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During the events of chapters 27–31 of I Sh'muel (David's stay among the P'lishtim), David had the Urim V'sumim with him, as is clear from 23:2–6 and from 30:7–8. Yet in 28:6, Shaul consults Hashem via the "Urim". Radak ad loc. wonders how he could have done so, inasmuch as he was not with the Urim, and says "maybe he sent men there [=to David] to ask". M'tzudas David says the same. Bimchilas k'vodam, this explanation is unsatisfying. After all, Shaul was out to get David: it seems odd that he'd send him a peaceful messenger. Does anyone know of any other explanation of 28:6 in light of the fact that the Urim V'sumim were with David?

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On the contrary, David wasn't in the Plishti camp proper; in 27:5-6 he's given Tziklag as his base, and from 27:8ff it is clear that he had a free hand to go raiding without the Plishtim knowing exactly what he was doing (so long as Achish received his share of the booty). So Shaul's agents could well have visited David in Tziklag without Achish being any the wiser. – Alex Apr 22 '12 at 5:23
@Alex, I suppose you're right about David's being geographically separate from the P'lishtim. Nonetheless, it seems somewhat odd that Shaul should send a messenger to David, whom he wanted to kill (27:1–4). I mean, I understand the concept of sanctuary, and consulting the Urim is similar, but. I'll edit my question in light of your comment, though; thanks. – msh210 Apr 22 '12 at 5:28
At this point it's actually not so clear that Shaul wanted to kill David anymore: they had reconciled in 26:21, and (unlike their previous meeting, ch. 24) Shaul had given his word not to harm David. While indeed David had good reason to fear a change of heart on Shaul's part, that doesn't mean that there was one in fact. (Indeed, 27:4 states explicitly that Shaul gave up looking for David. See Daas Soferim, who suggests that Shaul indeed finally realized that his advisors had misled him into hating David without cause.) – Alex Apr 22 '12 at 5:37
And even if indeed Shaul still hated David, he still knew well enough to put the national needs ahead of his own - compare 23:26ff, where Shaul almost had David but gave up his pursuit of him in order to fight the Plishtim. – Alex Apr 22 '12 at 5:38
@Alex, re "even if... Shaul still hated David, he still knew... to put the national needs ahead of his": yes, but he thought David was out to get him [again, as you note, perhaps no longer], so would I think unlikely send a messenger with a favor to ask. – msh210 Apr 22 '12 at 5:40

Ibn Ezra (Shemot 28:6 Peirush Aroch) suggests that someone who was familiar with asking through the Urim VeTumim would be capable of getting answers on occasion from the Ephod. (I think he is referring to the two stones on the shoulders that clipped to the Choshen, but I'm not sure.)

Thus David used the Ephod (which we know he had, per 23:6) and Shaul used the Urim.

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That fits well with Daas Soferim's idea (to I Sam. 23:6 and 28:6) that there may have been more than one ephod, or that Shaul may have commissioned the making of another one. – Alex Apr 22 '12 at 5:30
Come to think of it, too, that also explains how the ephod that Gideon made (Judg. 8:27) ended up becoming an object of worship. I'd often wondered about that, since why would anyone ascribe divine powers to a garment? But with this explanation of Ibn Ezra's, it makes perfect sense. – Alex Apr 22 '12 at 15:36
possibly relevant mechon-mamre.org/i/8210.htm#13 – Double AA Apr 21 '15 at 5:02

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