Jonathan Leads the Counterattack
1One day#Literally “And it happened the day” Jonathan the son of Saul said to his armor bearer,#Literally “the young man carrying his weapons” “Come and let us go over to the garrison of the Philistines which is over there.” But he did not tell his father. 2Now Saul was staying at the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that was in Migron, and the troops that were with him were about six hundred men. 3Now Ahijah, the son of Ahitub (the brother of Ichabod), the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli the priest of Yahweh at Shiloh, was carrying an ephod. The troops did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4Now between the passes where Jonathan sought to go over to the garrison of the Philistines there was a crag of rock on one side#Literally “from the beyond from this” and a crag of rock on the other.#Literally “from the beyond from this” The name of the one was Bozez and the name of the other was Seneh. 5The one crag on the north was opposite Micmash and the other on the south was opposite Geba. 6So Jonathan said to his armor bearer,#Literally “the young man carrying his weapons” “Come, let us go over to the garrisons of these uncircumcised; perhaps Yahweh will act for us, for there is no hindrance for Yahweh to save by many or by few.” 7And his armor bearer#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” said, “Do all that is in your heart that you are inclined to do.#Literally “turn/incline for yourself” I am with you all of the way!#Literally “Behold, I am with you according to your heart” 8Then Jonathan said, “Look, we are about to go over to the men; and we will show ourselves to them. 9If they say to us: ‘Wait until we reach you,’ then we will stand as we are#Literally “and we will stand under us” and not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for Yahweh has given them into our hand, and this will be the sign for us.” 11So the two of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, and the Philistines said, “The Hebrews are coming out from the holes in which they have hidden themselves.” 12Then the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor bearer,#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” “Come up to us and we will show you something!” Then Jonathan said to his armor bearer,#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” “Come up after me, for Yahweh has given them into the hand of Israel!” 13So Jonathan went up on his hands and his feet, with his armor bearer#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” after him. They fell before Jonathan and then his armor bearer#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” would kill them after him. 14So was the first attack in which Jonathan and his armor bearer#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” killed about twenty men within about half of a furrow in an acre of an open field. 15Then there was terror#Or “panic” in the camp, in the open field, and among all the army of the garrison. Even the raiders#Literally “destroyers” trembled. The earth shook, and it became a very great panic.#Literally “like the panic/terror of God”; some interpreters understand this to be a panic caused by God, while others understand the expression merely as a superlative (“a very great panic”)
16And the lookouts of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin saw that#Literally “and look” the multitude surged back and forth.#Literally “waved, going here and there” 17Saul said to the troops that were with him, “Please call the roll and see who has gone from us.” So they called the roll and found that#Literally “and look” Jonathan and his armor bearer#Literally “the one carrying his weapons” were not present. 18Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring near the ark of God”#LXX reads “bring near the ephod” (for the ark of God was at that time#Literally “on that day” with the Israelites).#Literally “sons/children of Israel” 19While#Hebrew “And” Saul was still speaking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more,#Literally “and it went, going and increasing” so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand!” 20Then Saul and all the troops who were with him were assembled on command and came up to the battle, and look! Each Philistine’s sword was against his friend; and there was a very great confusion. 21The Hebrews who had been for the Philistines previously,#Literally “as yesterday three days ago” who had gone up with them into the camp all around, even they joined the Israelites#Literally “were with Israel” who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22All the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, so even they pursued them closely in the battle. 23So on that day Yahweh delivered Israel, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.
Saul’s Oath Leads to Trouble
24Now the men of Israel were hard pressed on that day, because Saul had made the army take an oath, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats any food until evening, when I will have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the army tasted any food. 25(Now all the people of the land used to go into the forest, for there was honey on the surface of the ground.) 26When the army came to the forest, look! There was honey flowing, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the army was afraid of the solemn oath.
27However, Jonathan had not heard about the oath of his father with the army, so he extended the end of the staff which was in his hand, and he dipped it into the honeycomb.#Hebrew “the honeycomb of the honey” Then he put his hand to his mouth and his eyes gleamed.#The Masoretic Hebrew text (Kethib) reads “saw”; the reading tradition (Qere) reads “gleamed” 28Then a man from the army informed him and said, “Your father made the army swear a solemn oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today,’ ” so the army is exhausted. 29Then Jonathan said, “My father has brought trouble on the land! See now that my eyes have brightened because I have tasted a little of this honey. 30How much more could have been done#Literally “even that if” if the troops had eaten freely today from the plunder of their enemies that they had found! For now the loss among the Philistines is not great.” 31They defeated the Philistines that day from Micmash to Aijalon, and the troops were very weary.
32Then the troops took the plunder: they took sheep and cattle and calves#Literally “the children of cattle” and slaughtered them on the ground and the troops ate them all with the blood. 33So they reported it to Saul, saying, “Look! The troops are sinning against Yahweh by eating the animals with the blood!” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously! Roll to me a large stone today!”#Literally “the day” 34Then Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the troops and say to them, ‘Bring to me each one his ox and each his sheep and slaughter them in this place and eat, but do not sin against Yahweh by eating the animals with the blood.’ ” So all the troops brought them, each leading his ox in his hand that night, and slaughtered it there.
Jonathan Rescued from His Father Saul
35Then Saul built an altar to Yahweh; it was the first altar he built#Literally “with it he began to build an altar” to Yahweh. 36Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and let us plunder them until the morning light, and let us not leave alive a man among them.” So they said, “Do all that is good in your eyes.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37So Saul inquired of God, “Should I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him on that day. 38Then Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, so that we find out#Literally “and know and see” what the sin was this day. 39For as Yahweh lives, who delivers Israel, I swear that even if it is in Jonathan my son, he will certainly die!”#Literally “surely dying he will die” But nobody from all the army answered him. 40Then he said to all Israel, “You will be on one side,#Literally “opposite one” and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other.”#Literally “opposite one” And the army said to Saul, “Do what is good in your eyes.” 41Then Saul said to Yahweh the God of Israel, “Render a decision perfectly.”#Literally “give what is perfect”; the LXX includes additional words not found in the Masoretic Hebrew text but included in a number of modern English versions: “If this guilt is on me or in my son Jonathan, give Urim, but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim” Jonathan and Saul were chosen by lot and the people went out. 42Then Saul said, “Let them cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan,” and Jonathan was chosen. 43So Saul said, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him and said, “I merely tasted#Literally “tasted I tasted” a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die.” 44Then Saul said, “So may God do to me and more,#Literally “so may he add” you will certainly die today, Jonathan!” 45But the army said to Saul, “Must Jonathan die, who accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As Yahweh lives, not a hair from his head will fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the army ransomed Jonathan and he did not die.
46Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their place. 47So Saul took the kingship over Israel, and he fought all around against his enemies, against Moab, against the Ammonites,#Literally “sons/children of Ammon” against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. He inflicted punishment against all who rebelled. 48He acted bravely and defeated the Amalekites and rescued Israel from the hand of those who plundered it.
49Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua; the names of his two daughters were as follows: the name of the firstborn was Merab and the younger was Michal. 50The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz, and the name of the commander of his army was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51Now Kish was the father of Saul, but Ner, the father of Abner, was the son of Abiel.
52Warfare was severe against the Philistines all the days of Saul. Whenever Saul saw anyone who was a mighty warrior#Literally “each man who was a mighty warrior” or any brave man,#Literally “each son of ability” he conscripted him into his service.#Literally “he gathered him to himself”