1Samuel 20

 

1Samuel 20:1–42

The Covenant Between Jonathan and David


Outline of Chapter 20:

 

       vv.    1–24a           David and Jonathan Meet up and Discuss a Plan

               vv.    1–8               David Tries to Convince Jonathan of Saul’s Deadly Intentions

               vv.    9–17             Jonathan Makes a Pact with David

               vv.   18–24a           Jonathan’s Plan to Signal David

       vv.   24b–34           Jonathan and Saul Confront One Another at the New Moon Feast

       vv.   35–40             Jonathan Signals David Surreptitiously While Target Practicing with His Personal Servant

       vv.   41–42             Jonathan and David Part Company for the Last Time


Charts and Maps:

 

       v.      1                   Venn Diagram Illustrating Sin and Crime

       v.      6                   Gleason Archer’s Three Points on Lying

       v.     15                   Keil and Delitzsch Exegete 1Samuel 20:14–15a

       v.     15                   Summary of Translations and Interpretations of 1Samuel 20:14–15

       v.     15                   Jonathan’s Complete Pact With David — I Samuel 20:12–15

       v.     15                   A Summation of Vv. 14–15


Doctrines Covered

Doctrines Alluded To

 

 

 

 


I ntroduction: With 1Sam. 20, I have decided to change the way I list the translations. I personally know which translations are quite literal and which are paraphrases; however, to the unlearned, one might be tempted to notice that most of the translations favor this translation rather than that, so they side with the majority. In some cases, we have found that all of the translations except for Young might be in agreement, and Young is correct. He is probably the most literal of the literal translations. Therefore, I am going to group the translations; however, within their group, I will simply put them in alphabetical order. I began doing this at this time; however, I backtracked and fixed all of 1Samuel.

 

McGee’s comments: David’s life is in jeopardy until Saul’s death. During these days of exile—possibly a period of ten years—David is hunted like a wild animal. He is a nomad, a vagabond. Living in caves in the wilderness, he endures many hardships and privations. However, he is being tested and trained in God’s school. He takes the full course and graduates magna cum laude. He becomes Israel’s greatest king—in fact, the world’s greatest king—and a man after God’s own heart. Many of the wonderful Psalms of David are written during this rough and rugged period. Footnote


One of the reasons that there are those who teach that many books were written by two different authors and then woven together is the fact that there are some seemingly parallel incidents. In this chapter, we will again see a covenant between David and Jonathan and Jonathan will again meet up with David secretly in a field, and there will be a code between them that no one else will be aware of. This is obviously very similar to 1Sam. 18; however, simply because there are similar incidents which are recorded from time to time does not mean that two different authors wrote about the same tradition, each putting their own spin on it, and then both diversions from the truth were put together in the same book. Sometimes we have similar incidents which happen to us; sometimes, we have a day, or a week, which has parallels to a previous day or week.


Briefly, David and Jonathan meet in secret, and David tells Jonathan that his father Saul is out to kill him. Although Jonathan does not believe this, he first makes a pact with David and then he formulates a plan by which he can contact David when he determines if his father is so inclined or not. At the Feast of the New Moon, Jonathan realizes that his father is out to kill David, regardless. So Jonathan warns David, and David flees.


In vv. 1–3, David meets with Jonathan, and asks why his father Saul is out to kill him. Jonathan cannot believe that this is true, as his father would not take such a course of action behind his back. In vv. 4–7, David tells Jonathan that he will skip the New Moon Festival hosted by King Saul, which is apparently a 2 or 3 day affair. When Saul notices that David is missing, Jonathan is to feel him out, to see whether or not Saul is out to kill David. David ends his proposal with, “And if I have done some iniquity, then you kill me for it; don’t haul me to your father’s.” (v. 8). In vv. 9–23, Jonathan does two things: he clearly makes a lifetime pact with David which will extend to David’s ancestors and his own (vv. 12–15) and he sets up a means by which he can signal David surreptitiously (vv. 18–22).


As David hides in the field, Saul sits down to the New Moon Festival (v. 24). Saul sees that David’s chair is empty, and he makes a mental note of it on the first day, assuming that David had possibly made himself unclean in some way (vv. 25–26—interestingly enough, Saul does not conclude, “I am a homicidal maniac who has already made several attempts on David’s life—that’s why he’s not here”). On the second day of the festival, David, of course, is not there, and Saul questions his son Jonathan. Jonathan says that David had a previous engagement with his family at a sacrificial meal in Bethlehem (vv. 27–29; see v. 6). Suddenly, Saul explodes, chewing Jonathan out for siding with David. When Jonathan asks, “What has David done to deserve death?” Saul hurls a javelin at him, which is the height of disrespect. Jonathan refuses to eat for the rest of the day (vv. 30–34).


Jonathan takes his personal servant out to the field where David is, supposedly to get in some target practice. He uses this to signal David. When he realizes that he has not been followed, and that he, his servant and David are alone in that field, he sends his servant back to the palace (vv. 35–40). Once the lad is gone, Jonathan and David hug one another and kiss, and say goodbye. Jonathan’s final words again emphasize that God would be between he and David and between their ancestors forever (vv. 41–42).


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David and Jonathan Meet up and Discuss a Plan


David Tries to Convince Jonathan of Saul’s Deadly Intentions


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so flees David from Naioth in the Ramah and so he comes and so he says to faces of Jonathan, “What have I done, what [is] my crime, and what [is] my sin to faces of your father that [he] is seeking my soul?”

1Samuel

20:1

David then fled Naioth in Ramah, and went before Jonathan, and said, “What have I done, what [is] my crime, and what is [my] sin before your father that he is seeking my life?”

David then fled Naioth in Ramah and he went to Jonathan, and said to him, “Just what have I done or what is my crime or what is my sin that has caused your father to seek my life?”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic text                        And so flees David from Naioth in the Ramah and so he comes and so he says to faces of Jonathan, “What have I done, what [is] my crime, and what [is] my sin to faces of your father that [he] is seeking my soul?”

The Septuagint                      And David fled from Navath in Rama, and comes into the presence of Jonathan; and he said, “What have I done, and what [is] my fault, and where have I sinned before your father, that he seeks my life?”

 

Significant differences           No significant differences.



Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       David escaped from Prophets Village. Then he ran to see Jonathan and asked, “Why does your father Saul want to kill me? What have I done wrong?”

NJB                                        Fleeing from the huts at ramah, David went and confronted Jonathan, ‘What have I done, what is my guilt, how have I wronged your father, for him to want to take my life?’

NEB                                       David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. “What have I done?” he exclaimed. “What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         David fled from the pastures at ramah, came to Jonathan, and asked, “What have I done? What crime am I guilty of? What sin have I committed against your father that he’s trying to kill me?”

JPS (Tanakh)                        David fled from Naioth in Ramah; he came to Jonathan and said, “What have I done, what is my crime and my guilt against your father, that he seeks my life?”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said to [lit., before] Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?”

Young's Updated LT              And David flees from Naioth in Ramah and comes and says before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity And what is my sin before your father that he is seeking my life?”


What is the gist of this verse? David leaves Naioth and finds Jonathan. He asks Jonathan why his father is trying to kill him.


1Samuel 20:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bârach (ח-רָ) [pronounced baw-RAHKH]

to go through, to flee

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #1272 BDB #137

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

nâvôyth (תיֹוָנ) [pronounced naw-VOYTH]

pasture, meadow; habitation of a shepherd; and is transliterated Naioth

proper noun; location

Strong’s #5121 BDB #627

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

Râmâh (הָמָר) [pronounced raw-MAW]

height, high place; transliterated Ramah

feminine noun used primarily as a proper noun; with the directional hê here

Strong’s #7413 BDB #928

Also spelled Râmâth (ת ָמָר) [pronounced raw-MATH].

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (םי̣נ ָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM

face, faces

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, they mean upon the face of, before, before the face of, in the presence of, in the sight of, in front of. When used with God, it can take on the more figurative meaning in the judgment of.

This sort of wording is used because, when Saul is not in the palace, then Jonathan would be considered the highest ranking official. Therefore, one would come before Jonathan.

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

Jonathan: is also spelled Yôwnâthân (ןָטָני) [pronounced yoh-naw-THAWN].


Translation: David then fled Naioth in Ramah, and went before Jonathan, and said,... In the previous chapter, Saul became much more overt in his attack upon David, sending men to David’s home to arrest him so that he could be executed. David escaped through his second story wall window and he fled to Samuel in Ramah. Samuel took him to what is probably a suburb of Ramah, Naioth, where he apparently was running the first seminary. Saul tracked David down, but when he sent his own men again to arrest David, they were overpowered by God the Holy Spirit and were unable to arrest David. Saul eventually went to Naioth himself and was also overcome by the Holy Spirit, so that he not only became involved in theological discussions, but he found himself so exhausted that he fell asleep, half-naked, right there in the seminary.


David, of course, was there, although nothing is said about him at the end of 1Sam. 19. The focus is upon Saul and Saul’s officers. However, David is in Naioth, Saul is also there, and Saul is asleep before him in the seminary. We don’t know if David was in the seminary when Saul came in; however, we can be reasonably assured that David came in and looked down at Saul sleeping or was told that Saul had been discussing theological issues with the other students and had fallen asleep. David was familiar with Saul’s radical mood changes and did not want to hang around until Saul woke up. However, since Saul was there, it was safe for David to, at least temporarily, return to Ramah and to his only true ally, Jonathan. David, still thinking that there must be some way to reason with Saul, went to Jonathan in order to figure out just exactly what had Saul in such a rage.


Also, interestingly enough from the previous chapter, very little is said about Samuel. No verbal interchange between Samuel and anyone else is recorded, and the only interaction recorded is between David and him, when he takes David to his seminary in Naioth.


1Samuel 20:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

The vowel point is actually a segol here, which is how mâh is spelled when mâh precedes certain letters.

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793


Translation: ...“What have I done,... We will have three approaches which David takes to Saul’s anger with him. He first asks Jonathan, “What have I done?” That is, what has David said to offend Saul; what act of disrespect has David committed, or what misunderstanding might exist about something that David has done to cause Saul to be so angry. David is assuming that there is a rational, human explanation for this.


1Samuel 20:1c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

The vowel point is actually a segol here, which is how mâh is spelled when mâh precedes certain letters.

׳âvôwn (ן ָע) [pronounced ģaw-VOHN]

iniquity, crime, offense, transgression, depraved action, guilt, punishment from wrongdoing

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5771 BDB #730


Translation: ...what [is] my crime,... Usually when a warrant has been issued for a person’s arrest, it is because they have committed some crime. There is some civil or criminal law which has allegedly been broken and David wants to know what that might have been. David asks Jonathan point blank, “What crime have I committed?”


1Samuel 20:1d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

The vowel point is actually a segol here, which is how mâh is spelled when mâh precedes certain letters.

chaţţâth (תא ָ ַח) [pronounced khat-TAWTH]

sin or sin-offering

feminine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #2403 BDB #308


Translation: ...and what is [my] sin... Not all crimes are necessarily sins (e.g., the crime of evangelism in some countries) and certainly, not all sins are crimes (e.g., the sin of homosexuality). David asks what sin has he committed that causes Saul to make attempts on his life. David is simply assuming that there is a rational explanation for Saul’s behavior. David believes that Saul thinks that David beat his wife (Saul’s daughter); Saul thinks that David is organizing a revolution against him; Saul thinks that David has been spreading lies and rumors behind Saul’s back. David thinks that there is some rational explanation for Saul’s hatred, some misunderstanding that could be cleared up. Let’s see if I can put this in a different perspective: let’s say that you have a disagreement with your superior, and you have been allowed to express your opinion, and you believe that logically, there is no other position to take but yours. In fact, you cannot imagine someone having a differing viewpoint, and you figure, once you present the facts, any reasonable person will be persuaded. Most of us have been in that position and most of us have been shut down, despite the reasonableness of our position. Footnote


We also get a chance here to differentiate between these two terms, iniquity (or, crime) and sin. Sin, in general, is a transgression either against God or against man. A crime is a violation of a particular law. The simplest way to represent this is with a Venn diagram. Silent prayer would be an example of something which is neither a sin nor a crime; evangelism in some countries could be made into a crime; murder everywhere is both a crime and a sin; gossip is a sin, but not a crime.

1sam_20.gif

Venn Diagram Illustrating Sin and Crime











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1Samuel 20:1e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (םי̣נ ָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM

face, faces

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, they mean upon the face of, before, before the face of, in the presence of, in the sight of, in front of. When used with God, it can take on the more figurative meaning in the judgment of.

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

bâqash (ש ַק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAHSH]

to seek, to search, to desire, to strive after, to attempt to get, to require, to demand, to ask, to seek with desire and diligence

Piel participle

Strong’s #1245 BDB #134

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

nephesh (שפ נ) [pronounced NEH-fesh]

soul, life, living being, desire

feminine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5315 BDB #659


Translation: ...before your father that he is seeking my life?” David assumes that there is something which he has done, inadvertently, which has set Saul off. In his own mind, David simply needs to figure out what this transgression is, and then he can smooth over his relationship with Saul. Neither he nor Jonathan fully appreciate just exactly how far gone Saul is. No amount of reasoning will curtail Saul’s efforts to kill David.


And so he says to him, “Far be it! You will not die. Behold to him [or, not] does my father a word great or a word small and he is not uncovering my ear. And why hides my father from me the word the this? Without this!”

1Samuel

20:2

He answers him, “Profanity! You will not die! Listen, my father does not do anything, great or small, without disclosing [it] to me [lit., in my ear]. Furthermore, why would my father hide this matter from me? [It is] not so [lit., not this]!”

Jonathan answered him, “Impossible! You are not going to be executed! Listen to me—my father does not do anything, great or small, without revealing it to me. Furthermore, why would my father his this thing from me? It just cannot be!”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic text                        And so he says to him, “Far be it! You will not die. Behold to him [or, not] does my father a word great or a word small and he is not uncovering my ear. And why hides my father from me the word the this? Without this!”

Septuagint                             And Jonathan said to him, “Far be it from you; you will not die. Behold, my father will not do anything great or small without discovering it to me; and why should my father hide this matter from me? This thing is not so.”

 

Significant differences           Apart from the interpretation of the final phrase, there are no significant differences; however, there are a couple of phrases which probably caused problems for the translators of the LXX.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “My father can’t be trying to kill you! He never does anything without telling me about it. Why would he hide this from me? It’s can’t be true!”

NLT                                        “That’s not true!” Jonathan protested. “I’m sure he’s not planning any such thing, for he always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. I know he wouldn’t hide something like this from me. It just isn’t so!”

TEV                                       Jonathan answered, “God forbid that you should die! My father tells me everything he does, important or not, and he would not hide this from me. It just isn’t so!”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Jonathan answered, “That’s unthinkable You’re not going to die! My father does nothing without telling me, whether it’s important or not. Why should my father hide this from me? It’s just not that way.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        He replied, “Heaven forbid! You will not die. My father does not do anything, great or small, without disclosing it to me; why should my father conceal this matter from me? It cannot be!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And he said to him, “Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me [lit., and he does not uncover my ear]. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”

Young's Updated LT              And he said to him, “Far be it! You do not die. Lo, my father does not do anything great or small and does not uncover my ear; and why does my father hide from me this thing? This thing is not!”


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan protests that his father withholds nothing from him, and he both assures David that he will not be executed and there is nothing which David has done.


1Samuel 20:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

châlîylâh (ה ָלי ̣ל ָח) [pronounced khaw-LEE-law]

far be it [from me or you], to profane [something], a profanity!, a blasphemy!

adverb, substantive, interjection

Strong’s #2486 BDB #321

Châlîylâh might be updated to no way, impossible, ridiculous, absurd, that’s wrong, that’s so wrong, you’re completely mistaken.

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to die

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: He answers him, “Profanity! You will not die! Jonathan’s initial remark is one of great disbelief. It might be updated to no way, impossible, you’re wrong. He cannot believe his ears. Recall that he just recently spoke with his father and convinced Saul of David’s loyalty in 1Sam. 19:1–6. Saul had told Jonathan that he wanted to execute David and Jonathan talked him out of it.


You may wonder, how can this be? Jonathan is in the palace with Saul; Jonathan is in all of the staff meetings. Jonathan is aware of Saul’s mental illness. So, how does Jonathan not know how wacked out Saul is? Reasonable questions, all. First of all, with regards to mental illness: when you are close to someone or to a situation, you often lose your perspective. For instance, if your husband or wife is mentally ill, you may not even be aware of it. Their behavior which would alert any stranger, goes unnoticed by you. You see what they do, but you are so close, you do not recognize it as mental illness. Recall back in 1Sam. 18:14–18 where Saul’s staff decided that something needed to be done about Saul’s erratic behavior and it was suggested that a musician be brought in to calm him. Do you recall seeing Jonathan’s name in that narrative? No; Jonathan was not in on this music-therapy. He did not recognize how serious his father’s condition was, and therefore, was not a part of the discussion of how to calm King Saul when he begins entering into such a state. Now, I don’t say this so that you can go home and carefully examine all of your family members to determine whether they should be put into therapy or not. I’m simply pointing out why Jonathan did not recognize Saul’s terrific mental illness (which involved demon influence).


So Jonathan tells David, “Impossible! You are not going to be executed!” In fact, this idea is so impossible in Jonathan’s mind that he does not even use the Hiphil of mûwth (which would mean to execute) but he uses the Qal form, which means simply to die. It seems so far fetched to Jonathan that he refuses to even say the word to execute. More precisely, Jonathan says, “That suggestion is profane! You will not die!” In Jonathan’s mind, he has already settled this matter with his father. He reasoned with his father, and his father recognized the logic of his argument and agreed with him. This tells us that when Saul organized his men on several occasions to go and seize David (1Sam. 19), that Jonathan was carefully left out of those talks. In fact, Saul probably saw to it that Jonathan was completely out of the palace at that time. Saul knew for certain what Jonathan’s feelings were and, although Saul was a paranoid schizophrenic, Footnote he could still function as a very crafty person. He had the ability and the wherewithal to keep Jonathan from knowing about his plans. So all that went on in the previous chapter, Jonathan is unaware of. In Jonathan’s mind, what had happened that he was aware of was because of a temporary fit of madness; and that he had reasoned with his father since then and his father had come to his senses. As far as he was concerned, Saul no longer desired to kill David.


1Samuel 20:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hinnêh (הֵ ̣ה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

There are two alternate readings to the lâmed preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix: (1) Some manuscripts have the negation lô (אֹל) [pronounced low] here (see above). (2) Some have the lâmed preposition followed by a conjunction (which makes little sense).

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command

masculine singular noun

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

gâdôwl (לד ָ) [pronounced gaw-DOHL]

great in quantity, great in magnitude and extent, mighty, vast, unyielding, immutable, significant, astonishing

masculine singular adjective

Strong’s #1419 BDB #152

ô (א) [pronounced oh]

or, or rather, otherwise, also, and

conjunction

Strong's #176 BDB #14

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command

masculine singular noun

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

qâţôn (ןֹט ָק) [pronounced kaw-TOHN]

small, insignificant; a word particularly used for youth, younger

masculine singular adjective

Strong’s #6995 & #6996 BDB #882

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

gâlâh (ה ָלָ) [pronounced gaw-LAWH]

to make naked; to disclose, to reveal, to uncover [one’s ear to hear something]; to make [a land] naked of inhabitants; to emigrate, to be led into exile

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1540 BDB #162

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ôzen (ן∵זֹא) [pronounced OH-zen]

ear

feminine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #241 BDB #23


Translation: Listen, my father does not do anything, great or small, without disclosing [it] to me [lit., in my ear]. Jonathan is chief of staff. He is a great general. Saul does everything with Jonathan—or so Jonathan thinks. It would never occur to Jonathan that his father would plot against anyone behind his back. Even with David, Saul originally took Jonathan aside and said, “We need to execute him!” (1Sam. 19:1). Jonathan is so used to being in on everything, that he does not realize that the events of 1Sam. 19 took place (except that he certainly knows that Saul went to Samuel and prophesied). However, he does not associate that with a plot to kill David. His father used to confer with Samuel all of the time. No matter what Jonathan heard, no doubt that his father spoke to him first and straightened him out. “You know, son, I tried to speak with Samuel the other day.” Saul explained. So Jonathan does not associate what is common knowledge (“Is Saul among the prophets?” 1Sam. 19:24) with a plot to kill David. So, as far as Jonathan is concerned, all that Saul does or plans to do, major or minor, is run by him first. In Jonathan’s mind, that is the sort of relationship that he and his father have. He does not realize that there is this intense burning hatred for David that Saul has been able to conceal from his son, and that he often daily considers methods of killing David.


On televison (and I am sure this happens in real life), you have the married couple and one of them says to the other, “I don’t know you anymore!” Or words to that affect. This is Jonathan and Saul. There are profound changes in Saul’s character that Jonathan does not see. So, in his mind, Jonathan believes that Saul proposes every move that he plans to make first to Jonathan. Furthermore, he believes that he knows his father well enough to know that he would not do anything like make a concerted effort to kill David.


1Samuel 20:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

maddu׳a ( ַעֻ ַמ) [pronounced mah-DOO-ahģ]

why, wherefore, on what account, and it is probably a contraction of a word which means what being known

adverb

Strong’s #4069 BDB #396

çâthar (ר ַת ָס) [pronounced saw-THAHR

to hide, to cover over

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5641 BDB #711

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

bvâr (ר ָב ָ) [pronounced dawb-VAWR]

word, saying, doctrine, thing, matter, command

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #1697 BDB #182

zeh (ה ז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, thus

demonstrative adjective with a definite article

Strong’s #2063, 2088, 2090 BDB #260


Translation: Furthermore, why would my father hide this matter from me? Saul has already revealed to Jonathan that he wanted to kill David (1Sam. 19:1) and Jonathan talked him out of it (1Sam. 19:4–6). As far as Jonathan is concerned, if his father revealed this to him before, he certainly would not hide it from him now. Jonathan sees himself as a sounding board for his father (and believes that Saul sees him in this same way). Obviously, Jonathan believes that he can still reason with his father (as he did at the beginning of 1Sam. 19) and that his father will respect and listen to his opinions (my feeling is that he and Saul had this sort of a relationship up to a point). Footnote


1Samuel 20:2d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

êyin (ן̣י̤א) [pronounced AYH-yin]

in the condition of being not = without, nothing, no, not

negative construct

Strong’s #369 BDB #34

zôth (תאֹז) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, thus

feminine singular of zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260


Translation: [It is] not so [lit., not this]!” Giving an exact translation to these two words is difficult; however, the gist is fairly clear, “This just cannot be! It’s impossible! No way!”


You may wonder, how can they even be discussing this? Clearly, Saul intends to kill David! Again, Jonathan is too close to his father to recognize that he has gone over the edge. He is too close to his father to realize that Saul’s predisposition to kill David is more than a fit of madness that comes and goes. The madness has come and it has stayed with Saul. Furthermore, Jonathan has no idea that Saul has carefully hidden from him the most recent incidents of the previous chapter. As far as Jonathan is concerned, what Saul has done is the result of a couple fits of madness—and this madness was well-known to everyone in the palace, and the music-therapy seemed to help mollify Saul.

 

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agree, commenting: Jonathan could not be persuaded there was any real danger after the oath his father had taken; at all events, he felt assured his father would do nothing without telling him. Filial attachment naturally blinded the prince to defects in the parental character and made him reluctant to believe his father capable of such atrocity. Footnote


And so swears again David and so he says, “Knowing has known your father that I have found grace in your [two] eyes and he says, ‘Will not know this Jonathan lest he grieves.’ And indeed living of Yehowah and a living of your soul that about a step between me and the death.”

1Samuel

20:3

So again David swore, saying, “Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes and he thinks [lit., says], ‘Jonathan should not know about this or he will grieve [lit., lest he grieve].’ But, [as] certainly Yehowah lives and as your soul lives, [there is but] a step between me and death.”

David swore to Jonathan, “Your father undoubtedly knows that I have found grace in your sight, so he has determined that you would not know about his plans or you will be upset. But, just as certainly as Jehovah lives and just as certainly as your soul lives, there is but a misstep between me and death.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic text                        And so swears again David and so he says, “Knowing has known your father that I have found grace in your [two] eyes and he says, ‘Will not know this Jonathan lest he grieves.’ And indeed living of Yehowah and a living of your soul that about a step between me and the death.”

The Septuagint                      And David answers Jonathan, and says, “Your father knows certainly that I have found grace in your sight and he said, ‘Let not Jonathan know this, lest he refuse his consent.’ But [as] the Lord lives and your soul lives, as I said, [a space] is filled up between me and death.”

 

Significant differences           There are no significant differences until the end; what is said is unclear and it is possible that the LXX was trying to clear this up.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                        "Jonathan, I swear it's true! But your father knows how much you like me, and he didn't want to break your heart. That's why he didn't tell you. I swear by the living LORD and by your own life that I'm only one step ahead of death."

NLT                                        Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan—why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the Lord and by your soul.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         But David took an oath, saying, "Your father certainly knows that you support me, so he said └to himself┘, 'Jonathan must not know about this. It will bring him distress.' But I solemnly swear, as the LORD and you live, I'm only one step away from death."

JPS (Tanakh)                        David swore further, “You father knows well that you are fond of me and has decided: Jonathan must not learn of this or he will be grieved. But, as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Yet David vowed again, saying, [lit., and said] “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly [lit., about] a step between me and death.”

Young's Updated LT              And David swears again, and says, “Your father has certainly known that I have found grace in your eyes, and he says, ‘Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ And yet, Jehovah lives and your soul lives, but—as a step between me and death.”


What is the gist of this verse? David knows that Saul has kept his hatred from Jonathan; and David realizes that he lives precariously, given Saul’s hatred.


1Samuel 20:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâbva׳ (עַבָש) [pronounced shawb-VAHĢ]

to swear, to imprecate, to curse, to swear an oath, to take a solemn oath, to swear allegiance

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong's #7650 BDB #989

׳ôwd (דע) [pronounced ģohd]

still, yet, again, besides, in addition to, even yet

adverb

Strong’s #5750 BDB #728

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to see; to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to become acquainted, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to see; to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to become acquainted, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

mâtsâ (א ָצ ָמ) [pronounced maw-TSAW]

to attain to, to find, to detect, to happen upon, to come upon, to find unexpectedly, to discover

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #4672 BDB #592

chên (ן ̤ח) [pronounced khayn]

grace, favor, blessing

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2580 BDB #336

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

׳ayin (ן̣יַע) [pronounced ĢAH-yin]

spring, literal eye(s), spiritual eyes, spring

feminine dual noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5869 (and #5871) BDB #744


Translation: So again David swore, saying, “Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes... David, as a more impartial witness, recognizes what is going on. He knows that Saul knows of Jonathan’s affection for him. The relationship between David and Jonathan explains why Saul has not confided in Jonathan. The idea is, “Your father has his murderous intentions from you because he knows that I have found grace in your sight.”


1Samuel 20:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to see; to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to become acquainted, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

zôth (תאֹז) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, thus

feminine singular of zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

pen (ן∵) [pronounced pen]

lest, peradventure, or else, in order to prevent, or, so that [plus a negative]

conjunction

Strong's #6435 BDB #814

׳âtsabv (ב ַצ ָע) [pronounced gaw-TSAHBV]

to be in pain, to be hurt, to be grieved, to be afflicted

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong’s #6087 BDB #780 (see #781)


Translation: ...and he thinks [lit., says], ‘Jonathan should not know about this or he will grieve [lit., lest he grieve].’ The verb âmar is occasionally used for what a person thinks, rather than what he says out loud. Because of Jonathan’s love for David, Saul knows full well that if he makes it clear that he is going to execute David no matter what, that Jonathan will be upset. Therefore, rather than upset his son, Saul carefully excludes him from his meetings to arrest and kill David. David could have obviously gone into more detail: Jonathan would then be also placed in a position of having to choose between David and his father, and Saul certainly would not want Jonathan placed in that position as well (not for Jonathan’s sake, but for his own).


1Samuel 20:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ûwlâm (ם ָלא) [pronounced oo-LAWM]

but, but indeed, yet, however

a very strong adverbial adversative

Strong’s #199 BDB #19

chay (י ַח) [pronounced KHAH-ee]

living, alive

adjective construct

Strong's #2416 BDB #311

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

chay (י ַח) [pronounced KHAH-ee]

living, alive

adjective construct

Strong's #2416 BDB #311

nephesh (שפ נ) [pronounced NEH-fesh]

soul, life, living being, desire

feminine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5315 BDB #659

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

pesa׳ (ע-∵) [pronounced PEH-sahģ]

a step, a stride

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6587 BDB #832

Pesa׳ is found only here and its verbal cognate is only found in Isa. 27:4.

bayin (ן ̣י ַ) [pronounced bah-YIN]

in the midst of, between, among; when found twice, it means between

preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #996 BDB #107

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bêyn (ןי ֵ) [pronounced bane]

in the midst of, between, among; when found twice, it means between

preposition

Strong's #996 BDB #107

This is simply an alternate spelling of bayin, found previously.

mâveth (ת∵וָמ) [pronounced MAW-veth]

death, death [as opposed to life], death by violence, a state of death, a place of death

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4194 BDB #560


Translation: But, [as] certainly Yehowah lives and as your soul lives, [there is but] a step between me and death.” The idea is that, all it would take on the part of David is a misstep, and Saul will kill him. Saul has tried to pierce him with a javelin on two occasions (1Sam. 18:11 19:10). Saul has clearly stated his intentions to his staff, including Jonathan (1Sam. 19:1). He has sent soldiers to his home to take him (1Sam. 19:11). Then Saul has thrice sent out soldiers to pursue David in Naioth (1Sam. 19:20–21). And Saul himself then went to Naioth, for the purpose of killing David (1Sam. 19:19:22). Saul will do anything to kill David, and David recognizes that clearly (as did even his wife, Saul’s daughter). Any misstep could have resulted in David’s death.

 

McGee: What a statement! —“there is only a step between me and death.” It was not only that way in David’s day, it is also that way today. Whether we drive the freeways of the city or the highways of the country, you and I are within a step of death. Isaiah said that there is only a heartbeat between you and death. Death can come at any time. That is the reason we ought to be ready at any moment to move out into eternity and into the presence of God. How many folks have made every arrangement for this life but none for the next life! Are you a saved individual—that is, are you trusting Christ as Saviour—so that if you should die at this moment you would go into the presence of God? Let me caution you not to put off accepting Christ as your Lord and Saviour any longer. Footnote


Previously, I mentioned how someone close to a mentally ill person might not perceive the full depth of their illness. So, how did Michal know, but Jonathan did not? Simple: Jonathan spent a lot of time with his father. Michal spent her time with David. So Michal’s take on her father is a more objective one. Furthermore, Saul was careful to keep all of the incidents mentioned above secret from Jonathan (except for the staff meeting in 1Sam. 19:1 and perhaps the first javelin throw). As David’s wife, Michal would have known about both attacks with a javelin, and she probably knew about her father’s order to kill David, even though this was certainly not reported to her by her father (women have their ways). If someone were going to try to warn David, it is reasonable that they would warn his wife Michal. Finally, what particularly blinds Jonathan to his father’s evil intent is his father’s oath to him in 1Sam. 19:6.


And so says Jonathan unto David, “What says your soul and I will do to you.”

1Samuel

20:4

Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever your soul says I will do for you.”

Then David said to Jonathan, “Whatever you want me to do, I will do.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Jonathan unto David, “What says your soul and I will do to you.”

Septuagint                             And Jonathan said to David, “What does your soul desire, and what will I do for you?”

 

Significant differences           In the MT, it sounds as if Jonathan is willing to do whatever David requests; and in the LXX, he is asking David what he would like him to do.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Then Jonathan said, "Tell me what to do, and I'll do it."

NJB                                        At which, Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you think best, I will certainly do for you.’

NLT                                        “Tell me what I can do!” Jonathan exclaimed.

TEV                                       Jonathan said, “I’ll do anything you want.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Jonathan said to David, "I'll do whatever you say."

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want, I will do it for you.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   And Jonathan said to David,—

I will do for you <whatever your soul desires.> [So it should be as per the Aramaic and Septuagint.

NASB                                     Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say [lit., your soul says], I will do for you.”

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan says to David, “What does your soul say? And I do it for you.”


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan agrees to do whatever David asks of him.


1Samuel 20:4

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person feminine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Owen lists this as the 3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect because the 3rd person masculine singular form is identical to the 2nd person feminine singular form.

In the Aramaic and in the Septuagint, the verb is desires, wants, giving us: “Whatever your soul desires, I will do for you.” Footnote

nephesh (שפ נ) [pronounced NEH-fesh]

soul, life, living being, desire

feminine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5315 BDB #659

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever your soul says I will do for you.” Jonathan has an open mind. He may be certain in his own soul that his father means David no harm, but he is not so foolish as to completely discount what David has said to him. David made it clear that his life is truly in danger. Jonathan recognizes that there may be some truth in this matter. In fact, it is Jonathan’s willingness to listen to David and to consider that David may be right, which will guide David as to what he should do. Jonathan offers to do whatever it is that David wants for him to do.


Application: I want you to notice what David does not do: he does not expect God to suddenly appear as a burning bush or a cloud overhead and guide him in his next step. God is guiding David and will guide David throughout the rest of his life, but God’s guidance will be more subtle than getting direction from following a cloud overhead. Secondly, notice that David does not pray for guidance. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told to pray to God for guidance or how many times I have heard others tell me how they prayed to God for guidance. Listen carefully: God is not going to appear to you in your prayers, in your sleep, or give you any other sort of divine apparition to lead you to your left or to your right. God will guide you and rarely is His guidance so subtle that you are left clueless. The key is Bible doctrine. If you know God’s Word and if you are in fellowship, God is going to guide you. As I type this, I am sitting 2500 miles away from where I was brought up. I listened to many friends who told me that they could not wait to graduate and move out of Sacramento. I was not one of those people. I liked Sacramento, I loved my family and I loved my friends. For all intents and purposes, God picked me up and moved me here. When I began considering that maybe I had to move, I had three choices come to me, and Houston was in a distant 3rd place, as per my own personal choice. In retrospect, I cannot even imagine moving to those other two places; I cannot imagine remaining in Sacramento.


Recently, I ended my career (at least temporarily) as a teacher. God essentially forced me to stop. I would be in my old classroom today if I were the one who chose each step to take. In the transition, certainly, I prayed to God—but more to accept His guidance, rather than to ask for guidance. As a young Christian, I often pondered, “Should I go left, should I go right? What does God want me to do?” After years of Bible study, I know how to get into fellowship; I know what takes me out of fellowship; and guidance, even though I am at a point where I do wonder, what will I be doing 6 months from now?, I am also confident that God will place that before me. My point in all of this is, they key to divine guidance is not praying to God for that guidance; the key is knowing His Word and being in fellowship.


And so says David unto Jonathan, “Behold a new moon tomorrow and I sitting I will sit with the king to eat and you will send me away and I will be hidden in the field until the evening the third.

1Samuel

20:5

David answered Jonathan, “Listen, tomorrow [is] a new moon and I should be sitting with the king to eat; however, let me go and I will stay hidden in the field until the third evening.

Then David answered Jonathan, “Listen, tomorrow is the new moon and I customarily sit with the king for dinner; however, give me leave and I will remain hidden in a field until the third evening.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says David unto Jonathan, “Behold a new moon tomorrow and I sitting I will sit with the king to eat and you will send me away and I will be hidden in the field until the evening the third.

Septuagint                             And David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow [is] the new moon and I will not on any account sit down to eat, but you will let me go and I will hide in the plain until the evening.

 

Significant differences           In the Hebrew, David would customarily sit down for a meal with the king on the next day; in the Greek, David indicates that no way would he sit down with the king tomorrow. The overall meaning of this verse remains unchanged.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       David answered: Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, and I'm supposed to eat dinner with your father. But instead, I'll hide in a field until the evening of the next day.

NLT                                        David replied, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I’ve always eaten with your father on this occasion, but tomorrow I’ll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         David replied, "Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, when I should sit and eat at the king's └table┘. But let me go and hide in the countryside for two more nights.

JPS (Tanakh)                        David said to Jonathan, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and I am to sit with the king at the meal. Instead, let me go and I will hide in the countryside until the third [meaning uncertain] evening.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                David said to Jonathan, Tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at the table with the king; but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening.

Updated Emphasized Bible   And David said to Jonathan—

Listen! ║The new moon║ is tomorrow and ║I║ must not sit with the king to eat, —let me go then and hide myself in the field until the evening..

NASB                                     So David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening.

Young's Updated LT              And David says unto Jonathan, “Lo, the new moon is tomorrow, and I do certainly sit with the king to eat; and you have sent me away, and I have been hidden in a field until the third evening.


What is the gist of this verse? It was customary for David to share a meal with Saul at the new moon. David is going to skip this meal, and hide out in a field instead.


To help explain what is happening—David is at a loss as to what to do. His life is in danger and he goes to his closest friend to try to sort things out. To some extent, David might even be searching for a second opinion. In any case, Jonathan is a person that David can trust with his life (which is what David is doing in meeting with him). Jonathan will provide a new perspective, a second opinion, and David will decide from that what to do.


Now, you or I may view this situation and think, “Duh, David, Saul is trying to kill you. You might as well leave town. Things aren’t going to get better.” Even if you have not read ahead; even if you do not know what is going to occur, you’re still thinking, “David, this is pretty obvious. You need to get out of town.” That is God’s guidance. He has patiently beat David over the head with His guidance. David has to leave the city of Saul and become a fugitive. This should be clear to you. That is how God’s guidance works. He is able to guide us and He is infinitely patient in doing so.


You may, particularly if you are a new believer or a believer lacking doctrine, ask, “Aren’t there other things that David could do besides leave town? Couldn’t he overthrow Saul’s government? After all, David is the next king and Samuel has clearly told him that.” Here’s the problem with that scenario: there is nothing in the Law which suggests that David should overthrow his current government. There is no Bible doctrine which indicates to David that once his government has become corrupt enough, then it is time for him to topple it, for the good of all. Nowhere do we find that in Scripture. David’s options are to (1) remain in the city of Saul and be found and killed; (2) remain in the city of Saul and attempt to overthrow the present government, a criminal act for which there is no Scriptural support; or, (3) leave Gibeah. Do you see how simple this is? David does not have to pray to God and ask God, “Should I go left or right?” Now, David may not like God’s guidance, and I don’t blame him. I can’t tell you how sad I was on my first night living in Houston. However, God’s guidance is clear and unequivocal, and not ascertained by prayer.


1Samuel 20:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

hinnêh (הֵ ̣ה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

chôdesh (ש∵דֹח) [pronounced KHOH-desh]

new moon, month

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2320 BDB #294

mâchâr (רָח ָמ) [pronounced maw-KHAWR]

 literally, tomorrow; but figuratively can stand for in time to come, in the future, later on, down the road (chronologically speaking)

adverb of time

Strong’s #4279 BDB #563

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ânôkîy (י.כֹנָא) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me

1st person singular personal pronoun (sometimes a verb is implied)

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

yâshab (ב ַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

to remain, to stay, to inhabit, to sit, to dwell

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

A Qal infinitive absolute is a verb which can act like noun, a verb or an adverb. When used as a complement of affirmation, it may be rendered surely, indeed; and when it is a complement of improbability and condition, we render it at all, freely, indeed. Although I could not find substantiation for this, I suspect that the infinitive absolute may also be used to describe what customarily takes place, because when it is used with other verbs, it often describes simultaneous action. The use of the personal pronoun here also suggests that this was a customary activity.

yâshab (ב ַשָי) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

to remain, to stay, to inhabit, to sit, to dwell

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

Here is an excellent place to learn a little textual criticism. The Septuagint inserts a negative in here because the translators realize that David has no intention of sitting with the king. This is because either they do not understand the text which is here (which means that this is something that David would customarily do) or that they understood it, but felt that translating this with a negative better explained the point that David was making. Often the key to understanding the differences between various texts is, was something added or omitted and would there have been a logical reason why a translator would have added or omitted this word? In this case, the translator added the negative and he (or they) had a logical reason for doing so. We should understand this passage without the negative.

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

meleke ( ל מ) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

âkal (ל ַכ ָא) [pronounced aw-KAHL]

to eat; to devour, to consume, to destroy

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #398 BDB #37


Translation: David answered Jonathan, “Listen, tomorrow [is] a new moon and I should be sitting with the king to eat;... Apparently, at the new moon, Saul gathered with his staff and officers and ate a meal with all of them. It is not clear for how many meals this continued. It seems to be implied (in the next part of this verse) that this meal may have carried on for three days.


Now, what David is doing here is supposing that everything is alright. He is supposing that Saul’s attacks upon him have been the result of a freak emotional imbalance. This is not what David believes, but what Jonathan believes. So, David sets up a scenario whereby he is safe, but that they assume that Saul’s previous attacks may have been simply aberrations. “Now, if everything is hunky dory, then I would normally attend the New Moon Feast at the palace tomorrow. However, I will hide out instead. Here is what you will do...” And then David presents to Jonathan what he could say to his father to determine for himself whether or not David is safe in the presence of Saul.


The New Moon Feast is found in Scripture in Num. 10:10 and 28:11–15. It is properly performed by the Aaronic priesthood and the sacrifices were laid out in the latter passage. However, Saul’s celebration of this was probably a bastardization of the celebration, which is not something which should strike us as being out of the ordinary. After all, two of our most popular celebrations, Christmas and Easter, are both bastardizations of what it is that they purport to celebrate. They are a mixture of heathen celebrations with some Christian overtones.

 

Clarke comments: The months of the Hebrews were lunar months, and they reckoned from new moon to new moon. And as their other feasts, particularly the passover, were reckoned according to this, they were very scrupulous in observing the first appearance of each new moon. On these new moons they offered sacrifices, and had a feast; as we learn from Num 10:10; Num 28:11. And we may suppose that the families, on such occasions, sacrificed and feasted together. Footnote

 

JB&F comment further: The beginning of a new month or moon was always celebrated by special sacrifices, followed by feasting, at which the head of a family expected all its members to be present. David, both as the king's son-in-law and a distinguished courtier, dined on such occasions at the royal table, and from its being generally known that David had returned to Gibeah, his presence in the palace would be naturally expected. This occasion was chosen by the two friends for testing the king's state of feeling. As a suitable pretext for David's absence, it was arranged that he should visit his family at Beth-lehem, and thus create an opportunity of ascertaining how his non-appearance would be viewed. Footnote


1Samuel 20:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shâlach (ח ַל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send, to send off, to send away, to dismiss, to give over, to cast out, to let go, to set free, to shoot forth [branches], to shoot [an arrow]

2nd person masculine singular, Piel perfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

çâthar (ר ַת ָס) [pronounced saw-THAR

to be hidden, to lie hid; to be covered over; to hide onself

1st person singular, Niphal perfect

Strong's #5641 BDB #711

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

sâdeh (ה∵דָ) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

׳ereb (ב∵ר∵ע) [pronounced ĢEH-rebv]

evening, sunset

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6153 BDB #787

shelishîym (םי.ש̣לש) [pronounced sheli-SHEEM]

third, a third part, a third time; chambers [of the third story]

masculine/feminine adjective/ordinal numeral with the definite article

Strong’s #7992 BDB #1026

The Septuagint does not translate this final word. David is to remain there, according to the Septuagint, until the evening, which we would assume, the evening of the New Moon Feast. However, Jonathan will not contact David until at least the second evening of the New Moon Feast (in fact, it appears to be on the second or the third day that Jonathan contacts David). Therefore, we may reasonably assume that Jonathan here has told David to remain hiding in the field until the third evening of the feast. His intention will be to contact David before that time.


Translation: ...however, let me go and I will stay hidden in the field until the third evening. The perfect tense of to hide designates not only completed action but here indicates that David will remain hidden until this third evening. The idea is not necessarily that he and Jonathan will meet in three days. However, this is the maximum duration that David will remain hidden. Given their relationship and given the paranoia of Saul, it is unclear as to how soon Jonathan would be able to break away and find David. There is also the possibility, mentioned in v. 5a, that this new moon meal might last three days, which I think is the case here. Whatever animals are slaughtered are eaten until the group finishes off the animal (or animals) completely.


Gill suggests a slightly different time line. With the Jews, the day begins at sunset. So, the third [day] [in the] evening could refer to the evening of the second day (which, begins the third day for Jews). Footnote This way, we don’t simply have David just hanging out for three days, but he is giving a specific time to meet Jonathan. Furthermore, David is not hiding in the same place for the next 2+ days. He is able to hide wherever he chooses; however, he needs to be in the field on the evening which begins the 3rd day.


If a visit, visits me your father and you have said, ‘Asking leave, asked leave from me David to run [to] Bethlehem his city for a slaughter of the days there to all of the family.’

1Samuel

20:6

If your father definitely misses me, you will say, ‘David earnestly asked leave from me to run [to] his city Bethlehem for the yearly sacrifice there for the entire family.’

If your father makes an issue out of missing me, then tell him, ‘David passionately requested leave from me because his family attends a yearly sacrifice in his city Bethlehem.’


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       If a visit, visits me your father and you have said, ‘Asking leave, asked leave from me David to run [to] Bethlehem his city for a slaughter of the days there to all of the family.’

Septuagint                             And if your father does in anyway inquire for me, then you will say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem, his city, for [there is] there a yearly sacrifice for all the family.’

 

Significant differences           No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       If Saul wonders where I am, tell him, “David asked me to let him go to his hometown of Bethlehem, so he could take part in a sacrifice his family makes there every year.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         If your father really misses me, tell him, ‘David repeatedly begged me to let him run to Bethlehem, his hometown, because his relatives are offering the annual sacrifice there.’

JPS (Tanakh)                        If your father notes my absence, you say, ‘David asked my permission to run down to his home town, Bethlehem, for the whole family has its annual sacrifice there.’


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.’

Young's Updated LT              If your father at all look after me and you have said, ‘David asked earnestly of me to run to Bethlehem, his city, for a sacrifice of the days is there for all the family.’


What is the gist of this verse? David suggests a plan so that Jonathan can determine for himself how his father really feels about David. When Saul asks about David, Jonathan is to tell him that David is with his family in Bethlehem for a family feast.


1Samuel 20:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to go to a person, to visit, to have personal contact with, to sort out, to visit a person, to commit, to charge to the care of, to fall upon, to attack, to number, to take a census

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to go to a person, to visit, to have personal contact with, to sort out, to visit a person, to commit, to charge to the care of, to fall upon, to attack, to number, to take a census

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

It is very difficult to give pâqad one or two English translations. (1) It can be used in a good sense to go to someone or to a place. (a) to visit; (b) to go in order to inspect and/or explore; hence to search; (c) to review, to number, to inventory; also, therefore, to miss, to find wanting (in this review or inventory); (d) to go to someone to take care of them; hence, to look after; also, to look to another for help. (2) Pâqad can be used in a causal sense (generally, then found in the Hiphil): (a) to set (someone over anything); (b) to commit, to charge to the care of; (c) to deposit anywhere. (3) The third set of meanings center around going to someone in a bad sense. Hence: (a) to fall upon, to attack; (b) used of God to chastise [the wicked]. There are further considerations depending upon the preposition which follows.

Here, the sense is not simply to take inventory and notice that David is missing from the meal, but to be noticeably upset about it; hence the doubling of pâqad.

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3


Translation: If your father definitely misses me,... We have a repetition of the verb pâqad, which has a variety of uses, listed above in the exegesis. The key to this word is generally human contact. Saul will go around and speak with most everyone at this meal, thus having personal contact with them. As he does, he takes a mental inventory of who is there and who is not. In his mental inventory, he might realize that David is missing. That would be a simple use of the verb pâqad. However, here, Saul is said not simply to miss David, in his inventory, but to definitely miss David. The idea is that Saul makes an issue of this. He is verbal about missing David. In this case, Jonathan is to say something to his father.


1Samuel 20:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

shâal (ל ַא ָש) [pronounced shaw-AHL]

to ask for oneself, to ask leave

Niphal infinitive absolute

Strong’s #7592 BDB #981

shâal (ל ַא ָש) [pronounced shaw-AHL]

to ask for oneself, to ask leave

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong’s #7592 BDB #981

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than, greater than

preposition of separation with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

rûts (ץר) [pronounced roots]

to run

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #7323 BDB #930

bêyth lechem (ם∵ח∵ל תי̤) [pronounced bayth-LEH-khem]

house of bread and is transliterated Bethlehem

proper noun, location

Strong’s #1035 BDB #111

׳îyr (רי ̣ע) [pronounced ģeer]

encampment, city, town

feminine singular noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #5892 BDB #746

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

zebach (ח ַב ז) [pronounced ZEHB-vakh]

slaughtered animal [used in a sacrificial offering], slaughter, sacrifice, slaughterings, sacrificial animal

masculine singular construct

Strong's #2077 BDB #257

yâmîym (םי.מָי) [pronounced yaw-MEEM]

days, time of life, lifetime; a specific time period, a year

masculine plural noun with a definite article

Strong’s #3117 BDB #398

shâm (ם ָש) [pronounced shawm]

there, thither, whither

adverb

Strong’s #8033 BDB #1027

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

kôl (לֹ) [pronounced kohl]

the whole, all of, the entirety of, all; can also be rendered any of with a plural noun

masculine singular construct followed by a definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

mishpâchâh (ה ָח ָ ׃ש ̣מ) [pronounced mish-paw-KHAWH]

family, clan, sub-tribe, class (of people), species (of animals), or sort (of things)

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #4940 BDB #1046


Translation: ...you will say, ‘David earnestly asked leave from me to run [to] his city Bethlehem for the yearly sacrifice there for the entire family.’ Then Jonathan is to tell his father that David asked permission to take leave of this dinner. However, again, just like we have with pâqad, the verb shâal is doubled, giving it great emphasis. So David does not simply request leave from this meal, but it is an earnest request, a passionate request.


With this, we have the verb to run. The idea is that David had to leave immediately and suddenly for this sacrifice in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is the city of David’s family (see 1Sam. 16), so this would make sense. In our culture, we tend to have family reunions at funerals and weddings, and occasionally during some holidays; in the ancient world, the family could be gathered for a yearly sacrifice. The animal would be slaughtered, but there would be a meal as well, made from the sacrificed animal. The words used here would indicate that this request was a very strong request and that David had to take his leave immediately in order to get to Bethlehem in time.


Quite obviously, David is asking Jonathan to lie to his father, which Jonathan will do. The idea is that Saul is unjustly trying to have David killed. Saul has declared David a dead man; and primarily because David is the heir to his throne. Therefore, what we have here is a planned political assassination. I would think that, under these circumstances, that David would have the right to lie. I’ve got to admit to being a little confused on this issue in this circumstance. Gill, on the other hand, suggests that this could be a true request. It is possible that David’s family was meeting in Bethlehem, and David is close enough to Bethlehem to go there and then to return for Jonathan’s report. He writes: it was customary for the family of Jesse one day in a year, and as it should seem on a first day of the month, and perhaps the first day of the first month, or New Year's Day, to have an anniversary feast by way of gratitude and thankfulness for the mercies of the year past, and for the continuance of them for time to come; in which the family rejoiced together at the great goodness of God unto them, 1Sa 9:12. Footnote Since David’s actual presence in Bethlehem is not stated but only implied, David would not even have to go to Bethlehem in order for this statement to be, more or less, true. I’m not certain that I buy into either of these theories, but either one would easily solve the problem of David asking Jonathan to lie to his father. In any case, the fact that Saul does not question this tells us that it was customary for families to have gatherings with somewhat of a religious purpose. Given that the Tent of God may not be in service at this point in time, also gives us a good reason to suspect that the religious feasts were practiced a little more free-form than what is prescribed in Scripture.


Given that David has herein asked Jonathan to lie to his father, it might be instructive to examine the concept of lying a little more. Therefore, let me offer you...

Gleason Archer’s Three Points on Lying

1.    Scripture records a number of sins, including lies. This does not mean that the Bible condones sin in any way. This particular sin of lying is not, therefore, approved by God.

2.    Just because an incident is recorded in Scripture, this does not mean that person was acting responsibly on the highest level of faith or furnishing a valid example of conduct that believers might justifiably follow today.

3.    The duty to tell only what is true does not necessarily carry with it the obligation to tell the whole truth about the matter, especially if lives would be endangered or lost as a result of this information, or if divulging all the details would violate a trust of secrecy or amount to a betrayal of another’s confidence. Footnote


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If thus he says, ‘Good,’ [then] peace to your servant; and if in anger he is angry to him, [then] know that completed the evil from with him.

1Samuel

20:7

If thus he says: ‘Good,’ [then there is] peace [and safety] to your servant; but if he is clearly angry [lit., in anger, he is angry] within [lit., with reference to] himself, [then] know that evil had been accomplished from with him.

If he says, “That’s good,’ then it is safe for your servant; however, if he is clearly angry, even if he tries to hide it, then know that he had planned harm to come to me, even at that meal.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       If thus he says, ‘Good,’ [then] peace to your servant; and if in anger he is angry to him, [then] know that completed the evil from with him.

Septuagint                             If he says thus: ‘Good,’ safe for your servant; but if he answers harshly to you, know that evil is determined by him.

 

Significant differences           No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       If your father says it's all right, then I'm safe. But if he gets angry, you'll know he wants to harm me.

NAB                                       If he says, ‘Very well,’ your servant is safe. But if he becomes quite angry, you can be sure he has planned some harm.

NLT                                        If he says, ‘Fine!’ then you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, then you will know he was planning to kill me.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         If he says, 'Good!' then I will be safe. But if he gets really angry, then you'll know for sure that he has decided to harm me.

JPS (Tanakh)                        If he says, ‘Good,’ your servant is safe; but if his anger flares up, know that he is resolved to do [me] harm.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “If he says [lit., says thus], ‘It is good,’ your servant shall be safe; but if he is very angry, know that he has decided on evil.

Young's Updated LT              If thus he says: ‘Good; peace is for your servant.’ And if it be very displeasing to him—know that the evil has been determined by him;...


What is the gist of this verse? David offers up two possible scenarios to Jonathan. First, after telling his father that David has gone to Bethlehem to be with his family, if Saul says, “Good” then he is clearly over his rage. However, if Saul is noticeably angry, then he plotted evil against David for that meal.


1Samuel 20:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

kôh (הֹ) [pronounced koh]

so, thus, here, hence

adverb

Strong’s #3541 BDB #462

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ţôwb (בט) [pronounced toebv]

pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, good, better

masculine singular adjective which acts like a substantive

Strong’s #2896 BDB #373

shâlôwm (םל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LOHM]

completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safe, secure, tranquil, undisturbed, unagitated

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7965 BDB #1022

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

׳ebed (ד ב ע) [pronounced ĢEB-ved]

slave, servant

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5650 BDB #713


Translation: If thus he says: ‘Good,’ [then there is] peace [and safety] to your servant;... Saul is either going to respond positively or negatively to the news that David is supposedly at a family sacrificial meal in Bethlehem (or, he could have very little by way of response). Saul, as a family man, would be pleased that David is taking time to be with his family; and even better that the celebration involved sacrifices to God. As the busy king, Saul might not even notice that David is gone or not think much one way or the other. So, if Saul had nothing plotted against David; if he was not troubled by a desire to kill David, then he would have a good response or no response to hearing this. Now David knew that Saul would not respond in either of these ways; however, he has to present these alternatives because Jonathan believes that he has already convinced his father that David is an asset to him.


1Samuel 20:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

chârâh (חָר ָה) [pronounced khaw-RAWH]

to burn, to kindle, to become angry, to evoke great emotion

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong's #2734 BDB #354

chârâh (חָר ָה) [pronounced khaw-RAWH]

to burn, to kindle, to become angry, to evoke great emotion

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2734 BDB #354

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: ...but if he is clearly angry [lit., in anger, he is angry] within [lit., with reference to] himself,... We have a repetition of the word angry. You have no doubt noticed that we have already had several Qal infinitive absolute’s in this chapter, which seems to be characteristic of David’s speech (at least at a time like this). Saul is not simply angry, but it is clear that he is angry; he is extremely upset. This thought is completed with the lâmed preposition affixed to the 3rd person masculine singular suffix, which I am having difficulty rendering into the English so that it makes sense. However, I believe the sense of this is, even if Saul is angry within himself. He may not say anything, but it is clear by observation that he is angry. The doubling of the verb means that he is clearly and unmistakably angry or that his anger is excessive. Saul will be angry because this would be an opportunity for him to kill David.


1Samuel 20:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

know; see; perceive, acquire knowledge, become acquainted, know by experience, have a knowledge of something

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

kâlâh (ה ָל ָ) [pronounced kaw-LAWH]

to complete, to finish; to be past, to go by; to consume, to waste, to destroy; to be completed or finished, to be accomplished or fulfilled; to be consumed [wasted or spent]

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #3615 BDB #477

râ׳âh (הָעָר) [pronounced raw-ĢAW]

evil, misery, distress, disaster, injury, iniquity, aberration, that which is morally reprehensible

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7451 BDB #949

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity (with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix)

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Together, these prepositions mean: from with, beside, from being with, away from, far from, from among, from the possession of, from the custody of, from the house of, from the vicinity of, out of the power of, from the mind of.


Translation: [then] know that evil has been accomplished from with him. The idea here, with the perfect tense, is that Saul had planned something against David for that meal. Saul knew that David attended these meals and would have the opportunity to have a plot already devised to take David at that time. David recognizes now that Saul is definitely out to kill him and that he will stop at nothing. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that Saul had something already lined up for this monthly meal.


And you have done grace with your servant for in a covenant of Yehowah you have brought your servant with you. And if there [is] in me iniquity, kill me yourself and as far as your father, to why this bring me?”

1Samuel

20:8

Furthermore, you have been gracious [lit., manufactured grace] to your servant for you have brought your servant into an alliance of Yehowah with you. But if there [is] iniquity in me, [then] kill me yourself. Why thus bring me as far as your father?”

Furthermore, you have always been gracious to me, even entering into a bond of friendship and loyalty before Jehovah with me. However, if you believe me to be guilty of anything, then execute me here and now. Why bother taking me to your father?”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And you have done grace with your servant for in a covenant of Yehowah you have brought your servant with you. And if there [is] in me iniquity, kill me yourself and as far as your father, to why this bring me?”

Septuagint                             And you will deal mercifully with your servant; for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you, and if there is iniquity in your servant, kill me yourself. But who do you thus bring me to your father?”

 

Significant differences           There is a minor difference noted; there are no significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Be kind to me. After all, it was your idea to promise the LORD that we would always be loyal friends. If I've done anything wrong, kill me yourself, but don't hand me over to your father.

NLT                                        Show me this kindness as my sworn friend—for we made a covenant together before the Lord—or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don’t betray me to him!”

TEV                                       Please do me this favor, and keep the sacred promise you made tome. But if I’m guilty, kill me yourself Why take me to your father to be killed?”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Now, be kind to me. After all, you forced me into an agreement with the Lord. If I have committed any crime, kill me yourself. Why bother taking me to your father?.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Deal faithfully with your servant, since you have taken your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. And if I am guilty, kill me yourself, but don’t make me go back to your father.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is iniquity in me, put me to death yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father?”

NRSV                                    Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a sacred covenant [Hebrew, a covenant of the Lord] with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself; why should you bring me to your father?”

Young's Updated LT              And you have shown kindness, to your servant, for into a covenant of Jehovah you have brought your servant with you; —and if there is in me iniquity, put me to death; and to your father, why is this—you bring me in?”


What is the gist of this verse? David acknowledges that Jonathan has been gracious to him in the past, to the point of entering into a bond in Jehovah with him. Then David adds, “If I am guilty of anything, then you kill me. There is no reason to haul me to your father.”


1Samuel 20:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

cheçed (ד ס ח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun

Strong's #2617 BDB #338

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

׳ebed (ד ב ע) [pronounced ĢEB-ved]

slave, servant

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5650 BDB #713

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity

Strong’s #none BDB #88

berîyth (תי.ר) [pronounced bereeth]

pact, alliance, treaty, alliance, covenant

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #1285 BDB #136

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to take in, to bring, to come in with, to carry

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil perfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

׳ebed (ד ב ע) [pronounced ĢEB-ved]

slave, servant

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5650 BDB #713

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix; pausal form

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767


Translation: Furthermore, you have been gracious [lit., manufactured grace] to your servant for you have brought your servant into a covenant of Yehowah with you. David closes by acknowledging the relationship between himself and Jonathan. Jonathan willingly forged a bond or an alliance between them before God. This was not something which he was constrained to do, or something that he did because it might be a good move politically speaking. Jonathan made a pact with David because he respected, loved and trusted him. At one gym where I worked out, there was an ex-professional football player, so big that he took up most of the space going up and down the stairs, which were designed for two. Heck of a nice guy as well and I believe that he is a believer. If circumstances were such that I should need to ally myself with someone, I’d choose someone like him, as he seemed trustworthy, solid and spiritually mature. Jonathan chose to make such a pact with David for roughly the same reasons. However, Jonathan made this pact from a position of power. Jonathan made this pact when David had nothing to give him. David recognized this as an act of grace. Jonathan, being the son of the king, held the cards. He could choose to whom he would be allied, and he recognized David’s character and chose him on the basis of his character rather than on the basis of his assets. Quickly contrast these men: Jonathan is a brave soldier and the son of the king, in line to the throne. David is potentially a fugitive. Early on in their friendship, Jonathan made a pact with David (1Sam. 18:3) and this passage is more of a renewal or an acknowledgment of that pact.


1Samuel 20:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

yêsh (שֵי) [pronounced yaysh]

being, substance, existence; used as a substitute for to be (without reference to number or tense); to be present, to be ready, to exist; the verb to be may be implied

substantive

Strong’s #3426 BDB #441

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #none BDB #88

׳âvôwn (ן ָע) [pronounced ģaw-VOHN]

iniquity, crime, offense, transgression, depraved action, guilt, punishment from wrongdoing

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5771 BDB #730

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to kill, to cause to die, to put to death, to execute

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperative with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

attâh (הָ-א) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you (often, the verb to be is implied)

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61


Translation: But if there [is] iniquity in me, [then] kill me yourself. The latter half of this verse makes a reasonable argument to have a less than literal Bible translation as a back up. David is offering himself to Jonathan, saying, “Now, if you believe me to be guilty of some crime or offense, then you should kill me.” Jonathan, as the king’s son, had this sort of authority. He could determine the innocence of guilt of a man, and execute him on the spot. David is telling Jonathan, “If you believe that there is iniquity in me, then you execute me here and now.”

 

Gill writes: ...this expresses the strong sense [that David]...had of his own integrity, and served to confirm Jonathan in his opinion of it. Footnote David’s position, which Jonathan must agree to, is that he is blameless and has acted only with the utmost integrity.


1Samuel 20:8c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

Lâmed + mâh can be rendered why, for what reason, to what purpose, for what purpose, indicating an interrogatory sentence.

zeh (ה ז) [pronounced zeh]

here, this, thus

demonstrative adjective with a definite article

Strong’s #2063, 2088, 2090 BDB #260

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to take in, to bring, to come in with, to carry

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #935 BDB #97


Translation: Why thus bring me as far as your father?” The word order of this phrase is a bit mixed up for those of us who speak English. The position that a word takes in an English sentence often determines whether it is the subject of object of a verb; or whether a verb is an imperative or simply an indicative. In the Greek and Hebrew, this is done within the words themselves; one can pick out the subject of a verb and the verb because their morphologies match. Or, one can easily recognize the direct object of a verb, as it is preceded by an untranslated word which tells you that it’s a direct object. Here, giving this a word-for-word translation in this particular order would make little sense. However, what David is asking Jonathan is, “Why not execute me yourself, if you believe that I am guilty of a capital offense. Why bother taking me as far as your father?”


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Jonathan Makes a Pact with David


To be more precise, the covenant that Jonathan will make with David will be in vv. 12–16, after they have gone out to the field.


And so says Jonathan, “Far be it to you that if knowing I know that completed the evil from with my father to come upon you and not her [i.e., evil] I make know to you.”

1Samuel

20:9

Jonathan answered, “Far be it to you! If I definitely knew that evil from my father had been completed to come upon you, would I not make it known to you?”

Jonathan answered, “Impossible! If I knew that my father had planned evil to come upon you, then would I not make this known to you?”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Jonathan, “Far be it to you that if knowing I know that completed the evil from with my father to come upon you and not her [i.e., evil] I make know to you.”

Septuagint                             And Jonathan said, “That be far from you, for if I definitely know that evil is determined by my father to come upon you, although it should not be against your cities, I will tell you.”

 

Significant differences           There is a difference of one verb, which does not affect the meaning very much. However, there is one phrase which is difficult to understand in the Hebrew and the Greek—both of those phrases are marked above.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Don't worry,” Jonathan said. “If I find out that my father wants to kill you, I'll certainly let you know.”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Jonathan answered, “That's unthinkable! If I knew for sure that my father had decided to harm you, I would have told you about it.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan replied, “Don’t talk like that! If I learn that my father has resolved to kill you, I will surely tell you about it.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! For if I should indeed learn that evil has been decided by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell you about it?”

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan says, “Far be it from you!” for I certainly do not know that the evil has been determined by my father to come upon you, and I do not declare it to you.”


What is the gist of this verse? David has told Jonathan that if he is guilty of a capital offense to execute him. Jonathan replies with a strong negative response. Then he asks David, “If I knew that my father had planned to do evil to you, wouldn’t I tell you about it?”


1Samuel 20:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

châlîylâh (ה ָלי ̣ל ָח) [pronounced khaw-LEE-law]

far be it [from me or you], to profane [something], a profanity!, a blasphemy!

adverb, substantive, interjection

Strong’s #2486 BDB #321

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix, pausal form

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: Jonathan answered, “Far be it to you! Jonathan responds to the various points which David makes. First of all, he answers David’s suggestion that he simply execute David, if he believes David to be a crminal. His very brief, two word (plus a suffix) answer is, “There is no way that I could possibly do this to you. There is no way that I find you guilty of anything!” Coming up with a brief but reasonable rendering of these two words is difficult. “No way!” sounds too colloquial and trite. The best modern equivalents that I have come across is God’s Word™, which renders this, “That’s unthinkable!” or the New Jerusalem Bible which renders this “Perish the thought!” The New Living Translation renders this, “Never!” which is also a good rendering. Obviously, none of these translations are very literal, but literal is not always the best way to render a Hebrew colloquialism.


Jonathan is also objecting to the notion that he has knowledge that his father his some evil planned for David (whether because of a real or supposed iniquity in David). He did not meet with David in order to capture him and take him to his father. This will be made clear in the next portion of this verse.


1Samuel 20:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle, but also functions as an interrogative particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to see; to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to become acquainted, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

yâda׳ (ע ַדָי) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to see; to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to become acquainted, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

kâlâh (ה ָל ָ) [pronounced kaw-LAWH]

to complete, to finish; to be past, to go by; to consume, to waste, to destroy; to be completed or finished, to be accomplished or fulfilled; to be consumed [wasted or spent]

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #3615 BDB #477

râ׳âh (הָעָר) [pronounced raw-ĢAW]

evil, misery, distress, disaster, injury, iniquity, aberration, that which is morally reprehensible

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7451 BDB #949

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Together, these prepositions mean: from with, beside, from being with, away from, far from, from among, from the possession of, from the custody of, from the house of, from the vicinity of, out of the power of, from the mind of.

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bôw (א) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752


Translation: If I definitely knew that evil from my father had been completed to come upon you,... Jonathan here is answering an unspoken concern, which is not actually David’s, but Jonathan’s. Jonathan is concerned that his friend does not trust him. Or, he wants to make his loyalty clearly known to David. The if in this verse also functions as an interrogative particle, which will be added to in the next portion of this verse with a negative (the two are generally found together for the sense of an emphatic affirmative; however, here they are here separated with the same intention).


Jonathan assures David that, if he definitely knew that his father had engineered evil against him, then would he not tell David? He is reaffirming his allegiance to David. David mentioned their pact before God and Jonathan is telling him that this pact is still in effect; that he would not renege on their bond.


1Samuel 20:9c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

You will recall that in v. 9b, there was an îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem], which generally means if, but can also function as an interrogative particle. Strong’s #518 BDB #49. Sometimes when îm is followed by the negative particle lô (אֹל) [pronounced low] (Strong’s #3808 BDB #518), together they can function as an emphatic affirmative. Let me offer you an analogy in English: a lawyer is grilling a suspect on the stand, and he says, “Isn’t it true that you are the one who stole Charlie Brown’s purse?” The lawyer is not asking if something is not true; by throwing in the not he is expecting or desirous of the affirmative response: “Yes, it is true.” In fact, he is looking more for an affirmative answer with that question than with the question, “Is it true that you stole Charlie Brown’s purse?” These two together are often a part of the formula of swearing; together they form a strong affirmation and asservation (Job 1:11 2:5 22:20 Isa. 5:9).

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

sign of the direct object with a 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

the 3rd person feminine singular suffix refers back to the word evil in this verse.

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

1st person singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: ...would I not make it known to you?” This is definitely a difficult phrase to render. The 3rd person feminine singular suffix affixed to the sign of the direct object refers back to the potential evil that Saul might plot against David and is the object of the verb which follows. Jonathan is stating, “I would make [this] evil known to you!” the evil referring back to any plot that Saul had devised against David for the upcoming meal. However, this is also negated, which may have made Young’s literal translation somewhat confusing. However, the negation actually goes with the interrogative îm which began Jonathan’s second thought. The two together form what is known as a emphatic negative affirmation. That statement requires a strong affirmative answer, although it is stated as a negative. In the Hebrew exegesis, I have given you a good English parallel. Like many of the Hebrew idioms, you may have your doubts; however, if you are given a very similar English usage, then it makes more sense.


And so David says unto Jonathan, “Who will make know to me or what answers you your father severely?”

1Samuel

20:10

David then asked Jonathan, “Who will tell me if [lit., or] your father answers you harshly?”

David then asked Jonathan, “How will I know if your father answers you harshly?”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so David says unto Jonathan, “Who will make know to me or what answers you your father severely?”

Septuagint                             And David said to Jonathan, “Who can tell me if your father should answer roughly?”

 

Significant differences           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “How will you do that?” David asked.

NLT                                        Then David asked, “How will I know whether or not your father is angry?”


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Then David asked, “Who will tell me whether or not your father gives you a harsh answer?”

JPS (Tanakh)                        David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if [meaning of Hebrew uncertain] your father answers you harshly?”

Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

Young's Updated LT              And David says to Jonathan, “Who will declare to me? Of what if your father answers you sharply?”


What is the gist of this verse? If Saul has clearly plotted against David (which David is certain of), he asks Jonathan how will this information be gotten to him.


1Samuel 20:10

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

mîy (י ̣מ) [pronounced mee]

who; occasionally rendered how, in what way

pronominal interrogative

Strong’s #4310 BDB #566

nâgad (ד ַג ָנ) [pronounced naw-GAHD]

to make conspicuous, to make known, to expound, to explain, to declare, to inform, to confess, to make it pitifully obvious that

3rd person masculine singular suffix, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #5046 BDB #616

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ô (א) [pronounced oh]

or, or rather, otherwise, also, and

conjunction

Strong's #176 BDB #14

Gesenius and Thenius take this to mean if perchance and Keil and Delitzsch do agree that it may be taken that way in some passages (although K & D don’t believe that ô should be so understood in this passage). Keil and Delitzsch: This is evidently incorrect; for even though there are certain passages in which א may be so rendered, it is only where some other case is supposed [apparently within the same sentence], and therefore the meaning or still likes at the foundation. These questions of David were suggested by a correct estimate of the circumstances, namely, that Saul’s suspicions would leave him to the conclusion that there was some understanding between Jonathan and David, and that he would take steps in consequence to prevent Jonathan from making David acquainted with the result of his conversation with Saul. Footnote

In this context, there is the presentation of two clear alternatives (even though David doubts one of them). However, in the immediate context of this sentence, there are not two alternatives presented.

mâh (ה ָמ) [pronounced maw]

what, how, why

interrogative; exclamatory particle

Strong’s #4100 BDB #552

׳ânâh (ה ָנ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-NAWH]

to answer, to respond; to speak loudly, to speak up [in a public forum]; to testify; to sing, to chant, to sing responsively

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #6030 BDB #772

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

qâsheh (השָק) [pronounced kaw-SHEH]

hard, severe, difficult, fierce, intense, vehement, stiff, hash stubborn

adjective, pausal form

Strong’s #7186 BDB #904

I suspect that qâsheh is either an adverb or that it functions as an adverb here.


Translation: David then asked Jonathan, “Who will tell me if [lit., or] your father answers you harshly?” David is certain that Saul has plotted evil against him. However, if Saul hid this from Jonathan (which he obviously did), then that means that Saul would have suspicions about Jonathan, and that he might keep Jonathan under watch for awhile. As I have mentioned on several occasions in the past, Saul is not a stupid man, even if he is a paranoiac, homicidal schizophrenic.


For the reasons behind this translation (and, therefore, interpretation), see the discussion of the exegesis within the Hebrew.


And so says Jonathan unto David, “Come and we will go out [into] the field.” And so they go out two of them [into] the field.

1Samuel

20:11

“Come and we will go out [into] the field,” Jonathan said to David. So they both went out [into] the field.

“Come and let’s go out into the field,” Jonathan suggested. And they both went out into the field.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       Jonathan said to David, “Go and remain in the field.” And they both went out into the field.

Septuagint                             And so says Jonathan unto David, “Come and we will go out [into] the field.” And so they go out two of them [into] the field.

 

Significant differences           In the MT, Jonathan tells David to go out into the field; in the Greek, he says that they will both go out into the field.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       “Let's go out to this field, and I'll tell you,” Jonathan answered. When they got there,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Jonathan said, “Let's go out into the country.” So they went out into the country.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan said to David, “Let us go into the open”; and they both went out into the open.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     And Jonathan said to David, “Come, and let us go out into the field.” So both of them went out to the field.

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan says to David, “Come, and we go out into the field;” and they go out both of them into the field.


What is the gist of this verse? While Jonathan formulates in his mind a way to signal David, they walk out to a field (possibly where they met before under similar circumstances).


1Samuel 20:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

go, come, depart, walk; advance

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative with the voluntative hê

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

yâtsâ (א ָצ ָי) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go out, to come out, to come forth

1st person plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

sâdeh (ה∵דָ) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961


Translation: “Come and we will go out [into] the field,” Jonathan said to David. Jonathan is formulating a plan so that he can signal David as to Saul’s disposition. Jonathan is a visual person. In order to formulate this plan, he needs to look over where this will potentially take place.


We don’t know exactly where Jonathan and David are to begin with. We don’t know if David went to Jonathan at the palace (which is possible, seeing as how Saul is indisposed back in Naioth). It is possible that Jonathan lives elsewhere, and David went there. I would think the latter would be the case, because of David’s words at the end of v. 8. If they were in the palace, with Saul in Naioth, and Jonathan knew that David was guilty of a crime, he would not take David to his father in Naioth, he would simply incarcerate David there and wait for Saul to come back. This would indicate that they cannot be meeting in the palace, as Gill supposes. Footnote Furthermore, meeting at the palace would not have been safe anyway, as several sets of soldiers had already shown willingness to go after David. In either case, Jonathan realizes that, if his father has plotted evil against David, then anyone in the palace could be in on it. As they formulate a plan for Jonathan to signal David, they need to move to a place of complete privacy. Wherever they are at this point is too public to set up a plan.


1Samuel 20:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâtsâ (א ָצ ָי) [pronounced yaw-TZAWH]

to go out, to come out, to come forth

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3318 BDB #422

shenayim (ם̣י-נש) [pronounced sheNAH-yim]

two of, a pair of, a duo of

masculine plural numeral with a 3rd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #8147 BDB #1040

sâdeh (ה∵דָ) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961


Translation: So they both went out [into] the field. David and Jonathan both go out to the field as Jonathan formulates a plan.


The NIV Study Bible points out an unusual parallel here to Cain and Abel, who also go out to a field together. They are brothers and should, as such, have a natural bond or affinity for one another. However, because of jealousy, Cain kills his brother Abel. Here, Jonathan and David are not biological brothers, but they are spiritual brothers. And they go out to the field to formulate a plan to protect one another. What is lacking in their relationship is jealousy and mental attitude sins toward one another, which sorts of sins motivated Cain to kill his brother. David and Cain will both become refugees; however, David will return to be enthroned over Israel.


Why did I point these parallels out? Critics of Scripture often go to similar passages or parallel incidents and claim that these are actually two accounts of the same incident. Apart from the inspiration of Scripture, this would certainly be a possibility. However, when two incidents are recorded as separate incidents, then we must accept them at face value as similar, but separate, occurrences. In these two stories, a half dozen similarities and as many differences could be cited. However, few would ever suppose that these are two traditions of the same incident. My point is, there are many situations which occur which are similar to incidents which occurred previously. This does not mean that they are the same incident. With regards to our own lives, there are some tests that we may face two or three or more times. Therefore, our lives seem to fall into these parallel situations. The reason for this is that we often fail the first few tests, and, by growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to eventually pass the final test. In academics, there are some tests that we must pass in order to move on to the next level. Algebra 1 is required before Algebra 2; therefore, whatever tests and assignments that are associated with Algebra 1 must be completed and passed before a person can move onto Algebra 2. There are no doubt tests in our lives that we must pass in order to move on in our lives. For instance, committing to the daily intake of God’s Word; committing to naming one’s sins to God. Footnote For many people, they cannot move beyond spiritual adolescence until they are able to recognize the absolute necessity of those two activities. So, if you suddenly find yourself in a situation that you have been in before, and you recognize that you are being tested, then, dammit, pass the test this time.


And so says Jonathan unto David, “Yehowah Elohim of Israel that: I search out my father as the time tomorrow [or] the third [day] and behold, good unto David and not then I send unto you and I have disclosed [this to] your ear...

1Samuel

20:12

Then Jonathan said to David, “[By] Yehowah the Elohim of Israel: I will question [lit., search out] my father when the time [is] right—tomorrow [or] the third [day]—and listen, [if he replies] ‘Good,’ and I do not sent to you and disclose [this to] you [lit., your ear]...

Then Jonathan said to David, “By Jehovah the God of Israel, I will question my father when the time is right, either tomorrow or the next day, and you can be certain that if he tells me ‘Good’ that you are with your family in Bethlehem, then I will relay this message to you.


From this verse through v. 16 will be the covenant that Jonathan makes between himself and David. Note that the JPS indicates that the translation of these four verses is difficult, as the Hebrew is uncertain. To further complicate matters, these verses were very poorly divided, so the completion of a thought is often found in a subsequent verse.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says Jonathan unto David, “Yehowah Elohim of Israel that: I search out my father as the time tomorrow [or] the third [day] and behold, good unto David and not then I send unto you and I have disclosed [this to] your ear...

Septuagint                             And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord God of Israel knows that I will sound my father as I have an opportunity, three several times, and, behold, [if good] is determined concerning David, and I do not send to you to the field,...

 

Significant differences           Although the differences are essentially insignificant, I do not follow exactly what is meant by the final line in the LXX.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Jonathan said: I swear by the Lord God of Israel, that two days from now I'll know what my father is planning. Of course I'll let you know if he's friendly toward you.

TEV                                       ...and Jonathan said to David, “May the Lord God if Israel be our witness! At this time tomorrow and on the following day I will question my father. If his attitude toward you is good, I will send you word.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         “As the Lord God of Israel └is my witness┘,” Jonathan continued, “I'll find out in the next two or three days how my father feels about you. If he does feel kindly toward you, then I will send someone to tell you.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Then Jonathan said to David, “By the Lord, the God of Israel! I will sound out my father at this time tomorrow, [or] on the third day; and if [his response] is favorable for David, I will send a message to you at once and disclose it to you. [The meaning of several parts of vv. 12–16 is uncertain].


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   Then Jonathan said to David—

<Witness [be] Yahweh God of Israel> that I will sound [more literally, search] my father about this time tomorrow or the third day, and listen, <if there be good towards David>, will I not │then│ send [this information] to you and unveil your ear?

NASB                                     Then Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if there is good feeling toward David, shall I not then send to you and make it known to you [lit., uncover your ear]?

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan said to David, “Jehovah, God of Israel-—when I search my father, about this time tomorrow or the third day, and lo, good is towards David, and I do not then send unto thee, and have uncovered thine ear—...


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan swears to David that he will carefully question his father and let him know if his father indicates that everything is okay.


You have no doubt noticed the numerous brackets and additional words in my translation—that means that this was a difficult verse to translate, even though none of the words are necessarily in question. One of the biggest problems is that the thought of this verse is continued into the next, which only a few Bible translators pick up on. In fact, several translations take the negative from this verse and insert it into the next, so that they can keep the verses separate. However, the division of verses is not a divine implementation.


1Samuel 20:12a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-MARH]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

The Syriac translation inserts Witness at this point, which does convey the general meaning of the oath which is to follow. However, witness is not found in the Masoretic text.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

ělôhîym (מי ̣הֹלֱא) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

gods or God; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural construct

Strong's #430 BDB #43

Yiserâêl (ל ֵא ָר  ׃  ̣י) [pronounced yis-raw-ALE]

transliterated Israel

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3478 BDB #975

Keil and Delitzsch: “Jehovah, God of Israel” ...introduces his oath. We have neither to supply “Jehovah is witness,” or “as truly as Jehovah lives,” as some have suggested. Footnote

The opinion of Keil and Delitzsch notwithstanding, the addition of these couple words give us a better English sense of what might be understood in the Hebrew.


Translation: Then Jonathan said to David, “[By] Yehowah the Elohim of Israel: I will question [lit., search out] my father when the time [is] right—tomorrow [or] the third [day]—... Apparently, simply saying the name of Jehovah, God of Israel, invoked an oath or a guarantee. When it stands on its own, then Jonathan is making an oath by the name of Jehovah God that he will do what he says he will do. I think that Brenton gives the best sense of this phrase which he interprets as saying, “Jehovah God of Israel, [be a witness]...”

 

Clarke remarks on this oath: There is, most evidently, something wanting in this verse. The Septuagint has, The Lord God of Israel knows. The Syriac and Arabic, The Lord God of Israel is Witness. Either of these makes a good sense. But two of Dr. Kennicott’s MSS. supply the word י-ח chai, “lives;” and the text reads thus, As the Lord God of Israel Lives, when I have sounded my father - if there be good, and I then send not unto you, and show it you, the Lord do so and much more to Jonathan. This makes a still better sense. Footnote


1Samuel 20:12b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

châqar (ר -קָח) [pronounced khaw-KAHR]

to search out, to search for, to investigate, to thoroughly investigate

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2713 BDB #350

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately; combined with an infinitive, it can also take on the meaning as, often, when, as soon as

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

׳êth (ת ֵע) [pronounced ģayth]

time, the right time, the proper time

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #6256 BDB #773

mâchâr (רָח ָמ) [pronounced maw-KHAWR]

 literally, tomorrow; but figuratively can stand for in time to come, in the future, later on, down the road (chronologically speaking)

adverb of time

Strong’s #4279 BDB #563

shelishîym (םי.ש̣לש) [pronounced sheli-SHEEM]

third, a third part, a third time; chambers [of the third story]

masculine/feminine adjective/ordinal numeral with the definite article

Strong’s #7992 BDB #1026


Translation: ...I will question [lit., search out] my father when the time [is] right—tomorrow [or] the third [day]—... When it reads that Jonathan is going to search out his father, it does not mean that the banquet will be so large that he anticipates having to look all over the place to find Saul. Jonathan will speak with his father and surreptitiously quiz him about David. He has to make it look as though he is not pumping his father artificially for a response; and it must appear as though he is unaware of his father’s intentions toward David. This is why we have the phrase, when the time is right, either tomorrow or the next day (which is, more literally, as the time [is] right, tomorrow [or] the third [day]). The idea is, either his father will pull him aside and say, “Where the hell is David?” or he will take his father aside and say, “Oh, by the way, David is in Bethlehem with his family for a sacrifice.” Then Jonathan will carefully evaluate his father’s response.


1Samuel 20:12c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hinnêh (הֵ ̣ה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

ţôwb (בט) [pronounced toebv]

pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, good, better

masculine singular adjective which acts like a substantive

Strong’s #2896 BDB #373

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

âz (ז ָא) [pronounced awz]

then, at that time, in that case (when following an if or though), now, as things are; that being so

adverb

Strong’s #227 BDB #23

shâlach (ח ַל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send, to send for, to send forth, to send away, to dismiss, to deploy, to put forth

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

gâlâh (ה ָלָ) [pronounced gaw-LAWH]

to make naked; to disclose, to reveal, to uncover [one’s ear to hear something]; to make [a land] naked of inhabitants; to emigrate, to be led into exile

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1540 BDB #162

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ôzen (ן∵זֹא) [pronounced OH-zen]

ear

feminine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #241 BDB #23


Translation: ...and listen, [if he replies] ‘Good,’ I do not sent to you and disclose [this to] you [lit., your ear]... In this portion of the verse, we have a negative again used as an emphatic affirmative. The problem here is that we do not have the typical Hebrew notation of a question being asked. There are no particles which indicate that this is a question. However, we know that Jonathan will send a message to David and let him know how Saul responded.


Now, the actual use of this negative is related to Jonathan’s oath, Jehovah, God of Israel. The implication is that God will do harm to him if he does not tell David what is going on with Saul. The problem with understanding exactly what is being said here is mostly because this verse is cut off. What Jonathan has said so far is an incomplete thought which is completed in the following verse. He continues this oath in v. 13, where Jonathan will say, “God will do so to Jonathan and more also” which is a call for God to do harm to Jonathan (speaking of himself in the third person) if he does not fulfill his promise to David. Several translators convey this (e.g., Young); however let me give you the translation found in the New Jerusalem Bible: Jonathan then said to David, ‘By Yahweh, God of Israel! I shall sound my father this time tomorrow; if all is well for David and I do not then send and inform you, may Yahweh bring unnameable ills to Jonathan and worse ones too! If my father intends to do you a mischief, I shall tell you so and let you get away, so that you can be safe. And may Yahweh be with you as he used to be with my father! (1Sam. 20:12–13). Although their translation is not perfect, they do properly connect these two verses, something which can easily be lost on those who have, say, The Amplified Bible or the NASB, wherein the verses are all very neatly separated.


...so does Yehowah to Jonathan and so He adds. That it [lit., he] is well unto my father the evil upon you and I have uncovered [it to] your ear and I have sent you away and you have gone in peace. And may Yehowah be with you as which He has been with my father.

1Samuel

20:13

...so will Yehowah do to Jonathan and more will He add. If [lit., that] it is good to my father [to have plotted] evil against you then I will reveal [that] to you [lit., your ear] and I will send you away and you will go in peace—and may Yehowah be with you as He has been with my father.

If I do not do as I promise, then Jehovah will do evil to me and more. And if my father has plotted evil against you, then I will certainly reveal that to you and send you away in peace—and my prayer is that Jehovah will be with you as He has been with my father.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       ...so does Yehowah to Jonathan and so He adds. That it [lit., he] is well unto my father the evil upon you and I have uncovered [it to] your ear and I have sent you away and you have gone in peace. And may Yehowah be with you as which He has been with my father.

Septuagint                             God do so to Jonathan and more also, as I will report the evil to you, and make it known to you, and I will let you go, and you will depart in peace, and the Lord will be with you, as he was with my father.

 

Significant differences:          My guess is, the translators of the LXX struggled with the second phrase of the Hebrew here, and then tried to give the translation the best sensed meaning they could without straying too far from the original text.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       But if he wants to harm you, I promise to tell you and help you escape. And I ask the Lord to punish me severely if I don't keep my promise. I pray that the Lord will bless you, just as he used to bless my father.

NLT                                        But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the Lord kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live. May the Lord be with you as he used to be with my father.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         If my father plans to harm you and I fail to tell you and send you away safely, may the LORD harm me even more. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father.

JPS (Tanakh)                        But if my father intends to do you harm, may the Lord do thus to Jonathan and more if I do [not] disclose it to you and send you off to escape unharmed. May the Lord be with you, as He used to be with my father.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     “If it please my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to Jonathan, and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father.

Young's Updated LT              thus does Jehovah do to Jonathan, and thus does He add; when the evil concerning you is good to my father, then I have uncovered your ear, and sent you away, and you have gone in peace, and Jehovah is with you, as he was with my father;...


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan in this verse completes the oath from the previous verse, saying that God will do [evil] to him and more if he does not reveal his father’s intentions to David. Jonathan adds that if Saul has plotted evil against him, then he will also reveal this to David and see to it that David receives safe passage out of Saul’s periphery. He closes by asking that God be with David as He was with Saul.


1Samuel 20:13a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kôh (הֹ) [pronounced koh]

so, thus, here, hence

adverb

Strong’s #3541 BDB #462

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

kôh (הֹ) [pronounced koh]

so, thus, here, hence

adverb

Strong’s #3541 BDB #462

Kôh is repeated, which often gives us a slight change of meaning (here...there; on this side...on that side; hither...thither; perhaps, this...and more).

yâçaph (ף ַס ָי) [pronounced yaw-SAHPH]

to add, to augment, to increase, to multiply; to add to do = to do again

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #3254 BDB #414


Translation: ...so will Yehowah do to Jonathan and more will He add. This continues the negative of the previous verse. The idea is that, if Jonathan fails to inform David of Saul’s intentions, then may God do evil to him and more. This actually seems to fit better with what follows, if there was a negative included in what follows. The first approach is that, what if Saul is pleased that David is with his family? Then Jonathan will tell this to David. However, if Saul is angry and has plotted evil against David, then Jonathan will reveal this as well. This oath here seems to fit better with the second scenario, and would appear to call for a negative the second time that Jonathan promises to keep David informed. “If my father has plotted evil against you, then may Jehovah to do this same [evil] to me and more, if I do not tell you of this.” However, the way we find this in the majority text is the negative is found with Jonathan telling David the scenario of Saul being pleased.


Perhaps this suggests a construction where this oath is applied to both clauses, and that the negative should be carried over into the second clause, in order to fit with the oath.


In any case, the gist of the verse is clear. Jonathan takes an oath to keep David completely informed as to Saul’s disposition. In other words, this precludes Saul saying anything that would cause Jonathan to return to David in order to capture or kill him. In some cases with some people, this would be quite a leap of faith. However, with David, Jonathan knows that he can trust his character. Jonathan does not expect to find out some hidden defect in David known only to his father. In fact, he does not expect his father to react negatively when he finds that David is gone. Jonathan actually has these two expectations, both of which depend upon the character of the person. With David, he makes an oath, which precludes anything that anyone might say about David. Jonathan knows David’s character and knows that David has not committed any seditious act. However, Jonathan also assumes that his father is no longer looking to take David’s life; and he thinks that if Saul were out to do such a thing, that he would know about it. This expectation depends upon the character of Saul. Note that Jonathan’s oath only speaks to his first expectation—he can trust David’s integrity, and therefore, an oath to David would be right. On the other hand, Jonathan is not certain that he can trust his father and his father’s judgment, so he makes no such oath respecting his father (e.g., “I guarantee you by the Lord God that my father Saul is not out to kill you.”). He may think that his father is not plotting evil against David, but he is not about to take a vow about that!


1Samuel 20:13b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

yâţabv (ב ַטָי) [pronounced yaw-TABV]

to do well, to cause to do well, to do rightly, to do good, to make merry, to make fit, to adjust

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong’s #3190 BDB #405

el (לא) [pronounced el]

in, into, toward, unto, to, regarding, against

directional preposition with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

râ׳âh (הָעָר) [pronounced raw-ĢAW]

evil, misery, distress, disaster, injury, iniquity, aberration, that which is morally reprehensible

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7451 BDB #949

׳al (ל ַע) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

gâlâh (ה ָלָ) [pronounced gaw-LAWH]

to make naked; to disclose, to reveal, to uncover [one’s ear to hear something]; to make [a land] naked of inhabitants; to emigrate, to be led into exile

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1540 BDB #162

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ôzen (ן∵זֹא) [pronounced OH-zen]

ear

feminine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #241 BDB #23


Translation: If [lit., that] it is good to my father [to have plotted] evil against you then I will reveal [that] to you [lit., your ear]... Jonathan also suggests the second alternative that Saul has plotted evil against David. In that case, he will reveal Saul’s intentions to David. Jonathan does not think that this is the case, but given David’s character and adamance, he is not about to rule it out.


1Samuel 20:13c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shâlach (ח ַל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send, to send off, to send away, to dismiss, to give over, to cast out, to let go, to set free, to shoot forth [branches], to shoot [an arrow]

1st person singular, Piel perfect with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâlake ( ַל ָה) [pronounced haw-LAHKe]

to go, to come, to depart, to walk; to advance

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #1980 (and #3212) BDB #229

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

shâlôwm (םל ָש) [pronounced shaw-LOHM]

completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safe, secure, tranquil, undisturbed, unagitated

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #7965 BDB #1022


Translation: ...and I will send you away and you will go in peace—... Jonathan assures David that if his father has plotted evil against him, then Jonathan will inform David of that so that David can safely leave Saul’s periphery.


1Samuel 20:13d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect, apocopated

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

kaph or ke ( ׃) [pronounced ke]

like, as, according to; about, approximately

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #453

ăsher (ר ש ֲא) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

hâyâh (ה ָי ָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

âbv (ב ָא,) [pronounced awbv]

father, both as the head of a household or clan

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #1 BDB #3


Translation: ...and may Yehowah be with you as He as been with my father. Jonathan recognizes that his father, despite all of his weaknesses, has been a recipient of God’s grace. Gill writes: in the beginning of his reign, giving him counsel and advice in all things, and victory over his enemies, succeeding and prospering him in whatsoever he engaged in. Footnote God has been with Saul through many difficult situations. Saul failed God, but God never failed Saul. Jonathan asks that David to receive this same grace.


And not if still I [am] alive and you will not do with me grace of Yehowah. And I do not die...

1Samuel

20:14

And if I am still living, then you will give [lit., do] the grace of God to me [lit., with me] and I will not die.

And you will be gracious to me while I am alive; and when I die,...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And not if still I [am] alive and you will not do with me grace of Yehowah. And I do not die...

Septuagint                             And if indeed I continue to live, then you will deal mercifully with me; and if I indeed die,...

 

Significant differences           There are 3 negatives in the MT which make more sense being eliminated from the Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Someday the Lord will wipe out all of your enemies. Then if I'm still alive, please be as kind to me as the Lord has been. But if I'm dead, be kind to my family.

NLT                                        And may you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die,...

REB                                       I know that as long as I live you will show me faithful friendship, as the Lord requires; and if I should die,...

TEV                                       And if I remain alive, please keep your sacred promise and be loyal to me; but if I die,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         But as long as I live, └promise me that you will┘ show me kindness because of the Lord. And even when I die,.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Nor shall you fail to show me the Lord’s faithfulness [i.e., the faithfulness pledged in the covenant before the Lord], while I am alive; nor, when I am dead,...


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                While I am still alive you shall not only show me the loving-kindness of the Lord that I die not,...

NASB                                     “And if I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die?

NKJV                                     “And you shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die;...

Young's Updated LT              ...and not only while I am alive do you do with me the kindness of Jehovah, and I die not,...


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan reminds David that he is also beholden to Jonathan. Jonathan knows that David has been chosen by God to rule over Israel, and he tells David that he will have to fulfill his part of their pact as well.


As with the previous couple verses, this verse was improperly divided. The last few words belong with v. 15 (which is also continued into v. 16). I should warn you that the many negations here are going to be somewhat problematic (you will note that most translations flat out ignore them). I don’t know how deeply I am going to delve into this verse. It would be easier for all if I simply state the translation and quickly move on with little or no comment.


1Samuel 20:14a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle, but also functions as an interrogative particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

Recall earlier that I mentioned that îm (ם ̣א) [pronounced eem], although it generally means if, can also function as an interrogative particle. Strong’s #518 BDB #49. Sometimes when îm is followed by the negative particle lô (אֹל) [pronounced low] (Strong’s #3808 BDB #518), together they can function as an emphatic affirmative. Let me offer you an analogy in English: a lawyer is grilling a suspect on the stand, and he says, “Isn’t it true that you are the one who stole Charlie Brown’s purse?” The lawyer is not asking if something is not true; by throwing in the not he is expecting or desirous of the affirmative response: “Yes, it is true.” In fact, he is looking more for an affirmative answer with that question than with the question, “Is it true that you stole Charlie Brown’s purse?” These two together are often a part of the formula of swearing; together they form a strong affirmation and asservation (Job 1:11 2:5 22:20 Isa. 5:9). Here, îm is preceded by lô, but the idea seems to be the same.

׳ôwd (דע) [pronounced ģohd]

still, yet, again, besides, in addition to, even yet

adverb with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5750 BDB #728

chay (י ַח) [pronounced KHAH-ee]

living, alive

adjective; pausal form

Strong's #2416 BDB #311


Translation: And if I am still living,... Please refer to the Hebrew exegesis above. Jonathan is using a negative in such a way as to elicit a strong, affirmative response from David (even if this statement does not call for an actual response from David). “And, of course, you realize that you are obligated as well.” might be the sense of what Jonathan is saying. As you can see by the translations given, coming up with an English translation which is true to the Hebrew and makes English sense is difficult if not impossible.


It is also reasonable that this phrase is tied to the next verse. Jonathan is asking for David’s grace not only to him while he is alive, but even after he dies. This will be covered in greater detail at the end of v. 15.


1Samuel 20:14b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

׳âsâh (ה ָ ָע) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

cheçed (ד ס ח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular construct

Strong's #2617 BDB #338

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217


Translation: ...then you will give [lit., do] the grace of God to me [lit., with me]... The best sense that we can get from this, and still retain one of the negatives, would be, “And will you not show grace to me while I am still alive?” Jonathan’s question at this point is rhetorical. He knows that David is the next king. He also knows that a lot of things could happen which would make David the next king; things which would get ugly for Saul’s family. Jonathan does not necessarily believe that David will march into Gibeah, kill of Saul’s family, and then say, “I’m the new king in town!” However, if Saul is as homicidal as David suggests (and Jonathan does not dismiss this possibility), then Saul himself could initiate a confrontation which could result in a civil war. Therefore, Jonathan is telling David that this pact works both ways and, once the dust settles, that David remember Jonathan and give grace to him.

 

Barnes comments: The general meaning is: Jonathan had a presentiment, doubtless from God, that David would be established upon the throne. By God’s mercy he had the comfort, which he well deserved, of knowing that his own posterity would receive kindness at David’s hand. Footnote


1Samuel 20:14c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

mûwth (תמ) [pronounced mooth]

to die

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: ...and I will not die? Again, the negative is used as a strong affirmative; something which we have in the English, but this particular portion of v. 14 is difficult to render into English literally and retain its meaning. Some translations simply say that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain at this point (JPS, NRSV).

 

Gill gives us a clear understanding of this last phrase: [Jonathan] had no fear nor dread on his mind, should David come to the throne while he was alive, that he would take away his life; which was usually done by tyrants and usurpers, when there were any that had a fairer title, and better claim to the throne than they. Footnote


To sum up: given what follows, Jonathan is asking that, even if he dies, that David not ever withdraw his graciousness from the house of Jonathan. Also, once we have the context of the following verse, I’ll present a summary of the interpretations and translations. At that point in time, you will see several clear translations which preserve the meaning, preserve the negatives, and which can be easily understood.


...and you will not cut off your grace from with my house as far as forever. And not in a cutting off of Yehowah enemies of David a man from with faces of the earth.”

1Samuel

20:15

Furthermore, you will not remove your grace from my house forever, even when [or, not even when] Yehowah has not cut off the enemies of David, every man, from the face of the earth.”

...and you will furthermore maintain your grace with my house forever, even if Jehovah has not cut off every enemy of yours from the face of this earth.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       ...and you will not cut off your grace from with my house as far as forever. And not in a cutting off of Yehowah enemies of David a man from with faces of the earth.”

Septuagint                             ...you will not withdraw your mercy from my house forever. And if you do not, when the Lord cuts off the enemies of David each from the face of the earth,...

 

Significant differences           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       [included with v. 14]

NLT                                        ...treat my family with this faithful love, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies.”

REB                                       ...you will continue loyal to my family for ever. When the Lord rids the earth of all David’s enemies,...

TEV                                       ...show the same kind of loyalty to my family forever. And when the Lord has completely destroyed all your enemies,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         ...never stop being kind to my family. The Lord will wipe each of David's enemies off the face of the earth.

JPS (Tanakh)                        ...shall you ever discontinue your faithfulness to my house—not even after the Lord has wiped out every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                But also you shall not cut off your kindness from my house for ever; no, not when the Lord has cut off every enemy of David from the face of the earth.

NASB                                     “And you shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

NKJV                                     “But you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

Young's Updated LT              but you do not cut off thy kindness from my house unto the age, nor in Jehovah's cutting off the enemies of David, each one from off the face of the ground.”


What is the gist of this verse? This continues the previous verse: “If I die,” Jonathan requsts, “then do not ever cut off your grace from my house, even when Jehovah removes all of your enemies from the face of this earth.”


Like the previous two verses, this also seems to have fairly easy words, but is still difficult to translate. It was also poorly isolated from the previous and we are uncertain about the following verse. The second phrase in this verse appears to require an ending; however, the next verse does not seem to end it correctly.


1Samuel 20:15a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

kârath (תַרָ) [pronounced kaw-RAHTH]

to kill, to destroy [men]; to separate, to remove, to withdraw; to cut off, to cut down; to allow to perish

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #3772 BDB #503

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

cheçed (ד ס ח) [pronounced KHEH-sed]

grace, benevolence, mercy, kindness

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #2617 BDB #338

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

Together, these prepositions mean: from with, beside, from being with, away from, far from, from among, from the possession of, from the custody of, from the house of, from the vicinity of, out of the power of, from the mind of.

bayith (ת̣י ַ) [pronounced BAH-yith]

house, household, habitation as well as inward

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #1004 BDB #108

׳ad (דַע) [pronounced ģahd]

as far as, even to, up to, until

preposition

Strong’s #5704 BDB #723

׳ôwlâm (ם ָלע) [pronounced ģo-LAWM]

long duration, perpetuity, antiquity, futurity

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #5769 BDB #761

Together, they mean and from everlasting to everlasting, from eternity past to eternity future or from antiquity to everlasting, forever.


Translation: ...and you will not remove your grace from my house forever,... You may recall from the previous verse that is was difficult to determine whether Jonathan was securing this agreement with David for his lifetime or after he died, the problem being the many negatives strewn throughout this quotation. We have a situation in the future where David looks for someone from the house of Saul to show grace to, so my thinking is that Jonathan meant for this pact to continue even after his death.


In this verse, we have no problem with this first negative (which is the same as the previous verse). Jonathan is asking David to not remove his grace from being given to the house of Saul forever, even after the death of Jonathan. Jonathan knows that David is the next king; he knows that, although he outranks David now, at some point in time, if he is still alive, he will under David. Jonathan is grace-oriented and has no problem with being outranked by David. That is God’s choice and he is willing to live (or die) with God’s choice. However, what Jonathan does desire is for David to fully understand that their pact is a two-way street (which is perhaps done more for our benefit than for David’s). The idea is, “Even after I have died, you will agree to continue showing grace to my family.”


Application: Look at the people who work under you—would you have a problem if they were promoted over you? That requires some grace-orientation. Jonathan is grace-oriented. He anticipates the time that David will be promoted over him and he has no problem with that. Have you ever heard an employee in your company mutter, “Charley Brown started working here 5 years after I did, and he now has a better office and a better salary; that’s completely unfair!”? If you are grace oriented, then the advancement of Charley Brown is not a problem for you, whether his promotions have been based upon merit or not. For instance, I have known teachers who began teaching after I did as my equals, so to speak, and they later got their credentials and became principals over me—this should never be a problem for me. When they issue a directive, then, ideally, I should be able to follow that directive, regardless of the fact that they began in a position lower than me several years after I began teaching. That requires grace-orientation and authority orientation.


Application: Let’s change this somewhat: you are 50 and, suddenly, you have a boss who is 30 years old and knows a tenth of what you do about your company—what do you do? Well, you have to follow orders; you have to follow their directives. If there is a chance to voice dissent or to offer your opinion, then go for it; however, if there is not, then you have to do what you are told to do. The short explanation here is, who or what your boss is, is not an issue. In a company, those who are over you, regardless of their age or intelligence, get to call the shots and get to order you around.


Application: Just so you are not a complete idiot about this, you don’t do what your boss tells you to do if it involves you committing a crime or a sin—regardless of the age of your boss.


One may interpret the two negatives (in v. 14b and v. 15a) as a very strong positive. “And not [i.e., do not do the following] if I die, do not cut off your grace from my house forever.” Again, the expectation of the oath is simple: “If I live, then show to me the grace of Jehovah; and if I die, do not ever withdraw your grace from my house.” It is something else again to wrench this understanding from the Hebrew words themselves. Extracting a reasonable meaning from the Hebrew in a case like this may be why many would prefer to see the final result in their modern English translation, without seeing the reasoning behind it (the sort of people who love sausage, but would never want to see it made).


1Samuel 20:15b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lô (אֹל or אל) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #none BDB #88

kârath (תַרָ) [pronounced kaw-RAHTH]

to kill, to destroy [men]; to separate, to remove, to withdraw; to cut off, to cut down; to allow to perish

Hiphil infinitive construct

Strong's #3772 BDB #503

The infinitive construct, when combined with the bêyth preposition, can often take on a temporal meaning and may be rendered when [such and such happens]. It can serve as a temporal marker that denotes an event which occurs simultaneously with the action of the main verb. The problem is that such a construction demands a continuation of this thought, which we do not have.

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

âyabv (בַי ָא) [pronounced aw-YABV]

enemy, the one being at enmity with you; enmity, hostility

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong’s #340 BDB #33

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

îysh (שי ̣א) [pronounced eesh]

man, each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun

Strong's #376 BDB #35

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

pânîym (םי̣נ ָ) [pronounced paw-NEEM

face, faces

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, these all mean: from with you, from before you; from being with you, away from you, far from you, from among you, from your possession, from your custody.

ădâmâh (הָמָד ֲא) [pronounced uh-daw-MAWH]

ground, soil, dirt, earth, tillable earth, land, surface of the earth

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #127 BDB #9


Translation: ...even when [or, not even when] Yehowah has not cut off the enemies of David, every man, from the face of the earth.” Here, we again have problems with the negative, as we have had throughout these past several verses. With the negative, Jonathan is asking David to show grace to his family, even if God has not removed all of David’s enemies from him. When a king has rivals, say in a particular family or another dynasty, he often solves these problems by exterminating every male (and sometimes female) in the family. Jonathan is asking David not to completely wipe out his family, even after becoming king and even if there are those from Saul’s family who also pursue the crown.


Understanding this without the negative means that, even if God has removed all of David’s enemies, there are men in power who continue to remove members of opposing families, even if they pose no threat. The idea is, better safe than sorry. Jonathan asks that, “When God has removed all of your enemies, David, then let those who remain live.”


Keil and Delitzsch also struggled with this passage:

Keil and Delitzsch Exegete 1Samuel 20:14–15a

The literal rendering of this passage (vv. 14–15a) is [and I have updated this to some degree]: “But if I do it not, show me no mercy, because I live, not even if I die, and do not tear away your compassion forever form my house.” The request that he would show no compassion to him (Jonathan) even if he died, and yet would not withdraw his compassion from his house forever, contains an antithesis which would have been expressed most clearly and unambiguously in the words themselves, if this had been really what Jonathan intended to say. De Wette’s rendering gives a still more striking contradiction: “But let not [Jehovah be with you] if I still live, and you show not the love of Jehovah to me, that I die not, and you withdraw not your love from my house forever.”

Keil and Delitzsch, following the leads of Maurer, Thenius and Ewald, as well as the Syriac and the Arabic, change the first two אֹלו’s into either לו or into אֻלו, (I have no clue as to what the latter word means) which now gives us the rendering: “And may you, if I still live, may you show to me the grace of Jehovah; and not if I die, not withdraw your grace from my house forever, not even when Jehovah cuts off the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth!”

This also reveals Jonathan’s conviction that Jehovah God would remove David’s enemies from this earth.

One similar option, not suggested by Keil and Delitzsch, is that these first two conjunction-negative combinations could be אל instead (which, by the way, is almost equivalent to the suggestion of לו above), which means if or oh that or would that. This would indicate that Jonathan did not expect to personally survive into David’s reign. “And would you, would that I live, show grace to me.” This word is used for a case which has not been or is unlikely to occur. Such an interpretation would make a great deal of sense in this passage, although it would reveal a sense of fatalism on the part of Jonathan with respect to his own life. Given Jonathan’s acute spiritual sense, such a realization is not out of the question.

All quotations, although were occasionally modernized, came from Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament; ©1966 Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.; Vol. 2, pp. 505–506.


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Now, I realize that what Keil and Delitzsch wrote may be a little dense. It often takes me several hours to pour through their comments on this chapter or that. And if I am not careful, I often miss much of what they have to say. However, in the interest of understanding, I am going to summarize the various translations and interpretation of this verse, keep the negatives, which seemed to be so troublesome, and pull this altogether into a cohesive, intelligible pact.

Summary of Translations and Interpretations of 1Samuel 20:14–15

Source

Translation

Notes

DeWette

“But let not [Jehovah be with you] if I still live, and you show not the love of Jehovah to me, that I die not, and you withdraw not your love from my house forever.”

The negation goes back to the previously uttered pact of v. 12. The problem would be that the most recent mention of Jehovah would be for Him to do harm to Jonathan if he is not sincere here.

Keil and Delitzsch

“But if I do it not, show me no mercy, because I live, not even if I die, and do not tear away your compassion forever from my house.”

Jonathan continues the thought from the previous verse of not fulfilling his part of the bargain. I am still hard-pressed to explain the latter portion of this sentence.

Kukis

And if I am still living, then you will give [lit., do] the grace of God to me [lit., with me]. And [if] I die,...

Like many other translators, I essentially ignored the negatives in order to make sense of this.

Kukis

“And not just when I live, will you not show grace to me, but also do not cut off your grace to my house forever once Jehovah cuts off your enemies, everyone of them, from the face of the earth.”

Here, I have managed to preserve all of the negatives and yet keep the sense of the Jonathan’s words. I did take liberties, however, with other portions of the text. Jonathan here seeks not just an agreement from David while they are both alive, but also wants an agreement from him when Jonathan has died and God has removed all of David’s enemies (save for Jonathan’s descendants).

NASB

“And if I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die?”

The NASB most carefully includes both negatives, with the idea that David’s grace toward Jonathan will allow Jonathan to live when David gets in the position of power.

NKJV

“And you shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

Jonathan asks that David not only continue to show him grace so that he does not die, but he asks that David not cut off his grace from Jonathan’s house, even after the other enemies of David have been removed from the earth.

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The translation and interpretation of Jonathan’s pact with David is complicated by difficult Hebrew and poorly divided verses. Therefore, I have gathered up the complete translation below.

Jonathan’s Complete Pact With David — 1Samuel 20:12–15

Translation

Text

Kukis, Mostly Literal Translation

Then Jonathan said to David, “[By] Yehowah the Elohim of Israel: I will question [lit., search out] my father when the time [is] right—tomorrow [or] the third [day]—and listen, [if he replies] “Good,” and I do not sent to you and disclose [this to] you [lit., your ear] so will Yehowah do to Jonathan and more will He add. If [lit., that] it is good to my father [to have plotted] evil against you then I will reveal [that] to you [lit., your ear] and I will send you away and you will go in peace—and may Yehowah be with you as He has been with my father. And if I am still living, then you will give [lit., do] the grace of God to me [lit., with me]. And [if] I die, and you will not remove your grace from my house forever, even when [or, not even when] Yehowah has not cut off the enemies of David, every man, from the face of the earth.”

Kukis, a paraphrased interpretation

Then Jonathan said to David, “By Jehovah the God of Israel, I will question my father when the time is right, either tomorrow or the next day, and you can be certain that if he tells me “Good” that you are with your family in Bethlehem, then I will relay this message to you. If I do not do as I promise, then Jehovah will do evil to me and more. And if my father has plotted evil against you, then I will certainly reveal that to you and send you away in peace—and my prayer is that Jehovah will be with you as He has been with my father. And you will be gracious to me while I am alive; and when I die, and you will furthermore maintain your grace with my house forever, even if Jehovah has not cut off every enemy of yours from the face of this earth.”

JPS (Tanakh)

Then Jonathan said to David, “By the Lord, the God of Israel! I will sound out my father at this time tomorrow, [or] on the third day; and if [his response] is favorable for David, I will send a message to you at once and disclose it to you. But if my father intends to do you harm, may the Lord do thus to Jonathan and more if I do [not] disclose it to you and send you off to escape unharmed. May the Lord be with you, as He used to be with my father. Nor shall you fail to show me the Lord’s faithfulness [i.e., the faithfulness pledged in the covenant before the Lord], while I am alive; nor, when I am dead, shall you ever discontinue your faithfulness to my house—not even after the Lord has wiped out every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.

The Septuagint

And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord God of Israel knows that I will sound my father as I have an opportunity, three several times, and, behold, [if good] is determined concerning David, and I do not send to you to the field, God do so to Jonathan and more also, as I will report the evil to you, and make it known to you, and I will let you go, and you will depart in peace, and the Lord will be with you, as he was with my father. And if indeed I continue to live, then you will deal mercifully with me; and if I indeed die, you will not withdraw your mercy from my house forever. And if you do not, when the Lord cuts off the enemies of David each from the face of the earth, that the name of Jonathan be discovered by the house of David, then let the Lord seek out the enemies of David.” (Vv. 12–16)

Hopefully, this summation of these various translation will help and solidify the slogging through the exegesis which we have done.

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A Summation of Vv. 14–15

1.    Jonathan is aware that David is the true heir to the throne of Saul.

2.    Jonathan is not upset by this nor is he jealous nor does he feel as though he needs to take any steps to change this.

3.    Jonathan does not know when David will become king over Israel; nor does he know whether he will even be alive at that time.

4.    While he is alive, he expects gracious treatment from David.

5.    At this point in time, Jonathan is in power, and he, because of his love toward David, shows David grace.

6.    However, he makes certain that David knows that this is reciprocal. Such an emphasis upon reciprocality tells us that Jonathan knows that the balance of power will change.

7.    Jonathan knows that while he is alive, David will show him grace, even when the balance of power changes. He knows that he will not die at the hand of David or by David’s order.

8.    However, Jonathan knows that he will die in time. He does not know if David will be on the throne at that time or if one of David’s sons will be on the throne (David presently has no heirs).

9.    If David is on the throne, Jonathan asks that David not kill Jonathan’s heirs, as was a common practice in the ancient world (see I Kings 15:29 16:11 2Kings 10:7 11:1).

10.  Jonathan makes is clear that their pact not only binds them but binds their children as well.

11.  What Jonathan is asking for is for David to protect Jonathan’s children, even after Jonathan is dead.

12.  Jonathan asks that David’s sons not persecute his sons. This pact was to survive them and their friendship.

13.  Saul himself will make a similar vow in 1Sam. 24:16–22.

14.  Once he is king over all Israel, David will actually look for someone in the line of Jonathan to show grace to. 2Sam. 9:1–7 2Sam. 21:7.

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And so cuts [a covenant] Jonathan with a house of David and seeks Yehowah from a hand of enemies of David.

1Samuel

20:16

And so Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David while Yehowah sought [deliverance for David] from the hand of the enemies of David [or, that Yehowah required on account of the hand of the enemies of David].

And so Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David while Jehovah sought vengeance against the enemies of David.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so cuts [a covenant] Jonathan with a house of David and seeks Yehowah from a hand of enemies of David.

Septuagint                             ...that the name of Jonathan be discovered by the house of David, then let the Lord seek out the enemies of David.”

 

Significant differences           The first portion of this verse is quite different in the Greek and Hebrew. We have one additional word in the Hebrew in the second part of this verse.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Jonathan and David made an agreement that even David's descendants would have to keep. Then Jonathan said, “I pray that the Lord will take revenge on your descendants if they break our promise.”

NLT                                        So Jonathan made a covenant with David, saying, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!”

REB                                       ...may the Lord call him to account if he and his house are no longer my friends.’


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         At that time, if Jonathan's name is cut off from David's family, then may the Lord punish David's house.”

JPS (Tanakh)                        Thus has Jonathan covenanted with the house of David; and may the Lord requite the enemies of David!”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

NASB                                     So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies.”

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan covenants with the house of David, and Jehovah has sought it from the hand of the enemies of David;...


What is the gist of this verse? This is a summation verse, where Jonathan has made a covenant with David, which he concludes with a final statement, which calls for the destruction of those who are enemies of David.


1Samuel 20:16a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

kârath (תַרָ) [pronounced kaw-RAHTH]

to cut off, to cut down; to kill, to destroy; to make a covenant

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3772 BDB #503

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

׳îm (ם ̣ע) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near

preposition of nearness and vicinity

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767

bayith (ת̣י ַ) [pronounced BAH-yith]

house, household, habitation as well as inward

masculine singular construct

Strong's #1004 BDB #108

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187


Translation: And so Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David... This is the first wâw consecutive that we have had for quite awhile. This would indicate a change of some sort. In this case, it is a summing up of the situation as it stands. Jonathan made a pact with David, which bound their families, insofar as Jonathan and David had control over the situation. This is not, as we find in God’s Word™, a continuation of Jonathan’s speech to David.


1Samuel 20:16b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bâqash (ש ַק ָ) [pronounced baw-KAHSH]

to seek, to search, to desire, to strive after, to attempt to get, to require, to demand, to ask, to seek with desire and diligence

3rd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #1245 BDB #134

YHWH (הוהי) [pronunciation is possibly yhoh-WAH]

transliterated variously as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yehowah

proper noun

Strong’s #3068 BDB #217

min (ן ̣מ) [pronounced min]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, above, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

yâd (דָי) [pronounced yawd]

hand

feminine singular construct

Strong's #3027 BDB #388

âyabv (בַי ָא) [pronounced aw-YABV]

enemy, the one being at enmity with you; enmity, hostility

masculine plural construct, Qal active participle

Strong’s #340 BDB #33

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187


Translation: ...while Yehowah sought [deliverance for David] from the hand of the enemies of David [or, that Yehowah required on account of the hand of the enemies of David]. You will notice that most of the translations saw this as either another quote from Jonathan or presented this verse as a continuation of what he has been saying since v. 12. This is a rather enigmatic phrase; however, there is no reason to think that it is a quotation from Jonathan, as there is nothing in the text to suggest this. However, the verb is a bit problematic, as we wonder, what exactly does God seek from the hand of the enemies of David. Some suggest vengeance, but David clearly seeks no vengeance himself, nor will he see his enemies (Saul and his army vanquished any time soon). My thinking is that God seeks deliverance for David from the hands of his enemies.


Another interpretation is that this covenant is what God required, on account of the enemies of David, which were the house of Saul. God did not want to completely cut off the line of Saul, which would be something that a new king very well might do (in the ancient world, new kings often executed all potential rivals). Furthermore, although they were not aware of this, Jonathan will be dead when David takes the throne, which, without a covenant, would mean that David owed no loyalty to anyone in Saul’s line who remained. Jonathan would like some assurances for those in his line, whether he himself is alive or not.

 

John Gill suggests: [Jonathan is called for God to] take vengeance on Jonathan, or on any of his posterity, should they break this covenant, by showing themselves enemies to David, and his crown; and, on the other hand, also on David, and his posterity, should they not show kindness to Jonathan and his seed, according to the tenor of this covenant. Footnote

 

Wesley’s explanation: Enemies - If either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it. Footnote

 

The NIV Study Bible gives an even better explanation here: Jonathan aligns himself completely with David, calling for destruction of his enemies, even if that should include his father, Saul. Footnote


To be frank with you, I am not entirely comfortable with any of these interpretations. My biggest problem with Gill, Wesley and the NIV is that they assume that Jonathan is still talking, which is not necessarily the case. However, if it is, then their interpretations ring the most true to me.


Let’s look at the entire translation, and then interpret it: And so Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David while Yehowah sought [deliverance for David] from the hand of the enemies of David [or, that Yehowah required on account of the hand of the enemies of David] (1Sam. 20:16). This is a summation of what has gone before, and adds in what part God would play. Jonathan is not speaking here; Jonathan spoke in the previous several verses. This is almost a summation made from the divine perspective: So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, and, at the same time, God will hold David’s enemies accountable for their actions.


And adds Jonathan to swear David in his love [to] him because a love of his soul he loved him.

1Samuel

20:17

And again Jonathan swore David [to an oath] [or, extracted an oath from David] in his love to him for he loved him [as] he loved [lit., a love of] his [own] soul.

And yet again Jonathan swore a mutual allegiance with David, as he loved David as he loved his own soul.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And adds Jonathan to swear David in his love [to] him because a love of his soul he loved him.

Septuagint                             And Jonathan swore yet again to David, because he loved the soul of him that loved him.

 

Significant differences           No significant differences.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       Jonathan thought as much of David as he did of himself, so he asked David to promise once more that he would be a loyal friend.

NJB                                        Jonathan then renewed his oath to David, since he loved him like his very soul.

NLT                                        And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.

REB                                       Jonathan pledged himself afresh to David [so Greek; Hebrew, made David swear] because of his love for him, for he loved him as himself.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         Once again Jonathan swore an oath to David because of his love for David. He loved David as much as └he loved┘ himself.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan, out of his love for David, adjured [Septuagint reads “swore to.”] him again, for he loved him as himself.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   And again Jonathan swore to David, ║by his love to him║, —for ║as he loved his own soul║ so he loved him.

NASB                                     And Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.

Young's Updated LT              ...and Jonathan adds to cause David to swear, because he loves him, for with the love of his own soul he has loved him.


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan again swears his allegiance to David (or, extracts an oath from David to agrees to his part in their alliance). We are also told clearly that Jonathan’s motivation is love and not self-interest or self-preservation.


1Samuel 20:17a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâçaph (ף ַס ָי) [pronounced yaw-SAHPH]

to add, to augment, to increase, to multiply; to add to do = to do again

3rd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperfect

Strong's #3254 BDB #414

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

shâbva׳ (עַבָש) [pronounced shawb-VAHĢ]

to swear, to cause to swear, to bind by an oath; to adjure, to charge solemnly, to extract an oath (from someone else)

Hiphil infinitive construct

Strong's #7650 BDB #989

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

In the Septuagint, this reads that Jonathan swore to David. The real question here is, is Jonathan swearing his allegiance to David or extracting a reciprocal pledge from David?

Dâvid (ד̣וָ); also Dâvîyd (די.וָ) [pronounced daw-VEED]

beloved and is transliterated David

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #1732 BDB #187

be (׃) [pronounced beh]

in, into, at, by, near, on, with, before, in the presence of, upon, against, by means of, among, within

a preposition of proximity with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #none BDB #88

ahăbâh (הָבֲה -א) [pronounced ah-hub-VAW]

love

feminine singular noun often translated like a verb; with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #160 BDB #13

êth (ת ֵא) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated

sign of the direct object with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84


Translation: And again Jonathan swore David [to an oath] [or, extracted an oath from David] in his love to him... The Hiphil of the verb to swear can either mean that Jonathan is extracting an oath from David or that he is swearing himself to an oath to David. Given the end of this verse, that Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul, this would suggest that Jonathan was not extracting an oath from David but giving one. In the previous couple of verses, Jonathan made it clear to David that he had responsibilities in their oath as well; however, the explanation at the end of this verse simply tells us that Jonathan reaffirms his oath with David. Furthermore, we have the verb which means that Jonathan again did this. Given that he made a vow to David in the previous verse, this would count as again pledging his allegiance to David.


The only problem with that interpretation is the stem of the verb. The Hiphil stem is the causal stem, which is the stem that Jonathan would use if he were extracting an oath from David. If Jonathan were swearing his allegiance to David, then he would have used the Piel instead. His love given as motivation simply means that Jonathan wanted to make certain that was fully committed to reciprocation.


I have said on several occasions that Jonathan knew that David was probably next in line for the throne and he knew that his father’s dynasty would end. Prior to this chapter, this would be determined by inference. We know that Saul knows that God has taken the kingdom from him (1Sam. 15:26, 28), and Jonathan, being a man of great spiritual character, probably realizes this as well. However, this will be clearly stated in 1Sam. 23:17, when David and Jonathan meet up again, and Jonathan tells him, “Do not be afraid because the hand of Saul my father will not find you and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; Saul my father knows that as well.” Dare I say that Jonathan knew this better than David did (i.e., he had more faith in God placing David as the king of Israel than David did). David was distracted because his life was in constant danger. However, Jonathan had the overall picture. You may wonder, isn’t David the great spiritual giant of his time, which is why God chose him and not Jonathan to rule over Israel? This was David’s station in life; this was a fulfillment of God’s plan for David’s life. He was great spiritually speaking; but so was Jonathan. One of the areas wherein David showed his great spiritual discernment, is that he was able to listen to the advice and guidance of other believes (1Sam. 23:17 2Sam. 12:1–15).


Application: The last thing a spiritual leader should do is surround himself with yes-men. Every meeting should not result in a donnybrook; however, there are times when a spiritual leader has to hear advice that he may not like. Now, this doesn’t give you the right to go in and demand to see your pastor so that you can share what’s on your mind. And a pastor doesn’t have time to listen to everyone’s conflicting viewpoints 16 hours a day. However, there should be some trusted men who are close to any spiritual leader who are not going to rubber stamp each and every proclamation that he puts forth. The same would be true of any person in authority.


This may seem odd to you that Jonathan emphasizes and drives home this covenant with David, not depending upon David to look back at their friendship and act accordingly. Remember Jonathan’s experience with his own father. Saul originally liked David a great deal, but this eventually turned to a great jealousy, and Jonathan observed how much his father had changed, and how vicious he had become, which will become even more apparent to Jonathan later in this chapter. Therefore, he carefully asks for assurances from David in the form of a covenant before God.


Application: God tells us to come boldly before the throne of grace. Jonathan recognizes David’s inevitable royalty and he is not put off by it, but he makes a clear request of David. God is glorified when we make our requests known to Him. God is glorified when we trust Him to bring these things to pass.


1Samuel 20:17b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

ahăbâh (הָבֲה -א) [pronounced ah-hub-VAW]

love

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #160 BDB #13

nephesh (שפ נ) [pronounced NEH-fesh]

soul, life, living being, desire

feminine singular noun with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #5315 BDB #659

âhêb (ב ֵה ָא) [pronounced aw-HAYVB]

to desire, to breathe after; to love; to delight in

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #157 BDB #12


Translation: ...for he loved him [as] he loved [lit., a love of] his [own] soul. This gives us the reason that Jonathan renewed his oath to David (or made certain that David was willing to reciprocate)—he loved David as much as he loved his own soul. This actually helps us to interpret the previous portion of this verse, but not in the way that you would think. Jonathan could have two different motivations in wanting David to agree to a reciprocal pact (this pact was reciprocal, but Jonathan emphasized that aspect of it). (1) Jonathan could have intelligently resigned himself to the fact that David will become king, thus putting his life and the lives of his family in jeopardy, and this pact protected his family. (2) Jonathan could have made this pact out of love for David and elicited a reciprocal agreement for the same reason. This last phrase tells us that it is the latter reason for Jonathan’s covenant with David. Now, you may comment, that doesn’t make sense; why would a reciprocal covenant be required out of love? Let’s go to marriage—in the vows of marriage, there is a covenant that each will love the other whether in sickness or health, etc. etc. Two people marry and take these vows out of love. However, these are vows of reciprocal agreements which protect each person in the marriage.

 

This is the way that Gill sees this as well, writing: it was not so much for the good and safety of his offspring that he made this motion, and was so desirous of renewing and enlarging his covenant with David, as it was his strong love and affection for him; being on that account desirous that there might be the strictest friendship imaginable retained between the two families. Footnote


Jonathan’s Plan to Signal David


And so says to him Jonathan, “Tomorrow a new moon and you have been missed for is empty your seat.

1Samuel

20:18

Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow [is] the new moon and you will be missed when your seat is empty [lit., lacking].

Then Jonathan said to him, “Given that tomorrow is the new moon and that you will be missed when it is noticed that your seat is empty,...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And so says to him Jonathan, “Tomorrow a new moon and you have been missed for is empty your seat.

Septuagint                             And Jonathan said, “Tomorrow [is] the new moon and you will be asked after because your seat will be observed as vacant.”

 

Significant differences           No significant differences, although there is more verbiage in the Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       After this Jonathan said: Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, and people will wonder where you are, because your place will be empty.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         “Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival,” Jonathan told him, “and you will be missed when your seat is empty.

JPS (Tanakh)                        Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow will be the new moon; and you will be missed when your seat remains vacant.”


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Updated Emphasized Bible   Then Jonathan said unto him—

║Tomorrow║ is the new moon and you will be missed, for your seat will be empty [more literally, you will be inquired after, for your seat will cause inquiry];...

NASB                                     Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty.

Young's Updated LT              And Jonathan says to him, "Tomorrow is new moon, and you have been looked after, for your seat is looked after;...


What is the gist of this verse? So Jonathan suggests a plan to David. He begins by saying what will occur tomorrow. David apparently has a particular place at the festival and that seat will go missing and it will be noticed.


1Samuel 20:18

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa or va (ַו) [pronounced wah]

and so, then

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

âmar (ר ַמ ָא) [pronounced aw-SARH

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (ל) (pronounced le)

to, for, towards, in regards to

preposition with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

Yehôwnâthân (ןָטָנהי) [pronounced ye-hoh-naw-THAWN]

alternate spelling; transliterated Jonathan

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #3083 (& #3129) BDB #220

mâchâr (רָח ָמ) [pronounced maw-KHAWR]

 literally, tomorrow; but figuratively can stand for in time to come, in the future, later on, down the road (chronologically speaking)

adverb of time

Strong’s #4279 BDB #563

chôdesh (ש∵דֹח) [pronounced KHOH-desh]

new moon, month

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2320 BDB #294

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to be sought, missed, to be lacking, visited, to be visited upon, to be appointed

2nd person masculine singular, Niphal perfect

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

kîy (י̣) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

pâqad (ד ַק ָ) [pronounced paw-KAHD]

to be sought, missed, to be lacking, visited, to be visited upon, to be appointed

3rd person masculine singular, Niphal imperfect

Strong's #6485 BDB #823

môwshâb (בָשמ) [pronounced moh-SHAHBV]

a seat, a place for sitting; a sitting down, an assembly; a settlement, a habitation; time of inhabitation; inhabitants

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #4186 BDB #444


Translation: Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow [is] the new moon and you will be missed when your seat is empty [lit., lacking]. Apparently, at this festival, there were enough people invited that it was moderately large; however, there were VIP sections and assigned seats in those VIP sections; and that’s where David would be. It would be obvious to all that his seat is empty. Had Saul arrested David, then his place at the table would have been removed.


And on the third [day] you will go down greatly and you have come unto the place which you hid yourself there in a day of the deed and you remained beside a the stone Ezel.

1Samuel

20:19

On the third [day], you will quickly [lit., greatly, exceedingly] go down until [lit., and] you come to the place where [lit., which...there] you hid yourself in the day of the business [or, deed] and you will remain by the Ezel stone.

On the third day, you will quickly go to the place where you had hidden yourself before, and then remain by the Ezel stone.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text                       And on the third [day] you will go down greatly and you have come unto the place which you hid yourself there in a day of the deed and you remained beside a the stone Ezel.

Septuagint                             And you will stay three days [lit., set three times], and watch an opportunity, and you will come to your place where you may hide yourself in the day of your business, and you will wait by that ergah [a corruption of the Hebrew word Ezel].

 

Significant differences           After the phrase three days, what we find in the Greek makes more sense than the Hebrew. The final phrase in the Greek is weak, and appears to be a corruption of the Hebrew. Despite the differences, the general meaning is fairly easy to ascertain.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

CEV                                       By the day after tomorrow, everyone will think you've been gone a long time. Then go to the place where you hid before and stay beside Going-Away Rock.

NLT                                        The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid before, and wait there by the stone pile [Hebrew, the stone Ezel].

REB                                       So the day after tomorrow go down at nightfall to the place where you hid on the day when the affair started; stay by the mound there [probably reading, compare Greek; Hebrew, by the Azel stone].

TEV                                       The day after tomorrow you absence will be noticed even more [Some ancient translations your absence will be noticed; Hebrew, go down]; so go to the place where you hid yourself the other time, and hide behind the pile of stones [probable text; Hebrew, the Ezel stone] there.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

God’s Word                         The day after tomorrow you will be missed even more. So go to the place where you hid on that other occasion, and stay by the rock.

JPS (Tanakh)                        So the day after tomorrow, go down all the way [lit., very much] to the place where you hid the other time [lit., on the day of the incident], and stay close to the Ezel stone.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                On the third day you will go quickly, and come to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain by the stone Ezel.

Updated Emphasized Bible   ...and <when you have tarried three days> you will come down quickly and enter the place where you hid yourself on the day of the deed [= the day when the deed was to have been done], and you will remain by the side of this mound [so it should be, as per the Septuagint; MT: of the stone Ezel].

NASB                                     “When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel.

Young's Updated LT              ...and on the third day, you will certainly come down, and you have come in unto the place where you were hidden in the day of the work, and have remained near the stone Ezel.


What is the gist of this verse? Jonathan tells David to wait three days, and then go hide where he hid before.


1Samuel 20:19a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]

and

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shâlash (ש-לָש) [pronounced shaw-LASH]

to do a third time, to divide into three parts, to do on the third day

2nd person masculine singular, Piel perfect

Strong’s #8027 BDB #1026

Given the location of this verb, I suspect that it is probably an adverb meaning on the third day.

yârad (ד ַר ָי) [pronounced yaw-RAHD]

to descend, to go down

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3381 BDB #432

meôd (דֹא  ׃מ) [pronounced me-ODE]

exceedingly, extremely, greatly, very

adverb

Strong’s #3966 BDB #547


Translation: On the third day, you will quickly [lit., greatly, exceedingly] go down... As mentioned, we have two verbs thrown together, which does occur in the Hebrew, but is rare. I think the idea is that the first verb acts more like an adverb (or, it is an adverb) and what David is to do is to occur three days from this visit. From wherever David is, he is to go down quickly.


Since the Hebrew day is calculated from dusk til dusk, the third day would begin on the evening of the second day, by our calculation. This does not mean, necessarily, that David and Jonathan will meet on the evening of the second day (by our notion of days and times), but that simply signifies the beginning of the third day. They will meet the morning of the third day (v. 35).


This verse tells us that David did not spend 2+ days in this field; he was to quickly go there from wherever he is staying on the 3rd day.


1Samuel 20:19b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (ו) [pronounced weh]