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1 Samuel 20:30-33

Context

20:30 Saul became angry with Jonathan 1  and said to him, “You stupid traitor! 2  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 3  this son of Jesse is alive on the earth, you and your kingdom will not be established. Now, send some men 4  and bring him to me. For he is as good as dead!” 5 

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 6  in order to strike him down. So Jonathan was convinced 7  that his father had decided to kill David.

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

2 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.

3 tn Heb “all the days that.”

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

5 tn Heb “a son of death.”

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

7 tn Heb “knew.”



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