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14 One day Jonathan, Saul’s son, said to ·the officer who carried his armor [his armor bearer], “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine ·camp [outpost] on the other side.” But Jonathan did not tell his father.

Saul was sitting under a pomegranate tree at ·the threshing floor [or Migron] near Gibeah. He had about six hundred men with him. One man was Ahijah who was wearing the ·holy vest [ephod; Ex. 28:6–14]. (Ahijah was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub. Ichabod was the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh.) No one knew Jonathan had left.

There was a ·steep slope [rocky crag/cliff] on each side of the pass that Jonathan planned to go through to reach the Philistine ·camp [outpost]. The cliff on one side was named Bozez, and the cliff on the other side was named Seneh. One ·cliff [crag] faced north toward Micmash. The other faced south toward Geba.

Jonathan said to his ·officer who carried his armor [armor bearer], “Come. Let’s go to the ·camp [outpost] of those men who are not circumcised [C Philistines were among the few Near Eastern people of the day who did not practice circumcision; it had special significance in Israel; Gen. 17:9–14]. Maybe the Lord will ·help [act/work something for] us. The Lord ·can give us victory if [is able to save/rescue whether] we have many people, or just a few.”

·The officer who carried Jonathan’s armor [His armor bearer] said to him, “Do whatever you think is best. Go ahead. ·I’m with you [Our hearts/minds are one].”

Jonathan said, “Then come. We will cross over to the Philistines and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Stay there until we come to you [C in order to kill them],’ we will stay where we are. We won’t go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us [C in order to fight],’ we will climb up, and the Lord will ·let us defeat them [L give them into our hands]. This will be the sign for us.”

11 When they both let the Philistines see them, the Philistines said, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in!” 12 The Philistines in the ·camp [outpost] shouted to Jonathan and his officer, “Come up to us. ·We’ll teach you a lesson [or We have something to tell/show you]!”

Jonathan said to his ·officer [armor bearer], “Climb up behind me, because the Lord has given the Philistines ·to [L into the hands of] Israel!” 13 So Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, and his ·officer [armor bearer] climbed just behind him. ·Jonathan struck down the Philistines [L And they fell before Jonathan] as he went, and his ·officer [armor bearer] killed ·them as he followed [those who came from] behind him. 14 In that first ·fight [attack; slaughter] Jonathan and his officer killed about twenty Philistines over a ·half acre [L yoke] of ground.

15 All the Philistine soldiers panicked—those in the ·camp [outpost] and those in the raiding party. ·The ground itself shook [An earthquake struck]! God had caused the panic.

16 Saul’s ·guards [watchmen] were at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin when they saw the ·Philistine soldiers [L vast army; multitude] ·running in every direction [L melting away, here and there]. 17 Saul said to his army, “·Check to see who has left our camp [Call the roll and see who has left us].” When they ·checked [called the roll], they learned that Jonathan and his ·officer [armor bearer] were gone.

18 So Saul said to Ahijah the priest, “Bring the ·Ark of God[a] [or ephod; C see text note; both are means of discerning God’s will].” (At that time ·it was with [or he was wearing it in front of] the Israelites.) 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp was growing. Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Put your hand down! [C to stop the inquiry of God]

20 Then Saul ·gathered his army [assembled; gathered] and entered the battle. They found the Philistines [L totally; greatly] confused, striking each other with their swords! 21 Earlier, there were Hebrews who had ·served [defected/gone over to] the Philistines and had stayed in their camp, but now they ·joined [went over to] the Israelites with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites hidden in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim heard that the Philistine soldiers were running away, they also joined the battle ·and chased the Philistines [in hot pursuit]. 23 So the Lord ·saved [rescued; delivered] the Israelites that day, and the battle ·moved on past [spread beyond] Beth Aven.

Saul Makes Another Mistake

24 The men of Israel were ·miserable [exhausted; hard pressed] that day because Saul had ·made an oath for all of them [put them under an oath]. He had said, “No one should eat food before evening and before I ·finish defeating [have had revenge on] my enemies. If he does, he will be cursed!” So no Israelite soldier ate food.

25 Now ·the whole army [L all the land] went into the woods, where there was some honey on the ground. 26 ·They came upon some ·honey [honeycomb], but no one ·took any [L put his hand to his mouth] because they were afraid of the oath. 27 [But] Jonathan had not heard ·the oath Saul had put on the army [that Saul had bound the people with a vow], so he dipped the end of his ·stick [staff] into the honey and lifted some out and ·ate it [L put his hand to his mouth]. Then ·he felt better [his eyes brightened]. 28 Then one of the soldiers told Jonathan, “Your father ·made an oath for all the soldiers [bound the people with a strict oath/vow]. He said any man who eats today will be cursed! That’s why they are so ·weak [weary; faint].”

29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the land! See how ·much better I feel [L my eyes have brightened] after just tasting a little of this honey! 30 It would have been much better for the men to eat the ·food [plunder; spoil] they took from their enemies today. We could have ·killed [slaughtered] many more Philistines!”

31 That day the Israelites ·defeated [attacked; struck down] the Philistines from Micmash to Aijalon. After that, they were very ·tired [weary; faint]. 32 They ·had taken [rushed to the plunder, taking] sheep, ·cattle [oxen], and calves from the Philistines. Now they were so hungry they ·killed [butchered] the animals on the ground and ate them, ·without draining the blood from them [with the blood]! 33 Someone said to Saul, “Look! The men are sinning against the Lord. ·They’re eating meat without draining the blood from it […by eating with the blood; Gen. 9:4; Deut. 12:23]!”

Saul said, “You ·have sinned [acted treacherously; broken faith]! Roll a large stone over here now!” 34 Then he said, “·Go [Disperse yourselves] ·to [among] the men and tell them that each person must bring his ox and sheep to me and ·kill [slaughter] it here and eat it. Don’t sin against the Lord by eating ·meat without draining the blood from it [with the blood].”

That night everyone brought his ·animals [oxen] and ·killed [slaughtered] them there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord. It was the first altar he had built to the Lord.

36 Saul said, “Let’s go after the Philistines ·tonight [after dark] and ·rob [plunder; despoil] them. We won’t ·let any of them live [leave one of them]!”

The men answered, “Do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ·ask [approach; draw near to] God [C by making inquiry through the sacred lots or ephod].”

37 So Saul asked God, “Should I ·chase [L go down after] the Philistines? Will you ·let us defeat them [L give them into Israel’s hand]?” But God did not answer Saul ·at that time [that day]. 38 ·Then [So] Saul said to all the ·leaders [commanders] of his army, “Come here. Let’s find out what sin has been ·done [committed] today [C Saul believed God had not answered him because of a sin]. 39 As surely as the Lord lives who has ·saved [rescued; delivered] Israel, even if my son Jonathan did the sin, he must die.” But no one ·in the army [of all the people] spoke.

40 Then Saul said to all the Israelites, “You stand on this side. I and my son Jonathan will stand on the other side.”

The men answered, “Do whatever you think is best.”

41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, “·Give me the right answer [Let the sacred lots reveal the answer; L Give Thummim; C Saul is making inquiry through the sacred lots (the Urim and Thummim) as to who sinned; Ex. 28:29–30].”

And Saul and Jonathan were picked; the ·other men went free [people were cleared/went free/escaped blame]. 42 Saul said, “Now ·let us discover if it is I or Jonathan my son who is guilty [cast sacred lots between me and Jonathan].” And Jonathan was ·picked [taken].

43 Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”

So Jonathan told Saul, “I only tasted a little honey from the end of my ·stick [staff]. ·And must I die now [Does that deserve death; or I am ready to die.]?”

44 Saul said, “Jonathan, if you don’t die, may God ·punish me terribly [do the same to me, and even more].”

45 But the ·soldiers [people] said to Saul, “Must Jonathan die? Never! He is responsible for ·saving [rescuing; delivering; L this great victory in] Israel today! As surely as the Lord lives, not even a hair of his head will fall to the ground! ·Today Jonathan fought against the Philistines with God’s help […for he has worked with God today]!” So the ·army [people] ·saved [rescued; redeemed] Jonathan, and he did not die.

46 Then Saul stopped chasing the Philistines, and they [C the Philistines] went back to their own ·land [territory; L place].

Saul Fights Israel’s Enemies

47 When Saul ·became king [had secured/consolidated his rule/kingship] over Israel, he fought against Israel’s enemies ·all around [on every side]. He fought Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the ·king [or kings] of Zobah, and the Philistines. Everywhere Saul ·went [L turned] he ·defeated [punished; routed] Israel’s enemies. 48 He ·fought bravely [performed valiantly] and ·defeated [struck] the Amalekites. He ·saved [rescued; delivered] the Israelites from ·their enemies who had robbed [L the hand of those who plundered/pillaged] them.

49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua. His ·older [firstborn] daughter was named Merab, and his younger daughter was named Michal. 50 Saul’s wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of his army was Abner son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51 Saul’s father Kish and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel.

52 All Saul’s life ·he fought hard against [there was bitter/fierce warfare with] the Philistines. When he saw strong or brave men, he ·took [drafted] them into his ·army [service; 8:11].


  1. 1 Samuel 14:18 Ark of God Some Greek copies read “ephod.”