Naming of Nabal
Nabal is mentioned by name only twice in the Bible, both times in 1 Samuel 25:2-3, when the Biblical source explains how Nabal had (at the time) a very wealthy and powerful family in the city of Carmel. The name Nabal has various meanings, including “fool” or “rude”. It is highly likely that this name was chosen to characterise Nabal and his attitude.
Life of Nabal
Nabal is mostly known as the husband of Abigail, a wise woman who managed to avert a troublesome situation caused by her husband’s foolhardy actions. Nabal was a wealthy and influential Israelite who lived in Maon, a city in Judah. It is said that he owned “sheep, and oxen, and servants, and asses” (1 Samuel 25:2), perhaps hinting that he was a shepherd.
A major event in the life of Nabal is when David, a young king of Israel, sent his servants to demand payment from Nabal. Usurped justice was a development in those days and Nabal responded to David’s demand with an abusive reply. The servants of David angrily told the king of the news and he was about to take it his own hands, but before he could, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, managed to appease David with a gift and some wise words.
Death of Nabal
At the end of the same chapter where Nabal insulted David, it is reported that Nabal died: “And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died” (1 Samuel 25:38). Seeing that Nabal had refused the request of righteous men the Lord cast judgment of death on Nabal. It is likely that the Lord was making a point that those who deny the righteous must now cease to exist.
Nabal and David
Nabal’s death saw David and Abigail marry and this then allowed David to form a political alliance between Nabal’s family and his own kingdom. This was most probably a strategic move as it secured not only political alliances, but also a wealthy and powerful family. The alliance proved to be beneficial to David as it provided him with material to maintain his household.
Relationship between Nabal and Abigail
The biblical source does not provide much information about the relationship between Nabal and Abigail. There is, however, a strong impression in the way Abigail speaks of Nabal that suggests that she respected him and held him in high regard. One theory suggests that Abigail was an independent woman and so she hesitated to break the bonds of marriage to please her husband.
On the other hand, because Nabal was somewhat rude, it is possibly the case that Abigail was looking to leave her marriage and was only prevented by her loyalty to her husband and his family.
Naba and Abigail’s Marriage
Although Nabal and Abigail were married, there were no children between them. This could very well be due to Nabal’s advanced age in comparison to Abigail’s youthful age. Abigail’s beauty and intelligence seemed to have made her irresistible to David and it took no time for David to marry Abigail after Nabal’s untimely death.
Spiritual Significance of Nabal
The name Nabal has great spiritual significance in the Bible. It is an Old Testament name that may be used to describe someone with an arrogant, selfish, and uncaring attitude. In particular, it may refer to those who are unwilling to reach out to God and accept his blessings or assistance. Those with such traits as Nabal must be ready to face the consequences and judgement of the Lord.
Nabal in Traditions
Nabal is a rather obscure character in the Bible and as such, does not feature extensively in Jewish or Christian traditions. He is mostly referred to as a wealthy man who acted foolishly with regards to David and his requests. He is also seen by some as a symbol of greed who, due to his arrogant and selfish behaviour, comes to a rather abrupt and tragic end.
Nabal and Abigail: A Representation of Good and Evil
Nabal and Abigail’s stories have been used throughout the generations to portray a deep comparison between good and evil, wisdom and foolishness, and loyalty and betrayal. While Nabal is seen to be wicked and short-sighted, Abigail is seen as loyal and wise, depicting the struggle between good and evil often found in the Bible.
Characterization of Nabal by David and Abigail
David has been said to have viewed Nabal as a foolish man who deserved no honour from David, hence why David was so enraged when he heard of Nabal’s disrespect towards him. On the other hand, Abigail showed sympathy towards Nabal for reasons unknown and instead of painting him as a villain, she instead took the entirety of the blame and swore that she would take care of the situation without involving her husband.