The Talmud in Megillah 14b says that Abigail revealed her thigh, and that David followed her for 3 parasangs in his desire for her.

In Tosafos it is asked how this righteous woman could have revealed herself to David. Another question is asked, and answered, but the author seems to deem the first point difficult and leave it at that.

Are there any other commentaries that discuss Abigail's actions here?

  • The v'yesh lomar is worded as though it's answering both questions AFAICT; that said, I have no idea how it's an answer to the first. – msh210 Feb 7 '14 at 19:14
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    @msh210 Meharsha and Eyun Yaakov both seem to understand Tosafos as not answering the first Q, i think. Linked source in answer. – Baby Seal Feb 7 '14 at 20:03
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    Just for the record, it says she revealed her calf not her thigh. (Not that that affects your question at all.) – Double AA Jul 24 '14 at 13:03
  • How many bones are in the thigh? There may be ambiguities in biblical Hebrew, but rabbinic Hebrew couldn't be clearer. Look at places Shok shows up in rabbinic Hebrew (eg. Chalitza, Mumim of Kohanim) – Double AA Jul 24 '14 at 16:05
  • @DoubleAA interesting! The Chafetz Chaim said cover until the knees though, right? Based on Shok, and everyone asks about this. – Baby Seal Jul 24 '14 at 16:07

So I found that MhrSh"A and Eyun Jacob each offer answers.

MhrS"A says that David saw her thigh from 3 parasangs away. So she did not do it in front of him, rather it was a more incidental occurence. Abigail probably thought that she was sufficiently secluded.

E"J says that Abigail, sensing the tension between her husband Nabel and David, uncovered herself deliberately to seduce David away from Nabel, to prevent his death and David's commiting murder. So Abigail was technically revealing herself immodestly, but she was doing so to save those around her from calamity.

  • Interesting. I guess it isn't yeihareg v'al ya'avor. – Double AA Apr 7 '14 at 17:59
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    @DoubleAA referring to the Talmud about the lovesick man? – Baby Seal Apr 7 '14 at 18:55
  • @DoubleAA the gemara talks about "Aveira L'shma" in regards to Yael with King Sisra - might be a similar idea here. – R. Mo Apr 7 '14 at 20:08
  • @R.Mo what is the aveira here? Was david saying Shema? where they secluded on the 3 parasang walk? – Baby Seal Apr 7 '14 at 21:11
  • @BabySeal " So Abigail was technically revealing herself immodestly" – R. Mo Jun 11 '14 at 19:20

Kabbalistically there is a lot of symbolism going on here

The Rama M’Fano sees the 7 prophetesses as corresponding to the 7 attributes that God uses to relate to the world, to wit: Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchus. Avigail is among those 7 and represents the middah of Hod - commonly translated as glory. From this we can understand that the gemarah’s story also contains an allusion to the middah of Hod which corresponds kabbalistically to the thigh.

The interaction is between Dovid who represents kingship - malchus and Avigail who represents Hod. I would not take the gemarah's story literally.

  • Thank you! I have a hard time with the plain meaning of Chazal's words having no constructive meaning whatsoever, but I certainly appreciate that there are many levels to what they tell us. – Baby Seal Apr 7 '14 at 18:54

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