Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Samuel died. The Rabbins say four months before Saul. (Seder, olam 13.) (Tirinus) --- Others believe about two years; and suppose that he was 98 years old, twenty of which he had been judge: (Calmet) Salien says 38, and that he lived seventy-seven years. (Menochius) --- On all these points the learned are divided, chap. vii. 15. They are more unanimous in praising (Haydock) the conduct of this most holy statesman. Grotius compares him with Aristides. (Calmet) --- But he Holy Ghost gives Samuel a far more glorious character, Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 16., &c. (Haydock) --- Both he and his mother are figures of the two testaments. Anna becomes fruitful --- Samuel is substituted in the place of Heli. The sterility of Anna represents the incapacity of the Synagogue, to produce living and virtuous children. She bears Samuel, the figure of Jesus Christ, who reunites in his person the royal and the sacerdotal dignity. But under another point of view, Samuel, how perfect soever, must give place to the more perfect David, the glorious type of Jesus Christ, and thus the Synagogue, notwithstanding all her prerogatives, must yield to the Church. See St. Augustine, de C.[City of God?] xvii. 1, 4. Many of the ancients have looked upon Samuel as the high priest: but the generality have acknowledged that he was only a Levite, (Calmet) or an extraordinary priest, like Moses. (Haydock) --- All Israel, or many from every tribe, assembled to attend his funeral; (Tirinus) and all mourned for him, as they had done for Moses and Aaron. (Salien) --- House, or among his kindred, (Tirinus) in a place which he had chosen for his tomb. This is called the house of the wicked for ever; but the just raise their hopes much higher, and await a more splendid palace above, and a glorious resurrection. (Haydock) --- The would not bury Samuel in his dwelling-house, as it could not then be entered without incurring an uncleanness. (Calmet) --- His bones were translated with great respect to Constantinople, and a noble mausoleum was built for them by the emperor Justinian. (Procopius v.; St. Jerome, contra Vigil.) (Tirinus)
Maon. Vatican Septuagint has the same word in the preceding verse, instead of Pharan. (Haydock) --- Possessions. Hebrew, "work." Cattle then formed the chief source of riches. Carmel and Maon were not far from Pharan, in Arabia. (Calmet)
Caleb, the famous companion of Josue. His name means, "a dog;" whence the Septuagint, "he was a Cynic." Josephus, "he followed the manners of the Cynics," who were remarkable for their impudence, like dogs. Caleb was of the same tribe as David, and ought to have been more favourable to him on that account, ver. 6. (Haydock)
Molested them. This deserved some acknowledgment, as they might have done it with impunity. But David had also been of service to Nabal's men, as one of them told Abigail, ver. 16---21.
Good day, set aside for rejoicing, w hen the sheep were shorn, 2 Kings xiii. 24.
Masters. As if he had said, you and David are but fugitive slaves. (Calmet) --- He might also insinuate, that David encouraged such practices, chap. xxii. 2. (Haydock)
Water, under which name all sorts of drinks are included. Nabal had plenty of wine, and was much intoxicated, ver. 36. Septuagint translate, "wine." Syriac and Arabic, "drink." --- Cattle. Hebrew, "victims," which is a term used both for sacred and profane feasts.
Rejected them. Hebrew, "flew against them." Chaldean, "saw them with disgust."
Determined, and as if it had already taken place, chap. xx. 7.
Raisins. Hebrew tsimmukim, "dried raisins," or clusters of an extraordinary size. Roger speaks of some gathered in the vale of Sorec, which weighed 25½ pounds. (the year of the Lord 1634.) Septuagint, "a gomer of dry raisins." Syriac and Arabic, "a hundred cheeses." --- Cakes. Chaldean, "pounds." Hebrew is imperfect, two hundred....of figs. We must supply (Calmet) cakes, with the Protestants, &c., or pounds, with the Chaldean, (Haydock) as each of the cakes perhaps weighed so much. (Menochius)
Nabal. Knowing his churlish temper, and that he was drunk at this time, (ver. 36.; Haydock) she might be well excused from the ordinary laws which forbid a wife to dispose of her husband's property, without his consent. The emergency left no time for consultation. She gave a part to save the whole. (Calmet)
Foot. Hebrew, "in the obscurity," or road covered with trees. Septuagint, "in the shade." Chaldean, "on the side." David was descending from the mountains of Pharan, at the same time.
The enemies, is left out in some editions of the Septuagint. But David wishes all evils to himself, though, to avoid the ominous expression, he specifies his enemies, if he do not punish Nabal. --- Leave. David certainly sinned in his designs against Nabal and his family, as he himself was afterwards sensible, when he blessed God for hindering him from executing the revenge he had proposed. (Challoner) --- All. Chaldean, "any one who is come to the use of reason." Syriac and Arabic, "the least thing hanging upon the wall." I will destroy the guilty, and plunder all the valuable effects. (Calmet) --- But the Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., agree with the Vulgate and the meaning is, either that every man, or that every dog, and even the meanest things, should be enveloped in the general ruin. (Haydock) --- The manners of men vary, but those of dogs are always the same. Hence, it is more generally supposed that this expression (Calmet) denotes that even dogs shall be exterminated, and consequently other things for which Nabal would have a greater affection. (Haydock) --- Aurelian being irritated against the inhabitants of Thiane, swore, "I will not leave a dog in this town;" which all people explained as if he meant to leave nothing alive in it. But being afterwards moved with compassion at the distress of the people, he executed his threat literally, and killed all the dogs. (Vopisc.) See 3 Kings xiv. 10., and xv. 29., and xxi. 21., and 4 Kings v. 6. (Bochart, Anim. ii. 55.; Delrio, adag. 184.) (Calmet) --- The unhappy Geddes translates, "a dog," to avoid the indelicate allusion. It would have been well if he had allowed himself no greater liberties! (Haydock) --- The Hebrew mashtin, may denote a shepherd's or a mastiff dog. (Menochius)
Iniquity, or the punishment of this fault, ver. 28. (Calmet) --- She wishes to divest the mind of David from the consideration of her husband's incivility; and, after condemning it herself, insinuates that it would be unbecoming for a great king to mind so insignificant an enemy, ver. 28. (Haydock) --- Thus the emperor Adrian, and Louis XII, would not resent the affronts which they had received before they were raised to that high dignity. (Tirinus)
The king, is not in Hebrew, Septuagint, &c. David's title was not yet publicly acknowledged. (Calmet) ---But Abigail plainly alludes to it, ver. 28. (Haydock) --- Name. Nabal, in Hebrew, signifies a fool. (Calmet) --- Thus she extenuates his fault, by attributing it to a deficiency in understanding.
To thee. She felicitates David on not having put his design in execution. (Calmet) --- Theodoret thinks he might lawfully have done it; but others believe that the fault bore no proportion with the intended punishment. (Tirinus) --- As Nabal, devoid of sense. Abigail displays the eloquence of nature. (Calmet)
Blessing, or present. (Menochius) See 2 Corinthians ix. 5. (Calmet)
House. Thy family shall long continue in the enjoyment of the royal power. Chaldean, "an established kingdom." (Haydock) --- Lord, as his general. --- Evil. Do no manner of injustice. Hebrew, "and evil hast not been found," &c. Hitherto thy life has been irreproachable. (Calmet)
Bundle. Such things are more secure than those which are loose. (Worthington) --- Of the living, or predestinate, over whom Providence watches in a particular manner. She seems to allude to the method of carrying pieces of silver in bundles, Proverbs vii. 20. Chaldean, "the soul of my lord shall be in the treasury of the lives of the age, before the Lord God." (Calmet) --- It shall be preserved for length of days, like something most precious, (Haydock) while the wicked shall be in continual danger and anxiety, like a stone in a sling, Zacharias ix. 15. By substituting c for b in Hebrew, the sense may be still more striking: "the soul of my lord shall be preserved like a living (precious, serviceable,) stone. But the soul of thy enemies shall be whirled in a sling." The Hebrews had a great esteem for slingers, so that this comparison would be sufficiently noble. A living stone is often mentioned both is sacred and in profane authors, 1 Peter ii. 4. (Virgil, Æneid i. 171.) Vivoque sedilia saxo.
Israel, a thing which all expected, and even Saul himself, chap. xxiv. 21.
Scruple. Hebrew, "scandal," or sin, for David might defend himself, but ought not to attack or take revenge, like a king. (Grotius) --- Innocent. Many of Nabal's family were such, and even his fault did not deserve death. Hebrew, "shed blood without cause." (Calmet) --- Handmaid, who has suggested this good advice. (Menochius) --- David was so much pleased with her prudence and beauty, that he afterwards married her.
Speech. Hebrew, "advice, or wisdom." Septuagint, "conduct." (Calmet)
Face. I have been pleased with thy coming, and granted thy request. (Haydock) --- David had sworn with too much haste. (Calmet) --- "It is sometimes wrong to perform what has been promised, and to keep an oath." (St. Ambrose, Off. i. C. ultra[last chapter])
Morning. Admirable pattern of discretion, and how reprimands may be made with advantage. (Calmet) --- A medicine given at an improper time often does harm. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xvii. 27.) When a person said to Cleostratus, "Are you not ashamed to get drunk?" he replied, "Are you not ashamed to rebuke a drunken man?"
Stone. Stupified at the thought of the imminent danger to which he had foolishly exposed himself. So the poets represent Niobe as metamorphosed into a stone, at the hearing of her children's death. (Tirinus) --- Josephus intimates that Nabal was killed by the malignant influence of the stars, sideratus. (Antiquities, vi. 14.) Thus, says he, David "learnt that no wicked person can escape the vengeance of God, and that Providence does not neglect human affairs, and abandon them to chance."
Blessed be, &c. David praises God on this occasion, not out of joy for the death of Nabal, (which would have argued a rancour of heart) but because he saw that God had so visibly taken his cause in hand, in punishing the injury done to him; whilst, by a merciful providence, he kept him from revenging himself. (Challoner) (Psalm lvii. 10.)
Thy servant. She speaks to David's representatives, as if he had been present. (Haydock) --- The marriage was proposed probably a month or two after the death of Nabal; and Abigail followed the messengers, in a short time. (Menochius)
Took, or "had taken before," according to Josephus. Hence she is placed first, (Calmet) as the mother of David's first-born, Amnon, 2 Kings iii. 2. (Menochius) --- Michol, whom he married first, had no children. (Haydock) --- Jezrahel, a city of Juda. (Menochius) (Josue xv. 56.) --- There was another more famous place of this name is Issachar.
Phalti, or Phaltiel, 2 Kings iii. 15. Saul violated all laws by so doing, and David took her back when he came to the throne, which he could not have done if he had given her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy xxiv. 4. (Calmet) --- Michol was not blameless in living thus with another man. (Menochius) --- The Rabbins say that a sword hindered Phalti from approaching her. (Horn in Sulp.) --- Gallim, a city of Benjamin, Isaias x. 30. (Calmet)