NABAL (Heb. נָבָל; connected with the Ar. nabīl, "noble"), man of the town of Maon who owned much livestock near the neighboring town of Carmel, southeast of Hebron on the edge of the desert of Judah; a Calebite (i Sam. 25:3; keri and versions). David extended his protection to Nabal's flocks when he was camping with his men in the desert of Judah (25:14–16). Nabal refused to give him a "gift" out of his produce at the time of the sheep-shearing (25:10–11). *Abigail, Nabal's beautiful wife, appeased David and dissuaded him from taking revenge (25:18ff.). Her husband, she said, punning on his name, "as his name is, so is he; Nabal [נָבָל] is his name and outrage [נְבָלָה] is with him" (25:25). After Nabal's death by a stroke, she became
David's wife (i Sam. 25:42). This tale is one of the finest narratives in the Bible and is a faithful description of the life of the prosperous cattlemen on the border of the desert of Judah.
In the Aggadah
In the Aggadah Nabal is referred to as a descendant of Caleb in order to compare his own illustrious ancestry to that of David who was descended from Ruth the Moabitess (tj, Sanh. 2:3, 20b). He denied God, had idolatrous thoughts and was guilty of unchastity. Like *Laban, the letters of whose name are identical with those of Nabal, he was a scoundrel (Mid. Ps. 53:1). Ten days intervened between his illness and his death (i Sam. 25:38) because he had given food to each of David's ten men (i Sam. 25:5; rh 18a); or because these were the Ten Days of Penitence, when God hoped that Nabal would repent (tj, Bik. 2:1, 64d). According to another opinion, however, Nabal was smitten more than a week after Samuel died, his death being delayed in order to avoid any confusion between the mourning for a righteous man and a wicked one (Mid. Ps. 26:7).