Abigail was not only one of “four exceptionally beautiful women in the world” (Megillah 15a), but was also one of seven women considered by tradition to be a prophetess (Megillah 14a). It is strange then that most people would not even recognize the name’s biblical origin.

Abigail is introduced in the the First Book of Samuel, immediately after King Saul had been buried. David had already been privately anointed as Saul’s successor but had yet to claim the throne. While remaining in the wilderness, David and his men helped to protect the flocks of the Israelite shepherds. One day, David heard that one particularly wealthy man was arranging a sheep shearing (which was, in those days, a great feast). This man was “...Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail; and the woman was of good understanding, and of a beautiful form; but the man was churlish and evil in his doings” (I Samuel 25:3).

David sent a representative to ask Nabal for remuneration for guarding his flocks in the wilderness. Not only did Nabal refuse, he insulted David by insinuating that he was a runaway servant. Greatly angered, David set forth to punish Nabal, but Abigail interceded. With gifts in hand she ran out to meet David on the way and begged him to forget about Nabal, pleading with him that when God would appoint him prince over Israel he should not have “shed blood without cause.” Abigail concluded: “...when God will have dealt well with my lord, then remember your handmaid” (ibid).

David withheld vengeance (despite the fact that insulting a king is a capital offense). Nabal, however, suffered a heart attack shortly thereafter and died. David did indeed remember Abigail. She became one of his wives and bore him a son named Kilav.

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