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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Doeg

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— Biblical Data:

An Edomite chief of the herdsmen of Saul. When David, warned by Jonathan, fled from Saul to the priest Abimelech at Nob, he found Doeg there. On pretense of being on the king's service, David was hospitably entertained, received the sword of Goliath from Abimelech, and escaped (1Samuel 21:2-11 ). Saul, upon hearing of David's escape, accused his servants of aiding David, whereupon Doeg revealed what had taken place at Nob (ib. 22:6-10). Saul took Abimelech to task for what he had done ( ib. 11-13), and ordered his runners to kill the priests of Nob ( ib. 17) the runners refused to obey, and thereupon Doeg at Saul's command fell upon the priests, and also destroyed Nob ( ib. 18,19). Psalm lii., according to its introductory verse, is directed against Doeg.

J. Jr. C. J. M.

— In Rabbinical Literature:
Doeg is the subject of many rabbinical legends, the origin of which is to be found in part in Psalm lii. Though he died at the early age of thirty-four years (Sanh. 69b), he is regarded by the rabbis as the greatest scholar of his time, the epithet being supposed to have been applied to him because he made every one with whom he disputed "blush" (Midr. Teh. 52:4 ed. Buber, p. 284). He could bring forward 300 different questions with reference to one single ritual case (Ḥ ag. 15b). But he was lacking in inward piety, so that God was "anxious () concerning his end, and "mourned" () for him (Sanh. 106b). His most unfortunate qualities, however, were his malice, jealousy, and calumnious tongue. He sounded the praise of David before Saul (1Samuel 16:18 ) only in order to provoke his jealousy, ascribing to David qualities that Saul lacked (Sanh. 93b compare Midr. Shemuel. xix., end). He cherished a grudge against David, whose opinion prevailed over his own in determining the site for the Temple at Jerusalem (Zeb. 54b), and he had well-nigh succeeded in proving by his arguments that David, as a descendant of Ruth the Moabite, could not, according to the Law, belong to the congregation of Israel, when the prophet Samuel interposed in David's favor (Yeb. 76b, 77a Midr. Shemuel xxii.). He also declared David's marriage with Michal to be invalid, and induced Saul to marry her to another.

Doeg not only disregarded the sanctity of marriage (), but he also slew with his own hands the priests of Nob, after Abner and Amasa, Saul's lieutenants, had refused to do so (Gen. R. xxxii. Midr. Teh. 52:4). As it often happens with those who strive for something to which they are not entitled, he lost that which he possessed (Gen. R. 20: sent the three "angels of destruction" ( ) to Doeg the first caused him to forget his learning, the second burned his soul, and the third scattered the ashes (Sanh. 106b differently, Yer. Sanh. 10:29a). According to some he was slain by his own pupils when they found that he had forgotten his learning (Yalḳ ., Sam. 131) others maintain that he was slain by David when he (Doeg) informed him of the death of Saul and of Jonathan (2Samuel 1:2 Pesiḳ ., ed. Buber, 3:28b Ginzberg, "Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvä tern," 1:38).

According to another Midrash, Doeg tried to preserve the life of Agag, the king of the Amalekites-Edomites, by interpreting Leviticus 22:28 into a prohibition against the destruction of both the old and the young in war (Midr. Teh. 52:4). Doeg is among those who have forfeited their portion in the future world by their wickedness (Sanh. 10:1 compare ib. 109b). Doeg is an instance of the evil consequences of calumny, because by calumniating the priests of Nob he lost his own life, and caused the death of Saul, Abimelech, and Abner (Yer. Peah 1:16a Midr. Teh. 120:9 [ed. Buber, p. 504]). E. C. L. G.

— Critical View:
The Hebrew text of 1Samuel 21:7 is difficult, and consequently the genuineness of that verse has been unnecessarily suspected it is presupposed by 22:9 (see H. P. Smith, "Commentary on Samuel," p. 198). The designation, however, of Doeg as "mightiest of the shepherds" ( ) of Saul is unusual and unlikely. Budde ("S. B. O. T.") proposes "mightiest of the runners" () (after Grä tz, "Gesch. der Juden," 1:183, note 4), while Lagarde ("Mittheilungen," 3:350) reads "driver of the mules" ()— a reading confirmed by 22:9 in Septuagint, and by Judges 10:4 1Samuel 9:3 2Samuel 16:2 and 1Chronicles 27:30 . Doeg was probably detained at the sanctuary by a taboo when he saw David (compare W. R. Smith, "Religion of the Semites," 2d ed., p. 456). The mention of Doeg in the title of Psalm 52 is a late interpolation of no critical value. J. Jr. G. A. B.


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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Doeg'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/d/doeg.html. 1901.

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Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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