Two days later, when David and his men came to Ziklag, the Amalekites had raided the Negev, including Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it. Although they captured the young and old women who were there, they killed no one. Instead, they had taken ⌊the women and other prisoners⌋ and gone away.
By the time David and his men came to the town, it had been burned down, and their wives, sons, and daughters had been taken captive. Then David and his men cried loudly until they didn’t have the strength to cry anymore. The Amalekites also captured David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail (who had been Nabal’s wife) from Carmel. David was in great distress because the people in their bitterness said he should be stoned. (They were thinking of their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.) David told the priest Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring me the priestly ephod.” So Abiathar brought David the ephod.
Then David asked the LORD, “Should I pursue these troops? Will I catch up with them?” “Pursue them,” the LORD told him. “You will certainly catch up with them and rescue the captives.” So David and his 600 men went to the Besor Valley, where some were left behind. David and 400 men went in pursuit, while 200 men who were too exhausted to cross the Besor Valley stayed behind. David’s men found an Egyptian in the open country and took him to David.
They gave him food to eat and water to drink. They gave him a slice of fig cake and two bunches of raisins. After he had eaten, he revived. (He hadn’t eaten any food or drunk any water for three whole days.) David asked him, “To whom do you belong? Where do you come from?” “I’m an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite,” the young man answered. “My master left me behind because I got sick three days ago. We raided the portion of the Negev where the Cherethites live, the territory of Judah, the portion of the Negev where Caleb settled, and we burned down Ziklag.” “Will you lead me to these troops?” David asked him.
He answered, “Take an oath in front of God that you won’t kill me or hand me over to my master, and I’ll lead you to these troops.” The Egyptian led him ⌊to them⌋. They were spread out all over the land, eating, and drinking. They were celebrating because they had taken so much loot from Philistine territory and from the land of Judah. From dawn until evening the next day, David attacked them.
No one escaped except 400 young men who rode away on camels. David rescued everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing—young or old, sons or daughters, the loot or anything else they had taken with them. David brought back everything. He took all the sheep and the cattle. His men drove the animals ahead of him and said, “This is David’s loot.”
David came to the 200 men who had been too exhausted to go with him and had stayed in the Besor Valley. They came to meet David and the people with him. As David approached the men, he greeted them. Then every wicked and worthless man who had gone with David said, “Since they didn’t go with us, they shouldn’t be given any of the loot we recovered. Each of them should take only his wife and children and leave.” But David said, “My brothers, don’t do that with the things which the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed the troops that attacked us over to us.
Besides, who is going to pay attention to what you have to say in this matter? Certainly, the share of those who go into battle must be like the share of those who stay with the supplies. They will all share alike.” From that time on he made this a rule and a custom in Israel as it is to this day.
When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the loot to his friends, the leaders of Judah. He said, “Here is a gift for you from the loot ⌊taken from⌋ the LORD’s enemies.” There were shares for those in Bethel, Ramoth in the Negev, Jattir, Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, Racal, the cities belonging to the Jerahmeelites, the cities belonging to the Kenites, Hormah, Borashan, Athach, Hebron, and to all the places David and his men visited from time to time. (1 Samuel 30:1-31 GW)