1 Samuel 21:4
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
But the priest answered David, "I don't have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here--provided the men have kept themselves from women."

New Living Translation
"We don't have any regular bread," the priest replied. "But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently."

English Standard Version
And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.”

New American Standard Bible
The priest answered David and said, "There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women."

King James Bible
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
The priest told him, "There is no ordinary bread on hand. However, there is consecrated bread, but the young men may eat it only if they have kept themselves from women."

International Standard Version
The priest answered David: "There is no ordinary bread available; only consecrated bread, provided that the young men have kept themselves from women."

NET Bible
The priest replied to David, "I don't have any ordinary bread at my disposal. Only holy bread is available, and then only if your soldiers have abstained from sexual relations with women."

New Heart English Bible
And the priest answered David, and said, "There is no common bread in my control, but there is holy bread. If the young men have kept themselves from women, they may eat of it."

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"I don't have any ordinary bread," the chief priest answered David. "But there is holy bread for the young men if they haven't had sexual intercourse [today]."

JPS Tanakh 1917
And the priest answered David, and said: 'There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.'

New American Standard 1977
And the priest answered David and said, “There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And the priest answered David and said, There is no common bread under my hand; there is only sacred bread, which I will give thee if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

King James 2000 Bible
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread on hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

American King James Version
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

American Standard Version
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And the priest answered David, saying: I have no common bread at hand, but only holy bread, if the young men be clean, especially from women?

Darby Bible Translation
And the priest answered David and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

English Revised Version
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.

Webster's Bible Translation
And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

World English Bible
The priest answered David, and said, "There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women."

Young's Literal Translation
And the priest answereth David, and saith, 'There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if the youths have been kept only from women.'
Study Bible
David Takes the Consecrated Bread
3"Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found." 4The priest answered David and said, "There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women." 5David answered the priest and said to him, "Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?"…
Cross References
Matthew 12:4
He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to eat, but only for the priests.

Exodus 19:15
He said to the people, "Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman."

Exodus 25:30
"You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.

Leviticus 15:18
If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 24:5
"Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake.

1 Samuel 21:3
"Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found."
Treasury of Scripture

And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under my hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

hallowed bread

1 Samuel 21:6 So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there …

Exodus 25:30 And you shall set on the table show bread before me always.

Leviticus 24:5-9 And you shall take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two …

Matthew 12:3,4 But he said to them, Have you not read what David did, when he was …

if the young

Exodus 19:15 And he said to the people, Be ready against the third day: come not …

Zechariah 7:3 And to speak to the priests which were in the house of the LORD of …

1 Corinthians 7:5 Defraud you not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, …

(4) There is no common bread.--The condition of the priests in these days of Saul was evidently a pitiable one. The terrible massacre related in the next chapter seems not to have excited the wail of indignation and woe which such a wholesale murder of the priests of the living God should naturally have called out from the entire people. They were evidently held in little esteem, and their murder was regarded at the time, not as an awful act of sacrilege, but simply as an act of political vengeance--of punishment for what the king was pleased to style treason. Here the almost destitute condition of the ministers of the principal sanctuary of Israel appears from the quiet answer of the high priest to David, telling him they had positively no bread but the stale bread removed from before "the Presence" in the holy building.

This "hallowed bread," or shewbread, five loaves of which David petitioned for, consisted of twelve loaves, one for each tribe, which were placed in the Tabernacle fresh every Sabbath Day. The law of Moses was that this bread, being most holy, could only be eaten by the priests in the holy place. It is probable that this regulation had been relaxed, and that the bread was now often being carried away and eaten in the homes of the ministering priests, and on urgent occasions, perhaps, was even given to the "laity," as in this case, the proviso only being made that the consumers of the bread should be ceremonially pure. Our Saviour, in Matthew 12:3, especially uses this example, drawn from the Tabernacle's honoured customs, to justify a violation of the letter of the law, when its strict observance would stand in the way of the fulfilment of man's sacred duty to his neighbour.

The natural inference from this incident would be that such a violation of the Mosaic Law was not an uncommon occurrence, as Ahimelech at once gave him the hallowed bread, only making a conditional inquiry about ceremonial purity--a condition which came out so readily that we feel it had often been made before. The Talmud, however, is most anxious that this inference should not be drawn, and points out in the treatise Menachoth, "Meat-offerings" (Seder Kodashim), that this bread was not newly taken out of the sanctuary, but had been removed on some previous day, and that as, after a week's exposure, it was stale and dry, the priests ate but little of it, and the rest was left. (See Treatise Yoma, 39.) It also points out that had such violation of the Levitical Law been common, so much importance would not have been attached to this incident.

And the priest answered David, and said, there is no common bread under mine hand,.... In the tabernacle, though he might have such in his own house; which was common for any man to eat of, even such as were not priests; but he had none there, and David was in haste to be gone because of Doeg, and could not stay till such was fetched:

but there is hallowed bread; such as was devoted to sacred use. Kimchi's father thinks this was the bread of the thank offering, to which Ben Gersom inclines; otherwise the Jewish writers in general understand it of the shewbread; and it is clear it was that from 1 Samuel 21:6 and from what our Lord says, Matthew 12:4. Now this the priest had under his hand, being just taken off of the shewbread table, and was the perquisite of the priests; and which, though it was not lawful for any but priests to eat of, yet in this case of necessity he seemed willing to give it to David and his men, on this condition: if the young men have kept themselves at least from women; from their wives or others, and from any pollution by them, in any way or manner; but as this was also only of a ceremonial kind, it might as well have been dispensed with, had this been the case, as the other. 4. there is hallowed bread—There would be plenty of bread in his house; but there was no time to wait for it. "The hallowed bread" was the old shew-bread, which had been removed the previous day, and which was reserved for the use of the priests alone (Le 24:9). Before entertaining the idea that this bread could be lawfully given to David and his men, the high priest seems to have consulted the oracle (1Sa 22:10) as to the course to be followed in this emergency. A dispensation to use the hallowed bread was specially granted by God Himself.21:1-9 David, in distress, fled to the tabernacle of God. It is great comfort in a day of trouble, that we have a God to go to, to whom we may open our cases, and from whom we may ask and expect direction. David told Ahimelech a gross untruth. What shall we say to this? The Scripture does not conceal it, and we dare not justify it; it was ill done, and proved of bad consequence; for it occasioned the death of the priests of the Lord. David thought upon it afterward with regret. David had great faith and courage, yet both failed him; he fell thus foully through fear and cowardice, and owing to the weakness of his faith. Had he trusted God aright, he would not have used such a sorry, sinful shift for his own preservation. It is written, not for us to do the like, no, not in the greatest straits, but for our warning. David asked of Ahimelech bread and a sword. Ahimelech supposed they might eat the shew-bread. The Son of David taught from it, that mercy is to be preferred to sacrifice; that ritual observances must give way to moral duties. Doeg set his foot as far within the tabernacle as David did. We little know with what hearts people come to the house of God, nor what use they will make of pretended devotion. If many come in simplicity of heart to serve their God, others come to observe their teachers and to prove accusers. Only God and the event can distinguish between a David and a Doeg, when both are in the tabernacle.
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