Before David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had raided the Negeb and Ziklag, had stormed the city, and had set it on fire.
They had taken captive the women and all who were in the city, young and old, killing no one; they had carried them off when they left.
David and his men arrived at the city to find it burned to the ground and their wives, sons and daughters taken captive.
Then David and those who were with him wept aloud until they could weep no more.
David’s two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, had also been carried off with the rest.
Now David found himself in great difficulty, for the men spoke of stoning him, so bitter were they over the fate of their sons and daughters. But with renewed trust in the LORD his God,
David said to Abiathar, the priest, son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod!” When Abiathar brought him the ephod,
David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue these raiders? Can I overtake them?” The LORD answered him, “Go in pursuit, for you shall surely overtake them and effect a rescue.”
So David went off with his six hundred men and came as far as the Wadi Besor, where those who were to remain behind halted.
David continued the pursuit with four hundred men, but two hundred were too exhausted to cross the Wadi Besor and remained behind.
An Egyptian was found in the open country and brought to David. He was provided with food, which he ate, and given water to drink;
a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of pressed raisins were also offered to him. When he had eaten, he revived; he had not taken food nor drunk water for three days and three nights.
Then David asked him, “To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?” He replied: “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me because I fell sick three days ago today.
We raided the Negeb of the Cherethites, the territory of Judah, and the Negeb of Caleb; and we set Ziklag on fire.”
David then asked him, “Will you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me to my master, and I will lead you to the raiding party.”
He did lead them, and there were the Amalekites scattered all over the ground, eating, drinking, and in a festive mood because of all the rich booty they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
From dawn to sundown David attacked them, putting them under the ban so that none escaped except four hundred young men, who mounted their camels and fled.
David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives.
Nothing was missing, small or great, booty or sons or daughters, of all that the Amalekites had taken. David brought back everything.
Moreover, David took all the sheep and oxen, and as they drove these before him, they shouted, “This is David’s spoil!”
When David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him, and whom he had left behind at the Wadi Besor, they came out to meet David and the men with him. On nearing them David greeted them.
But all the stingy and worthless men among those who had accompanied David spoke up to say, “Since they did not accompany us, we will not give them anything from the booty, except to each man his wife and children. Let them take those along and be on their way.”
But David said: “You must not do this, my brothers, after what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our grip the band that came against us.
Who could agree with this proposal of yours? Rather, the share of the one who goes down to battle and that of the one who remains with the baggage shall be the same; they shall share alike.”
And from that day forward he made it a law and a custom in Israel, as it still is today.
When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to the elders of Judah, city by city, saying, “This is a gift to you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD”:
to those in Bethel, to those in Ramoth-negeb, to those in Jattir,
to those in Aroer, to those in Siphmoth, to those in Eshtemoa,
to those in Racal, to those in the Jerahmeelite cities, to those in the Kenite cities,
to those in Hormah, to those in Borashan, to those in Athach,
to those in Hebron, and to all the places frequented by David and his men.