1One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to his young armor bearer, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron; and with him were about six hundred men, 3and Ahijah the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest at Shiloh, was wearing the ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4Between the passes by which Jonathan sought to cross over to get to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side; one [crag] was named Bozez, and the other, Seneh. 5The one crag was on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.
6Jonathan said to his young armor bearer, “Come, let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For there is nothing to prevent the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” 7And his armor bearer said to him, “Do everything that is in your heart (mind); here I am with you #Lit according to your heart.in whatever you think [best].” 8Jonathan said, “See now, we are going to cross over to the [Philistine] men and reveal ourselves to them. 9If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand in our place and not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will go up, for the Lord has handed them over to us; and this shall be the sign to us.” 11When both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12So the men of the garrison responded to Jonathan and his armor bearer, “Come up to us and we will tell you something.” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Climb up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hands of Israel.” 13Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, his armor bearer following after him. The enemy fell before Jonathan [in combat], and his armor bearer killed some of them after him. 14That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a [plow] furrow in a plot of land [the area of which a yoke of oxen could plow in a day]. 15And there was trembling in the [Philistine] camp, in the field, and among all the people; even the garrison and the raiding party trembled [in fear], and the earth quaked and it became a trembling and terror from God.
16Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away and they went here and there. 17Then Saul said to the people with him, “Take a count and see who has left us.” When they had taken a count, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were missing. 18Saul said to Ahijah [the priest], “Bring the ark of God here.” For at that time the ark of God was with the sons of Israel. 19While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the Philistine camp continued and increased, so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle; and behold, every [Philistine] man’s sword was against his companion, in wild confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22When all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, they too pursued them closely in the battle. 23So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven.
Saul’s Foolish Order
24But the men of Israel were hard-pressed that day, because Saul had put the people under a curse, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people ate any food. 25All the people of the land came to a forest, and there was honey on the ground. 26When the people entered the forest, the honey was dripping, but no man put his hand to his mouth [to taste it], because the people feared the oath [of Saul]. 27But Jonathan had not heard when his father put the people under the oath. So he put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into a honeycomb, and then he put his hand to his mouth, and his #Lit eyes brightened.energy was restored. 28But one of the people told him, “Your father strictly put the people under an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today.’ ” And the people were exhausted [and hungry]. 29Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land [with his foolish curse]. See how my #Lit eyes have brightened.energy is restored because I tasted a little of this honey. 30How much better [it would have been] if only the people had eaten freely today from the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”
31They struck the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very tired. 32[When night came and the oath ended] the people rushed greedily upon the spoil. They took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and they ate them [raw] with the blood [still in them]. 33Then Saul was told, “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating [the meat] with the blood.” And he said, “You have violated [the Law] and acted treacherously; roll a large stone to me today.” 34Saul said, “Spread out among the people and tell them, ‘Each one of you bring me his ox or his sheep, and butcher it [properly] here and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating [the meat with] the blood.’ ” So that night each one brought his ox with him and butchered it there. 35And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
36Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them [alive].” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us approach God here.” 37Saul asked [counsel] of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?” But He did not answer him that day. 38Then Saul said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the people, and let us find out how this sin [causing God’s silence] happened today. 39For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, for even if the guilt is in my son Jonathan, he shall most certainly die.” But not one of all the people answered him. 40Then he said to all the Israelites, “#To identify the guilty party, Saul decided to have lots cast, which was a common and accepted means of finding God’s will. It may be that the Urim and Thummim that were kept in the priest’s breastpiece were used for this purpose (Ex 28:30). Saul chose to narrow the search by first separating Jonathan and himself from the rest of the people, only to discover (v 41) that the people were in fact innocent.You shall be on one side; I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41Therefore, Saul said to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot [identifying the transgressor].” Then Saul and Jonathan were selected [by lot], but the other men went free. 42Saul said, “Cast [lots] between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was selected.
43Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!” 44Saul answered, “May God do so [to me], and more also [if I do not keep my word], for you shall most certainly die, Jonathan.” 45But the people said to Saul, “Must Jonathan, who has brought about this great victory in Israel, be put to death? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan and he was not put to death. 46Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.
47When Saul assumed control of the kingdom of Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side: Moab, the sons (descendants) of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. 48He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and rescued Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.
49Now Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchi-shua. The names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of his army was named Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
52Now the war against the Philistines was severe (brutal, relentless) all the days of Saul; and whenever Saul saw any mighty or courageous man, he recruited him for his staff.