prophet saw that these appeared no way inferior to the eldest, he asked God which of them whom he chose for their king, but God said it was none of them, so he asked Jesse if he had not some other sons besides these. 163 When he said he had one more, called David, but that he was out herding and guarding the flocks, he quickly had him called, saying that they could not sit down to the feast until he arrived. 164 When David came, sent for by his father, he was of a tan complexion, keen sighted and handsome in every way. "This is the one," Samuel said quietly, "whom it pleases God to make our king." So he set the boy next to him and then Jesse and his other sons. 165 Later, in David's sight he took oil and anointed him and whispered in his ear to say that God had chosen him to reign, and urged him to be just and to obey to his commandments. In this way his kingdom would last a long time and his house would be glorious and renowned. He said that he would destroy the Philistines and whenever he went to war against other nations he would survive the battle and be victorious, and enjoy celebrity throughout his life, and leave it behind to his descendants.

166 With this advice, Samuel left him and the divine power left Saul and moved to David, who began to prophesy when the divine Spirit moved to him. But some devilish disorder came over Saul, making him feel suffocated and ready to choke, and his doctors could think of no other remedy than to seek someone who could sing and play the harp. Then when the demons disturbed him he could have that person stand over him, making music and singing. 167 Without delay he told them to seek out such a one, and a bystander said that in the city of Bethlehem he had seen a son of Jesse, still no more than a child, but handsome and fair and fine in every way, who was skilled in playing the harp and in singing songs, and would be an excellent soldier in war. So he sent to Jesse and told him to have David leave the flocks and send him to him, for he wished to see him after hearing praise of the young man's beauty and bravery. 168 So Jesse sent his son and gave him gifts to take to Saul. When he came he was pleased with him and made him his armour-bearer and held him in high esteem, for he was charmed by him and whenever he was troubled when the demons assailed him, was his only doctor, singing and playing the harp and bringing Saul back to his right mind. 169 He sent to Jesse, the boy's father, to let David stay with him, as he was delighted with the sight of him and having his company. In order not to oppose Saul, he granted this request.

Chapter 9. [170-192]
David kills Goliath the Philistine, in single combat

170 Not long after this, the Philistines again gathered a large force against the Israelites, and seized a place between Socus and Azekus, where they encamped. Saul led out his army to oppose them, and by pitching his own camp on a particular hill, forced the Philistines to leave their first encampment and move to another hill, across from Saul's camp. 171 Their two camps were separated by a valley, in between the hills on which they lay. Down from the camp of the Philistines came a man named Goliath, from the city of Gitta, a man of vast size. He was four cubits and a span tall and had about him weapons suited to his physique. His breastplate weighed five thousand shekels and his helmet and greaves of brass made to protect the limbs of so large a man. His spear was not light enough to carry in his right hand, but was carried on his shoulders; and he had a lance that weighed six hundred shekels, and many men followed carrying his armour. 172 As this Goliath stood between the opposing armies he shouted aloud to Saul and the Hebrews, "I will spare you from battle and its dangers, for what need is there for your army to fall and to suffer? 173 Give me one of your men who will fight me and as his prize the victor shall decide the war, and the others shall serve the side to which the victor belongs. Surely it is better and more prudent to gain your aims by risking one man rather than everyone." 174 After saying this he retired to his own camp, but came again the next day and used the same words. Over a period of forty days he did not cease challenging the enemy in the same words, until Saul and his army were dismayed by it, while they put themselves in array as though to fight, but did not actually come to battle.

175 At the start of this war between the Hebrews and the Philistines, Saul sent away David to his father Jesse and contented himself with the three sons he had sent to help him and share in the dangers of the war. 176 At first David returned to feed his sheep and flocks, but after a while he was sent by his father to the camp of the Hebrews to take food to his brothers and learn how they were doing. 177 When Goliath came again and challenged and mocked them for having among them no man brave enough to come down and fight him. Meanwhile David was talking with his brothers about the business he was sent for by his father, and he heard the Philistine taunting the army and was angry and said to his brothers, "I am ready to fight this enemy in single combat." 178 His eldest brother, Eliab, reproached him for speaking rashly and unwisely for one so young and told him go back to his flocks and his father. So abashed at his brother's words he went away, but still said to some of the soldiers that he wanted to fight the man who challenged them. 179 When they told Saul of the young man's courage, the king sent for him to come to him and when he asked him he replied, "O king, do not be downcast or afraid, for I will curb the insolence of the enemy by going to fight him and bring him down, tall and great as he is. 180 Let him be a laughing stock and your army will have great glory when he is killed by one who is not yet of man's estate, or fit for fighting, or ready to be entrusted with leading an army, or planning a battle, but by one who looks like a child and really is one in age."

181 Saul was amazed at David's audacity and commitment but dared not rely on him at his age, thinking that he must be too puny to fight a man skilled in war. "But," said David, "I undertake this task trusting in the God who is with me, since I have felt his help already. 182 For I once pursued and caught a lion that was attacking my flocks and had taken a lamb, and I snatched the lamb from the beast's mouth and when it sprang at me I took it by the tail and dashed it to the ground. 183 When defending myself against a bear I did the same, so let our opponent be seen as one of these wild beasts, and he who has for so long mocked our army and blasphemed our God, will be brought by him under my power."

184 Saul prayed that with God's help the result might not go against the boy's commitment and boldness, and said, "Go on to the fight." So putting his own breastplate around him and his sword into his belt and fitting his helmet on his head he sent him off. 185 But David felt burdened by the armour, for he had not been trained to it, nor had he learned to bear arms, so he said, "Keep this armour for yourself, O king, who are able to bear it, but let me fight as your servant and as I myself wish." So he laid aside the armour and taking his staff with him and putting five stones from the brook into a shepherd's bag and with a sling in his right hand, he went towards Goliath. 186 But seeing him come in such a fashion the enemy scorned and jibed at him for not having the usual weapons of a man going out to fight, but those that are used for driving away and warding off dogs. He said, "Do you take me not for a man, but a dog?" To which he replied, "Not even for a dog, but for something worse stirred the wrath of Goliath, who cursed him in the name of God and threatened to give his flesh to the beasts of the earth and to the fowls of the air, to be torn in pieces by them. David replied, 187 "You come to me with sword and spear and breastplate, but I come against you with God for my armour, who will destroy you and all your army by my hands. For this day I will cut off your head and throw the rest of your body to the dogs, and all people shall learn that the divinity presides over the Hebrews, and his care is our armour and strength, and other equipment or power is useless if God is not there." 188 Though he tried to run to meet David, the Philistine could only come slowly, due to the weight of his armour. Scorning him, he felt sure of killing him, unarmed as he was and in age still a child.

189 But the youth faced his opponent with an invisible assistant at his side, who was God himself. And taking from his shepherd's bag one of the stones from the brook that he had put there, and fitting it to his sling, he slung it and struck the Philistine in the forehead and sank into his brain, so that Goliath was stunned and fell upon his face. 190 Then he ran and stood over his prostrate opponent and cut off his head with his own sword, not having one himself. 191 Once Goliath fell the Philistines were defeated and fled, for when they saw their champion lying prostrate they panicked at the reversal of their fortunes and resolved to stay no longer, but took to base and shameful flight to save themselves from the danger. But Saul and the whole Hebrew army raised a shout and rushed at them and killed many and pursued the rest to the borders of Gitta and the gates of Askalon. 192 Thirty thousand of the Philistines were killed and twice as many wounded. Saul then returned to their camp and pulled their stronghold to pieces and burned it, while David carried the head of Goliath into his own tent and dedicated his sword to God.

Chapter 10. [193-204]
Saul promises David his daughter Melcha as wife, but on a dangerous condition

193 The women stoked up Saul's envy and hatred of David, for as they met the victorious army with cymbals and drums and all the signs of rejoicing, the women were singing that "Saul had slain many thousands of Philistines" and the virgins that "David had destroyed tens of thousands." 194 When the king heard this and that he was getting the smaller share of the credit while the bulk of it, in "myriads," was attributed to the young man, he reflected that after such mighty applause the only thing missing to him was the kingdom, so he began to be afraid and suspicious of David. 195 Therefore he moved him from the rank he had formerly given him as his armour-bearer, which he now feared had him too close to himself, and made him officer over a thousand, an apparent promotion made for the sake of his own security, wishing to send him into battles against the enemy, in the hope that he would be killed amid the dangers.

196 But David had God with him wherever he went, so that he greatly prospered, and his great courage was known to the people, and Saul's daughter, who was still a virgin, fell in love with him with so strong a passion that it was evident and was reported to her father. 197 He received this news with pleasure, seeing it as a possible trap for David, and to those who told him of her love he indicated that he would willingly give the girl to him in marriage since the risk it involved could bring about his downfall. He said, "I pledge myself to marry my daughter to him if he will bring me six hundred heads of the enemy." 198 He reckoned that the offer of such a splendid reward and the chance of glory by a deed so dangerous and incredible, would instantly set him into action so that he would be killed by the Philistines, "and nicely fulfil my plans for him. I shall be freed of him while having him killed by others and not by myself." 199 So he ordered his servants to test David's reaction to the idea of marrying the girl, so they began to tell him how king Saul loved him as he did all the people and wished to give him his daughter in marriage. 200 He replied, "Does it seem to you a small thing to be made the king's son-in-law? It does not seem so to me, especially as one so lowly and with no inherited glory or honour." When told by his servants of David's answer Saul said, "Tell him that I do not want from him any money or dowry, which would be putting my daughter for sale rather than giving her in marriage, but I want a son-in-law who is brave and has all other kinds of virtue," which he saw David that possessed. 201 His desire, he said, in return for marrying his daughter, was not gold or silver, or whatever he might bring from his father's house, but the execution of Philistines and indeed six hundred of their heads. 202 "No more desirable or glorious present could be given to me. Instead of any of the usual dowries for my daughter, I would much rather her to marry a man of that kind, who has the credit of defeating our enemy."

203 When these words were reported to David he was pleased and imagined that Saul was really eager to have him as a relative. So, not waiting to deliberate further or ponder the possibility or difficulty of what was proposed, he and his companions instantly attacked the enemy and went about doing what was required for the marriage. Since God made all things easy and possible to David, he killed many and cut off the heads of six hundred and came to show them to the king and asked for the marriage in return. 204 As he could not go back on his word, and ashamed to be seen to have made a false promise, or to have plotted to send David on an impossible mission to bring about his death, Saul gave him his daughter, whose name was Melcha.

Chapter 11. [205-241]
Saul continues plotting against David, but with help from Jonathan and Melcha, he escapes

205 Saul would not stay long in that state, for when he saw David honoured by God and by the people, he feared him. Unable to conceal his fear about things as vital as his kingdom and his life, losing either of which would be a disaster, he wanted David dead and ordered his son Jonathan and the most faithful of his servants to kill him. 206 Amazed at his father's total change regarding David, from showing him such goodwill to seeking to have him killed, and because he loved the young man and revered him for his virtue, Jonathan told him of his father's secret orders and his plans. 207 He advised him to be sure to be absent the next day, when he would greet his father, and if opportunity arose, would discuss it with him and learn the reason for his antipathy. 208 He would show how little basis there was for it, or for killing a man who had done so many good things for the people and been so good to him, reason enough to pardon him, even had he committed the greatest of crimes. "And I will inform you of my father's decision." David followed this good advice and kept out of the king's sight.

209 Next day, when Jonathan went to Saul and saw him in a cheerful and happy mood, he began to talk about David. "Father, what crime, small or great, do you find so wicked in David, that you to order us to kill one who has done so much for your own safety, and still more to subdue the Philistines? 210 This man saved the Hebrews from the haughty mockery they suffered for all of forty days, when he alone was brave enough to take up the enemy's challenge, and then took the assigned number of heads of our enemies and as a reward received my sister in marriage. His death would grieve us greatly, not just due to his virtue, but due to our kinship, for killing him will wrong your daughter, making her a widow before enjoying their proper intercourse. 211 Consider this, and become more gentle and do not harm a man was so good as to spare you to us, for when you were held by the evil spirit and by demons, he expelled them and brought you inner peace from their assaults, as well as avenging us against our enemies. To forget such benefits would be ignoble." 212 With these words Saul was pacified and swore to his son not to harm David, for his righteous speech overcame the king's anger and fear. So Jonathan sent for David and brought him from his father the good news that his life would be spared. Then he led him to his father, and David continued with the king as before.

213 About this time, when the Philistines set out again against the Hebrews, Saul sent David with an army to fight them, and he killed many of them in battle and returned victorious to the king. Saul did not welcome him as expected after the success, for his fame upset the king, who reckoned that he would be a danger to him after such glorious deeds. 214 When the demoniac spirit came upon him and left him disordered and disturbed, he called David into the bed-chamber where he lay and with a spear in his hand, commanded him to charm him by playing on his harp and singing. While David did as he was told, he threw the spear at him with great force, but David sensed it coming and ducked it, then fled to his own house and stayed there all that day.

215 That night the king sent officers with orders to guard him until morning and not let him escape, intending to bring him into the judgment-hall, to hand him over to judgment and death. When David's wife, Melcha, the king's daughter, realised her father's plan, she came to her husband, with little hope of his safety and greatly concerned for her own life too, for she could not bear to live if he were taken from her. She said, 216 "Let the sun not find you here when it rises, for if it does, it will be your last time to see it. Get away while night gives you the chance and may God lengthen it for your sake, for surely if my father finds you, you are a dead man." So she let him down from the window by a rope and saved him. 217 Then she fitted up a bed for him as if he were sick and put a goat's liver under the bed-clothes. At daylight, when her father sent to seize David, she told those who came that he had been ill during the night and showed them the covered bed and, by the pulsing liver which caused the bed-clothes to move, made them think that David was breathing like an asthmatic. 218 When the messengers reported that he had not been well in the night, Saul told them to bring him as he was, for he meant to kill him and they came and uncovered the bed and found out the woman's ruse, and told it to the king. 219 Then, when her father blamed her for saving his enemy and playing a trick against himself, she made the plausible defense that it was fear that made her help him escape, since he had threatened to kill her. She should be forgiven for helping him, because it was not done of her own free choice, but under duress. She said, "I do not suppose that you were more eager to kill your enemy than that I should be saved." So Saul forgave the girl. 220 When he had escaped from this danger, David came to the prophet Samuel at Armatha and told him the traps the king had laid for him and how he had very nearly been killed when Saul threw a spear at him, although he had done him no wrong, nor been cowardly in battle with his enemies, but had succeeded in them all, by God's help; but that this very thing was the reason for Saul's hatred of David.

221 When the prophet learned of the king's injustice, he left the city of Armatha and took David to a place called Galboa and stayed there with him. When Saul was told that David was with the prophet, he sent soldiers to him with orders to take him and bring him to him. 222 When they came to Samuel and found some prophets assembled there, they shared in the divine Spirit and began to prophesy. When Saul heard of it, he sent others to David, who prophesied in the same way. When he sent others but this third group also prophesied, he was finally angry and hurried there himself. 223 As he came near the place, Samuel, before seeing him, caused him to prophesy. When Saul reached him, he was disordered in mind and fiercely agitated by a spirit. Taking off his clothes, he fell down and lay on the ground all that day and night, in the sight of Samuel and David.

224 Afterwards Saul's son Jonathan met David and he complained to him of the traps his father set for him and said that though he had committed no evil and had not offended him, he was still eager to have him killed. Jonathan urged him not to believe his suspicions, or the lies of those who spread those rumours, if any were doing so, but to depend on him and take heart, for his father had no such intention, or he would have tolk him so and have taken his advice, as he used to consult with him before acting in other matters. 225 But David swore that it was so, and asked him to believe him and help him come safe, rather than despise what, in all sincerity, he told him. He would believe his words soon enough, if he either personally saw him killed or heard of it from others! His father did not tell him of these things because he knew of their friendship and bond.

226 When Jonathan found that Saul's plan was so well proven, he asked what he wanted him do for him. David replied, "I know that in everything you want to satisfy me and get me what I desire. Tomorrow is the new moon, when I would usually have sat down to supper with the king. 227 If you agree, I will leave the city and hide myself, and if Saul asks why I am absent, tell him that I have gone to my own city of Bethlehem for a festival of my own tribe, adding that you gave me permission to do so. If he should says the usual thing when friends go away, "Good for him!" then be assured that I need fear no secret harm or enmity from him; but if he answers otherwise, it will be a sure sign that he has plans against me. 228 So tell me of your father's mood, out of your sympathy and friendship for me, for you and I have exchanged assurances, like those of a master to his servant. But if you find any wickedness in me, do not wait for your father but kill me yourself."

229 Jonathan was angry at these last words and gave his promised to tell him if his father's answers implied anything dire, or any enmity towards him. But to give him more confidence, he took him out into the pure air and swore that he would leave nothing undone for David safety. 230 He said, "I appeal to God, whom you see shining all round you, and knows my mind before I put it into words, to witness my covenant with you, that I will not cease my frequent efforts to find out my father's purpose until I learn the inmost secrets of his soul. 231 When I have learnt them, I will not conceal them from you, but whether he is well or badly disposed I will tell you. For God knows how I pray that he may be with you always. He is with you now and will not forsake you and will set you above your enemies, even if my father were one of them, or even I myself. 232 Just remember this moment, and if it happens that I die, save the lives of my children and repay to them the kindness you now receive." After swearing this, he sent David away to go to a place in the plain where he used to perform his exercises. Then when he knew his father's mind he would come to him there, with just one servant. 233 He said, "If I shoot three spears at the mark and then have my servant bring the spears to me, for will fall in front of him, you will know you have nothing to fear from my father; but if you hear me say the opposite, expect the opposite from the king. 234 In this way I will care for your safety so that you suffer no harm. In your time of prosperity, be sure not to forget this, and be kind to my children." Having got these assurances from Jonathan, David went off to the agreed place.

235 Next day, which was the new moon, the king came to supper after purifying himself in the traditional way, and sat his son Jonathan next to him on his right side and his army general, Abner, on the other side. He saw David's seat empty, but said nothing, thinking that he had not purified himself since having sexual intercourse. 236 But when he was not there either on the second of the month, he asked his son Jonathan why Jesse's son was missing from the supper and the feast, that day and the day before. He said he had given him permission to go to his own city where his tribe was holding a festival and had also invited him to come to their sacrifice. "With your permission," he added, "I will go there, for you know how well I love him." 237 Then Jonathan came to know his father's hatred of David and plainly saw his disposition, for Saul could not restrain his anger, but rebuked Jonathan and called him the son of a renegade and an enemy, and called him David's partner and helper, and that his behaviour showed how little he cared for himself, or for his mother, when he could not see that their throne was not secure as long David was alive. Then he said "Now send for him and I will give him justice!" 238 When Jonathan replied, "What wrong did he do, for you to punish him?" Saul no longer vented his anger in words and blasphemies, but snatched up his spear and jumped at him as if to kill him. His friends stopped him from doing the deed, but it was clear to his son how he hated David and so craved to be rid of him that on his account he almost killed his son by his own hand.


239 Too grieved to eat anything, the king's son quickly left the supper, and spent the night in tears, both because he had nearly been killed and because the death of David had been decreed. As soon as it was day, he went out into the plain outside the city, apparently for gymnastics, but really to inform his friend of his father's attitude, as he had agreed. 240 Then, when Jonathan had done the necessary, he sent his servant back to the city, and went off himself into the desert to meet David and talk with him. He came and fell at Jonathan's feet and bowed down to him, calling him his life-saver, 241 But he lifted him from the ground and they embraced each other in a long and tearful greeting. They grieved for their passing youth and for their envied friendship and for their coming separation, which seemed no different from death to them. Finally they stopped grieving, and urging each other to recall their mutual oaths, they parted company.

Chapter 12. [242-270]
David flees to Abimelech, then to the Philistines. Saul's revenge on Abimelech

242 But David fled from the king who wanted him killed and came to the city of Naba, to Abimelech the priest, who was amazed to see him coming alone with no friend or servant, and wanted to know why there was nobody with him. 243 He replied that he came on a secret mission from the king for which he had no need of anyone to accompany him. "But I have ordered my servants to meet me at a particular place." He asked for something to eat, saying that if he supplied them he would be acting like a friend and help him in his mission. 244 When he got these, he also asked if he had any weapons to hand, either sword or spear. A servant of Saul's was present, a Syrian named Doeg, who looked after the king's mules. The high priest said that he had nothing of the kind but added, "Here is the sword of Goliath, which you dedicated to God when you killed the Philistine."

245 Taking it, David fled from the Hebrew territory into that of the Philistines under king Achus, and when the king's servants recognised him and introduced him to the king as the David who had killed many thousands of the Philistines, he feared for his life, that he would suffer from him the danger he had just escaped from Saul. So he acted like a madman and lunatic, with spittle running from his mouth and other such things to make the king of Gitta believe they were the symptoms of the illness. 246 The king was very angry that his servants had brought him a madman and he ordered them to expel David instantly.

247 When David had escaped from Gitta like this, he came to the tribe of Judas and lived in a cave near the city of Adullam. Then he sent to his brothers to tell them where he was, and they came to him with all their relatives. Many others also, who were either needy or afraid of king Saul, came and banded together and said they were ready to obey his orders; in all they numbered about four hundred. 248 Taking courage now that such a force had come to help him, he moved from there and came to the king of the Moabites and asked him to make his parents welcome in his land until he had settled his affairs. He granted him this favour and showed every respect to David's parents in the time they were with him.

249 When told by the prophet to leave the desert and to go and live in the region allotted to the tribe of Judas, David obeyed and went to the city of Saris in that area, where he remained. 250 Saul was very disturbed and worried when he heard that David had been seen accompanied by a crowd, for knowing his spirit and courage he suspected he would stir up something not inconsiderable that would cause him major trouble and distress. 251 He called together his friends and officers and his native tribe to the hill where he had his palace and sitting on a place called Aroura with his high courtiers and bodyguards, he said to them, "My fellow tribesmen, I am sure you remember my benefits to you, making some of you landowners and honouring you as officers over the people and over the ranks. 252 So I ask you, do you expect more and greater favours from the son of Jesse? For I know that you are all inclined to him and even my own son Jonathan shares that view and advocates it to you. 253 I am not unaware of his oaths and promises to David and that Jonathan acts as counsellor and helper to those ranged against me and none of you intervenes in this affair, but you silently watch to see what will come of it." 254 When the king fell silent none of the others present made any answer, but then Doeg the Syrian, who took care of his mules, told how he had seen David coming to the city of Naba to Abimelech the high priest and learning of the future by his prophecies, and how he received food and the sword of Goliath from him, and was sent on by him in safety to wherever he wanted to go.

255 Saul then sent for the high priest and all his clan and said, "What wrong or injury have you suffered from me, that you welcomed the son of Jesse and gave him food and weapons, when he was plotting to take over my kingdom? And why did you prophecy to him about future events? For you were not unaware that he was fleeing from me and hates my family." 256 The high priest did not try to deny what had happened, but boldly affirmed that he had supplied these things, not for David's sake, but for Saul's. He said, "I did not see him as your enemy but as your faithful servant and officer, and even more, your son-in-law and kinsman. 257 Such favours are not granted to opponents but to those whom people deem to show them the most goodwill and respect. Nor was this my first time to prophesy for him, for I have often done so at other times too. So when he said he was sent in great haste by you to do something, I would have thought that not to give him any of what he sought would be to refuse you rather than him. 258 So do not think badly of me, or in light of what is now said of David's plans blame me for what then seemed to me an act of kindness, for I treated him as your friend, son-in-law and officer, and not as your enemy."

259 The high priest's words did not persuade Saul, whose fear was too strong to let him credit even so justified an apology, so he ordered his warriors to surround and kill him. But when they did not dare to touch the high priest, revering God rather than obeying the king, he ordered Doeg the Syrian to do the killing. 260 So enlisting bad men like himself, he killed Abimelech and all his family, about three hundred and eighty-five in all. Saul also sent to Naba, the city of the priests and killed all who were there, sparing neither women nor children nor people of any age, and burned it. 261 Only one son of Abimelech named Abiathar escaped. These things happened as God had foretold to Eli the high priest, saying that for the transgression of his two sons his descendants would be destroyed.

262 In committing so gross a crime as murdering a whole family of high priestly rank, with no pity for infants or respect for the aged, and destroying the city that God had chosen as the property and support of the priests and prophets living there, designated as the only city for their education, king Saul teaches a clear lesson about human nature. 263 As long as they are private individuals in a humble station, since it is not in their power to indulge desire or to take whatever they want, people are fair and moderate and only seek what is just and devote their minds and efforts to it. Then they have faith in God, believing him present to all the actions of their lives and that he not only sees what they do but also knows the motives behind those acts. 264 But once they achieve authority and power they discard all such ideas, and like actors in the theatre, lay aside their former parts and roles and assume audacity, insolence and scorn for things both human and divine. 265 They do this just when they stand most in need of piety and righteousness, for it is then most of all that they are exposed to envy, when all they think and say is in full view of everyone. Then it is that they become so insolent in their behaviour, as though God no longer saw them, or even feared them because of their power. 266 Whatever they fear because of rumour, or willfully hate or love beyond reason, seems to them genuine and firm and true and aceptable to mankind and to God, and pay no heed to what will come later. 267 They honour those who worked hard for them but later envy them, and after bringing them to high rank, not only deprive them of their gains but of their lives, on malicious grounds which, for their very excess, should not be believed. They execute people who are condemned on foot of calumnies and unproven accusations, applying this not only to those deserving of punishment but to as many as they can kill. 268 The example of Saul, son of Kish, the first king to reign after the end of our aristocracy and the period of the judges, illustrates this for us, for he slaughtered three hundred priests and prophets because of his suspicion about Abimelech, adding the evil of destroying their city, as though seeking to deprive the temple of both priests and prophets, as he showed by killing so many of them and not even allowing their city to survive, so that others could succeed them.

269 Abiathar the son of Abimelech, the only one of the priestly family killed by Saul who was able to escape, fled to David and told him of his family's fate and of his father's murder. 270 He said he knew what would happen to them when he saw Doeg, for he suspected that man would falsely accuse the high priest to the king and he blamed himself as the cause of this misfortune. But David asked him to stay on and live with him, for nowhere else could he be better hidden.

Chapter 13. [271-324]
David spares king Saul, when he has chance to kill him. The death of Samuel

271 About this time David heard how the Philistines had attacked the region of Keilah and robbed it, so he offered to fight against them, if God, when consulted by the prophet, promised him victory. When the prophet said God had signalled a victory, with his companions he made a quick attack on the Philistines and shed a large amount of their blood and carried off their booty. 272 He stayed with the people of Keilah until they had safely harvested their corn and other crops. King Saul was told how he was with them since what had been done and its outcome were not confined to the locality, but the story was spread and both the deed and its author were reported to the king. 273 Saul was glad to hear David was in Keilah, and he said, "now God has put him into my hands, having brought him into a city that has walls and gates and bars." So he ordered the whole people to besiege and take it, and to kill David. 274 When David realised this and learned from God that if he stayed, the men of Keilah would hand him over to Saul, he took his four hundred men and retreated to a wilderness near a city called Engedi. When the king heard he had escaped from the people of Keilah, he left off his expedition against him.

275 David moved from there and came to what was called the New Place, in Ziph. There Saul's son Jonathan, came to him and greeted him and urged him to take heart and to have good hope for the future and not be despondent at his present plight, for he would be king and have all the forces of the Hebrews under him and that such success often comes with great labour and toil. 276 They swore to each other that as long as they lived they would continue in goodwill and fidelity to each other, each calling God to witness the curses he called upon himself if he broke his covenant by acting contrary to it. So after easing his cares and fears, Jonathan left him there and returned home. 277 To gratify Saul, the people of Ziph told him that David was staying with them and that if he came they would hand him over, and that if the king held the ravine of Ziph, David could not escape anywhere else. 278 The king praised and thanked them for letting him know about his enemy, and promised to repay their kindness soon. He also sent men to look for David and search the wilderness where he was, promising that he would follow them. 279 So they went ahead of the king, to hunt for David, eager to show loyalty to Saul, not just by telling him where his enemy was, but even more plainly by handing him over into him, but in this evil desire, they failed. They would have run no risk by concealing this from Saul, 280 but in a spirit of flattery and to win a reward from the king, they falsely accused and promised to hand over to death a man beloved by God, who was unjustly hunted and who might otherwise have stayed hidden. When David heard of the malice of the men of Ziph and of Saul's approach, he left the ravine in that region and fled to the great rock in the wilderness of Simon.

281 Saul hurried there in pursuit of him and learning on the march that David had left the ravine of Ziph, he moved to the far side of the rock. But news that the Philistines had again invaded the Hebrew territory called Saul away from pursuing David, when he was about to be caught. He returned to fighting their natural enemies, the Philistines, judging it more vital to take revenge on them than to waste time catching his personal enemy, and ignore the ravaging of the land.

282 In this unexpected way David escaped from the danger and reached the ravine of Engedi, and when Saul had driven the Philistines from the land, some messengers came to tell him David was living near Engedi. 283 So he took three thousand chosen armed men and hurried after him and when he was not far from the place, he saw a deep and hollow cave by the way-side, very long and wide, and there David with his four hundred men were concealed. To answer a call of nature, he entered into it alone, and being seen by one of David's men. 284 The one who saw him told David that God's providence was letting him take revenge on his enemy, and advised him to behead him and so put an end to his wandering plight. He rose and only cut off the edge of the garment Saul was wearing. Even this he soon repented, saying it was not right to kill his master, whom God had thought worthy of the kingdom. "Even if he is wicked towards us, I must not be so towards him." 285 When Saul had left the cave, David came near and called out loud for Saul to hear him. The king turned round and David, according to custom, fell on his face to honour the king and said, "My king, you should not gratify bad men and liars by believing what they say, nor be suspicious of your best friends, but judge each one's loyalty by their actions. 286 Lying leads men astray but men's actions show their goodwill. Words of their nature may be either true or false, but actions make men's intentions plain to view. 287 From them it is well for you to believe in my regard for you and for your house and not to believe those accuse me of things that never came into my mind, and that I could not do. You go further by seeking my life and have no concern by day or night, except to put an end to me, quite unjustly. 288 How have you come to hold this false opinion about me, that I wished to kill you? Or how can you be right with God, when you reckon me your enemy, and want to punish a man who this day had it in his power to take revenge on you, but would not do it? If you had that chance against me, you would not have let it slip. 289 When I cut off the edge off your cloak, I could have done the same with your head." Showing him the piece of cloth he forced him to agree that what he said was true, and added, "I surely have refrained from taking a just revenge upon you, and are you not ashamed to follow me with your unjust hatred? May God do justice and decide between our respective behaviour." 290 Saul was amazed at being so strangely spared, and he groaned, touched by the young man's fairness and good nature. When David also groaned, the king replied that he had the more reason to grieve. "You have done good to me, as I have done evil to you, and you have shown today that you have the justice of the ancients, who decided that men should spare their enemies, even if they catch them in a deserted place. 291 I am now convinced that God is keeping the kingdom for you and that you will rule over all the Hebrews. Give me your assurance upon oath, not to root out my family or destroy my descendants, in memory of the wrong I have done you, but to save and preserve my house." David swore as he wanted and sent Saul back to his own kingdom, but he and his companions went up the ravine of Mastheroth.

292 About this time The prophet Samuel died, a man honoured in an extraordinary degree by the Hebrews. For his virtue and the affection the people had for him was shown by their lengthy mourning for him and the solemnity and ceremonial observed in his funeral rites. 293 They buried him in his own town of Armatha, and wept for him many of days, not as though grieving the death of just anyone, but as one linked to each of themselves. 294 He was a righteous man and gentle in his nature and on that account very dear to God. He ruled and presided over the people for twelve years after the death of Eli the high priest, and eighteen years along with Saul the king. So we have finished the story of Samuel.

295 There was a rich Ziphite from the city of Emman who had a vast number of livestock, who pastured a flock of three thousand sheep and another of a thousand goats. David had instructed his men to leave those flocks along unharmed, even if they coveted them or were in want, and though it could be hidden out in the wilderness. They were to set freedom from injustice above all other motives and to look upon taking what belonged to another man as a horrible crime and contrary to God's will. 296 These were his orders, thinking that the favour he showed him was shown to a good man who was worthy of such care. This man was Nabal, a harsh man with a wicked lifestyle, cynical in behaviour, but he had as wife a woman of a good character, wise and of fine appearance. 297 To this Nabal, David sent ten of his men at sheep shearing time and greeted him through them, and prayed that he might continue as he was for many years to come. He asked him to give him whatever he could, as he had surely learned from his shepherds that we had done them no harm, but had protected them for a long time while living in the wilderness; and he would never repent of anything he gave to David. 298 When the messengers gave this message to Nabal, he roughly mistreated them, demanding to know who David was. Hearing that he was Jesse's son, he said, "Now the fugitives grow insolent and boast about leaving their masters." 299 When they told David this, he was angry and ordered four hundred warriors to follow him, leaving two hundred to take care of the equipment, for he now had six hundred, and went against Nabal. He swore to utterly destroy the whole house and possessions of Nabal that night, angry that not only had he been ungrateful by making no return for the kindness they had shown him, but he had insulted them with foul language when they had given him no reason for displeasure.

300 One of Nabal's shepherds told his mistress, Nabal's wife, that when David sent to her husband he had received no civil answer but her husband had spoken shamefully to him, though David had taken such care to keep his flocks from harm, and that it would prove harmful to his master and herself. 301 When he said this, Abigail, for that was her name, saddled her donkeys and loaded them with all sorts of gifts, and went to David, saying nothing to her husband of what she was about, for he was in a drunken stupour. As she was going down the ravine, she met David who was coming against Nabal with four hundred men. 302 When the woman saw David, she jumped down from her donkey and fell on her face and bowed to the ground, and begged him not to take to heart the words of Nabal, for he resembled his name, which in the Hebrew means foolishness. So she apologised for not seeing the messengers he had sent. 303 "Forgive me then," she said, "and thank God, who has kept you from the guilt of shedding human blood. As long as you remain innocent, he will avenge you against bad men, and may the woes that await Nabal fall on the heads of your enemies. 304 Be gracious to me and do me the honour of accepting these from me, and for my sake lay aside your anger against my husband and his family. For mildness and mercy become you, as you are to be our king." 305 So he accepted her gifts and said, "Woman, it was only the mercy of God that brought you to us today, otherwise you would not have seen the dawn of another day, for I have sworn to destroy Nabal's house this night, leaving none of you, man or beast, alive to one who was wicked and ungrateful to me and my companions. Now, by God's providence you have forestalled me and cooled my anger. But if for your sake Nabal escapes punishment for the present, he will not evade justice, for his evil conduct will be his ruin another time."

306 With this he sent the woman away. When she came home and found her husband feasting with many others and already drunk, at the time she told him nothing of the occurrence, but the next day, when he was sober, she told him everthing and at her words and the grief they caused him his whole body took on the look of a corpse. Nabal survived only ten days and then he died. 307 Hearing of his death, David said that God had justly avenged him on this man, since Nabal had died for his wickedness and was punished on account of him, while he had kept his own hands clean. He saw how the wicked are pursued by God, who does not ignore any man, but suitably rewards the good and punishes the wicked as they deserve. 308 He sent to the woman inviting her to come and live with him and be his wife. She answered the messengers that she was not worthy to touch his feet, but she came, with all her servants, and became his wife, in reward for her wise and righteous lifestyle, as well as for her beauty. 309 Now David had already married a wife from the city of Abesar; but Melcha, the daughter of king Saul, who had also been David's wife, had been given in marriage by her father to Phalti, son of Laish, who was of the city of Gallim.

310 After this some Ziphites came and told Saul that David had again arrived in their region and that they could catch him with his help. So he came to them with three thousand warriors, and at nightfall encamped at a place called Sikella. 311 When David heard Saul was coming against him, he sent spies with orders to inform him of where Saul had arrived in the region, and when they said he was in Sikella, he secretly left his companions and came to Saul's camp, with Abishai, his sister Sarouia's son and Abimelech the Hittite. 312 Saul was asleep, with the warriors and Abner their officer lying in a circle around him. David entered the king's tent, but though he knew where Saul lay, he neither killed him with the spear that stood alongside him, nor let Abishai kill him, though he wanted to do so. He said it was a terrible thing to kill the one God had ordained king, even though he was wicked, for He who made him king would punish him in due time; so he held back. 313 Still, to show he could have killed him yet refrained from it, he took his spear and the jug of water from beside the sleeping Saul and went off unnoticed by any in the camp, who were all asleep, having done among the king's servants all that opportunity and his audacity let him do. 314 Having crossed the river and reached the top of the hill, from which he could still be heard, he called to Saul's soldiers and their commander, Abner, waking them from their sleep. When the commander heard it and asked who was calling him, David replied, 315 "It is I, the son of Jesse, whom you have on the run. Listen! How can a man of your dignity and rank in the king's court, take so little care of your master's person? Is sleep more important to you than his safety and your care of him? You deserve death by execution, for not noting how some of us entered your camp a little while ago, and got as far as the king himself. If you look for the king's spear and his jug of water, you will learn what could have happened in your camp without your knowledge." 316 When Saul recognised David's voice and understood how he had him in his power during his sleep when his guards neglected him, yet had spared his life when he could justly have killed him, he thanked him for sparing him and urged him to take heart and no longer fear harm from him, but to return home. 317 He was now convinced that he did not love himself as well as he was loved by him. He had expelled the one who could guard him but had proven goodwill towards him and had put him in exile for so long, in fear of his life, deprived of his friends and relatives, though he had spared his life when it was clearly in mortal danger. 318 David bade them send for the spear and the jug of water and take them back, adding that God would be the judge of the intentions and actions of each of them. "He knows that this day, when it was in my power to kill you, I did not do it."


319 Having twice escaped the hands of David, Saul returned to his kingdom and his house. But David feared that Saul would capture him if he stayed there, and decided to go and live in the land of the Philistines. With his six hundred men he came to Achus, the king of Gitta, one of their five cities. 320 The king received him and his men and gave them living quarters. He also had with him his two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, and lived in Gitta. When Saul heard it he made no further effort to send to him, or pursue him, because already he had been twice in danger from him, while trying to catch him. 321 David did not want to continue living in Gitta, but asked another favour from the king who had received him so kindly, to give him some place in that region to live in, as he was ashamed to go on living in the city at the king's expense. 322 So Achus gave him a village called Sikella, which later, when he was king, David and his sons were fond of and saw as their special inheritance and about which we shall say more elsewhere. David lived in Sikella, in the land of the Philistines, for four months and twenty days. 323 He covertly attacked the Geshurites and Amalekites, neighbours to the Philistines, laying waste their region and taking much booty of their beasts and camels, before returning. He refrained from enslaving people, fearing they would reveal him to king Achus, but sent part of the booty to him as a gift. 324 When the king asked whom they had attacked when they took the booty, he said they were to the south of the Jews, and people living in the plains. This got the agreement of Achus, who hoped that David now hated his own nation and would stay in his region and that he would have him at his service all his life.

Chapter 14. [325-378]
Saul and the witch of Dor. Samuel's ghost. Death of Saul in battle at Mount Gilboa.

325 About the same time the Philistines resolved on war against the Israelites and sent to all their allies joining them in the war to gather at Reggan, and together suddenly attack the Hebrews. Then Achus the king of Gitta ordered David with his own warriors to help them against the Hebrews. 326 This he readily promised, saying that the time had come to repay him for his kindness and hospitality. So the king promised to make him his bodyguard after the victory, if the battle with the enemy turned out as they expected, promising this honourable mark of confidence in order to increase his ardour.

327 Saul the king of the Hebrews had expelled from the region the fortune-tellers and soothsayers and all who engaged in such arts, except the prophets. When he heard that the Philistines had arrived and were camped near the city of Shunem in the plain, he hurried out with a force to oppose them. 328 On reaching a mountain called Gelboue, he encamped opposite the enemy, but when he saw the enemy's army he was very anxious, as it seemed to him so numerous and superior to his own, and through the prophets asked God about the battle, to know the outcome in advance. 329 When God did not reply, Saul dreaded all the more and his courage fell, naturally foreseeing that harm would befall him without God at his side. But he told his servants to find out for him some woman ventriloquist who could call up the souls of the dead, so as to know how matters would turn out for him. 330 Ventriloquists of that kind can call up the souls of the dead and by them foretell future events to those who enquire of them. One of his servants told him that there was such a woman in the city of Dor, unknown to anybody in the camp, so Saul put off his royal robes and taking with him two of his most faithful servants went to Dor to the woman and begged her to bring up by divination the soul that he would name. 331 When the woman resisted, saying that she would not defy the king who had banished this sort of divining and that it was wrong for him to lay a trap for a woman who had done him no harm and get her punished for practicing a forbidden art, he swore that nobody would know of it and she would be denounced to nobody for her divining, so she could do so without risk. 332 By this oath he got her to fear no harm and asked her to bring up for him the soul of Samuel. Not knowing who Samuel was, she called him out of Hades. When he appeared and the woman saw a venerable man of divine form, she was disturbed and astounded and said, "Are you not king Saul?" for Samuel told her who he was. 333 When he admitted this as true and asked her why she was so troubled she said that she saw someone of godlike form ascending. When he asked her what he looked like, how he was dressed and how old he was, she told him he was an old man of noble countenance, wearing a priestly mantle. 334 By these signs the king knew that it was Samuel, and he fell down on the ground and greeted and worshipped him. When the soul of Samuel asked why he had disturbed him by having him brought up, he said he did so out of need, for his enemies were pressing upon him and he felt bereft in his God-forsaken situation, unable to get any prediction of the future from prophets or dreams, and that "this is why I take refuge in you, who always took care of me." 335 Seeing that Saul had reached the end of his life Samuel said, "It is useless for one whom God has forsaken to seek to learn from me. But listen, David is to be king and will end this war with success, 336 and you are to lose your throne and your life, because you did not obey God in the war with the Amalekites and did not keep his commandments, as I foretold to you while I lived. So know that the people shall be subjected to their enemies and you and your sons will fall in the battle tomorrow and then you shall be with me."

337 When Saul heard this he was speechless with horror and fell on the floor, either from his grief at what he had learned or from hunger, for he had taken no food the previous day and night, so he simply fell down like a corpse. 338 As soon as he came to, the woman implored him to eat in return for her risking the divination, which because of her fear of the king she dared not do until she knew who he was, but had then carried out. So she begged him to let a table and food be set before him so that he could regain strength and get safely back to his camp. Though in his dejection he resisted this, she insisted and finally persuaded him. 339 She owned one calf that she was very fond of and cared for and hand-fed, and though she was a working woman and it was the only thing she had, she killed it and prepared the meat and set it before his servants and himself. So Saul came to the camp while it was still night.

340 It is right to commend the woman for her generosity, for though the king had forbidden the use of the art which had bettered her situation and though she had never seen him before, she did not hold it against him to have condemned her sort of skill or refuse him as a stranger with whom she was not acquainted, 341 but gave him sympathy and comfort and urged him to do what he felt disinclined to and despite her poverty readily and kindly offered him the one thing she had, with no prospect of being rewarded for her kindness or seeking anything from him in the future, as his life was ending. But by nature people are eager to please those who provide them with goods, or readiest to serve those from whom they can benefit. 342 It is well to imitate her example and to do good to all who are in want and to regard nothing as better than this, or more beneficial to mankind, for it renders God favourable and ready to grant us good things. But let this be enough to say about the woman. 343 We move on to something of benefit to cities and people and nations and of concern to good men, to urge all to the practice of virtue, and show how to win glory and lasting fame, and impress on the national kings and the city rulers a zeal and diligence to do good, and encourage them to risk dangers and even die for their countries, and teach them to look down on all adversities. 344 I have good reason for reflecting in this way about Saul the king of the Hebrews, for though he knew what was coming to him and that he was soon to die as the prophet predicted, he did not seek to fly from death or love his own life so far as to betray his people to the enemy, or bring disgrace on his royal dignity. 345 Instead, putting himself, his household and his children at risk, he thought it nobler to die with them, fighting for his subjects, and even for his sons to die bravely than to leave them to an uncertain future, so that in place of successors and descendants they would win praise and an ageless memory. 346 Only such a one seems to me to be just, brave and wise and if one has grown or is growing into this, he deserves to be honoured by all for virtue. I do not think it right to call a man valiant who goes out to war hoping for success and a safe return after performing some splendid exploit, as so many historians and other writers tend to do when speaking of them. 347 While admitting that such men do deserve some praise, it is those like Saul who are truly brave and bold and scornful of adversity. Men who do not know how the war will turn out for them, even though they do not fear to take part in it and face an uncertain future, are still not eminently noble, even if they happen to do many great deeds. 348 But he who expects no good outcome and knows in advance that he must die after first being wounded in battle, and still is neither scared or terrified by his fate but to goes directly to it, knowing the result in advance, is the one that I reckon to have truly proven his valour. 349 This Saul did, demonstrating that all must act fittingly so as to win fame after they are dead. This applies especially to kings, who in their high stations should not think it sufficient not to do harm to their subjects, but should rule them more than moderately well. 350 I could say more about Saul and his courage, as the topic offers plenty of scope, but so as not to appear excessive in his praises I return to the history from which I digressed.

351 When, as I said, the Philistines encamped and took stock of their forces in their several nations and kingships and satrapies, finally king Achus came with his army, followed by David with his six hundred warriors. 352 When the officers of the Philistines saw him, they asked the king where these Hebrews came from, and at whose invitation. He said it was David who had fled from his master Saul and whom he had welcomed when he came to him and that now he was prepared to return his favour and be their ally, to take revenge on Saul. 353 They complained of his accepting an enemy as an ally and advised that he be sent away in case by entertaining him he might unwittingly harm his friends, since "it gives him the chance of being reconciled to his master by injuring our army." 354 Forseeing this, they wanted him to send him away, with his six hundred warriors, to the place he had given him to live in, as this was the David whom the virgins sang about as having destroyed many thousands of the Philistines. When the king of Gitta heard this, he approved of it and called David and said to him, 355 "I can testify to your great diligence and goodwill in my regard and that is why I took you along as an ally, but this does not please the officers. So go this very day to the place I have given you, without fearing any harm, and take care of the region in case any of our enemies attacks it. This will be your part of the alliance." 356 So David came to Sikella at the orders of the king of Gitta, but while he was away to help the Philistines, the Amalekites had attacked and already taken Sikella and had burned it, and after taking a large amount of other booty from it and other parts of the Philistines' region, they left.

357 When David found Sikella ravaged and despoiled and that his own two wives and those of his companions, as well as their children, had been taken prisoner, he rent his clothes, 358 and, weeping and grieving with his friends, he was so overwhelmed by his woes that finally even tears failed him. He ran the risk of being killed by his companions, upset by the capture of their wives and children and blaming him for it. 359 After recovering from his grief and raising his mind to God, he urged the high priest Abiathar to put on his priestly vestments and enquire of God and prophesy for him if He would let him pursue and overtake the Amalekites and save their wives and children and take revenge on the enemy. 360 When the high priest told him to follow them, with his four hundred men he marched quickly after the enemy, and when he reached a wadi called Besor and found a man wandering about there, an Egyptian by race and almost dead from want and famine, since he had been wandering about the desert for three days without food, he first gave him food and drink to refresh him and then asked him who he was and where he came from. 361 He told him he was an Egyptian by birth and had been left behind by his master when he was so sick and weak that he could not follow him. He also told him that he was one of those who had burned and looted, other parts of Judea and Sikella too. 362 David used him to guide him to the Amalekites, and when he overtook them as they sprawled on the ground, some of them at dinner and some drunk and disorderly with wine as they enjoyed their spoils and booty, suddenly he attacked them and made a great slaughter among them. As they were unguarded and expecting no such thing, and had turned to drinking and feasting, they were all easily destroyed. 363 Some of them who were caught reclining at table were killed in that position and their blood flowed over their food and drink. Others they killed as they were drinking a toast each other; and some when their full bellies had made them fall asleep. Even those who had time to put on their armour were killed with the sword, as easily as they did to those who were unarmed. 364 David's men continued the slaughter from the first hour until evening, so that not more than four hundred of the Amalekites were left, who escaped by getting on their dromedaries and camels; and so he recovered not only all the other spoils the enemy had taken, but his wives too and those of his companions. 365 When they reached the place where they had left the two hundred who were unable to follow them but were left in charge of the equipment, the four hundred did not wish to share with them their gains and booty. For not going along and being too feeble go with them in pursuit of the enemy, they said, they should be contented to have safely recovered their wives. 366 David dismissed this view as wrong and unjust, since when God had granted them the favour of revenge on their enemies and recovering all their property, they should distribute their gains equally with all, since the rest had stayed behind to guard the baggage. 367 So from then on it was their law that those who guarded the baggage should receive an equal share with the fighters. When David arrived at Sikella, he sent portions of the spoils to all who had shared in his lot and to his friends in the tribe of Judas. So ended the the looting of Sikella and the slaughter of the Amalekites.

368 When the Philistines went to battle, they won after a hard struggle and killed many of their enemies. Saul the king of Israel and his sons fought bravely and with all their might, knowing that their glory depended entirely on dying honourably and risking the most extreme danger from the enemy, as they had nothing else to hope for. 369 So they brought upon themselves the full force of the enemy, until they were surrounded and killed, but not before killing many of the Philistines The sons of Saul were Jonathan and Abinadab and Melchisos, and when these were killed the Hebrew people were put to flight and all was disorder and turmoil and slaughter, as the enemy pressed upon them. 370 But Saul himself fled with a strong body of soldiers, but when the Philistines sent javelin-throwers and archers after them, he lost all but a few of his company. He himself fought brilliantly, and when he had been wounded so much that he was unable to hold out or fight any longer and still was unable to kill himself, he ordered his armour-bearer to draw his sword and run him through, lest the enemy take him alive. 371 As the armour-bearer did not dare to kill his master, he drew his own sword and pointing it toward himself, fell upon it, but as he could neither pierce himself or even by leaning against it, push the sword through, he turned round and asked a young man standing nearby who he was, and learning that he was an Amalekite, asked him to push the sword through him, as he was unable to do it with his own hands and so give him the kind of death he wanted. 372 This the man did and took the golden bracelet from Saul's arm and his royal crown from his head and ran away. When Saul's armour-bearer saw him killed, he killed himself, and none of the king's bodyguards escaped, for they all died upon the mountain called Gelboue. 373 When the Hebrews living in the valley beyond the Jordan and those whose cities were in the plain heard that Saul and his sons had fallen and the crowd with him were destroyed, they left their own cities and fled to those that were best fortified; and the Philistines, finding those cities deserted, came and lived in them.

374 The following day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain bodies of their enemies, they got the bodies of Saul and of his sons and stripped them and cut off their heads, and sent all round their region the message that their enemies had fallen. They dedicated their armour in the temple of Astarte but hung their bodies on crosses outside the walls of the city of Bethsan, which is now called Scythepolls. 375 When the people in Jabis of Gilead heard that they had mutilated the corpses of Saul and of his sons, they reckoned it horrible to ignore this savagery and leave them without proper burial. So the bravest and boldest among them, in a city that held very stalwart men in both body and mind, journeyed all night and came to Bethsan 376 and approached the enemy's wall and took down the bodies of Saul and of his sons, and brought them to Jabesa, and because of their great courage, the enemy were unable to stop them. 377 So the Jabesans publicly mourned them and buried their bodies in the best place of their region, which was named Aroura, and with their wives and children publicly mourned them for seven days, beating their breasts and lamenting the king and his sons, tasting neither food or drink.

378 That is how Saul met his end, according to the prophecy of Samuel, because he disobeyed the commands of God about the Amalekites and for destroying the family of Abimelech the high priest, including Abimelech himself and the city of the high priests. That is how Saul died, after reigning for eighteen years in Samuel's lifetime, and for two after his death.