SIGNIFICANT NAMES: A wordplay on the name “Naval” adds flavor to this story.  One application of the root nbl, נבל, means “foolish, senseless,” particularly with regard to ethics. “Churlish” appears in KJV, rendering kasheh (“hard”) and in LXA (from the Greek) rendering Calbi.  In this context Calbe probably refers to a member of the Calev (Caleb) family. The root means “dog” and the form is adjectival. The Septuagint translated it as kunikos “dog like,” or “cynical.”  I think churl sounds right as English for naval.
            GLOSSARY:Baruch, frequently translated “blessed,” is, I think, better understood as an exalted greeting, a showing of appreciation and honor.  Its root ברכ means “knee,” which would be bent in formal greeting.  The word occurs three times in v. 32,33, once towards God, once towards the woman’s disposition, and once towards her person.  I render “hail,” or “all hail.”  B’rachah is “greeting,” in this instance, fortified with rich provisions.

            1Sh’muel died. All Yisrael gathered and mourned him.  They buried him at his home in Ramah.  David rose and descended to the wilderness around Maon.
            There was a man of Maon whose business was in the Carmel just to the north.  The man was very wealthy, owning a flock of three thousand with a thousand goats.  It was shearing time for his flocks in the Carmel.
            The man’s name was Naval.  His wife was Avigayil.  She had good sense and beautiful looks while the man was hard nosed, a bad actor.  He was a Calbi of the Calev clan in the tribe of Y’hudah.
            David, in the wilderness, heard that Naval was shearing his flock.  He sent ten lads: “Go up to Carmel and approach Naval.  Ask him, in my name, his shalom–his wellbeing.  Say to him, this live one: “How’s your shalom?  Your household’s shalom?  All of yours’ shalom?  I have just heard that they are shearing for you.  Now those shepherds of yours have been around us.  We have not put them down.  Not a thing of theirs went missing so long as they were in the Carmel.  Ask your lads and they’ll tell you.  Let my lads find favor in your eyes – we come at a good time.  So, please, whatever you have at hand, make a gift to David, your servant, your son.”
            David’s lads came and spoke all these words to Naval in David’s name and then they rested their case.  Naval answered David’s servants: “Who is this David?  Who is benYishai?  These days so many slaves break away from their masters.  I should take from my bread and my water and my meat slaughtered for my shearers?  And give it to men I don’t know where they came from?”
            David’s lads did an about face and hit the road.  When they arrived they reported on all of Naval’s words.  David ordered his men: “Every man belt on his sword.”  David did so, along with his men.  About four hundred men followed David while two hundred stayed with the gear.
            Avigayil, Naval’s wife, got a report from one of the lads: “Here’s what happened.  David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master and he hollered at them.  These men have been very good to us.  We have not been put down and not a thing has gone missing in all the time we moved back and forth among them, while we were in the field.  They were a wall around us, day and night, all the time we were with them pasturing the flock.  Now see and know what you can do, because bad has completely taken over our master and his whole house.  He is a lowlife beyond talking to.”
            Quickly Avigayil took two hundred breads, two jugs of wine, five sheep, dressed, five seah of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins, two hundred cakes of dried figs, and loaded the donkeys.  To her lads she said: “Go on ahead of me.  I’ll be coming right behind you.”  Her husband, Naval, she told nothing. 
            She was riding the donkey down a hidden path on the hill, while David and his men were descending to meet her.  She spotted them.  David was saying: “For a false deal I protected every bit of this one’s possessions in the wilderness.  Not a thing went missing.  He returned bad for good.  So may God do to David and even more, if by morning I leave standing of his so much as a single wall pisser.”
            When Avigayil came in sight of David she quickly got off the donkey and fell on her face before him, bowing to the ground.  Falling again at his feet, she said: “The fault, my lord, is entirely mine.  Let your handmaid speak in your ear.  Hear your handmaid’s words.  Let my lord, please, pay no attention to this lowlife, Naval, for he is just like his name.  His name is Churl and he is churlish.  I, your handmaid, I did not see the lads you sent.  Now, my lord, by the life of Yahh, by your life, it is Yahh who prevented you from plunging into bloodshed, and saved you your hand.  Like Naval be your enemies and any who seek to harm my lord.
            “Consider now the greeting your maid servant brings to my lord.  Let it be given to the lads who march at my lord’s feet.  Forgive your handmaid’s offense for Yahh will surely make a stabile dynasty for my lord who fights Yahh’s battles.  No bad will be found in you all your days.  Should anyone rise to pursue you or to seek your life, may my lord’s life be bound into the bundle of life with Yahh, your God; your enemy’s life be shot from the pouch of a sling.  Let it be that when Yahh does for my lord as all the good He has spoken for you, and He has ordered you commander over Israel, let this not be a stumbling block or a mental obstacle for my lord. Shedding blood for nothing -- my lord be saved from such and Yahh be good to my lord.  Let it be that you remember your handmaid.”
            Then David said to Avigal: “Hail Yahh God of Yisrael Who sent you this day to meet me.  All hail your disposition.  All hail to you who stopped me this day from getting into bloodshed, saving me my hand.  But, by the life of Yahh God of Yisrael, He Who prevented me from harming you: had you not hurried in coming to meet me not so much as a single wall pisser would have remained till daybreak!”
            From her hand David took what she had brought him, saying: “Go up in shalom to your home.  See I have listened to you and lifted your face.”
            Avigayil arrived at Naval’s.  He had a drinking party going on at his house.  Like a royal drinking party.  Naval was feeling good hearted being very drunk.  She told him not a thing, big or small, till daybreak.  In the morning, when the wine had left Naval, his woman told him these things and his heart died within him.  He was like stone.  About ten days later Yahh struck Naval and he died.
            David heard that Naval had died and he said: “Hail Yahh Who took up the case of my insult at the hand of Naval.  He held back His servant from bad.  Naval’s badness Yahh turned on his own head.” 
            David then sent word to Avigayil to take her as his woman.  The servants came to Karmel and spoke to Avigayil: “David sent us to you to take you as his woman.”
            She rose and bowed face to the ground and said: “Ah, your handmaid becomes your maid servant to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”  Quickly she rose and mounted the donkey, with her five serving girls walking at her feet.  She followed David’s messengers and became his woman.
            (Additionally, David took Achinoam from Yizra’el and the two of them became his women.  Sha’ul had given his daughter Michal, David’s woman, to Palti benLayish from Galim.)
© Rabbi David L. Kline  

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