(Abʹi·gail) [(My) Father Has Made Himself Joyful].
1. A wife of David. Originally, the wife of wealthy Nabal from Maon, a city on the edge of the Wilderness of Judah, W of the Dead Sea. (1Sa 25:2, 3; Jos 15:20, 55) She was “good in discretion and beautiful in form,” while her first husband, whose name means “Senseless; Stupid,” was “harsh and bad in his practices.”
Following the prophet Samuel’s death, David and his men moved into the area where the flocks of Abigail’s husband were pastured. David’s men thereafter were like a protective “wall” around Nabal’s shepherds and flocks, night and day. So, when shearing time came, David sent some young men up to Carmel to call Nabal’s attention to the good service rendered him and to request an offering of food from him. (1Sa 25:4-8, 15, 16) But miserly Nabal screamed rebukes at them and insulted David as if he were an inconsequential person, and all of them as if they were possibly runaway slaves. (1Sa 25:9-11, 14) This so angered David that he girded on his sword and led about 400 men toward Carmel to wipe out Nabal and the men of his household.
Abigail, hearing of the incident through a disturbed servant, showed her wise perception by immediately rounding up an ample supply of food and grain and then sent these ahead of her in care of her servants, much as Jacob had done before making contact with Esau. (1Sa 25:14-19; Ge 32:13-20) Without saying anything to her husband, she rode to meet David, and in a long and fervent plea, which manifested wisdom and logic as well as respect and humility, she convinced David that her husband’s senseless words did not justify the unrighteous shedding of blood or the failure to trust in Jehovah to settle the matter in a right way himself. (1Sa 25:14-20, 23-31) David thanked God for the woman’s good sense and quick action.
Returning home, Abigail waited for her husband to sober up from a drunken feast and then informed him of her actions. Now “his heart came to be dead inside him, and he himself became as a stone,” and after ten days Jehovah caused him to expire. When the news reached David, he sent a marriage proposal to Abigail, which she did not hesitate to accept. She shared David’s affections along with Ahinoam, a Jezreelitess, whom David had previously taken as wife. David’s first wife, Michal, had already been given by her father Saul to another man.
Abigail was with David in Gath on the western edge of the Shephelah and later down in the NW Negeb at Ziklag. During David’s absence a raiding party of Amalekites from the S burned Ziklag and carried off all the women and children, including Abigail and Ahinoam. Assured by Jehovah of success, David led his men in pursuit and, in a surprise attack, overcame the Amalekites and retrieved the captives and possessions.
Back at Ziklag, three days later, the news of Saul’s death arrived. (2Sa 1:1, 2) Abigail now accompanied her husband to Hebron of Judah, where David was anointed as king. Here she gave birth to a son, Chileab (2Sa 3:3), also called Daniel at 1 Chronicles 3:1. David’s wives increased to six in Hebron, and neither Abigail nor her son receive further mention in the account.
2. One of David’s two sisters. (1Ch 2:13-17) Some scholars believe that she was only a half sister, being related by mother but not by father. At 2 Samuel 17:25 Abigail is called “the daughter of Nahash.” Rabbinic tradition holds that Nahash is simply another name for Jesse, David’s father. The Greek Septuagint (Lagardian edition) has “Jesse” instead of “Nahash” in this verse. A number of modern translations also read this way. (See AT; JB; NC [Spanish].) However, it is noteworthy that the record at 1 Chronicles 2:13-16 does not call Abigail and Zeruiah ‘daughters of Jesse’ but rather “sisters” of Jesse’s sons, including David. This allows for the possibility that their mother had first been married to a man named Nahash, to whom she bore Abigail and Zeruiah before becoming Jesse’s wife and the mother of his sons. It cannot, therefore, be stated dogmatically that Abigail was the daughter of Jesse.
Abigail, David’s sister, is mentioned as giving birth to only one son, Amasa. Her husband is referred to as Ithra the Israelite at 2 Samuel 17:25 but elsewhere is called Jether (1Ki 2:5, 32) and at 1 Chronicles 2:17 is spoken of as “Jether the Ishmaelite.” (See JETHER No. 6.) It is possible that Abigail contracted marriage with Jether during the time Jesse and his family were dwelling in the land of Moab. (1Sa 22:3, 4) Her son, Amasa, received no apparent attention during David’s reign until Absalom’s rebellion. His cousin Absalom then made him the head of his armed forces. Nevertheless, following Absalom’s death, Abigail’s brother, King David, dealt with her son Amasa in obtaining support for his return to the throne, and thereafter made Amasa the head of the army, replacing Joab. (2Sa 19:11-14) This appointment soon brought death to Abigail’s son, at the hands of his embittered cousin Joab.