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NAIOTH (nā'ŏth, ōth, Heb. nāyôth). A place in or near Ramah of Benjamin, not far north of Jerusalem, where David stayed with Samuel during an early flight from Saul (1Sam.19.18-1Sam.20.1). It was the home of a band of prophets. When Saul pursued David there, Saul himself was seized with the spirit of prophecy, giving rise to the saying, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” David fled from Saul and went to Jonathan, Saul’s son.

NAIOTH nā’ yŏth (נָֽיוֹת, נוִֹות, in 1 Samuel 20:1; other MSS have נָיוֹת, H5766, or נוִֹית, LXX B Lucian has Ναυιωθ; meaning dwellings is uncertain). The place to which David fled from Saul and the residence of Samuel.

Naioth occurs only in the narrative of 1 Samuel 19:18-20:1. It is uncertain whether the word is a proper name or a common noun. It always occurs in conjunction with Ramah and is said to be in Ramah (vv. 19, 22, 23; 20:1). Some think, therefore, that it described the domicile of Samuel and his school of prophets (v. 20).

When Saul pursued David to this site after first sending three groups of messengers, “the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel, and lay naked all that day and all that night...” (vv. 23f.).

Ramah is well-known as the modern er-Ram c. eight m. N of Jerusalem. Naioth, however, is unknown outside the Bible.


Lange’s Commentary, Samuel (1877), 252; S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel (1913), 158f.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

na’-yoth, ni’-oth (nayoth; Codex Vaticanus Auath; Codex Alexandrinus Nauioth): This is the name given to a place in Ramah to which David went with Samuel when he fled and escaped from Saul (1Sa 19:18, etc.). The term has often been taken as meaning "houses" or "habitations"; but this cannot be justified. There is no certainty as to exactly what the word signified. Clearly, however, it attached to a particular locality in Ramah; and whatever its etymological significance, it denoted a place where the prophets dwelt together. On approaching it in pursuit of David, Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God, and conducted himself like one "possessed," giving rise to the proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

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