DOEG (Heb. דּוֹיֵג, דּוֹאֵג, דֹּאֵג), the Edomite, one of Saul's court officials and his trusted adviser (i Sam. 22:9). The epithet הָאֲדֹמִי (the Edomite; Ps. 52:2) points up Doeg's foreign origin. He was probably responsible for the king's property and his herds, as can be deduced from his title, "Saul's chief herdsman" (i Sam. 21:8; cf. i Chron. 27:28–31). Some read רצים (raẓim, "runners, guards") instead of רעים (roʿim, "herdsmen"), and believe that he headed a regiment of runners, i.e., the bodyguard of the king, who ran before his carriage and executed his orders (cf. ii Sam. 15:1). It seems that Doeg attained his important position in the court of Saul after having held a senior appointmentin Edom before his arrival in Israel. It could also be that his title ʾabbir (Heb. "chief") was the title of his Edomite office. This was in accordance with the policy of Saul and of David, both of whom chose experienced men from neighboring countries to conduct their administrative affairs. He doubtless adopted his master's religion (i Sam. 21:8).
His being an Edomite and a stranger among the servants of Saul explains his unswerving loyalty to the king. In contrast to the servants of the king who betrayed him and were ready to side with David in exchange for some benefits which they could gain, as Saul himself complained, and who refused to submit information on David's whereabouts, Doeg was the only one to inform the king of the assistance which had been extended by *Ahimelech, one of the priests of Nob, to David when he fled from Saul (i Sam. 22:7–10). He was also the only one of the royal runners who was ready to kill on the king's orders. He thus put to death 85 of the priests of Nob and destroyed the city to its foundations so that only Abiathar the son of Ahimelech succeeded in escaping the massacre and finding his way to David (i Sam. 22:17–20).
In the Aggadah
Doeg was a man of great learning who, however, perverted his knowledge for base and selfish ends (Sanh. 106b). He was called "Adomi" (Edomite) because he made those who disputed with him blush (adom, "red") with shame at their ignorance (Mid. Ps. to 52:4). He suited the law to his own purposes when persuading Saul not to kill Agag (ibid.); when maintaining that Ahimelech's consultation of the *Urim and Thummim on David's behalf (i Sam. 22:11–19) was illegal (ibid., 52:5); by convincing Saul that David's marriage to Michal had lost validity from the day David was declared a rebel (Gen. R. 32:1); and by attempting to refute David's legitimacy because of his descent from Ruth the Moabitess (Yev. 76b–77a). Doeg is rebuked, "Thou lovest evil more than good, and lying rather than to speak right" (Ps. 52:5), and God says to him, "Are you not a mighty man in Torah? Why than boastest thyself in mischief?" (Sanh. 106b). The variant spellings of Doeg's name in i Samuel 21:8 and 22:22 are explained: "At first God sits and is anxious (דּוֹאֵג, do'eg) lest one go out on an evil course. But once he does so, He exclaims, 'Woe (דוֹיֵג, doyeg) that he has entered on an evil path'" (Sanh. 106b). Eventually, Doeg's knowledge was taken from him. When he was 34 years old, he was confronted by three destroying angels, one of whom caused him to forget his learning, one burnt his soul, and the third scattered his ashes in the synagogues and schoolhouses (ibid.). According to another tradition, he was slain by his students when they saw that his wisdom had departed from him (Yalk. Sam. 131). His enmity toward David sprang from the fact that David chose a site for the Temple in preference to his own (Zev. 54b). Doeg deliberately praised David lavishly in Saul's presence (i Sam. 16:18) in order to arouse Saul's wrath against him (Sanh. 93b). As a result of his calumny Ahimelech, Abner, Saul, and Doeg himself lost their lives (tj, Pe'ah 1:1). Doeg is one of the four commoners who have no place in the olam ha-ba, world to come (Sanh. 10:2), and one of those who set their eyes upon that which was not proper for them; what they sought was not granted to them, and what they possessed was taken from them (Sot. 9b).
de Vaux, Anc Isr, 94, 219, 221; Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1954), 74–76; 6 (1959), 241–2; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 100–02.