Antiquities of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book VI, Chapter 10

Saul Envies David For His Glorious Success, And Takes An Occasion Of Entrapping Him, From The Promise He Made Him Of Giving Him His Daughter In Marriage; But This Upon Condition Of His Bringing Him Six Hundred Heads Of The Philistines

1. NOW the women were an occasion of Saul's envy and hatred to David; for they came to meet their victorious army with cymbals, and drums, and all demonstrations of joy, and sang thus: The wives said, that "Saul had slain his many thousands of the Philistines." The virgins replied, that "David had slain his ten thousands." Now, when the king heard them singing thus, and that he had himself the smallest share in their commendations, and the greater number, the ten thousands, were ascribed to the young man; and when he considered with himself that there was nothing more wanting to David, after such a mighty applause, but the kingdom; he began to be afraid and suspicious of David. Accordingly he removed him from the station he was in before, for he was his armor-bearer, which, out of fear, seemed to him much too near a station for him; and so he made him captain over a thousand, and bestowed on him a post better indeed in itself, but, as he thought, more for his own security; for he had a mind to send him against the enemy, and into battles, as hoping he would be slain in such dangerous conflicts.

2. But David had God going along with him whithersoever he went, and accordingly he greatly prospered in his undertakings, and it was visible that he had mighty success, insomuch that Saul's daughter, who was still a virgin, fell in love with him; and her affection so far prevailed over her, that it could not be concealed, and her father became acquainted with it. Now Saul heard this gladly, as intending to make use of it for a snare against David, and he hoped that it would prove the cause of destruction and of hazard to him; so he told those that informed him of his daughter's affection, that he would willingly give David the virgin in marriage, and said, "I engage myself to marry my daughter to him if he will bring me six hundred heads of my enemies (17) supposing that when a reward so ample was proposed to him, and when he should aim to get him great glory, by undertaking a thing so dangerous and incredible, he would immediately set about it, and so perish by the Philistines; and my designs about him will succeed finely to my mind, for I shall be freed from him, and get him slain, not by myself, but by another man." So he gave order to his servants to try how David would relish this proposal of marrying the damsel. Accordingly, they began to speak thus to him: That king Saul loved him, as well as did all the people, and that he was desirous of his affinity by the marriage of this damsel. To which he gave this answer: - "Seemeth it to you a light thing to be made the king's son-in-law? It does not seem so to me, especially when I am one of a family that is low, and without any glory or honor." Now when Saul was informed by his servants what answer David had made, he said, - "Tell him that I do not want any money nor dowry from him, which would be rather to set my daughter to sale than to give her in marriage; but I desire only such a son-in-law as hath in him fortitude, and all other kinds of virtue," of which he saw David was possessed, and that his desire was to receive of him, on account of his marrying his daughter, neither gold nor silver, nor that he should bring such wealth out of his father's house, but only some revenge on the Philistines, and indeed six hundred of their heads, than which a more desirable or a more glorious present could not be brought him, and that he had much rather obtain this, than any of the accustomed dowries for his daughter, viz. that she should be married to a man of that character, and to one who had a testimony as having conquered his enemies.

3. When these words of Saul were brought to David, he was pleased with them, and supposed that Saul was really desirous of this affinity with him; so that without bearing to deliberate any longer, or casting about in his mind whether what was proposed was possible, or was difficult or not, he and his companions immediately set upon the enemy, and went about doing what was proposed as the condition of the marriage. Accordingly, because it was God who made all things easy and possible to David, he slew many [of the Philistines], and cut off the heads of six hundred of them, and came to the king, and by showing him these heads of the Philistines, required that he might have his daughter in marriage. Accordingly, Saul having no way of getting off his engagements, as thinking it a base thing either to seem a liar when he promised him this marriage, or to appear to have acted treacherously by him, in putting him upon what was in a manner impossible, in order to have him slain, he gave him his daughter in marriage: her name was Michal.

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Matt Curtin
Last modified: Wed Apr 15 19:48:23 EDT 1998