Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
A. M. 2917. B.C. 1087. An. Ex. Is. 404. it came to pass upon a day. or, there was a day. Jonathan
he told not
And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;
in the uttermost
The word rimmon, in Arabic romman, whence the Portuguese romaa, denotes the pomegranate, both tree and fruit; called by naturalists malus punica or malo-granatum. It is, according to the Linnean system, a genus of the icosandria monogynia class of plants; and is a low tree, growing very common in Palestine, and other parts of the East. It has several small angular boughs, very thick and bushy, covered with a reddish bark, and some of them armed with sharp thorns. They are garnished with small, narrow, spear-shaped leaves, like those of the myrtle, but not so sharp, of a green colour, inclining to red. Its blossoms are large, beautiful, of an elegant red colour, inclining to purple, composed of several stalks resembling a rose, in the hollow of the cup: this cup is oblong, hard, purple, having a figure somewhat like that of a bell. It is chiefly valued for its fruit, which is exceedingly beautiful, of the form and size of a large apple, with a reddish rind, and red within; being full of small kernels, with red grains, replenished with a generous liquor, of which, Sir John Chardin informs us, they still make considerable quantities of wine in the East, particularly in Persia. But as the pomegranate tree, from its low growth, is but little adapted for pitching a tent under, it is probable that Rimmon here is the name of the rock mentioned in Jud 20:45.
And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD'S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.
And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
i.e., shining. Seneh. i.e., a bush or tooth.
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
This action of Jonathan's was totally contrary to the laws of war; no military operation should be undertaken without the knowledge and command of the general. But it is highly probable, that this gallant man was led to undertake the hazardous enterprise by an immediate divine impulse; and by the same influence was kept from informing the soldiers, and even from consulting his father, who might have opposed his design.
it may be
for there is no restraint
Where there is a promise of defense and support, the weakest, in the face of the strongest enemy, may rely upon it with the utmost confidence.
And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
we will pass
If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
Heb. Be still.
But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
this shall be a sign
And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
out of the holes
And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
Come up to us
Meaning, that they would cause them to repent of their audacity. This was the favourable sign which Jonathan had requested.
Come up after me
And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
an half acre of land
or, half a furrow of an acre of land. The original is obscure and variously understood; but it is probably a proverbial expression for a small space.
And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
there was trembling
the earth quaked
very great trembling
Heb. trembling of God.
Genesis 35:5 Leviticus 26:36,37 2 Samuel 5:24 Daniel 5:6 God will in some way or other direct the steps of those who acknowledge him in all their ways, and seek unto him for direction with full purpose of heart. Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected, but well observed, turns of Providence.
And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.
The Septuagint reads [Prosagage to ephoud, hoti autos ere to ephoud en te hemera ekeine enopiou Israel.] "Bring hither the ephod; for he bore the ephod on that day before Israel:" which Houbigant and others think is the true reading. Finding that his son Jonathan and his armour-bearer were absent, Saul wished to consult the high-priest; but the tumult increasing, he says to him, "Withdraw thine hand:" i.e., desist form consulting the ephod on the present occasion, and immediately hastened to make the best use he could of this astonishing victory.
For the ark
And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.
or, tumult. Withdraw.
And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
Heb. were cried together. every man's.
Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.
Probably such as they held in bondage, or who were their servants. Instead of (h‰ivrim, "the Hebrews," the LXX. evidently read ha‚vdim, for they have [Loi douloi] "the slaves;" but this reading is not countenanced by any other version, nor by any MS.
Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
The LXX. and Vulgate add here, [kai pas ho laos en meta Saoul hos deka chiliades andron] Et erant cum Saul, quasi decem millia virorum. "And [all the people who were, LXX.] there were with Saul about ten thousand men;" but this is supported by no other authority.
So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.
And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
I may be
And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
This was wild honey, which to this day abounds in Judea; and bursting from the comb, runs down the hollow trees, rocks, etc.
And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.
Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
It is well known, that hunger and fatigue produce faintness and dim the sight; and on taking a little food, this affection is immediately removed.
How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
The distance, Calmet states to be three or four leagues.
And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.
The people having abstained from food the whole of the day, and being now faint through hunger and fatigue, they flew upon the cattle, and not taking time to bleed them properly, they eagerly devoured the flesh with the blood, directly contrary to the law--another bad effect of Saul's rash adjuration.
Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.
or, dealt treacherously.
And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
Heb. in his hand.
And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.
It is probable that Saul converted the great stone, on which the cattle had been slaughtered, into an altar, on which sacrifices were offered, before the people attempted to proceed any further. This we are told was the first he had built. Samuel, as a prophet and priest, had hitherto erected the altars, but Saul seems to have thought he had sufficient authority to erect one himself, without the prophet, as he had once offered sacrifice without him.
the same, etc
Heb. that altar he began to build unto the Lord.
And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God.
Let us go
let us not leave
Then said the priest
It is evident that Ahiah, who had before been interrupted by Saul's impatience, doubted of the propriety of pursuing the Philistines that night, and properly counselled them to enquire of the Lord.
And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
Shall I go
And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
Draw ye near
For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.
Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.
Do what seemeth
Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
Both the Septuagint and Vulgate add much to this verse: [Kai eipe Saoul, Kyrie Lo Theos Israel, ti Loti ouk apekrithes to doulo sou semeron? ei en emoi e en lonathan to Luio mou he adikia, Kyrie ho Theos Israel dos delous kai ean tade eipe, dos de to lao sou Israel, dos de osioteta, k.t.l.] Et dixit Saul ad Dominum Deum Israel; Domine Deus Israel da indicium: quid est quÚd non responderis servo tuo hodie? Si in me, aut in Jonatha filio meo est iniquitas hÊc, da ostensionem: aut si hÊc iniquitas est in populo tuo, da sanctitatem, etc. "And Saul said [to the Lord God of Israel, Vulg.] Lord God of Israel [give a sign, Vulg.] Why is it that thou has not answered thy servant to-day? If the iniquity be in me, or in my son Jonathan, [O Lord God of Israel, LXX.] make it manifest; and if thou say thus, give to thy people Israel, give mercy," etc., [but Vulg. Or, if this iniquity be in thy people, give sanctification," etc.]
Give a perfect lot
or, Shew the innocent.
Heb. went forth.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
I did but
And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
there shall not
The people judged rightly, that the guilt was contracted by Saul, and not by Jonathan; and therefore they rescued him from the hands of his rash and severe father.
So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
gathered an host
or, wrought mightily. smote.
Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:
name of the first-born
And the name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul's uncle.
the name of the captain
And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.