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1 Samuel 14:24-48

Context
Jonathan Violates Saul’s Oath

14:24 Now the men of Israel were hard pressed that day, for Saul had made the army agree to this oath: “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening! I will get my vengeance on my enemies!” So no one in the army ate anything.

14:25 Now the whole army 1  entered the forest and there was honey on the ground. 2  14:26 When the army entered the forest, they saw 3  the honey flowing, but no one ate any of it, 4  for the army was afraid of the oath. 14:27 But Jonathan had not heard about the oath his father had made the army take. He extended the end of his staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb. When he ate it, 5  his eyes gleamed. 6  14:28 Then someone from the army informed him, “Your father put the army under a strict oath 7  saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today!’ That is why the army is tired.” 14:29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has caused trouble for the land. See how my eyes gleamed 8  when I tasted just a little of this honey. 14:30 Certainly if the army had eaten some of the enemies’ provisions that they came across today, would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

14:31 On that day the army struck down the Philistines from Micmash to Aijalon, and they became very tired. 14:32 So the army rushed greedily on 9  the 10  plunder, confiscating sheep, cattle, and calves. They slaughtered them right on the ground, and the army ate them blood and all.

14:33 Now it was reported to Saul, “Look, the army is sinning against the Lord by eating even the blood.” He said, “All of you have broken the covenant! 11  Roll a large stone over here to me.” 14:34 Then Saul said, “Scatter out among the army and say to them, ‘Each of you bring to me your ox and sheep and slaughter them in this spot and eat. But don’t sin against the Lord by eating the blood.” So that night each one brought his ox and slaughtered it there. 12  14:35 Then Saul built an altar for the Lord; it was the first time he had built an altar for the Lord.

14:36 Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines at night; we will rout 13  them until the break of day. 14  We won’t leave any of them alive!” 15  They replied, “Do whatever seems best to you.” 16  But the priest said, “Let’s approach God here.” 14:37 So Saul asked God, “Should I go down after the Philistines? Will you deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.

14:38 Then Saul said, “All you leaders of the army come here. Find out 17  how this sin occurred today. 14:39 For as surely as the Lord, the deliverer of Israel, lives, even if it turns out to be my own son Jonathan, he will certainly die!” But no one from the army said anything. 18 

14:40 Then he said to all Israel, “You will be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The army replied to Saul, “Do whatever you think is best.”

14:41 Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel! If this sin has been committed by me or by my son Jonathan, then, O Lord God of Israel, respond with Urim. But if this sin has been committed by your people Israel, respond with Thummim.” 19  Then Jonathan and Saul were indicated by lot, while the army was exonerated. 20  14:42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan!” 21  Jonathan was indicated by lot.

14:43 So Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” Jonathan told him, “I used the end of the staff that was in my hand to taste a little honey. I must die!” 22  14:44 Saul said, “God will punish me severely if Jonathan doesn’t die!” 23 

14:45 But the army said to Saul, “Should Jonathan, who won this great victory in Israel, die? May it never be! As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of his head will fall to the ground! For it is with the help of God that he has acted today.” So the army rescued Jonathan from death. 24 

14:46 Then Saul stopped chasing the Philistines, and the Philistines went back home. 25  14:47 After Saul had secured his royal position over Israel, he fought against all their 26  enemies on all sides – the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. In every direction that he turned he was victorious. 27  14:48 He fought bravely, striking down the Amalekites and delivering Israel from the hand of its enemies. 28 

1 tn Heb “all the land.”

2 tn Heb “the surface of the field.”

3 tn Heb “and the army entered the forest, and look!”

4 tn Heb “and there was no one putting his hand to his mouth.”

5 tn Heb “and he returned his hand to his mouth.”

6 tc The translation follows the Qere and several medieval Hebrew mss in reading “gleamed,” rather than the Kethib, “saw.”

7 tn Heb “your father surely put the army under an oath.” The infinitive absolute is used before the finite verb to emphasize the solemn nature of the oath.

8 tc The LXX reads “saw.” See v. 27.

9 tc The translation follows the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss in reading “and they rushed greedily upon,” rather than the Kethib, “and they did.”

10 tc The translation reads with the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss הַשָּׁלָל (hashalal, “the spoil”) rather than following the Kethib reading, שָׁלָל (shalal, “spoil”).

11 tn Heb “You have acted deceptively.” In this context the verb refers to violating an agreement, in this case the dietary and sacrificial regulations of the Mosaic law. The verb form is second masculine plural; apparently Saul here addresses those who are eating the animals.

12 tn Heb “and all the army brought near, each his ox by his hand, and they slaughtered there.”

13 tn Heb “plunder.”

14 tn Heb “until the light of the morning.”

15 tn Heb “and there will not be left among them a man.”

16 tn Heb “all that is good in your eyes.” So also in v. 40.

17 tn Heb “know and see.”

18 tn Heb “and there was no one answering from all the army.”

19 tc Heb “to the Lord God of Israel: ‘Give what is perfect.’” The Hebrew textual tradition has accidentally omitted several words here. The present translation follows the LXX (as do several English versions, cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV). See P. K. McCarter, I Samuel (AB), 247-48, and R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 132.

sn The Urim and Thummim were used for lot casting in ancient Israel. Their exact identity is uncertain; they may have been specially marked stones drawn from a bag. See Exod 28:30; Lev 8:8, and Deut 33:8, as well as the discussion in R. W. Klein, 1 Samuel (WBC), 140.

20 tn Heb “went out.”

21 tc The LXX includes the following words: “Whomever the Lord will indicate by the lot, let him die! And the people said to Saul, ‘It is not this word.’ But Saul prevailed over the people, and they cast lots between him and between Jonathan his son.”

22 tn Heb “Look, I, I will die.” Apparently Jonathan is acquiescing to his anticipated fate of death. However, the words may be taken as sarcastic (“Here I am about to die!”) or as a question, “Must I now die?” (cf. NAB, NIV, NCV, NLT).

23 tn Heb “So God will do and so he will add, surely you will certainly die, Jonathan.”

24 tn Heb “and he did not die.”

25 tn Heb “to their place.”

26 tn Heb “his,” which could refer to Israel or to Saul.

27 tc The translation follows the LXX (“he was delivered”), rather than the MT, which reads, “he acted wickedly.”

28 tn Heb “plunderers.”



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