|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:2-11 We should not have heard of Nabal, if nothing had passed between him and David. Observe his name, Nabal, A fool; so it signifies. Riches make men look great in the eye of the world; but to one that takes right views, Nabal looked very mean. He had no honour or honesty; he was churlish, cross, and ill-humoured; evil in his doings, hard and oppressive; a man that cared not what fraud and violence he used in getting and saving. What little reason have we to value the wealth of this world, when so great a churl as Nabal abounds, and so good a man as David suffers want!, David pleaded the kindness Nabal's shepherds had received. Considering that David's men were in distress and debt, and discontented, and the scarcity of provisions, it was by good management that they were kept from plundering. Nabal went into a passion, as covetous men are apt to do, when asked for any thing, thinking thus to cover one sin with another; and, by abusing the poor, to excuse themselves from relieving them. But God will not thus be mocked. Let this help us to bear reproaches and misrepresentations with patience and cheerfulness, and make us easy under them; it has often been the lot of the excellent ones of the earth. Nabal insists much on the property he had in the provisions of his table. May he not do what he will with his own? We mistake, if we think we are absolute lords of what we have, and may do what we please with it. No; we are but stewards, and must use it as we are directed, remembering it is not our own, but His who intrusted us with it.
Verse 3. - Nabal, the word rendered fool in Psalm 14:1; literally, "flat," "vapid." Abigail means "one who is the cause (father) of joy," i.e. one who gives joy. She, with her bright understanding and beautiful person (the Hebrew word takes in much more than the countenance; see 1 Samuel 16:18, where it is rendered comely person), is in contrast with the coarse, churlish man who was her husband. His name was either one which he had acquired by his conduct, or if given him by his parents shows that they were clownish people. He was of the house of Caleb. The written text has, "he was according to his heart," celibbo, i.e. a self-willed man, or one whose rude exterior answered to his inner nature; but there are linguistic difficulties in the way of this reading, and the Kri is probably right in correcting calibbi, a Calebite, a descendant of Caleb, who had large possessions assigned him in the neighbourhood of Hebron (Joshua 15:13-19), which is only ten miles northwest of Carmel. The versions support the Kri, though the Syriac and Septuagint render doglike - one who, like a dog, though he has plenty, yet grudges others. The meaning of the name Caleb is literally "a dog."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now the name of the man was Nabal,.... Which signifies a "fool"; one would think his parents should not give him this name, though it is a name proper enough to men in common; and Kimchi thinks this was a nickname, which men gave him agreeably to his genius and conduct, and which is not improbable:
and the name of his wife Abigail; which signifies "my father's joy", he delighting in her for her wit and beauty, as follows:
and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance; she was not only of a good understanding in things natural, civil, and domestic, but in things spiritual, as her speech to David shows, and which, with her external form, completed her character, and greatly recommended her; which is the character Aelianus (u) gives of Aspasia, wise and fair:
but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; morose and ill natured in the temper and disposition of his mind, and wicked in his conversation, and fraudulent and oppressive in his dealings with men:
and he was of the house of Caleb; or he was a Calebite (w), a descendant of that great and good man Caleb the son of Jephunneh; which was an aggravation of his wickedness, that he should be the degenerate plant of such a noble vine: some interpret it, he was as his heart, as his heart was bad, so was he; some men, their outside is better than their inside; but this man was no hypocrite, he was as bad outwardly as he was inwardly: the word "Caleb" sometimes signifies a dog; hence the Septuagint version renders it, a doggish man, a cynic; and to the same purpose are the Syriac and Arabic versions; and so some Jewish writers interpret it; but the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, supply it as we do, that he was of the house or family of Caleb, and so of the tribe of Judah, as David was.
(u) Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 1.((w) "keri" "Calibita", Pagninus, Montanus; "Calebita" Tigurine version, Junius & Tremcilius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. he was of the house of Caleb—of course, of the same tribe with David himself; but many versions consider Caleb ("dog") not as a proper, but a common noun, and render it, "he was snappish as a dog."
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