🔼The name Nob: Summary
- Height, High Place
- From the verb נבה (nabah), to be high or prominent.
🔼The name Nob in the Bible
It's not clear how many different sites named Nob exist in the Bible (most commentators say at least two, but here at Abarim Publications, we count only one).
The best-known mention of the city of Nob is as a sacerdotal city at which a priest named Ahimelech entertained young David on the run from Saul, right after his tearful separation from Jonathan (1 Samuel 21:1). According to Ahimelech, David was alone, but when Jesus referred to this occasion, he spoke of David and his men (Matthew 12:3).
When David arrived at Nob, he was hungry and asked for food, but all Ahimelech had to give him was the Show Bread (which strongly suggests that Ahimelech was ministering in what was left of the tabernacle, which locates Nob in the vicinity of Shiloh in Ephraim, north of Bethel, which itself was north of Jerusalem; see Joshua 18:1 and 1 Samuel 1:3 in reference to 1 Samuel 2:22).
David was also unarmed, and when he asked for a weapon, Ahimelech could only give him the sword of Goliath of Gath. While Ahimelech was dealing with David, Saul's cattle manager named Doeg the Edomite came by, saw David and rushed to Saul to expose him.
Saul promptly ordered Ahimelech and his entire priestly family executed. Doeg the Edomite killed eighty-five priests of YHWH, and marched on to Nob and killed all the men, women, children and even animals.
The only one to escape was Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, who hurried to David to report of the massacre of Nob. Whether David later avenged the victims of Nob and killed Doeg is unknown, but he put the blame for their deaths on himself (1 Samuel 22:9). And he wrote a Maskil about the occasion; it's known to us as Psalm 52.
Nob is also a town presumably in Benjamin, which was repeopled by Benjaminites after the return from the Babylonian exile (Nehemiah 11:32). This Nob is mentioned right after Anathoth, which was also in Benjamin, but since the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin were adjacent, and we only know the approximate location of the priestly Nob, the Benjaminite Nob and the priestly Nob may very well be the same.
In his sermon on the remnant of Israel, the prophet Isaiah paints the route of the invading Assyrians from the north. Right before they reach Jerusalem, the "scourge" of the Lord halts at Nob and raises his fist to Zion (Isaiah 10:32). The passage before this final statement has a clear connection to Benjamin, and we may assume that Isaiah's Nob is the same as the priestly Nob.
🔼Etymology of the name Nob
The name Nob is thought to be derived from the otherwise unused verb נבה (nabah), meaning to be high or prominent:
The unused verb נבה (nabah) probably meant to be high or prominent (it does so in other languages).
For a meaning of the name Nob, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Height, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has High Place. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret this name.