When Saul cannot get anyone else to carry out his commandments, he turns to the loyal Doeg:
What does it mean, “נשא אפוד בד”? There can be only one כהן גדול, and that is אחימלך. One answer is that of the Targum:
But the אפוד of the כהן גדול was not of linen, so I would interpret the אפוד as simply a marker of status, a bit of clothing that one wore over one’s regular robes, like a tie nowadays. We see in תנ״ך others wearing an אפוד:
חז״ל saw Doeg almost as a tragic figure. Saul commands him with סב אתה; you go do this. One gets the impression that he didn’t expect things to go that far.
We will look at this more later.
What led Saul to even think of committing such an atrocity? The wording of the massacre calls to mind an earlier massacre:
And the gemara puts those together:
Rabbi Kook possibly was a vegetarian, but he felt there was a grave danger in vegetarianism:
Moral equivalence means that all things are equally deserving of mercy. But then all things are equally deserving of cruelty. Once we allow the possibility of cruelty, if we cannot make moral distinctiions, we risk losing the very mercy that inspired us to begin with.
We have very little information about Doeg in the text; just these two brief incidents. Again, חז״ל saw in him a tragic figure, a תלמיד חכם who was destroyed by jealousy:
And it was the source of his destruction:
The spelling of his name changes in the text, reflecting his fall:
And they imagined his death in terms of the death of נדב and אביהוא, who were also considered צדיקים whose eagerness was their fatal flaw:
This is the source of the midrash above about Doeg’s death. One interpretation of מאהל is literal: Doeg is destroyed from the tent.
Or the אהל is the tent of the Torah from which Doeg is finally banished:
ויראו צדיקים וייראו
What are the צדיקים afraid of?
אני כזית רענן
The image of the olive tree comes up frequently in תנ״ך:
And it specifically refers to the fact that the olive is a bitter, unpleasant fruit that requires crushing to release its oil:
David is saying that despite the tribulation of his life, he will remain in בית אלקים and not betray it as Doeg has done.