1 Samuel 21:1

David and the Holy Bread

1 [a] Then David came to 1Nob to 2Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech 3came to meet David trembling and said to him, "Why are you alone, and no one with you?"

1 Samuel 21:1 Meaning and Commentary

1 Samuel 21:1

Then came David to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest
The high priest, as Abarbinel rightly calls him; he was the brother of Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, who being dead he succeeded him; though some say F1 he was the same; see ( 1 Samuel 14:3 ) ( 22:9 ) ; who was now at Nob, the tabernacle being there, whither probably it was removed by Saul, and where and at Gibeon, according to the Jews F2, it continued fifty seven years; as in the times of Joshua it was in Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim, of which tribe he was; and in the times of David it was placed in the tribe of Judah, to which he belonged; so in the times of Saul it was in Nob, a city of his tribe, twelve miles from Gibeah, according to Bunting F3; for that it was in the tribe of Benjamin appears by its being mentioned along with Anathoth, ( Nehemiah 11:32 ) ; and according to Jarchi and Kimchi F4 it was near Jerusalem, and so near that it might be seen from thence; some say they are the same F5; Jerom F6 speaks of it as near Diospolis or Lydda. David, before he departed further off, was willing to see the tabernacle once more, and there worship his God, and inquire of him by the high priest, as he did, ( 1 Samuel 22:10 ) ; to direct him what way he should take, and that he would prosper and succeed him in it, grant him his presence, and keep him in safety:

and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David;
hearing that he was come or coming, he went out to meet him, but when he saw him alone he trembled; especially if he had heard of his having fallen under the displeasure of Saul, and that he now fled from him, therefore he might fear that he should fall into disgrace and danger should he entertain him:

and he said unto him, why [art] thou alone, and no man with thee?
he might well wonder at it, and put such a question, seeing he was so great a man, both in the court and camp, and the king's son in law; he might therefore reasonably suspect something more than ordinary was the case, and which occasioned his fears.


F1 Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 76. H.
F2 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Zebachim, c. 14. sect. 7.
F3 Travels p. 136.
F4 Comment. in lsa. x. 32.
F5 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 8. 1.
F6 Epitaphium Paulae, fol. 59. A.

1 Samuel 21:1 In-Context

1 Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David trembling and said to him, "Why are you alone, and no one with you?"
2 And David said to Ahimelech the priest, "The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, 'Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.' I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place.
3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here."
4 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."
5 And David answered the priest, "Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?"

Cross References 3

  • 1. 1 Samuel 22:9, 11, 19; Nehemiah 11:32; Isaiah 10:32
  • 2. [1 Samuel 14:3; Mark 2:26]
  • 3. [1 Samuel 16:4]

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.