Three days later, David and his soldiers reached Ziklag. The Amalekites had raided the arid southern plain and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it down,
taking the women and everyone in the city prisoner, whether young or old. They hadn't killed anyone but carried them off and went on their way.
When David and his soldiers got to the town and found it burned down, and their wives, their sons, and their daughters taken prisoner,
David and the troops with him broke into tears and cried until they could cry no more.
David's two wives had been captured as well: Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal's widow from Carmel.
David was in deep trouble because the troops were talking about stoning him. Each of the soldiers was deeply distressed about their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
David said to the priest Abiathar, Ahimelech's son, "Bring the priestly vest to me." So Abiathar brought it to David.
Then David asked the LORD, "Should I go after this raiding party? Will I catch them?" "Yes, go after them!" God answered. "You will definitely catch them and will succeed in the rescue!"
So David set off with six hundred men. They came to the Besor ravine, where some stayed behind.
David and four hundred men continued the pursuit, while two hundred men stayed there, too exhausted to cross the Besor ravine.
They found an Egyptian in the countryside and brought him to David. They gave him bread, and he ate, and they gave him water to drink.
They also gave him a piece of fig cake and two raisin cakes. He ate and regained his strength because he hadn't eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and nights.
Then David asked him, "Whose slave are you? Where do you come from?" "I'm an Egyptian servant boy," he said, "and the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I got sick three days ago.
We had raided the arid southern plain belonging to the Cherethites, the territory belonging to Judah, and the southern plain of Caleb. We also burned Ziklag down."
"Can you guide me to this raiding party?" David asked him. "Make a pledge to me by God that you won't kill me or hand me over to my master," the boy said, "and I will guide you to the raiding party."
So the boy led David to them, and he found them scattered all over the countryside, eating, drinking, and celebrating over the large amount of plunder they had taken from Philistine and Judean territory.
David attacked them from twilight until evening of the next day. He killed them all. No one escaped except four hundred young men who got on camels and fled.
David rescued everything that the Amalekites had taken, including his own two wives.
Nothing was missing from the plunder or anything that they had taken, neither old nor young, son nor daughter. David brought everything back.
David also captured all the sheep and cattle, which were driven in front of the other livestock. The troops said, "This is David's plunder!"
David reached the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow him and had stayed behind at the Besor ravine. They came out to greet him and the troops who were with him. When David approached them, he asked how they were doing.
But then all the evil and despicable individuals who had accompanied David said, "We won't share any of the plunder we rescued with them because they didn't go with us. Each of them can take his wife and children and go—but that's it."
"Brothers!" David said. "Don't act that way with the things the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the raiding party that had attacked us.
How could anyone agree with you on this plan? The share of those who went into battle and the share of those who stayed with the supplies will be divided equally."
So from that day forward, David made that a regulation and a law in Israel, which remains in place even now.
When David returned to Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah and to his friends. "Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the LORD's enemies," he said.
It went to those in Bethel, Ramoth of the arid southern plain, Jattir,
Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa,
Racal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites,
Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach,
Hebron, and all the places where David and his soldiers had spent time.