1:17 Then David chanted this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan. 1:18 (He gave instructions that the people of Judah should be taught “The Bow.” 1 Indeed, it is written down in the Book of Yashar.) 2
How the mighty have fallen!
1:20 Don’t report it in Gath,
don’t spread the news in the streets of Ashkelon, 4
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate!
1:21 O mountains of Gilboa,
may there be no dew or rain on you, nor fields of grain offerings! 5
For it was there that the shield of warriors was defiled; 6
the shield of Saul lies neglected without oil. 7
1:22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of warriors,
the bow of Jonathan was not turned away.
The sword of Saul never returned 8 empty.
and not even in their deaths were they separated.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
1:24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet 10 as well as jewelry,
who put gold jewelry on your clothes.
1:25 How the warriors have fallen
in the midst of battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your high places!
1:26 I grieve over you, my brother Jonathan!
You were very dear to me.
Your love was more special to me than the love of women.
1:27 How the warriors have fallen!
The weapons of war 11 are destroyed!
1 tn Heb “be taught the bow.” The reference to “the bow” is very difficult here. Some interpreters (e.g., S. R. Driver, P. K. McCarter, Jr.) suggest deleting the word from the text (cf. NAB, TEV), but there does not seem to be sufficient evidence for doing so. Others (cf. KJV) understand the reference to be elliptical, meaning “the use of the bow.” The verse would then imply that with the deaths of Saul and Jonathan having occurred, a period of trying warfare is about to begin, requiring adequate preparation for war on the part of the younger generation. Various other views may also be found in the secondary literature. However, it seems best to understand the word here to be a reference to the name of a song (i.e., “The Bow”), most likely the poem that follows in vv. 19-27 (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV, CEV, NLT); NIV “this lament of the bow.” To make this clear the words “the song of” are supplied in the translation.
2 sn The Book of Yashar is a noncanonical writing no longer in existence. It is referred to here and in Josh 10:12-13 and 1 Kgs 8:12-13. It apparently was “a collection of ancient national poetry” (so BDB 449 s.v. יָשָׁר).
3 sn The word beauty is used figuratively here to refer to Saul and Jonathan.
4 sn The cities of Gath and Ashkelon are mentioned here by synecdoche of part for the whole. As major Philistine cities they in fact represent all of Philistia. The point is that when the sad news of fallen Israelite leadership reaches the Philistines, it will be for these enemies of Israel the occasion of great joy rather than grief.
5 tc Instead of the MT’s “fields of grain offerings” the Lucianic recension of the LXX reads “your high places are mountains of death.” Cf. the Old Latin montes mortis (“mountains of death”).
6 tn This is the only biblical occurrence of the Niphal of the verb גָּעַל (ga’al). This verb usually has the sense of “to abhor” or “loathe.” But here it seems to refer to the now dirty and unprotected condition of a previously well-maintained instrument of battle.
7 tc It is preferable to read here Hebrew מָשׁוּחַ (mashuakh) with many Hebrew
8 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form is used here to indicate repeated past action.
9 tn Heb “beloved and dear.”
10 sn Clothing of scarlet was expensive and beyond the financial reach of most people.
11 sn The expression weapons of war may here be a figurative way of referring to Saul and Jonathan.