1 Samuel Chapter Fourteen
New King James Version (NKJV)
INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 14
This chapter gives an account of an adventure of Jonathan and his armourbearer smiting a garrison of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 14:1, which with other circumstances struck terror into the whole army; which being observed by Saul's spies, he and his men went out against them, and being joined by others, pursued them, and obtained a complete victory, 1 Samuel 14:15, but what sullied the glory of the day was a rash oath of Saul's, adjuring the people not to eat any food till evening which Jonathan not hearing of ignorantly broke, 1 Samuel 14:24 and which long fasting made the people so ravenous, that they slew their cattle, and ate them with the blood, contrary to the law of God, for which they were reproved by Saul, 1 Samuel 14:32, upon which he built an altar, and inquired of the Lord whether he should pursue the Philistines all that night till morning, but had no answer; which made him conclude sin was committed, and which he inquired after, declaring that if it was his own son Jonathan that had committed it he should surely die, 1 Samuel 14:35, the people being silent, he cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonathan; who had it not been for the resolution of the people that rescued him out of his hands, because of the great salvation he had wrought, must have died, 1 Samuel 14:40 and the chapter is cited with an account of Saul's battles with the neighbouring nations in general, and of his family, 1 Samuel 14:47.
1 Samuel 14:1 Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
YLT 1And the day cometh that Jonathan son of Saul saith unto the young man bearing his weapons, `Come, and we pass over unto the station of the Philistines, which [is] on the other side of this;' and to his father he hath not declared [it].
Now it came to pass upon a day,.... At a certain time, a little after the garrison of the Philistines had made the movement, 1 Samuel 13:23 and it is not to be taken strictly for the day time; for it is probable it was in the night that the following proposal was made, and began to be carried into execution; for JosephusF11Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 2. says it was day light when Jonathan and his armourbearer came to the camp of the Philistines; he had formed his scheme perhaps the night before, and he and his man set out in the night time, and by break of day came up to the garrison, as after related:
that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour; as was usual in those times for generals of armies to have such, and so in later times; such were Automedon to Achilles, and Achates to Aeneas, as Grotius observes:
come and let us go over to the Philistine garrison that is on the other side; that is, go over the valley which lay between Michmash and Gibeah, to the Philistines, that lay on the other side the valley beyond it; and so was not in it, but at a pass on the hills, at the bottom of which this valley lay, and could be seen at a distance, and pointed at with the finger, as Jarchi notes:
but he told not his father; lest he should disapprove of his project, and hinder him from pursuing it; and had not his spirit been stirred up to this by the Lord, of which he was fully persuaded, he would have acted not only a rash part, but contrary to military discipline, in engaging in an enterprise without the knowledge and direction of his general; unless we can suppose he had all unlimited commission from his father to attack the enemy, at discretion, at any time, and any where.
1 Samuel 14:2 2 And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men.
YLT 2And Saul is abiding at the extremity of Gibeah, under the pomegranate which [is] in Migron, and the people who [are] with him, about six hundred men,
And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah,.... Not daring to go out against the Philistines, but remained in the furthest part of Gibeah, at the greatest distance from the camp of the Philistines, in the strongest part of the city, or deeply entrenched in the outer, part of it in the field:
under a pomegranate tree; where were his headquarters; his tent or pavilion was erected under a large spreading pomegranate, which protected him from the heat of the sun: or
under Rimmon; the rock Rimmon; under the shelter of that, and in the caverns of it; where a like number of Benjaminites he now had with him formerly hid themselves, Judges 20:47.
which is in Migron; a part of Gibeah, or rather of the field of Gibeah, so called; for near it it certainly was; and is also mentioned along with Michmash, and as lying in the way of the march of Sennacherib king of Assyria, to Jerusalem, Isaiah 10:28.
and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; which is observed to show that no addition was made to his little army; it was the same it was when he came thither, the people did not flock to his assistance, being in fear of the army of the Philistines, which was so powerful; see 1 Samuel 13:15.
1 Samuel 14:3 3 Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.
YLT 3and Ahiah, son of Ahitub, brother of I-Chabod, son of Phinehas son of Eli priest of Jehovah in Shiloh, bearing an ephod; and the people knew not that Jonathan hath gone.
And Ahiah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother,.... Ichabod was the child that Phinehas's wife bore prematurely on hearing the news of the ark being taken and of the death of her husband and father-in-law, which name she gave him on that account, and died; see 1 Samuel 4:19, he, it seems, had an elder brother, called Ahitub, who died young, and this Ahiah was the son of him; for not he, but Ahitub, was Ichabod's brother:
the son of Phinehas; so Ichabod was:
the son of Eli; so Phinehas was:
the Lord's priest in Shiloh; this refers not to Ahiah for he was not now priest in Shiloh, which was destroyed: and besides, he was now in the camp of Saul; but to Eli, who when living exercised the priest's office in Shiloh:
wearing an ephod; as Ahiah now did; not such as common priests wore, but the ephod the high priest wore, which had the breastplate of judgment, the Urim and Thummim, in it, by which inquiry was made, 1 Samuel 14:37. The meaning of all this is, that the high priest is now with Saul, and the ark also, which and the high priest might be sent for on this occasion, 1 Samuel 14:18.
and the people knew not that Jonathan was gone; or they would have gone with him, namely, the military men that were particularly with him; he and Saul were in two different parts of Gibeah, with distinct bodies of men; whether the thousand that Jonathan first had with him all continued is not certain; it seems probable they did not; it can hardly be thought he should have more with him than were with Saul; see 1 Samuel 14:2, though from 1 Samuel 14:17 they seem now to have been together.
1 Samuel 14:4 4 Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
YLT 4And between the passages where Jonathan sought to pass over unto the station of the Philistines [is] the edge of a rock on the one side, and the edge of a rock on the other side, and the name of the one is Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
And between the passages by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison,.... One of which is called the passage of Michmash, 1 Samuel 13:23 and was that by which they went from Gibeah to Michmash; the other, which might be called the passage of Gibeah, was that by which they went from Michmash to Gibeah, and in effect was but one; and this was seized by the garrison of the Philistines, on that part of it which was towards Michmash; so that there was no way of access to the camp of the Philistines, which Jonathan therefore proposed to go over to and destroy, but his difficulties were very great:
there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side; not that there was on each side of the passage or passages to the right and left a cragged rock, between which men passed as they went from place to place; for the position of them in the next verse shows the contrary; but there was "the tooth of a rock"F12שן הסלע "dens petrae", Pagninus, Montanus; "scopulus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. , as it is in the original text; or a promontory or prominence on the one side towards Michmash, which stood out like a tooth; and another promontory or prominence on that towards Gibeah; so that both must be gone over to get to the camp, the only passage being guarded by the garrison; and indeed it seems to me there was but one rock, and two precipices at the opposite parts of it, and which stood between the passages, which precipices must be climbed over:
and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh; which, according to the Targum, the one signifies "lubrication", being smooth and slippery, and the other "treading", being more trodden and beaten: but HillerusF13Onomastic. Sacr. p. 73, 82. derives both from clay, which seems not so agreeable to a rock; though in another placeF14Ibid. p. 43. he makes the former to have its name from whiteness, which is the colour of some rocks and clifts; and one should think the latter rather has its name from bushes, brambles, and thorns, that might grow upon it.
1 Samuel 14:5 5 The front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah.
YLT 5The one edge [is] fixed on the north over-against Michmash, and the one on the south over-against Gibeah.
The forefront of the one was situate northward, over against Michmash,.... The northern precipice of this rock was towards Michmash, where the Philistines lay encamped, and where was the passage of Michmash the garrison went into and possessed:
and the other southward, over against Gibeah; the southern precipice faced Gibeah, and both precipices were to be got over before he could get to the garrison, these lying between the two passages; the one at one end, called the passage of Michmash, the other at the other, which might be called the passage of Gibeah.
1 Samuel 14:6 6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.”
YLT 6And Jonathan saith unto the young man bearing his weapons, `Come, and we pass over unto the station of these uncircumcised; it may be Jehovah doth work for us, for there is no restraint to Jehovah to save by many or by few.'
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour,.... A second time, as Abarbinel thinks; the young man giving no answer to him the first time, perhaps through fear, he repeats it, and enlarges upon it for his encouragement:
come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised; as these Philistines were, whereas several of the other nations, though Heathen, were circumcised; as the Edomites, Arabians, and others; and this Jonathan observes to the young man, in hope that they being such the Lord would deliver them into their hand:
it may be that the Lord will work for us; a sign, as the Targum, a miracle, as indeed he did; and of which Jonathan was persuaded in his own mind, though he did not choose to express himself in a confident way; not knowing in what manner, and whether at this time the Lord would appear, and work salvation and deliverance; and yet had a strong impulse upon his mind it would be wrought, and therefore was encouraged to try this expedient:
for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few; he is not limited to numbers, and can easily work salvation by a few as by many. It is no difficult thing to him to save by few, nor can anything hinder him, let the difficulties be what they will, when he has determined to deliver his people.
1 Samuel 14:7 7 So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”
YLT 7And the bearer of his weapons saith to him, `Do all that [is] in thy heart; turn for thee; lo, I [am] with thee, as thine own heart.'
And his armourbearer said unto him,.... Very readily and cheerfully:
do all that is in thine heart; whatever is thy pleasure, that thou hast a mind to do, that is upon thy heart, and thou art desirous of, and strongly inclined and affected to:
turn thee; which way thou wilt, towards the garrison of the Philistines, or elsewhere:
behold, I am with thee, according to thy heart; I will go with thee wherever thou goest, and do whatsoever thou wouldest have me to do; I am at thy command, and according to thy wish and desire, and in all things subject to thy will; I am as thine own heart.
1 Samuel 14:8 8 Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them.
YLT 8And Jonathan saith, `Lo, we are passing over unto the men, and are revealed unto them;
Then said Jonathan, behold, we will pass over to these men,.... Over the precipices to them, as steep and as cragged as they are:
and we will discover ourselves to them; present themselves to them at daylight, and let them know plainly who they were, that they were Hebrews.
1 Samuel 14:9 9 If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them.
YLT 9if thus they say unto us, `Stand still till we have come unto you,' then we have stood in our place, and do not go up unto them;
If they say thus unto us,.... By this and what follows he gives his man a sign by which both might know how they should conduct themselves in this expedition, and what would be the issue, whether they should succeed or not: should they say,
tarry until we come to you; this, as it would express boldness in the men of the garrison, and show that they were ready to come out and fight, would portend evil, and then what they had to do was to be upon the defensive:
then we will stand still in our place; wait till they came to them, and make the best defence of themselves as they could, showing as little fear as possible, and not attempting to retreat and flee:
and will not go up unto them; neither go backwards nor forwards; not backward, which would show fear; nor forward, to expose themselves to too much danger from the garrison, they appearing to be bold and intrepid.
1 Samuel 14:10 10 But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us.”
YLT 10and if thus they say, `Come up against us,' then we have gone up, for Jehovah hath given them into our hand, and this to us [is] the sign.
But if they say unto us, come up unto us,.... Which however spoken in contempt of them, yet would discover some fear, that they did not care to come out of their hold to them, and expose themselves to any danger; and besides being bid to come up, though it might be in a sneering ironical way, as supposing it impracticable for them; yet this would lead them on to make the attempt; and while the men were careless and secure, they might obtain their point:
then we will go up: the precipice, which was supposed impassable:
for the Lord hath delivered them into our hands: they being afraid to come out, and scornful and self-confident in their garrison: and this shall be a sign unto us; a direction how to behave, what steps to take, and a confirming sign assuring of success. Bishop Patrick and others observe, from HerodotusF15Terpsichore, sive, l. 5. c. 1. , something similar to this, of the Paeonians, who went to war with the Perinthians, directed by the oracle; and were ordered that if the Perinthians provoked them to fight, calling them by name, then they should invade them; but, if not, should abstain; and so they did, and overcame; for when they met, there were three single combats; in the two first the Perinthians were conquerors, and began to triumph and insult; upon which the Paeonians said to one another, now is the oracle fulfilled, now is our business, and so fell upon them, and left few of them.
1 Samuel 14:11 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.”
YLT 11And revealed are both of them unto the station of the Philistines, and the Philistines say, `Lo, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hid themselves.'
And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines,.... They passed over the valley that lay between Michmash and Gibeah, and presented themselves at the bottom of the hill or rock on which the garrison was, to the open view of it; and who might easily discern who they were, that they were Hebrews, as they did, as follows:
and the Philistines said, behold, the Hebrews came forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves, being in want of provisions, and almost starved, and so obliged to come out to seek for sustenance; see 1 Samuel 14:6.
1 Samuel 14:12 12 Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has delivered them into the hand of Israel.”
YLT 12And the men of the station answer Jonathan, and the bearer of his weapons, and say, `Come up unto us, and we cause you to know something.' And Jonathan saith unto the bearer of his weapons, `Come up after me, for Jehovah hath given them into the hand of Israel.'
And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer,.... The guards that were set to watch the garrison, who descrying them, called to them, and said:
come up to us, and we will show you a thing; we have something to say to you, a pretty thing to show you, when you shall pay dear for your boldness and impudence, in daring to come so near; not imagining that they could come, or would dare to attempt to come any further:
and Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, come up after me; follow me, and never fear but we will find a way to come up to them, however difficult it may be:
for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel; he knew by their language that God had given them a spirit of fear, that they durst not come out of their hold, and come down to them; and that he had cast them into a spirit of security and vain confidence, that they could never come at them, and give them any trouble; and from thence he concluded deliverance was at hand for the people of Israel, he seeking not his own private interest and glory, but the public good; and which he was ready to ascribe not to his own valour and courage, but to the power, kindness, and goodness of God.
1 Samuel 14:13 13 And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them.
YLT 13And Jonathan goeth up on his hands, and on his feet, and the bearer of his weapons after him; and they fall before Jonathan, and the bearer of his weapons is putting to death after him.
And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet,.... He did not attempt to go up the way or pass the Philistines kept, but turned aside and climbed up a precipice thought inaccessible, and came upon them unseen, and at unawares; for had he attempted to come up in any part where he was seen, they could easily have beat him down, and prevented his ascent; but though the place he climbed was so very steep and cragged, yet going on all four, as we say, he surmounted the difficulty; for he took this method of going on his hands and feet, not so much that he might not be seen; but because otherwise he could not have got up, not being able to stand on his feet; some think it was the precipice called Bozez he climbed, which, according to the Targum, had its name from its being lubricous and slippery:
and his armourbearer after him; who clambered up in the same manner, in imitation of his master, and as taught and directed by him:
and they fell before Jonathan, and his armourbearer slew after him; Jonathan, coming upon them at an unawares, knocked them down; or falling upon them, and laying about him with great dispatch, wounded them, and laid them prostrate to the ground; and his armourbearer following them, put them to death, dispatched them at once; and so between them both made quick riddance of them.
1 Samuel 14:14 14 That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land.[a]
YLT 14And the first smiting which Jonathan and the bearer of his weapons have smitten is of about twenty men, in about half a furrow of a yoke of a field,
And the first slaughter which Jonathan and his armourbearer made was about twenty men,.... Or the first blow they struck, as the Targum, they killed about twenty men; that is, they did not stop smiting, but followed their blows so quickly, that in a very little time, as well as in a very small space of ground, so many were killed:
even within as it were an half acre of land, which a "yoke" of oxen might plough; that is, in one day; the word is used for a furrow, Psalm 129:3 and is supposed by someF16Vid. David. de Pomis Lexic. fol. 129. 1. to be the length of one furrow; but if so, it must be a circular furrow; so much ground was given to Horatius Cocles as could be ploughed round about in one day, for his brave opposition to Porsena, king of the Etruscans, when he endeavoured to restore the family of the TarquinsF17Aurel. Victor. de vir. illustr. c. 14. Liv. Hist. l. 2. c. 10. . This was a space of ground which the Romans call "actus", a measure of land one hundred and twenty feet square, which being doubled made an acre, called by them "jugerum", being as much as a yoke of oxen could plough in one day, as Pliny saysF18Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 3. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 20. ; so that an acre was two hundred and forty feet long, and one hundred and twenty broad, and contained an area of 28,800 four square Roman feet; and this space here mentioned, which was half an acre, contained 14,400 Roman feetF19Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. p. 487. ; and within this space of ground, without going any further, twenty men were killed, which struck a panic into the whole garrison and host, supposing there was a large army of men behind them coming on, as follows. The Septuagint version renders these words as representing the slaughter made "with darts, and the casts of stones, and flints of the field"F20See Dr. Kennicett's Dissertat. 1. p. 453. .
1 Samuel 14:15 15 And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.
YLT 15and there is a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people, the station and the destroyers have trembled -- even they, and the earth shaketh, and it becometh a trembling of God.
And there was trembling in the host in the field,.... Belonging to Michmash, where the army lay encamped:
and among all the people; the inhabitants of Michmash, or that attended the army, and furnished them with provisions, trafficking with them; the common people, as distinguished from the soldiers:
the garrison; those that were in it, who did not sally out, but perceiving a great slaughter made of their outer scouts, were seized with a panic:
and the spoilers they also trembled; who had been about the country, ravaging and plundering it, and were returned with their booty; see 1 Samuel 13:17.
and the earth quaked; the inhabitants of it thereabout, or the earth itself literally; a real earthquake was caused at the same time, which increased the terror:
so that it was a very great trembling; both with respect to the numbers that were affected with it throughout the camp and garrison, and the causes of it; the terrible apprehension they had of a large army just ready to rush upon them; the earth quaking and opening in various places, threatening to swallow them up; and perhaps suspicions of treachery among themselves, they consisting of various nations, and some among them Hebrews; hence they fell upon and slew one another, 1 Samuel 14:20, or "a trembling of God"F21לחרדת אלהים "in trepidationem Dei", Montanus, Drusius, Vatablus. ; either in the same sense to which we translate it, as cedars of God, flame of God, &c. that is, large and great ones; or which came from God; it was he that sent this trembling among them, struck their minds with fear and dread, so that they were in the utmost consternation, and knew not what to do, nor which way to take, and had no heart to oppose the enemy, and defend themselves.
1 Samuel 14:16 16 Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there.
YLT 16And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin see, and lo, the multitude hath melted away, and it goeth on, and is beaten down.
And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked,.... The city of Gibeah was built on an hill, from where it had its name; and these watchmen or sentinels of Saul were set by him no doubt in the highest part of it, whereby they could overlook the army of the Philistines as they lay encamped, and could observe their motions, and give notice accordingly; and it being now broad day light, could see the condition they were in:
and, behold, the multitude melted away; like snow gradually, and yet apace; they could discern their numbers lessening more and more, through the slaughter of many made among them by one another, and the flight of others; and they went on beating down one another; they could perceive they fled with great precipitation, throwing one another down in running, tumbling over one another, and trampling on each other which were in their way.
1 Samuel 14:17 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.
YLT 17And Saul saith to the people who [are] with him, `Inspect, I pray you, and see; who hath gone from us?' and they inspect, and lo, Jonathan and the bearer of his weapons are not.
Then said Saul unto the people that were with him,.... To some of the officers, particularly the muster master:
number now, and see who is gone from us: for he concluded that this agitation and confusion in the host of the Philistines were occasioned by an enterprise of some of his men, who by some stratagem or another had thrown them into this disorder:
and when they had numbered: which was soon done, being but six hundred men in all:
behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there; from whence it might be inferred, that this commotion the Philistines were in was occasioned by an onset of theirs on the outer guards or sentinels of their garrison or army, which had alarmed them.
YLT 18And Saul saith to Ahiah, `Bring nigh the ark of God;' for the ark of God hath been on that day with the sons of Israel.
And Saul said unto Ahiah, bring hither the ark of the Lord,.... That he, the high priest, might put on the ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, and inquire by them of the Lord before it, concerning the affair of Jonathan, what he had done, and the agitation that was in the host of the Philistines; so the Septuagint version, "bring the ephod", of which, with the Urim and Thummim, Kimchi interprets it; and ask, whether it was right for him to go out unto them, or continue where he was:
for the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel; and so it always was, except a few months it was in the hands of the Philistines; so it was at Kirjathjearim, where it was last. Jarchi thinks a word is wanting, and to be supplied thus,"the ark of God was there at that time with the children of Israel,'at Gibeah; perhaps it might be removed first to Gilgal, when Saul and Samuel were there, and when they came to Gibeah it was brought along with them; but the last words may be considered as a distinct clause, and, literally tendered, are, "and the children of Israel": which Abarbinel accounts for thus, and Saul said this:
bring hither the ark of the Lord; and the children of Israel said so likewise, joined with him in it: though the ark had been with Saul, and the people, some time, and also the high priest, yet we do not find that Saul in all his straits and difficulties consulted the Lord before; but perceiving something extraordinary was doing, and might turn to his advantage, he begins to inquire.
1 Samuel 14:19 19 Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
YLT 19And it cometh to pass, while Saul spake unto the priest, that the noise which [is] in the camp of the Philistines goeth on, going on and becoming great, and Saul saith unto the priest, `Remove thy hand.'
And it came to pass, while Saul talked with the priest,.... With Ahiah about bringing the ark, and inquiring before it:
that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on, and increased; the shrieks and cries of those that were beat down and trampled upon, and were bruised and wounded; and indeed the cry of the whole host, being alarmed with the enemy being upon them, or among them; and it seems that not only their motions could be seen, but the noise of them heard at this distance:
and Saul said unto the priest, withdraw thine hand; from putting on the ephod, or opening the breastplate of Urim and Thummim, or placing the ark in a proper position, to inquire before it, or from lifting up both hands in prayer for direction. Saul by the noise he heard concluded the army of the Philistines was routed, and therefore there was no need to consult the Lord, and he had no leisure for it; no time was to be lost, the advantage was to be taken directly, and the enemy pursued, to complete the victory. The Jews look upon this as a piece of profaneness in Saul, as no doubt it was, and reckon it one of the sins for which his kingdom was not prolongedF15Vajikra Rabba & Midrash Tillim apud Abarbinel in loc. .
1 Samuel 14:20 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion.
YLT 20And Saul is called, and all the people who [are] with him, and they come in unto the battle, and, lo, the sword of each hath been against his neighbour -- a very great destruction.
And Saul, and all the people that were with him, assembled themselves,.... The six hundred men that were with him, unless we can suppose the 1000 that had been with Jonathan in Gibeah were here still, see 1 Samuel 13:2.
and they came to the battle; to the field of battle, the place where the army of the Philistines had lain encamped:
and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow; taking one another for Hebrews, or treacherous and disaffected persons; so that, though the Israelites had neither swords nor spears, they needed none, for the Philistines destroyed one another with their own swords; and there was a
very great discomfiture; noise, tumult, confusion, slaughter, and destruction.
1 Samuel 14:21 21 Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time, who went up with them into the camp from the surrounding country, they also joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.
YLT 21And the Hebrews [who] have been for the Philistines as heretofore, who had gone up with them into the camp, have turned round, even they, to be with Israel who [are] with Saul and Jonathan,
Moreover, the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time,.... Who either were their servants and bondsmen they brought along with them, or such in whose cities they dwelt, or had taken as they came along, and forced into their army; or it may be some of them were renegades from the Israelites, deserters, who for safety and subsistence betook themselves to them as the stronger party. The Greek version reads,"the servants that were with the Philistines:"
which went up with them into the camp from the country round about; either willingly or by force; the words, "from the country", are not in the text, wherefore some observe, as Kimchi and Abarbinel, that this respects their being round about the camp, and that they were not within it, but without it, that if possible they might escape fighting against the Israelites:
even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan; who were now joined; when they saw the dread and confusion in the camp of the Philistines, and them destroying one another, and the Israelites prevailing over them, victorious and pursuing, they took part with them, and assisted them in completing the victory.
1 Samuel 14:22 22 Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle.
YLT 22and all the men of Israel, who are hiding themselves in the hill-country of Ephraim, have heard that the Philistines have fled, and they pursue -- even they -- after them in battle.
Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in Mount Ephraim,.... In the caves and rocks, thickets and pits there, see 1 Samuel 13:6 when
they heard that the Philistines fled; now being delivered from their fears, and thinking themselves safe, ventured out of their lurking places:
even they also followed hard after them in the battle; they joined the pursuers who came their way, and stuck to them, and closely pursued the flying army of the Philistines. According to JosephusF16Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 3. , the army of Saul was now increased to 10,000.
1 Samuel 14:23 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.
YLT 23And Jehovah saveth Israel on that day, and the battle hath passed over to Beth-Aven.
So the Lord saved Israel that day, &c. And a wonderful salvation it was, that two men should throw such a vast army into confusion, which issued in the utter rout and destruction of them; this only could be of the Lord, to whom it is justly ascribed, and was the effect of his sovereign good will and pleasure, and of his unmerited goodness; a free favour bestowed on an undeserving prince, who had behaved ill to his prophet at Gilgal, and now to him and his high priest at Gibeah:
and the battle passed over unto Bethaven; the men of battle or war; those that made war, as the Targum, these pursued and went as far as Bethaven, or rather "passed Bethaven"F17עברה את בית און "transiit Bethaven", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "vel, beliatores transierunt Bethaven", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius. ; they not only, went as far as that, but "from" it, as Ben Gersom and Abarbinel interpret it; they passed that place, and went on from thence in pursuit of the Philistines; for their camp at Michmash was eastward from this place, and had it on the east, 1 Samuel 13:5.
1 Samuel 14:24 24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.
YLT 24And the men of Israel have been distressed on that day, and Saul adjureth the people, saying, `Cursed [is] the man who eateth food till the evening, and I have been avenged of mine enemies;' and none of the people hath tasted food.
And the men of Israel were distressed that day,.... By reason of the following order Saul gave with an oath, forbidding any to taste meat till evening, when the people were faint and weary, which is the common sense of interpreters; but Jarchi interprets it, the men of Israel were ready, forward, and hasty, and drew nigh to fight with the Philistines, and so refers it to the persons before mentioned, who came out of their lurking places; and this sense is approved of by Abarbinel: "for", or "and Saul had adjured", or "did adjure the people"; or willed them, signified to them his will and pleasure, which would not have been so much amiss, had he not annexed a curse to it, as follows:
saying, cursed be the man that eateth any food until the evening: or "bread", which comprehends all food, and among the rest honey; the design of which was, that no time might be lost, and that he might make the victory over the Philistines, and their destruction, as complete as possible; though it may seem a little too hard and severe upon the people, and too imperious in him, as well as imprudent; since a little refreshment would have animated and enabled them to have pursued their enemies with more ardour and rigour; and yet by the lot afterwards made, it seems to have been countenanced by the Lord:
that I may be avenged on mine enemies; who long tyrannised over the people of Israel, more or less for many years, and lately had sadly spoiled and plundered them:
so none of the people tasted any food; so observant were they of, and so obedient to the order of their king, and so much awed by the oath or imprecation annexed to it; though they were faint and hungry, and had an opportunity of refreshing themselves as follows, which was no small temptation to disobedience.
1 Samuel 14:25 25 Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground.
YLT 25And all [they of] the land have come into a forest, and there is honey on the face of the field;
And all they of the land came to a wood,.... Which lay between Bethaven and Aijalon; by whom are meant not all the inhabitants of the land of Israel, but all that came with Saul and Jonathan, and that joined them in the pursuit:
and there was honey upon the ground; which dropped upon it, as in the following verse, or where it was produced by bees; for AristotleF18Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 22. reports, that bees in some places make their combs upon the ground; this was wild honey, which Diodorus SiculusF19Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 731. speaks of as common in Arabia, and which perhaps John the Baptist ate of, Matthew 3:4. Jarchi says, this was the honey of canes, or sugar canes, which grew in the land of Israel; and affirms from Nathan an Ishmaelite, that in the Ishmaelitish or Arabic language they call honey, sugar; but neither of these can be proved.
1 Samuel 14:26 26 And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.
YLT 26and the people come in unto the forest, and lo, the honey dropped, and none is moving his hand unto his mouth, for the people feared the oath.
And when the people came into the wood, behold, the honey dropped,.... Either from trees, which produced it; so Diodorus SiculusF20Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 548. speaks of trees in some countries which produce honey; or from the sugar canes, as Jarchi; or rather from the honeycombs which were framed in trees by bees; so HesiodF21Hesiod, Theogon. ver. 230. Vid. Diodor. Sic. ut supra. (Bibliothec. l. 17. p. 548.) speaks of bees making their nests or combs in trees. Ben Gersom thinks that bee hives were placed here in rows by the wayside, from whence the honey flowed; or "went"F23הלך דבש "ambulatio mellis", Montanus; "itio mellis", Drusius; so in Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. fab. 3. "----jam flumina nectaris ibant". , or there was a going of it; perhaps the combs being pressed by the Philistines as they fled: the land of Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey:
but no man put his hand to his mouth; that is, took not any of the honey and ate it, though it was so near at hand, and there was plenty of it:
for the people feared the oath: Saul adjured them by, or the imprecation he made on the person that should eat any food that day.
1 Samuel 14:27 27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened.
YLT 27And Jonathan hath not heard of his father's adjuring the people, and putteth forth the end of the rod, which [is] in his hand, and dippeth it in the honeycomb, and bringeth back his hand unto his mouth -- and his eyes see!
But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath,.... Which charge was given, either before he came from Gibeah, before he came to Jonathan, or while pursuing, when Jonathan was with another party either fighting or pursuing:
wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand: the staff with which he walked, or rather the spear which he carried in his hand, and fought his enemies with:
and dipped it in an honeycomb; or sugar cane, as Jarchi; or in wood honey, as the margin of our Bibles; but best, in the honeycomb, as the word is rendered, Song of Solomon 5:1 and so the Targum, into the nest of honeyF24"Progeniem nidosque fovent----", Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. ver. 56. :
and he put his hand to his mouth; first he took the honey off of the top of his rod, and then put it to his mouth and ate it:
and his eyes were enlightened: which before were dim and dull through want of food, which is a common case; but became brisk and lively on eating the honey, nourishment being presently communicated, and he refreshed with it, and his spirits revived; and which quickly appeared in the briskness and sparkling of his eyes: honey being of a subtle nature, gives immediate refreshment and rigour; hence this phrase is frequently used by Jewish writersF25T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 42. 1, 2. Yoma, fol. 18, 2. & 83. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Maacolot Asurot, c. 14. sect. 16. for refreshment, after hunger, fatigue, and weariness; and which virtue is ascribed by them to fine bread, wine, oil, and particularly to honey.
1 Samuel 14:28 28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint.
YLT 28And a man of the people answereth and saith, `Thy father certainly adjured the people, saying, Cursed [is] the man who eateth food to-day; and the people are weary.'
Then answered one of the people, and said,.... To Jonathan, who might direct and encourage the people to do as he had done, at least so he did by his example, if not by words; the latter is not improbable: and therefore one of the men that came along with Saul, and had now joined Jonathan, and who heard what Saul had said, replied:
thy father straitly charged the people with an oath; gave them a strict charge, with an oath or imprecation annexed to it:
saying, cursed be the man that eateth any food this day; that is, until the evening, as in 1 Samuel 14:24.
and the people were faint; which is either the observation of the writer of the book; or it may be the words of the man, imputing the faintness of the people to this adjuration of Saul restraining them from food; or as taking notice how strictly the people observed it, though they were hungry, faint, and weary.
1 Samuel 14:29 29 But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey.
YLT 29And Jonathan saith, `My father hath troubled the land; see, I pray you, that mine eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey.
Then said Jonathan, my father hath troubled the land,.... The people of the land, as the Targum, the soldiers in his army; afflicted and distressed them, and made them uneasy in their minds, like troubled waters; the Arabic version is,"my father hath sinned against the people;'hath done them injury by forbidding them to eat. This was not wisely said by Jonathan; how much soever his father was to be blamed, it did not become him as a son thus to reflect upon him, and it might have tended to mutiny and sedition:
see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey; the benefit he received by it was very visible; it might easily be discerned that he was greatly refreshed with it, and his spirits invigorated by it; it was to be seen in the cheerfulness of his countenance, and the briskness of his eyes: and he suggests it would have had the same effect upon the people, had they eaten of it, as he had done.
1 Samuel 14:30 30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?”
YLT 30How much more if the people had well eaten to-day of the spoil of its enemies which it hath found, for now, the smiting hath not been great among the Philistines.'
How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found?.... That is, had they been, allowed eat freely of the provisions, of bread, wine, &c. they found in the enemy's camp, they would have been much more refreshed and strengthened than it could be supposed he was with eating a little honey; if that had had such an effect upon him, of what service would a full meal have been to the people?
for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines? the people would have had more strength to smite them, and would have pursued them with greater ardour and swiftness, and so have made a greater slaughter among them than they had; he intimates that Saul's end would have been better answered by suffering the people to eat, than by forbidding them.
1 Samuel 14:31 31 Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint.
YLT 31And they smite on that day among the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon, and the people are very weary,
And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon,.... Michmash was the place where the camp of the Philistines was when Jonathan first attacked them, and from whence they fled, and they were pursued by the Israelites that day as far as Aijalon. There was a city of this name in the tribe of Dan, famous for the moon standing still in a valley adjoining to it, in the time of Joshua, Joshua 10:12 and another in the tribe of Zebulun, Judges 12:12, but they both seem to be at too great a distance to be the place here meant, which rather seems to be Aijalon in the tribe of Judah, 2 Chronicles 11:10 according to BuntingF26Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 127. , it was twelve miles from Michmash:
and the people were very faint; as they might well be, with pursuing the enemy so many miles, and doing so much execution among them, without eating any food.
1 Samuel 14:32 32 And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood.
YLT 32and the people make unto the spoil, and take sheep, and oxen, and sons of the herd, and slaughter on the earth, and the people eat with the blood.
And the people flew upon the spoil,.... Like a swift and ravenous bird, as the eagle, and which seems to have its name in Greek from this word, see Isaiah 46:11. When the evening was come, and they were free from the oath of Saul, and being extremely hungry, faint, and weary, they were even ravenous for food and with the greatest haste and eagerness laid hold on what came first to hand:
and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground; and there they lay in their blood, which in such a position would not run out freely as when slain and hang up:
and the people did eat them with the blood; they were so hungry they could not stay the dressing of them, but ate them raw with the blood in them, not being squeezed or drained out, at least not half boiled or roasted. Some of the Jewish RabbinsF1 are of opinioncf13 (a) See Jarchi in loc.
1 Samuel 14:33 33 Then they told Saul, saying, “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood!” So he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone to me this day.”
YLT 33And they declare to Saul, saying, `Lo, the people are sinning against Jehovah, to eat with the blood.' And he saith, `Ye have dealt treacherously, roll unto me to-day a great stone.'
Then they told Saul,.... Some that were more conscientious and religious, were more circumspect, and strictly attended to the laws forbidding the eating of blood, and were concerned at the indecent behaviour of others, and therefore thought fit to acquaint Saul with it, to restrain it:
and he said, ye have transgressed; the above laws of God; that is, Saul said to some persons who were accused of the breach of them, and were ordered to come before him, and did come:
roll a great stone unto me this day; pointing, perhaps, at one which lay at some distance from him, and which he ordered to be rolled to him; this was done, that the creatures might be slain on it, and their blood drawn out from them, or to offer sacrifice upon, and indeed for both.
1 Samuel 14:34 34 Then Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, ‘Bring me here every man’s ox and every man’s sheep, slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slaughtered it there.
YLT 34And Saul saith, `Be ye scattered among the people, and ye have said to them, Bring ye nigh unto me each his ox, and each his sheep; and ye have slain [them] in this place, and eaten, and ye do not sin against Jehovah to eat with the blood.' And all the people bring nigh each his ox, in his hand, that night, and slaughter [them] there.
And Saul said, disperse yourselves among the people,.... In the camp, some one way, and some another, and make proclamation throughout it; this he said to some of his officers, whom he sent out as heralds, to publish his will and pleasure:
and say unto them, bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here; on the great stone he had ordered to roll to the place where he was:
and eat them; in the same place, being rightly slain, and the blood let out; all this was to be done, the slaying of the beasts, and eating them, in the presence of Saul, and under his inspection, that every thing might be done decently, and in order, and according to the law of God:
and sin not against the Lord, in eating with the blood; as some of them had done, 1 Samuel 14:32 and all the people brought every man his ox with him; and his sheep also, though not expressed, yet to be supplied from the preceding clause: and these every man brought "with him that night"; the Jewish RabbinsF3T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 120. 1. are divided about these creatures slain, whether for sacrifices or common food; and those that think sacrifices are meant dispute whether it was lawful to slay them in the night, which some allow to be lawful, if on a small and private altar, but not upon a large and public one; but these were slain no doubt for common food, which all agree might be slain in the night:
and slew them there; before Saul, and on the great stone rolled unto him.
1 Samuel 14:35 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord. This was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
YLT 35And Saul buildeth an alter to Jehovah; with it he hath begun to build altars to Jehovah.
And Saul built an altar unto the Lord,.... To offer peace offerings upon, in thankfulness for the victory obtained over his enemies, or sin offerings to make atonement for the sin of the people, perhaps both, however the former:
the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord; for though he had offered sacrifice at Gilgal, there was an altar ready built for him: or "he began to build"; he laid the first stone of it, and the builders built upon it; so some others say, that he was the first of the kings that built an altar to the LordF4See Kimchi in loc. ; others, the first of the judges that built one; though Gideon built one, it was for his own private use, not for all Israel, as this, so R. Isaiah; but Ben Gersom, and so Abarbinel, refer this to the great stone Saul ordered to be rolled to him, and take the sense to be, that that began to be built an altar to the Lord; that was the beginning of one; for he did not now stay to finish it, being eager on his pursuit of the Philistines, as follows.
1 Samuel 14:36 36 Now Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”
YLT 36And Saul saith, `Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and we prey upon them till the light of the morning, and leave not a man of them.' And they say, `All that is good in thine eyes do.' And the priest saith, `Let us draw near hither unto God.'
And Saul said,.... To his son Jonathan, or to some of the principal officers of his army:
let us go down after the Philistines by night; or tonight, that same night; which is another hardship he laid his troops under; as he had restrained them from eating all that day until evening, now he proposed they shall take no sleep that night, but proceed on in their pursuit of the Philistines, having eaten, and drank, and refreshed themselves. The Arabic version is, "let us go down to the Philistines"; and so NoldiusF5Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 15. No. 92. chooses to render the words; which I pretty much wonder at, and especially at what he observes in favour of it, and against the common rendering; that at this time the Philistines had not turned their backs, so that the Israelites could not be said to go after them, but were in a camp opposite to them; but that they had fled, and were pursued, is most certain from 1 Samuel 14:22,
and spoil them until the morning light; or kill of them, as the Targum, and so the Arabic version; for spoiling must be meant of killing; for as for the spoil of their provisions, riches, &c. that had already fallen into their hands, 1 Samuel 14:30, and this is confirmed by what follows:
and let us not leave a man of them; great numbers had been slain already, partly by their falling upon one another, and partly by the swords of Jonathan and his armourbearer at the first onset, and by Saul and his men in the pursuit of them; and so intent was Saul in the utter destruction of them, that he was for following and cutting them off, that none of their prodigious army might return home:
and they said, do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; they had religiously observed his oath, in refraining from food all the day, and now they were as willing to be obedient to his command in denying themselves refreshing rest in sleep:
then said the priest, let us draw near hither unto God; Ahiah the priest, JosephusF6Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 4. calls him Ahitob, who was present with the ark, agreed to the proposal of Saul, only moved, that before they set forward they would seek the Lord; perhaps reflecting upon the abrupt manner in which Saul departed from Gibeah, just as he was consulting the Lord, and not staying for an answer from him; which the priest might fear would be resented by him, and therefore proposes first to draw nigh to God; not to the altar Saul had built, or had just begun to build, but to the ark, with which the high priest was, and was a symbol of the divine Presence: the Targum is,"let us draw near hither, and inquire by the word of the Lord.'
1 Samuel 14:37 37 So Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him that day.
YLT 37And Saul asketh of God, `Do I go down after the Philistines? dost Thou give them into the hand of Israel?' and He hath not answered him on that day.
shall I go down after the Philistines? pursue after them in their flight to their own country, which, lying to the sea, was a descent:
wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? what remain of them, otherwise a victory over them was obtained:
but he answered him not that day; no answer was returned by Urim and Thummim, so that he was left in suspense whether he should pursue or no; the Targum is,"he received not his prayer that day;'this was treating him in a righteous manner; since he would not stay for an answer from the Lord, 1 Samuel 14:19, the Lord now will not give him any; though the principal view was, that he might take the step he did.
1 Samuel 14:38 38 And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today.
YLT 38And Saul saith, `Draw ye nigh hither all, the chiefs of the people, and know and see in what this sin hath been to-day;
And Saul said, draw ye near hither all the chief of the people,.... Or, the corners of the peoplesF7פנות העם "anguli populi", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. ; the princes, as Jarchi interprets it: and so the Targum, the heads of the people, in allusion to the cornerstones in buildings, which are the ornament, strength, and cement of them, see Zechariah 10:4, though Abarbinel thinks the tribes themselves are meant, which lay encamped everyone in a corner by themselves, separated from one another; and these he would have brought together; not the heads only, but everyone, small and great, that it might be seen and known where the sin lay; but he should have observed, that the tribes of Israel were not now present with Saul, but a small number of them:
and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day; he concluded, from having no answer from the Lord, that sin had been committed, which was the cause of it; but never thought of his own rash oath, which was the cause of the people's sinning, and had brought his son into danger; nor the sin of the people in eating the flesh with the blood; nothing ran in his mind but the breach of the oath with which he had adjured the people, and this he was determined to find out, if possible.
1 Samuel 14:39 39 For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not a man among all the people answered him.
YLT 39for, Jehovah liveth, who is saving Israel: surely if it be in Jonathan my son, surely he doth certainly die;' and none is answering him out of all the people.
For as the Lord liveth, which saveth Israel,.... And had saved them that day with a great salvation and had wrought a great deliverance for them in freeing them from the Philistines, who had threatened the ruin of the whole nation. This is the form of an oath:
though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die; that is, though the sin should be found in him, or he should be found guilty of the breach of what he had charged them with an oath to observe, namely, to eat no food that day till evening:
but there was not a man among all the people that answered him; who knew that Jonathan had tasted of honey, but they would not acquaint him with it; partly because they knew he did it ignorantly, having no knowledge of his father's charge and oath, and partly because of their great affection to him, who had been the instrument of their deliverance and salvation that day.
1 Samuel 14:40 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”
YLT 40And he saith unto all Israel, `Ye -- ye are on one side, and I and Jonathan my son are on another side;' and the people say unto Saul, `That which is good in thine eyes do.'
be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side: so they divided to the right and left, one went one way, and the other the other; there were two boxes or urns, as Kimchi says, in one of which were the names of Saul and Jonathan, and in the other Israel; though Abarbinel observes, that such a partition of them on one side, and the other, is not according to the manner of lots; and he suspects that Saul knew that Jonathan had tasted of honey, being told it by the man that saw him eat it; and who said to him then, "thy father straitly charged", &c. 1 Samuel 14:27 but chose this way to make it manifest to the people, and to show what a strict regard he had to justice:
and the people said unto Saul, do what seemeth good unto thee; they were very obsequious to him in everything, see 1 Samuel 14:36.
1 Samuel 14:41 41 Therefore Saul said to the Lord God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.”[d] So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped.
YLT 41And Saul saith unto Jehovah, God of Israel, `Give perfection;' and Jonathan and Saul are captured, and the people went out.
Therefore Saul said to the Lord God of Israel,.... After the division was made between him and his son on one side, and the people of Israel on the other, and everything was ready for the drawing of the lot; Saul put up to God the following petition, as knowing that though the lot is cast into the lap, the disposing of it is of the Lord:
give a perfect lot; or man, let it fall upon the guilty person, and let the innocent go free; the Targum is,"cause it to come in truth;'
let truth and righteousness take place; let the right man be found out, and taken; the petition seems to be too arrogant and presumptuous, and insinuates as if the Lord did not always dispose the lot aright:
and Saul and Jonathan were taken; the lot being cast, it fell upon them:
but the people escaped; from the lot, and appeared to be innocent, clear of any blame; so that it was not the sin they had been guilty of, in eating flesh with the blood, which was the cause that no answer was returned.
1 Samuel 14:42 42 And Saul said, “Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me.” So Jonathan was taken.
YLT 42And Saul saith, `Cast between me and Jonathan my son;' and Jonathan is captured.
And Saul said, cast lots between me and Jonathan my son,..... Which showed his regard strict justice, and that he had no consciousness of guilt in himself, and should not spare his own son if found guilty:
and Jonathan was taken: the lot fell upon him, which was so directed, that his ignorance of his father's charge and oath might appear; and that the affection of the people might be discovered; and that a regard is to be had to the orders and commands of princes, and obedience to be yielded to them in all in which conscience is not concerned, though they may be grievous; and to bring Saul to a sense of rashness in making such an oath, which brought his own son into so much danger.
1 Samuel 14:43 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, and said, “I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!”
YLT 43And Saul saith unto Jonathan, `Declare to me, what hast thou done?' and Jonathan declareth to him, and saith, `I certainly tasted with the end of the rod that [is] in my hand a little honey; lo, I die!'
and Jonathan told him; the whole of the matter, all the truth, without any reserve:
and said, I did but take a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand; he speaks of the fact as a trivial thing, as if it was not deserving of death, though he was willing to submit to it; yet it seems strange he should say nothing of his ignorance of the charge and oath of Saul, and plead that in excuse of it; though JosephusF8Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 4. makes him to take notice of it: and, "lo, I must die"; am condemned to die, as the Targum; for which he was prepared and ready, being willing to testify an entire subjection to his father's authority and will. JosephusF9lbid. represents him speaking with a generosity and greatness of soul, after this manner,"death is most sweet to me, which is for the sake of maintaining thy piety and religion; and after so glorious a victory, it is the greatest consolation to me to leave the Hebrews conquerors of the Philistines.'
1 Samuel 14:44 44 Saul answered, “God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan.”
YLT 44And Saul saith, `Thus doth God do, and thus doth He add, for thou dost certainly die, Jonathan.'
And Saul answered, God do so and more also,.... A form of an oath imprecating evils upon him more and greater than he chose to mention, see the like form in 1:17, though Abarbinel thinks this is not the form of an oath, but an asseveration of a curse that would befall him; as that God would not answer him when he inquired of him, and that he would add to do so again and again, if he died not:
for thou shall surely die, Jonathan; such words from a father must be very striking to a son, and argue a want of paternal affection in Saul, that could call his son by his name, and deliver such a speech unto him in so strong a manner.
1 Samuel 14:45 45 But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.
YLT 45And the people say unto Saul, `Doth Jonathan die who wrought this great salvation in Israel? -- a profanation! Jehovah liveth, if there falleth from the hair of his head to the earth, for with God he hath wrought this day;' and the people rescue Jonathan, and he hath not died.
shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? no, he shall not; what, such a man as he die, who, under God, has been the instrument of so great deliverance, who first began it himself with one man only with him, and has proceeded in it to the finishing of it?
God forbid: this shall not be so; they speak of it with the utmost abhorrence and detestation, as a shocking piece of cruelty and ingratitude, unheard of, and not to be paralleled:
as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; as Saul swore he should die, they also swear he should not, expressing their firm resolution to stand by him, and preserve his life; and so far should it be from him to have his life taken away, that an hair of his head should not be touched, or the least injury done to his person; for though they had yielded a ready obedience to all the orders and commands of Saul, which were distressing to themselves, they were determined to oppose him in this case of his son:
for he hath wrought with God this day; God has been with him, assisted him to do great things for Israel, and therefore should not die for a thing so trivial; and it being not done in disobedience to his father, nor in contempt of him, but through pure ignorance, as some of them well knew; so the Targum,"for it is known before the Lord, that in ignorance he did it this day:"
so the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not; not by force, but by their resolution and importunity; or "redeemed" himF12יפדו "redemerunt", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. , by exposing their own lives to danger in opposing their king, and by their petitions to him for him; and, as Josephus saysF13Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6.) sect. 5. , by their prayers to God for him, that his fault might be forgiven.
1 Samuel 14:46 46 Then Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.
YLT 46And Saul goeth up from after the Philistines, and the Philistines have gone to their place;
Then Saul went up from following the Philistines,.... Returned home to his own city, finding that he could get no answer from the Lord, whether he should pursue further or not, and losing the time and opportunity of doing it, by examining into the affair of his son, and casting lots to find it out:
and the Philistines went to their own place; their country and cities, such of them as remained, who were not cut off by their own and the sword of the Israelites. JosephusF14Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 5. says, Saul killed about 60,000 of them. It seems to be the will of God that they should not now be utterly destroyed, that they might be a rod of correction in his hand, to chastise the people of Israel hereafter.
1 Samuel 14:47 47 So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them.[e]
YLT 47and Saul captured the kingdom over Israel, and he fighteth round about against all his enemies, against Moab, and against the Bene-Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines, and whithersoever he turneth he doth vex [them].
So Saul took the kingdom over Israel,.... Which seemed to be almost taken from him when he was shut up in Gibeah, and the Philistines ravaged his country at pleasure; but now, having obtained a victory over them, he recovered his kingdom, and reassumed his power and authority; or he was now strengthened in it, as Kimchi interprets it; the people seeing that he succeeded in his wars with their enemies, they readily submitted to his government without any hesitation, and obeyed his commands; so the Targum,"Saul prospered in the kingdom over Israel;'and, according to Abarbinel, these words will admit of another sense, that whereas, after he was anointed and made king, he followed the herd, and attended rustic affairs; but now, after this victory over the Philistines, he took upon him the state and majesty of a king, and no more concerned himself with his farm and cattle, but betook himself wholly to regal and military affairs, as follows:
and fought against all his enemies on every side; who invaded his kingdom from different quarters; he defended himself against them, and preserved his kingdom:
against Moab, and against the children of Ammon; who lay to the east of him:
and against Edom; which was on the southern border of his land:
and against the king of Zobah; a part of Syria, which was to the north of the land of Israel, and was near Damascus, see 2 Samuel 8:3, and, according to Benjamin of TudelaF15Itinerar. p. 59. , the same with Haleb, or Aleppo, There never were but two kings of it, Rehob and Hadadezer, who lived in the reigns of Saul and David, 2 Samuel 8:3.
and against the Philistines; who were on the western border of the land of Canaan:
and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them; disturbed and disquieted them, and made them very uneasy; he terrified and distressed them; the Targum is, he "condemned" them, he treated them as wicked and ungodly persons, and punished them as such.
1 Samuel 14:48 48 And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.
YLT 48And he maketh a force, and smiteth Amalek, and delivereth Israel out of the hand of its spoiler.
And he gathered an host,.... A large army; for after the battle with the Ammonites he disbanded his army, and sent them home, retaining only 3000 men, and these deserted him to six hundred, which were all the men he had with him, when he fought last with the Philistines; but now, finding he had enemies on every side of him, he gathered a numerous host to defend his country against them, and particularly to attack the people next mentioned:
and he smote the Amalekites; a people that Israel, by the law of God, were bound to destroy, and blot out their name; a particular account of his expedition against them is given in the following chapter:
and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them; the nations before mentioned, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Syrians, and Philistines.
1 Samuel 14:49 49 The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui,[f] and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.
YLT 49And the sons of Saul are Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-Shua; as to the name of his two daughters, the name of the first-born [is] Merab, and the name of the younger Michal;
and Ishui; the same with Abinadab, 1 Chronicles 8:33 for he had two names:
and Melchishua; and besides these three there was another, whose name was Ishbosheth, sometimes called Eshbaal, 2 Samuel 2:8 who succeeded him in the kingdom; for which reason Abarbinel thinks he is not mentioned here, because he was a king; though it is generally supposed the reason why these only are named is, because they went out to war with him, and died with him, but this did not; he had other children by a concubine, or secondary wife, whose name was Rizpah, not mentioned here, 2 Samuel 21:8,
and the names of his two daughters were these, the name of the firstborn Merab; who was afterwards married to Adriel the Meholathite, 1 Samuel 18:19 and the name of the younger Michal; who became the wife of David, 1 Samuel 18:27.
1 Samuel 14:50 50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
YLT 50and the name of the wife of Saul [is] Ahinoam, daughter of Ahimaaz; and the name of the head of his host [is] Abner son of Ner, uncle of Saul;
And the name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz,.... Who very probably was the mother of all the above children, and therefore taken notice of; and Abarbinel conjectures that Ishbosheth was not a son of her's, but the son of Saul by another wife, and which he takes to be another reason why he is not mentioned here; but though Saul had a concubine, we nowhere read of his having another wife:
and the name of the captain of his host was Abner the son of Ner, Saul's uncle; not Abner, but Ner, was Saul's uncle; for Kish the father of Saul, and Ner, were brothers, as JosephusF16Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 5.) says, and as appears from the next verse; and Abner was first cousin to Saul, whom he raised and advanced to be captain of his army, and a very valiant man he was: we hear of him again in this history, and in the beginning of David's reign.
1 Samuel 14:51 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
YLT 51and Kish [is] father of Saul, and Ner father of Abner [is] son of Ahiel.
And Kish was the father of Saul,.... See 1 Samuel 9:1.
and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel; this Abiel was the father both of Kish and Ner, and the grandfather of Saul, see 1 Samuel 9:1.
1 Samuel 14:52 52 Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.
YLT 52And the war is severe against the Philistines all the days of Saul; when Saul hath seen any mighty man, and any son of valour, then he doth gather him unto himself.
And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul,.... For notwithstanding the late victory over them, and slaughter made among them, they recovered themselves, and came out again to battle, and gave Saul a great deal of trouble, and he at last died in battle with them:
and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him; to be his bodyguard, as JosephusF17Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 5.) says; or for soldiers and officers in his army, even such, as the same writer observes, that exceeded others in comeliness of person, and in largeness and height; such as were in some measure like himself, that were strong, able bodied men, and of courage, and valour, and fortitude of mind.
──《John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible》
New King James Version (NKJV)