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1 Samuel 20:24-42

Context

20:24 So David hid in the field. When the new moon came, the king sat down to eat his meal. 20:25 The king sat down in his usual place by the wall, with Jonathan opposite him 1  and Abner at his side. 2  But David’s place was vacant. 20:26 However, Saul said nothing about it 3  that day, for he thought, 4  “Something has happened to make him ceremonially unclean. Yes, he must be unclean.” 20:27 But the next morning, the second day of the new moon, David’s place was still vacant. So Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why has Jesse’s son not come to the meal yesterday or today?”

20:28 Jonathan replied to Saul, “David urgently requested that he be allowed to go to Bethlehem. 20:29 He said, ‘Permit me to go, 5  for we are having a family sacrifice in the city, and my brother urged 6  me to be there. So now, if I have found favor with you, let me go 7  to see my brothers.’ For that reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

20:30 Saul became angry with Jonathan 8  and said to him, “You stupid traitor! 9  Don’t I realize that to your own disgrace and to the disgrace of your mother’s nakedness you have chosen this son of Jesse? 20:31 For as long as 10  this son of Jesse is alive on the earth, you and your kingdom will not be established. Now, send some men 11  and bring him to me. For he is as good as dead!” 12 

20:32 Jonathan responded to his father Saul, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 20:33 Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan 13  in order to strike him down. So Jonathan was convinced 14  that his father had decided to kill David. 20:34 Jonathan got up from the table enraged. He did not eat any food on that second day of the new moon, for he was upset that his father had humiliated David. 15 

20:35 The next morning Jonathan, along with a young servant, went out to the field to meet David. 20:36 He said to his servant, “Run, find the arrows that I am about to shoot.” As the servant ran, Jonathan 16  shot the arrow beyond him. 20:37 When the servant came to the place where Jonathan had shot the arrow, Jonathan called out to 17  the servant, “Isn’t the arrow further beyond you?” 20:38 Jonathan called out to the servant, “Hurry! Go faster! Don’t delay!” Jonathan’s servant retrieved the arrow and came back to his master. 20:39 (Now the servant did not understand any of this. Only Jonathan and David knew what was going on.) 18  20:40 Then Jonathan gave his equipment to the servant who was with him. He said to him, “Go, take these things back to the city.”

20:41 When the servant had left, David got up from beside the mound, 19  knelt 20  with his face to the ground, and bowed three times. Then they kissed each other and they both wept, especially David. 20:42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for the two of us have sworn together in the name of the Lord saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’”

(21:1)

21 Then David 22  got up and left, while Jonathan went back to the city.

1 tc Heb “and Jonathan arose.” Instead of MT’s וַיָּקָם (vayyaqam, “and he arose”; from the hollow verbal root קוּם, qum), the translation assumes a reading וַיִּקַדֵּם (vayyiqaddem, “and he was in front of”; from the verbal root קדם, qdm). See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 338.

2 tn Heb “and Abner sat at the side of Saul.”

3 tn The words “about it” are not present in the Hebrew text, although they are implied.

4 tn Heb “said,” that is, to himself.

5 tn Heb “send me.”

6 tn Heb “commanded.”

7 tn Heb “be released [from duty].”

8 tc Many medieval Hebrew mss include the words “his son” here.

9 tn Heb “son of a perverse woman of rebelliousness.” But such an overly literal and domesticated translation of the Hebrew expression fails to capture the force of Saul’s unrestrained reaction. Saul, now incensed and enraged over Jonathan’s liaison with David, is actually hurling very coarse and emotionally charged words at his son. The translation of this phrase suggested by Koehler and Baumgartner is “bastard of a wayward woman” (HALOT 796 s.v. עוה), but this is not an expression commonly used in English. A better English approximation of the sentiments expressed here by the Hebrew phrase would be “You stupid son of a bitch!” However, sensitivity to the various public formats in which the Bible is read aloud has led to a less startling English rendering which focuses on the semantic value of Saul’s utterance (i.e., the behavior of his own son Jonathan, which he viewed as both a personal and a political betrayal [= “traitor”]). But this concession should not obscure the fact that Saul is full of bitterness and frustration. That he would address his son Jonathan with such language, not to mention his apparent readiness even to kill his own son over this friendship with David (v. 33), indicates something of the extreme depth of Saul’s jealousy and hatred of David.

10 tn Heb “all the days that.”

11 tn The words “some men” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

12 tn Heb “a son of death.”

13 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Jonathan) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Heb “knew.”

15 tn Heb “for he was upset concerning David for his father had humiliated him.” The referent of the pronoun “him” is not entirely clear, but the phrase “concerning David” suggests that it refers to David, rather than Jonathan.

16 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jonathan) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Heb “called after” (also in v. 38).

18 tn Heb “knew the matter.”

19 tc The translation follows the LXX in reading “the mound,” rather than the MT’s “the south.” It is hard to see what meaning the MT reading “from beside the south” would have as it stands, since such a location lacks specificity. The NIV treats it as an elliptical expression, rendering the phrase as “from the south side of the stone (rock NCV).” This is perhaps possible, but it seems better to follow the LXX rather than the MT here.

20 tn Heb “fell.”

21 sn Beginning with 20:42b, the verse numbers through 21:15 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 20:42b ET = 21:1 HT, 21:1 ET = 21:2 HT, 21:2 ET = 21:3 HT, etc., through 21:15 ET = 21:16 HT. With 22:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

22 tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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