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1 Samuel 14 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

14 That same day Saul’s son Jonathan said to the attendant who carried his weapons, “Come on, let’s cross over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” However, he did not tell his father.

Saul was staying under the pomegranate tree in Migron on the outskirts of Gibeah.[a] The troops with him numbered about 600. Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod, was also there. He was the son of Ahitub, the brother of Ichabod son of Phinehas, son of Eli the Lord’s priest at Shiloh. But the troops did not know that Jonathan had left.

There were sharp columns[b] of rock on both sides of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine garrison. One was named Bozez and the other Seneh; one stood to the north in front of Michmash and the other to the south in front of Geba. Jonathan said to the attendant who carried his weapons, “Come on, let’s cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

His armor-bearer responded, “Do what is in your heart. You choose. I’m right here with you whatever you decide.”

“All right,” Jonathan replied, “we’ll cross over to the men and then let them see us. If they say, ‘Wait until we reach you,’ then we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come on up,’ then we’ll go up, because the Lord has handed them over to us—that will be our sign.”

11 They let themselves be seen by the Philistine garrison, and the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they’ve been hiding!” 12 The men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armor-bearer. “Come on up, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” they said.

“Follow me,” Jonathan told his armor-bearer, “for the Lord has handed them over to Israel.” 13 Jonathan climbed up using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer behind him. Jonathan cut them down, and his armor-bearer followed and finished them off. 14 In that first assault Jonathan and his armor-bearer struck down about 20 men in a half-acre field.

A Defeat for the Philistines

15 Terror spread through the Philistine camp and the open fields to all the troops. Even the garrison and the raiding parties were terrified. The earth shook, and terror spread from God.[c] 16 When Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, they saw the panicking troops scattering in every direction. 17 So Saul said to the troops with him, “Call the roll and determine who has left us.” They called the roll and saw that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were gone.

18 Saul told Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God,” for it was with the Israelites[d] at that time. 19 While Saul spoke to the priest, the panic in the Philistine camp increased in intensity. So Saul said to the priest, “Stop what you’re doing.”[e]

20 Saul and all the troops with him assembled and marched to the battle, and there, the Philistines were fighting against each other in great confusion! 21 There were Hebrews from the area who had gone earlier into the camp to join the Philistines, but even they joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelite men who had been hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they also joined Saul and Jonathan in the battle. 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day.

Saul’s Rash Oath

The battle extended beyond Beth-aven, 24 and the men of Israel were worn out that day, for Saul had[f] placed the troops under an oath: “The man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies is cursed.” So none of the troops tasted any food.

25 Everyone[g] went into the forest, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When the troops entered the forest, they saw the flow of honey, but none of them ate any of it[h] because they feared the oath. 27 However, Jonathan had not heard his father make the troops swear the oath. He reached out with the end of the staff he was carrying and dipped it into the honeycomb. When he ate the honey,[i] he had renewed energy. 28 Then, one of the troops said, “Your father made the troops solemnly swear, ‘The man who eats food today is cursed,’ and the troops are exhausted.”

29 Jonathan replied, “My father has brought trouble to the land. Just look at how I have renewed energy because I tasted a little honey. 30 How much better if the troops had eaten freely today from the plunder they took from their enemies! Then the slaughter of the Philistines would have been much greater.”

31 The Israelites struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash all the way to Aijalon. Since the Israelites were completely exhausted, 32 they rushed to the plunder, took sheep, cattle, and calves, slaughtered them on the ground, and ate meat with the blood still in it. 33 Some reported to Saul: “Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating meat with the blood still in it.”

Saul said, “You have been unfaithful. Roll a large stone over here at once.” 34 He then said, “Go among the troops and say to them, ‘Each man must bring me his ox or his sheep. Do the slaughtering here and then you can eat. Don’t sin against the Lord by eating meat with the blood in it.’” So every one of the troops brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first time he had built an altar to the Lord.

36 Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!”

“Do whatever you want,”[j] the troops replied.

But the priest said, “We must consult God here.”

37 So Saul inquired of God, “Should I go after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?” But God did not answer him that day.

38 Saul said, “All you leaders of the troops, come here. Let us investigate how this sin has occurred today. 39 As surely as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is because of my son Jonathan, he must die!” Not one of the troops answered him.

40 So he said to all Israel, “You will be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.”

And the troops replied, “Do whatever you want.”[k]

41 So Saul said to the Lord, “God of Israel, give us the right decision.”[l] Jonathan and Saul were selected, and the troops were cleared of the charge.

42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan,” and Jonathan was selected. 43 Saul commanded him, “Tell me what you did.”

Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of the staff I was carrying. I am ready to die!”

44 Saul declared to him, “May God punish me and do so severely if you do not die, Jonathan!”

45 But the people said to Saul, “Must Jonathan die, who accomplished such a great deliverance for Israel? No, as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he worked with God’s help today.” So the people redeemed Jonathan, and he did not die. 46 Then Saul gave up the pursuit of the Philistines, and the Philistines returned to their own territory.

Summary of Saul’s Kingship

47 When Saul assumed the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies in every direction: against Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he caused havoc.[m] 48 He fought bravely, defeated the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hand of those who plundered them.

49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua. The names of his two daughters were: Merab, his firstborn, and Michal, the younger. 50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of his army was Abner son of Saul’s uncle Ner. 51 Saul’s father was Kish. Abner’s father was Ner son of Abiel.

52 The conflict with the Philistines was fierce all of Saul’s days, so whenever Saul noticed any strong or brave man, he enlisted him.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 14:2 LXX reads on top of the hill
  2. 1 Samuel 14:4 Lit There was a tooth
  3. 1 Samuel 14:15 Or and a great terror spread
  4. 1 Samuel 14:18 LXX reads “Bring the ephod.” For he wore the ephod before Israel
  5. 1 Samuel 14:19 Lit Withdraw your hand
  6. 1 Samuel 14:24 LXX adds committed a great act of ignorance and
  7. 1 Samuel 14:25 Lit All the land
  8. 1 Samuel 14:26 Lit but there was none who raised his hand to his mouth
  9. 1 Samuel 14:27 Lit he returned his hand to his mouth
  10. 1 Samuel 14:36 Lit Do what is good in your eyes
  11. 1 Samuel 14:40 Lit Do what is good in your eyes
  12. 1 Samuel 14:41 LXX reads Israel, why have You not answered Your servant today? If the unrighteousness is in me or in my son Jonathan, Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if the guilt is in Your people Israel, give Thummim.”
  13. 1 Samuel 14:47 LXX reads he was victorious

1 Samuel 14 New International Version (NIV)

14 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.

On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.

11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.

So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

Israel Routs the Philistines

15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]

16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[b] 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the Lord saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.

Jonathan Eats Honey

24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.

25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[c] 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”

29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted. 32 They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood. 33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that has blood in it.”

“You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.” 34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with blood still in it.’”

So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first time he had done this.

36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.”

“Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied.

But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.

38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. 39 As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.

40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.”

“Do what seems best to you,” they replied.

41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault,[d] respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. 42 Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.

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

So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”

44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.

45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.

47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings[e] of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.[f] 48 He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.

Saul’s Family

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

52 All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 14:15 Or a terrible panic
  2. 1 Samuel 14:18 Hebrew; Septuagint “Bring the ephod.” (At that time he wore the ephod before the Israelites.)
  3. 1 Samuel 14:27 Or his strength was renewed; similarly in verse 29
  4. 1 Samuel 14:41 Septuagint; Hebrew does not have “Why … at fault.
  5. 1 Samuel 14:47 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint king
  6. 1 Samuel 14:47 Hebrew; Septuagint he was victorious
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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