International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
na'-bal (nabhal, "foolish" or "wicked"; Nabal): A wealthy man of Maon in the highlands of Judah, not far from Hebron, owner of many sheep and goats which he pastured around Carmel in the same district. He was a churlish and wicked man (1 Samuel 25:2). When David was a fugitive from Saul, he and his followers sought refuge in the wilderness of Paran, near the possessions of Nabal, and protected the latter's flocks and herds from the marauding Bedouin. David felt that some compensation was due him for such services (1 Samuel 25:15, 25), so, at the time of sheep-shearing-an occasion of great festivities among sheep masters-he sent 10 of his young men to Nabal to solicit gifts of food for himself and his small band of warriors. Nabal not only refused any assistance or presents, but sent back insulting words to David, whereupon the latter, becoming very angry, determined upon the extermination of Nabal and his household and dispatched 400 men to execute his purpose. Abigail, Nabal's wife, a woman of wonderful sagacity and prudence as well as of great beauty, having learned of her husband's conduct and of David's intentions, hurriedly proceeded, with a large supply of provisions, dainties and wine, to meet David and to apologize for her husband's unkind words and niggardliness, and thus succeeded in thwarting the bloody and revengeful plans of Israel's future king. Upon her return home she found her husband in the midst of a great celebration ("like the feast of a king"), drunken with wine, too intoxicated to realize his narrow escape from the sword of David. On the following morning, when sober, having heard the report of his wife, he was so overcome with fear that he never recovered from the shock, but died 10 days later (1 Samuel 25:36-38). When David heard about his death, he sent for Abigail, who soon afterward became one of his wives.y Paul) make use of expressions and analogies derived from the mystery-religions; but, so far as our present evidence goes, we cannot agree that the pagan cults exercised a central or formative influence on them.