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Jonathan Leads the Counterattack

14 One day[a] Jonathan the son of Saul said to his armor bearer,[b] “Come and let us go over to the garrison of the Philistines which is over there.” But he did not tell his father. Now 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. Now 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. Now between the passes where Jonathan sought to go over to the garrison of the Philistines there was a crag of rock on one side[c] and a crag of rock on the other.[d] The name of the one was Bozez and the name of the other was Seneh. The one crag on the north was opposite Micmash and the other on the south was opposite Geba. So Jonathan said to his armor bearer,[e] “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.” And his armor bearer[f] said, “Do all that is in your heart that you are inclined to do.[g] I am with you all of the way![h] Then Jonathan said, “Look, we are about to go over to the men; and we will show ourselves to them. If they say to us: ‘Wait until we reach you,’ then we will stand as we are[i] and not go up to them. 10 But 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.” 11 So 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.” 12 Then the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor bearer,[j] “Come up to us and we will show you something!” Then Jonathan said to his armor bearer,[k] “Come up after me, for Yahweh has given them into the hand of Israel!” 13 So Jonathan went up on his hands and his feet, with his armor bearer[l] after him. They fell before Jonathan and then his armor bearer[m] would kill them after him. 14 So was the first attack in which Jonathan and his armor bearer[n] killed about twenty men within about half of a furrow in an acre of an open field. 15 Then there was terror[o] in the camp, in the open field, and among all the army of the garrison. Even the raiders[p] trembled. The earth shook, and it became a very great panic.[q]

16 And the lookouts of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin saw that[r] the multitude surged back and forth.[s] 17 Saul 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[t] Jonathan and his armor bearer[u] were not present. 18 Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring near the ark of God”[v] (for the ark of God was at that time[w] with the Israelites).[x] 19 While[y] Saul was still speaking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more,[z] so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand!” 20 Then 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. 21 The Hebrews who had been for the Philistines previously,[aa] who had gone up with them into the camp all around, even they joined the Israelites[ab] who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 All 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. 23 So on that day Yahweh delivered Israel, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.

Saul’s Oath Leads to Trouble

24 Now 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.) 26 When 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.

27 However, 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.[ac] Then he put his hand to his mouth and his eyes gleamed.[ad] 28 Then 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. 29 Then 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. 30 How much more could have been done[ae] 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.” 31 They defeated the Philistines that day from Micmash to Aijalon, and the troops were very weary.

32 Then the troops took the plunder: they took sheep and cattle and calves[af] and slaughtered them on the ground and the troops ate them all with the blood. 33 So 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!”[ag] 34 Then 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

35 Then Saul built an altar to Yahweh; it was the first altar he built[ah] to Yahweh. 36 Saul 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.” 37 So 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. 38 Then Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, so that we find out[ai] what the sin was this day. 39 For as Yahweh lives, who delivers Israel, I swear that even if it is in Jonathan my son, he will certainly die!”[aj] But nobody from all the army answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You will be on one side,[ak] and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other.”[al] And the army said to Saul, “Do what is good in your eyes.” 41 Then Saul said to Yahweh the God of Israel, “Render a decision perfectly.”[am] Jonathan and Saul were chosen by lot and the people went out. 42 Then Saul said, “Let them cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan,” and Jonathan was chosen. 43 So Saul said, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him and said, “I merely tasted[an] a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die.” 44 Then Saul said, “So may God do to me and more,[ao] you will certainly die today, Jonathan!” 45 But 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.

46 Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their place. 47 So Saul took the kingship over Israel, and he fought all around against his enemies, against Moab, against the Ammonites,[ap] against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. He inflicted punishment against all who rebelled. 48 He acted bravely and defeated the Amalekites and rescued Israel from the hand of those who plundered it.

49 Now 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. 50 The 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. 51 Now Kish was the father of Saul, but Ner, the father of Abner, was the son of Abiel.

52 Warfare was severe against the Philistines all the days of Saul. Whenever Saul saw anyone who was a mighty warrior[aq] or any brave man,[ar] he conscripted him into his service.[as]


  1. 1 Samuel 14:1 Literally “And it happened the day”
  2. 1 Samuel 14:1 Literally “the young man carrying his weapons”
  3. 1 Samuel 14:4 Literally “from the beyond from this”
  4. 1 Samuel 14:4 Literally “from the beyond from this”
  5. 1 Samuel 14:6 Literally “the young man carrying his weapons”
  6. 1 Samuel 14:7 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  7. 1 Samuel 14:7 Literally “turn/incline for yourself”
  8. 1 Samuel 14:7 Literally “Behold, I am with you according to your heart”
  9. 1 Samuel 14:9 Literally “and we will stand under us”
  10. 1 Samuel 14:12 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  11. 1 Samuel 14:12 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  12. 1 Samuel 14:13 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  13. 1 Samuel 14:13 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  14. 1 Samuel 14:14 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  15. 1 Samuel 14:15 Or “panic”
  16. 1 Samuel 14:15 Literally “destroyers”
  17. 1 Samuel 14:15 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”)
  18. 1 Samuel 14:16 Literally “and look”
  19. 1 Samuel 14:16 Literally “waved, going here and there”
  20. 1 Samuel 14:17 Literally “and look”
  21. 1 Samuel 14:17 Literally “the one carrying his weapons”
  22. 1 Samuel 14:18 LXX reads “bring near the ephod”
  23. 1 Samuel 14:18 Literally “on that day”
  24. 1 Samuel 14:18 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  25. 1 Samuel 14:19 Hebrew “And”
  26. 1 Samuel 14:19 Literally “and it went, going and increasing”
  27. 1 Samuel 14:21 Literally “as yesterday three days ago”
  28. 1 Samuel 14:21 Literally “were with Israel”
  29. 1 Samuel 14:27 Hebrew “the honeycomb of the honey”
  30. 1 Samuel 14:27 The Masoretic Hebrew text (Kethib) reads “saw”; the reading tradition (Qere) reads “gleamed”
  31. 1 Samuel 14:30 Literally “even that if”
  32. 1 Samuel 14:32 Literally “the children of cattle”
  33. 1 Samuel 14:33 Literally “the day”
  34. 1 Samuel 14:35 Literally “with it he began to build an altar”
  35. 1 Samuel 14:38 Literally “and know and see”
  36. 1 Samuel 14:39 Literally “surely dying he will die”
  37. 1 Samuel 14:40 Literally “opposite one”
  38. 1 Samuel 14:40 Literally “opposite one”
  39. 1 Samuel 14:41 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”
  40. 1 Samuel 14:43 Literally “tasted I tasted”
  41. 1 Samuel 14:44 Literally “so may he add”
  42. 1 Samuel 14:47 Literally “sons/children of Ammon”
  43. 1 Samuel 14:52 Literally “each man who was a mighty warrior”
  44. 1 Samuel 14:52 Literally “each son of ability”
  45. 1 Samuel 14:52 Literally “he gathered him to himself