King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 14

Jonathan smites the Philistines. (1-15) Their defeat. (16-23) Saul forbids the people to eat till evening. (24-35) Jonathan pointed out by lot. (36-46) Saul’s family. (47-52)

1 Samuel 14 Audio:

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Jonathan smites the Philistines

1 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.

2 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;

3 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.

4 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.

5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.

6 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.

7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

Their defeat

16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.

17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.

18 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.

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

22 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.

23 So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.

Saul forbids the people to eat till evening

24 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.

25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.

26 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.

27 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.

28 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.

29 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.

30 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?

31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.

32 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.

33 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.

34 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.

35 And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.

Jonathan pointed out by lot

36 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.

37 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.

38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.

39 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.

40 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.

41 Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.

42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.

43 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.

44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.

45 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.

46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.

Saul’s family

47 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.

48 And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.

49 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:

50 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.

51 And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

52 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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Day, while it was yet dark. Josephus. — This action would seem rash, and contrary to military discipline, which requires that the general should be apprised of any hazardous enterprise. C. — But it is thought that Jonathan was directed by God, who granted him success. A. Lapide. — The Rabbins say, “every augury which is not like that of Eleazar and Jonathan, is null. If they had done ill,…God would not have heard them.” Kimchi.

Ver. 2. Magron, a village between Gabaa and Machmas. Isai. x. 28. Heb. reads “Remmon,” which means “a pomegranate tree,” and denotes a famous impregnable rock, with extensive caverns, where an equal number of men had formerly saved themselves. Judg. xx. 47. C. T. M.

Ver. 3. Ephod; or was high priest, v. 18. Achias is called Achimelech, C. xxii. 9. C. — He had succeeded his father, Achitob, in the beginning of Saul’s reign, after the former had held the dignity twenty-two years. Salien, A. 2962.

Ver. 6. Uncircumcised. The Hebrews looked upon the Gentiles as unclean and they, in their turn, spoke of the Jews in the most contemptuous manner. C. — It may. Lit. “if perchance.” H. — This does not express any doubt. The hero found himself impelled to undertake this work, but he knew not by what means God would crown it with success. He therefore prays to him in this manner, as Abraham’s servant had done. Gen. xxiv. 12. He does not tempt God no more than Gedeon and Moses, who begged that the Lord would manifest his will by miracles. C. — Few. These words are often repeated, (2 Par. xiv. 11. 1 Mac. iii. 18,) and were verified. C. xvii. 47. Judg. vii. 4. M.

Ver. 10. This shall be a sign. It is likely Jonathan was instructed by divine inspiration, to make choice of this sign; otherwise, the observation of omens is superstitious and sinful. Ch. M. W.

Ver. 11. Philistines, probably on the northern rock, as they afterwards climbed up that on the south, (C.) where they had not been discovered. Salien.

Ver. 12. A thing, making you pay dear for this temerity. Herodotus (v.) mentions, that the Peonians were commanded by the oracle not to attack the Perinthians, unless they were challenged. They did so, and gained a complete victory.

Ver. 14. Day. Varro, &c. allow 120 feet, Columella only 70, for a day’s work, so that these twenty men were slain in the space of 60 or 35 feet. Louis de Dieu rejects all the other versions, and would translate the Heb. “in almost the half of the length of a furrow, and in the breadth which is between two furrows in a field,” so that the enemy would be very close together. Lit. “almost in the half of a furrow of a yoke of the field,” which seems rather to be understood of the length, (C.) if indeed it have any meaning. Prot. are forced to help out the text: “within as it were a half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plough.“ H. — But a whole acre was the usual allowance. M. — Hallet observes, “the Sept. read the Heb. in a different manner, and have rendered the verse thus, ‘That first slaughter was…of about twenty men, with darts, and stones, and flints of the field:’ I suppose the read, Betsim ubomauth.” Kennicott adds, and ubgomri, as the Arabs still use gomer, to denote “a small flint.” Golius. H.

Ver. 15. Miracle. Heb. charada, “consternation or trembling,” a panic fear, as the Philistines imagined that all the army of Israel had got into the camp. “In the terrors sent by demons, (or superior beings) even the sons of the gods flee away.” Pindar. Nem. The earth quaked (C.) to increase the enemies’ apprehensions, so that those who had gone out to plunder, hearing of the disaster, which report had greatly magnified, and all the people feeling this unusual and alarming motion of the earth, perceiving that God was fighting against them, and trembled. H.

Ver. 16. Gabaa, where they were stationed to observe the enemies’ motions, and to give notice of them to Saul, at Remmon, v. 2. C. — Overthrown. Heb. “melted down, (without courage) and they went crushing” one another is the narrow passes, (H.) and turning their arms against all they met. Josephus.

Ver. 17. Were not. Heb. “when they had numbered, behold Jonathan, &c. not” in the number. H.

Ver. 18. Ark. Sept. “the ephod.” Kimchi, &c. — Spencer follows the sentiment of the Rabbins, and explains it of a little box, in which the ephod and pectoral were placed, when they were brought to the army. But what need of this explication? C. — How the oracle was given is uncertain. M.

Ver. 19. Hand. He prayed with his hands extended. Saul believed that God had sufficiently intimated his will, by affording such a favourable opportunity. “The best of omens is to revenge our country’s wrongs.” Hector. Iliad. M. — Optimis auspiciis ea geri, quæ pro Reip. salute fierent, was the observation of Q. F. Maximus. Senect. C. — Saul did not wait for God’s answer, and therefore had nearly lost his son by a rash vow, and by too eager zeal. W.

Ver. 21. Before; that is, for some time, as slaves. M. — Having retired to their camp, to avoid the plunderers, (C.) they rose upon their oppressors, as Christian slaves have often done upon the Turks, when a galley has been engaged, and fallen into the hands of their friends. M. — Camp. Heb. adds, “round about,” as if they guarded the baggage, (Piscator) or had retreated thither from the environs. C.

Ver. 22. And there, &c. This is not found in Heb. &c. nor in many Latin copies. The Sept. specify the number, (v. 24) where it is not in the original. C.

Ver. 23. Bethaven. They pursued the stragglers thither, as well as to Aialon, v. 31. H.

Ver. 24. Together. Which interpretation is more natural (C.) than the Prot. “where distressed,…for Saul had adjured,” &c. H. — Sept. “And all the people was with Saul, about 10,000, and the war was spread through all the city in Mount Ephraim, and Saul was guilty of great ignorance that day, and he adjures (H. or cursed) the people,” &c. He saw not that he was acting against his own interest. The sequel does not evince that God approved of his conduct. But the people were to be taught not to make light of oaths, nor to neglect the curses which their rulers should denounce. C. — Food. Lit. “bread,” which comprises all sorts of food, honey, &c. (v. 25. H.) but not drink, which might lawfully have been taken, as thirst is more difficult to bear. M. — Salien (A. 2964) defends the conduct of Saul, and condemns Jonathan.

Ver. 25. Ground. Even still travellers perceived the smell of honey very frequently in that country. Maundrell. — The people use honey almost in every sauce and in every repast. Virgil assures us, that “bees dwell in holes under ground, in hollow stones, and trees.” Georg. iv. The Scripture frequently mentions honey flowing. Ex. ii. 8. Ps. lxx. 17. Job xx. 17.

Mella fluant illi, ferat & rubus asper amomum. Virg. Ec. iii.

Sanctius says, that in Spain, streams of honey may be seen on the ground; and Maldonet observes, that the countrymen get a livelihood by gathering it from the trees in Betica, or Andalusia.

Ver. 27. Enlightened. Extreme hunger and fatigue hurt the eyes. Jer. xiv. 6. Sanctius saw a man who through fasting lost his sight, and recovered it again as soon as he had eaten. This is conformable to the observations of Hippocrates, and to nature. C. — Tenebræ oboriuntur, genua inedia succedunt. Perii, prospicio parum. “Through hunger…I see but little.” Plautus. H.

Ver. 29. Land. Chal. “the people of the land.” M. — He speaks his sentiments freely. But we ought not to find fault, in public, with the conduct of the prince. C. — The people might have eaten a little without stopping the pursuit, as they generally carried provisions with them, or might find some easily on the road, so as to run with fresh vigour, (See Jos. x.) and make ample amends for the time that they were delayed. H.

Ver. 31. Aialon, in the tribe of Dan. It might be about ten miles from Machmas.

Ver. 32. Blood, contrary to a two-fold law. Gen. ix. 4. Lev. xvii. 14. The blood ought to have been carefully extracted and buried. C. — This was another bad effect of Saul’s rash oath. W.

Ver. 34. With the blood, as you have done. M.

Ver. 35. First. Saul begins to exercise himself in acts of religion, which only belonged to a prophet, &c. He thought he might do so in quality of king, thus consecrating a monument of his victory to the God of armies. It was perhaps the very stone on which the oxen had been just before killed for the people. C.

Ver. 36. God, to consult him, whether the enterprise met with his approbation. Saul is too eager to follow his own prudence. H. — He would not before wait for God’s answer; (v. 19) now he can get none. W.

Ver. 38. Corners, to the very last; or all the princes. Judg. xviii. 9.

Ver. 39. Gainsayed him, out of respect. Saul gives another proof of his precipitation, in swearing; and the people, by this silence, acquiesce, not suspecting that Jonathan could have offended in what he had done. C. — One of them, at least, knew that he had transgressed the order of his father, v. 28. But extreme necessity might plead his excuse. H. — They might be silent through fear, or reverence, without giving their consent. Salien.

Ver. 41. A sign, (judicium;) “pass sentence;” declare why, &c. H. — Heb. “give purity.” Shew who is innocent. C. — Sept. “give the proofs” by the Thummim, which they seem to have read. C.

Ver. 42. Jonathan was taken. Though Jonathan was excused from sin, through ignorance of the prohibition, yet God was pleased on this occasion to let the lot fall upon him, to shew to all, the great obligation of obedience to princes and parents, (Ch.) the sacred nature of an oath, and at the same time to give Saul a warning not to swear rashly. C. — How must he have been afflicted, when he saw that he had brought his beloved son into such danger! M.

Ver. 44. Die. We may here admire the respect which the ancients had for an oath, without seeking for any modification; and the blindness of Saul, who condemns his son with as much haste as he had pronounced the curse, thinking thus to honour God. The thing surely required some deliberation, and he ought to have consulted the Lord about it. The action of Jonathan was not criminal, and the former silence of God did not prove that he deserved death. C. — If it had, the people would never have been able to have rescued him, no more than the unhappy Achan. Jos. vii. H. — If Saul had been more enlightened, and more humble, he would have concluded that God was displeased at him, and not at Jonathan. C. — Yet Cajetan and Serarius find fault with the latter. M.

Ver. 45. The people, directed probably by the high priest, who pronounced the oath null. Salien. — Ground. He shall not be hurt. M. — With God. He has been visibly “the minister of God’s mercy.” Sept. — Die. They obtained his pardon. They ought not to have permitted the king’s oath to be put in execution, as it was so horribly unjust. Grot. Jur. ii. 13. 6. C.

Ver. 47. Soba, in the north. M. — Rohab was the capital of another part of Cœlosyria. 1 Par. xviii. 3. 2 K. x. 6. — Overcame. We are not to judge of the virtue of a man from his success in the world. C. — Under the reign of Saul, the tribe of Ruben overcame the Agarites. 1 Par. v. 10. 18. Salien, A. 2965.

Ver. 48. Amalec. The particulars of this war will be given C. xv. as it explains the cause of Saul’s rejection, and David’s advancement to the throne. Salien.

Ver. 49. Sons, who accompanied Saul in his wars. Isboseth was too young. — Jessui is called Abinadab, 1 Par. viii. 33. C.

Ver. 50. Achinoam. After he came to the throne, he had Respha. 2 K. iii. 7. M.