Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men, whom I know not from where they be?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Unto men, whom I know not.—In other words, “Shall I give largesse to the enemies of my king—to a band of rebel freebooters?”
My water.—The LXX., instead of “water,” read “wine.” This is one of the countless alterations this version arbitrarily makes in the original sacred text. The Greek translators were puzzled at Nabal’s enumeration of “water” as one of the demands of David. Its mention, however, is a mark of the accuracy of the record. Water in many parts of the East is exceedingly precious. The words of Joshua 15:19 clearly indicate the especial want of this district of Palestine, when Caleb’s daughter Achsah specially prayed her father for springs of water. Its mention, however, can scarcely, as Dean Payne Smith observes, “mark the abstemious habits of the people,” considering in the same chapter we find the owner of all these flocks prostrate through intoxication.Joshua 15:19). Or "bread and water" may be equivalent to "meat and drink."
10-12. Nabal answered David's servants, … Who is David? &c.—Nabal's answer seems to indicate that the country was at the time in a loose and disorderly state. David's own good conduct, however, as well as the important services rendered by him and his men, were readily attested by Nabal's servants. The preparations of David to chastise his insolent language and ungrateful requital are exactly what would be done in the present day by Arab chiefs, who protect the cattle of the large and wealthy sheep masters from the attacks of the marauding border tribes or wild beasts. Their protection creates a claim for some kind of tribute, in the shape of supplies of food and necessaries, which is usually given with great good will and gratitude; but when withheld, is enforced as a right. Nabal's refusal, therefore, was a violation of the established usages of the place.My water; he speaketh thus, either because in those hot and dry parts water was scarce and precious; or water is here put for any kind of drink, as bread is oft taken for all sorts of meat.
and my flesh which I have killed for my shearers; whether oxen, or sheep, or lambs, as there might be of each sort, for an entertainment made on such an occasion:Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. my water] Perhaps water is specially mentioned because it is scarce in the district. Cp. Joshua 15:19. The Sept. however has “wine.”1 Samuel 25:1) that Nabal was shearing his sheep, which was generally accompanied with a festal meal (see at Genesis 38:12), he sent ten young men up to Carmel to him, and bade them wish him peace and prosperity in his name, and having reminded him of the friendly services rendered to his shepherds, solicit a present for himself and his people. לשׁלום לו שׁאל, ask him after his welfare, i.e., greet him in a friendly manner (cf. Exodus 18:7). The word לחי is obscure, and was interpreted by the early translators merely according to uncertain conjectures. The simplest explanation is apparently in vitam, long life, understood as a wish in the sense of "good fortune to you" (Luther, Maurer, etc.); although the word חי in the singular can only be shown to have the meaning life in connection with the formula used in oaths, נפשׁך חי, etc. But even if חי must be taken as an adjective, it is impossible to explain לחי in any other way than as an elliptical exclamation meaning "good fortune to the living man." For the idea that the word is to be connected with אמרתּם, "say to the living man," i.e., to the man if still alive, is overthrown by the fact that David had no doubt that Nabal was still living. The words which follow are also to be understood as a wish, "May thou and thy house, and all that is thine, be well!" After this salutation they were to proceed with the object of their visit: "And now I have heard that thou hast sheep-shearers. Now thy shepherds have been with us; we have done them no harm (הכלים, as in Judges 18:7 : on the form, see Ges. 53, 3, Anm. 6), and nothing was missed by them so long as they were in Carmel." When living in the desert, David's men had associated with the shepherds of Nabal, rendered them various services, and protected them and their flocks against the southern inhabitants of the desert (the Bedouin Arabs); in return for which they may have given them food and information. Thus David proved himself a protector of his people even in his banishment. וימצאוּ, "so may the young men (those sent by David) find favour in thine eyes! for we have come to a good (i.e., a festive) day. Give, I pray, what thy hand findeth (i.e., as much as thou canst) to thy servant, and to thy son David." With the expression "thy son" David claims Nabal's fatherly goodwill. So far as the fact itself is concerned, "on such a festive occasion near a town or village even in our own time, an Arab sheikh of the neighbouring desert would hardly fail to put in a word either in person or by message; and his message both in form and substance would be only the transcript of that of David" (Robinson, Palestine, p. 201).
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