1 Samuel 22:15
Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing to his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for your servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
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(15) Did I then begin to enquire?—The English translation of the Hebrew here would imply that David had on many previous occasions received through him (the high priest) Divine directions from the Urim and Thummim. “Did I that day begin to enquire?” Abarbanel gives an alternative rendering: “That was the first day that I enquired of God for him, and I did not know that it was displeasing to thee.” Another rendering is: “Did I enquire?” in a negative sense, suggesting the reply “No, I did not.” On the whole, the alternative rendering suggested by Abarbanel, quoted in Lange, is the best: “That was the first day, &c.” And the reason why Ahimelech allowed the sacred Urim to be consulted was that he supposed David was come (as he represented) on a mission direct from King Saul. Surely, thought the blameless high priest, I never supposed my king would have been wroth with me for that.

If we render as in the English Version, which has the support of many scholars and versions, the only possible explanation of the words, “Did I that day begin to enquire?” is to suppose that David had been in the habit of consulting the Urim on special occasions for the king. The king, when there was a king in Israel, it is nearly certain, alone had this right. The Talmud teaching here is most definite; and it is a point in which the Talmud tradition may be looked on as authoritative. “The Rabbis have taught—How were the Urim and Thummim oracularly consulted? The king or the chief of the legislative administration, who alone had the privilege of consulting the Urim, stood facing the priest, and the priest was facing the Shekinah and the ‘Shem-hammephorash,’ the ineffable name deposited with the Urim within the breastplate.”—Treatise Yoma, fol. 73, cols. 1, 2.

1 Samuel 22:15. Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? — These words do not necessarily imply that Ahimelech had inquired of God for David. Doeg indeed charged him with doing it, but as the sacred historian has made no mention of any such thing, it is probable that he charged him falsely and maliciously, and with a view to heighten the king’s resentment against the priests. Ahimelech’s words may be very naturally so interpreted, as Dr. Dodd has observed, as to imply an absolute denial of the charge. “Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Be it far from me. I never did it before, nor did I begin to do it now.” The verb החל, hechel, (from חלל, chelel,) which we render begin, is frequently a mere expletive, denoting not the first beginning of an action, but the action itself, as begun and finished. “This vindication was honest and sufficient; but what was the effect of it? A resolution worthy the tyrant that made it.” — Chandler. Thy servant knew nothing of all this — Of any design against thee.22:6-19 See the nature of jealous malice and its pitiful arts. Saul looks upon all about him as his enemies, because they do not just say as he says. In Ahimelech's answer to Saul we have the language of conscious innocence. But what wickedness will not the evil spirit hurry men to when he gets the dominion! Saul alleges that which was utterly false and unproved. But the most bloody tyrants have found instruments of their cruelty as barbarous as themselves. Doeg, having murdered the priests, went to the city, Nob, and put all to the sword there. Nothing so vile but those may do it, who have provoked God to give them up to their hearts' lusts. Yet this was the accomplishment of the threatenings against the house of Eli. Though Saul was unrighteous in doing this, yet God was righteous in permitting it. No word of God shall fall to the ground.Did I then begin ... - Some lay the stress upon the word "begin," as though Ahimelech's justification was that he had often before inquired of the Lord for David when employed on the king's affairs. But it is much better to understand the words as Ahimelech's solemn denial of having inquired of the Lord for David, a duty which he owed to Saul alone as king of Israel. The force of the word "begin" lies in this, that it would have been his first act of allegiance to David and defection from Saul. This he strenuously repudiates, and adds, "thy servant knew nothing of all this" conspiracy between Jonathan and David of which Saul speaks: he had acted quite innocently. 10. he inquired of the Lord for him—Some suppose that this was a malicious fiction of Doeg to curry favor with the king, but Ahimelech seems to acknowledge the fact. The poor simple-minded high priest knew nothing of the existing family feud between Saul and David. The informer, if he knew it, said nothing of the cunning artifice by which David obtained the aid of Ahimelech. The facts looked against him, and the whole priesthood along with him were declared abettors of conspiracy [1Sa 22:16, 17]. Any thing, or, this thing, to wit, which thou now chargest me with, that I should assist David in any evil design against thee.

Thy servant knew nothing of all this; or, of thy suspicion concerning him. For as for Saul’s attempts upon David, well might Ahimelech impute them wholly to the violence of Saul’s passion and disease, seeing even Jonathan did so, as may be gathered from 1 Samuel 20:2. Did I then begin to inquire of God for him?.... Was this the first time of inquiring of God for him? no; I have done this many a time, when he has been going upon the king's business, engaging in war with his enemies; he has then consulted the Lord by me, and I have inquired of the Lord for him, as I now did; and which I did as innocently, and as much for the king's service, as ever I did any. Kimchi observes it may be read without the interrogation, "that day I began to inquire of God for him"; it was the first time I ever did, and I did not know it would have been grievous to thee, or have given thee any disturbance or uneasiness. I did not know that he fled from thee, or was not in thy service, and upon thy business; had I known it, I would never have done it, and as it is the first time it shall be the last:

be it far from me; from doing such a thing, had I known it to be disagreeable to thee, or how David stood with thee:

let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father; charge me or them with the crime of treason, or conspiracy against him, or with aiding:, assisting, and abetting traitors and conspirators:

for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more; was entirely ignorant of this affair; which plain, honest, account of things, one might have thought, would have been satisfying to Saul; but it seems it was not by what follows.

{i} Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.

(i) Have I not at other times also, when he had great affairs, consulted with the Lord for him?

15. Did I then begin] That day did I begin, &c.? The stress is upon these words. Ahimelech pleads that there was no harm in doing as he had often done before.

be it far from me] To plot against the king.

knew nothing of all this] Was in no way a party to the alleged conspiracy.The Edomite Doeg could not refrain from yielding to this appeal, and telling Saul what he had seen when staying at Nob; namely, that Ahimelech had inquired of God for David, and given him food as well as Goliath's sword. For the fact itself, see 1 Samuel 21:1-10, where there is no reference indeed to his inquiring of God; though it certainly took place, as Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22:15) does not disclaim it. Doeg is here designated נצּב, "the superintendent of Saul's servants," so that apparently he had been invested with the office of marshal of the court.
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