How one woman's manners took her from wife of a rancher to wife of King David.

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Moreover, 1 Samuel 25 is situated between two episodes in which David has the opportunity to kill Saul, but resists. In this article's episode, too, David maintains extraordinary self-control and leaves it to God to dispatch his opponent. The Abigail story, like the Saul stories, is a strong endorsement of David's destiny to reign as the chosen favorite of God.

1 Samuel 25 stands in stark contrast to, and serves as a mirror image of, the Bathsheba story in 1 Sam 11-12. Both Abigail and Bathsheba are originally married to other men, and both become the wives of David, yet by very different courses of events. In the Abigail story, the woman is married to an evil husband, yet David is prevented by the woman from murdering her husband, as he clearly acknowledges (1 Sam 25:33-34). In the case of Bathsheba, whose husband is portrayed as a good man, David is led to order the murder of the husband because of his desire for the woman. The Abigail story contains no illicit sex, though the opportunity was present; the Bathsheba story revolves around an illicit relationship. In the Abigail story, David, the potential king, is seen as increasingly strong and virtuous, whereas in the Bathsheba story, the reigning monarch shows his flaws ever more overtly and begins to lose control of his family.

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Adele  Berlin

Adele Berlin is the Robert H. Smith Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Maryland. She has written numerous books and articles on biblical literature.