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Poole on 1 Samuel 20:14-17: A Covenant of Friendship, Part 2

Verse 14:[1] And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not…

[And if I live, thou shalt show me the mercy of the Lord: but, if I die, (verse 15) thou shalt not take away thy mercy from my house,וְלֹ֖א אִם־עוֹדֶ֣נִּי חָ֑י וְלֹֽא־תַעֲשֶׂ֧ה עִמָּדִ֛י חֶ֥סֶד יְהוָ֖ה וְלֹ֥א אָמֽוּת׃ וְלֺֽא־תַכְרִ֧ת וגו״] The Hebrew is quite obscure (Munster). [They render it variously.] Verbatim: And not if with me yet living (or I living [Vatablus]) and not shalt thou show with me the mercy of the Lord, and not shall I die. And thou shalt not take away, etc. (Montanus). And accordingly with me yet living, and thou shalt show with me mercy; and if I die, thou shalt not remove thy mercy from my house (Septuagint). [The thrice repeated particle לֺא/not, either they ignore, or they expound by אִם/if.] Now, would that it happen with me living [they understand, I suppose, with the kingdom being about to come to David], but render to me a blessing because of God, before I die; and deprive not my house of thy blessing, etc. (Arabic, similarly the Syriac) [they appear to have read וְלוּא, and would that, instead of וְלוֹא, and not]. Others render it more freely [says Vatablus] in this way, if I fulfill it not, neither for myself living nor dead, fulfill thou the blessing of the Lord (thus Tigurinus, similarly Strigelius). [As if they had read וְאִם לֺא, and if not, in the place of וְלֹא אִם, and not if.] I fear not, as long as I live, that thou wilt not show me the mercy of the Lord, nor when I die, but thou wilt not cut off, etc. (Munster out of Kimchi). And not do I ask of thee, if I will have been yet living, for not do I fear that thou art not going to show the mercy of Jehovah to me, and I will not die; but I ask that thou remove not mercy from my house, etc. (Pagnine). And now will I ask with me yet living; and not will I ask that thou show me the mercy of the Lord: that is to say, this petition would be unnecessary, that thou, inheriting the kingdom, favor me; But if I die, etc. (thus the Septuagint). But the Hebrew, and I will not die; which words I think to have been corrupted, and in the place of וְלֹא אָמוּת, and I will not die, וְאִם אָמוּת, and if I die, is to be read; neither is it to be joined with what precedes, as it is in the Hebrew, but with what follows, as the Vulgate and the Septuagint specify (Mariana). And not (וְלֺא, and not, they take interrogatively, as if it were הֲלוֹא] as long as I live (I translate it, if I still live, that is, when thou art obtaining the kingdom [Piscator]), not, I say, art thou going to exercise towards me this benignity of Jehovah, that I am not going to die? (that is, I will not be afflicted with death, the liability to which my father has brought upon his whole family [Piscator]) neither art thou going to cut off thy benignity from my family forever? (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Lapide); that is to say, thou shalt do to the uttermost and not rescind (Lapide). And art thou not willing, if I yet survive at that time (that is, when the Lord will have been with thee, etc.; that is, when thou wilt have been King, etc.), indeed, I say, art thou not willing to manifest to me the mercy of the Lord, that I die not? And also thou shalt not exterminate, etc. (Dutch). And not only, as long as I yet live, wilt thou show me the goodness of the Lord, that I myself die not; but also thou shalt not cut off thy benevolence from my house, etc. (English). If I show not to thee mercy while I live (for there the Atnah [֑] ends the first clause, and makes a division), then neither shalt thou show to me the mercy of the Lord, not even when I die (Willet). It is a restipulation, whereby he requires of David the same office unto himself, and unto his posterity (Malvenda out of Junius). He stipulates this on account of the evil manners of neighboring Kings, who were killing the children and relatives of preceding Kings, lest they should see anything suspicious concerning themselves. The petition of Saul has regard to the same, 1 Samuel 24:21 (Grotius). Moreover, it is here called the mercy of the Lord, either, 1. as if it were agreeable and pleasant to the Lord, says Pagnine; or, 2. before the Lord, promised to me by thee in covenant with the name of the Lord interposed, 1 Samuel 18:3, just as it was called a covenant of the Lord, 1 Samuel 20:8 (Lapide); or rather, 3. of the Lord, that is, great and eminent; which sort the Lord exhibits to his faithful ones and friends; for what things are of the Lord are great. Thus they are called the cedars of God,[2] the mountains of God,[3] etc. (Lapide out of Sanchez).

And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not: Or, And wilt thou not, if I shall then be alive, (to wit, when the Lord shall be with thee, as he hath been with my father, as he now said, that is, when God shall have advanced thee to the kingdom, as he did him,) yea, wilt thou not (the same particle twice repeated for asseveration, that is, I am well assured that thou wilt) show me the kindness of the Lord; that is, either such kindness as the Lord hath showed to thee in preserving thy life in the midst of so many and such great dangers; or that kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself, in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God’s presence. That I die not; that thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line use to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them; which they do either by way of revenge, or in policy, and reason of state, to secure the kingdom to themselves.

Verse 15:[4] But also (2 Sam. 9:1, 3, 7; 21:7) thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.

[Thou shalt not remove thy mercy from my house forever, when the Lord will have eradicated the enemies of David, every one from the earth,וְלֹ֗א בְּהַכְרִ֤ת יְהוָה֙ אֶת־אֹיְבֵ֣י דָוִ֔ד אִ֕ישׁ מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃] Not even then, when Jehovah will destroy the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth (Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine, similarly Munster, Vatablus, Jonathan, Montanus, Septuagint). Or not (that is, thou shalt not remove mercy) in the Lord’s eradicating (in the place of, when He will have have eradicated) the enemies of David, etc. (Mariana). But here many things are added by the Vulgate that are not found in the Hebrew text that we now have (Sanchez). May He take Jonathan from his house, and may the Lord require it at the hands of the enemies of David (Vulgate). With which words he resumed the imprecation previously advanced against himself, unless he reveal the will of Saul, etc. (Menochius). He says, at the hand of the enemies of David, that is to say, let him expect vengeance even from me, who by this covenant gathers himself with the enemies of David (Menochius). Should I deceive thee in this, I will to be held in the number of thine enemies, and to undergo the same things that thou inflictest upon enemies (Lapide).

Thy kindness; he saith not, the kindness of the Lord, as before, because the covenant between them seems to have been only personal, and not comprehending their posterity. And therefore as Jonathan speaks confidently of his own preservation by virtue of that covenant; so he here lays this additional obligation upon David, that he would extend his kindness to all his progeny. When the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David; which he will certainly do without exception of Saul my father, and those of his children who have joined, or shall join, with him in his hostilities and cruelties against David. And by this word enemies he implies the reasonableness of his request, because Jonathan was none of that number, and therefore not to be treated as such.

Verse 16:[5] So Jonathan made (Heb. cut[6]) a covenant with the house of David, saying, (1 Sam. 25:22; see 1 Sam. 31:2; 2 Samuel 4:7; 21:8) Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.

[So Jonathan settled a covenant with the house of David,וַיִּכְרֹ֥ת יְהוֹנָתָ֖ן עִם־בֵּ֣ית דָּוִ֑ד] Verbatim: and Jonathan cut with the house of David (Montanus). [Some take it optatively:] May the name of Jonathan be found by the family of David (Septuagint). May Jonathan rise with the family of David (Syriac, Arabic). May David also demolish Jonathan together with his own house (Tigurinus). [Just as the following וּבִקֵּשׁ, and He required, some translate, and may He require; so וַיִּכְרֹת, and he demolished, others translate, and may he demolish: they appear to neglect the conversive ו, without which the future/imperfect is often put in the place of the optative: Osiander turns it to what precedes in this manner, and thus translates it:] and even if at some point the Lord is going to eradicate the enemies of David, etc. (he tacitly indicates his father Saul, and his other sons), then may not [he supplies the not from what precedes] David demolish Jonathan together with his own posterity (Osiander). Others: and so Jonathan settled (Hebrew, cut; see Genesis 15:18[7]) a covenant with the house of David (Pagnine, thus Munster, Junius and Tremellius, English, Dutch, Strigelius, Malvenda, Vatablus); that is, he promised that, as long as he lived, he would watch over the whole family of David (Vatablus). They understand covenant, of which there is an Ellipsis here, as in 1 Samuel 11:2;[8] 22:8;[9] 1 Kings 8:9[10] (Malvenda out of Junius, Glassius). But the whole expression is extant in Deuteronomy 5:2.[11] Now, often occurs an Ellipsis of the accusative following the verb: Exodus 23:5, in leaving thou shalt leave,[12] understanding, thy matter; 2 Samuel 6:6, and Uzzah put forth,[13] understanding, his hand, as it is expressed completely in Exodus 9:15;[14] 1 Chronicles 13:9.[15] Then David delivered,[16] that is, this Psalm, the words of which are immediately subjoined (Glassius’ “Grammar” 698).

Jonathan made a covenant, etc.: The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David’s side, which doubtless he obtained.

[And the Lord required it of the hand of the enemies of David] Here, the Author of the book interrupts the order of the history and covenant, so that he might signify that it actually happened afterwards, just as Jonathan had imprecated; that is, that God exacted vengeance on Saul, and others, etc. (Lapide). [The Hebrew thus stands, וּבִקֵּ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה מִיַּ֖ד אֹיְבֵ֥י דָוִֽד׃.] And let the Lord require it of the hand of the enemies of David (Montanus, Tigurinus, Mariana, similarly the Syriac, Arabic). [Others supply, saying, or by saying, or and he said:] let Jehovah require, etc. (Pagnine, Munster, Piscator, English, Dutch), that is, the violation of the covenant (Piscator). Understanding, should I not fulfill what I promise (Vatablus), or should it be violated (Munster out of the Hebrews). Hebrew: to require, an Infinitive in the place of an Imperative (Piscator). To require at the hand of someone, is to take vengeance, just as in Genesis 9:5;[17] 2 Chronicles 24:22[18] (Sanchez). At the hand of the enemies of David, that is, at my hand and that of my sons, if they prove to be enemies of David. A Synecdoche of genus (Piscator, thus Mariana, Vatablus in Tigurinus Notes). Even of me, who, not revealing to David what things Saul plans against him, in a certain way make myself an enemy of David (Menochius). Others say, that enemies of David is by a Euphemism taken for David himself (Hebrews in Sanchez); which figure removes from him that expression, which sounds horrible and inauspicious. Thus in 1 Samuel 25:22, thus may God do to the enemies of David, etc. In that place he, imprecating something of evil upon himself, he put his enemies in his place for the sake of a good omen, I think. One, being about to speak to his friend in this manner, May it be ill with thee, often restrains himself, and says, Oh, may it be ill with those that wish ill to thee; or, as the Spanish say, Oh, may it be ill with the devil. Thus the Romans were wont to say, Whatever evil I said to thee, let them be upon me and my head. See more examples from profane authors in Brissonius’[19]Concerning Formulas[20] 1. And the Hebrews add that this was fulfilled in David; for, just as David had withdrawn a half part of the goods of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan (and awarded them to Ziba), 2 Samuel 19, so God divided the kingdom of David as a punishment of the violated covenant. But so sever an oath does not agree, either with the love and liberal nature of Jonathan, or with the afflicted condition of David. Concerning this, see more things on 1 Samuel 25, and in Abulensis[21] (Sanchez). [Munster thus translates it, Let the Lord require it by the hands of the enemies of David; namely, from David himself, which he passes over in silence in accordance with custom. Others connect it with the former part of the verse in this way:] He settled a covenant, so that Jehovah might require it, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, Glassius). The copulative conjunction sometimes also carries the signification of the causal ut, so that; thus in Exodus 7:16, let my people go, וְיַעַבְדֻנִי, so that they might serve me, just as also in Exodus 5:1.[22] Thus in Lamentations 1:19, they seek meat for themselves, וְיָשִׁיבוּ, so that they might restore their souls; and in Lamentations 3:26, ט֤וֹב וְיָחִיל֙, it is good, that he might wait, etc. In Jonah 1:11, What shall we do to thee, וְיִשְׁתֹּק, that the sea may be calm? So also in Isaiah 53:2;[23] Hosea 2:2[24] (Glassius’ “Grammar” 689). Furthermore, the first covenant, entered into after the slaying of Goliath,[25] was of private friendship; this covenant opens more broadly, and pertains to the mutual preservation of the families (Malvenda).

Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies; if either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David, or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it, whoever they are. Others thus, Let the Lord require and punish the breach of this covenant in David, if he break it. But because it was ominous and reproachful to suppose such a thing of David, by a figure called euphemismus, he names David’s enemies for David; as they also expound 1 Samuel 25:22. But the former sense seems more probable, because this verse contains only Jonathan’s stipulation or covenant with David and his house, which being expressed in the former part of it, is in this latter part confirmed by the usual form of imprecation; and the re-stipulation or covenant of David to Jonathan and his house is mentioned in the next verse. Yet may that other sense stand well enough; taking these words for Jonathan’s adjuration of David to be kind to him, confirmed with an imprecation in case he do otherwise; as if he should say, I adjure thee, as thou hopest to escape such a mischief, (which I had rather might befall thine enemies than thee,) that thou deal not so ungratefully with me or my house: which adjuration of Jonathan David seconds by an oath in the next verse, at the request of Jonathan.

Verse 17:[26] And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him (or, by his love toward him[27]): (1 Sam. 18:1) for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

[And Jonathan added to swear to David, because he loved him,וַיּ֤וֹסֶף יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ לְהַשְׁבִּ֣יעַ אֶת־דָּוִ֔ד בְּאַהֲבָת֖וֹ אֹת֑וֹ] Verbatim: and Jonathan added to swear to David in his loving him (Montanus), or, because he loved him (Pagnine, similarly Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Mariana), because of his love with which he was loving him (Piscator). He added to swear, that is, to confirm with other oaths (Menochius), so that he might free David’s mind from all fear (Sanchez). Jonathan swore these things to David, through the love, namely, wherewith he was loving him (Tigurinus). [Others otherwise:] Similarly Jonathan caused David to swear again for his his love towards him (Junius and Tremellius, thus the English, Dutch, Piscator). Similarly, etc., that is, just as he himself had sword to Divid, so he in turned charged David to swear (Pagnine, similarly the Dutch). And Jonathan added to cause David to swear by his love wherewith he was loving him (Munster).

Jonathan caused David to swear again: Hebrew, And Jonathan added or proceeded to make David swear, that is, having himself sworn to David, or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David’s oath to him, by way of re-stipulation or confirmation. Because he loved him; because he had a true friendship for David, he desired that the covenant might be inviolably observed through all their generations.

[For, as his own soul was he loving him, כִּֽי־אַהֲבַ֥ת נַפְשׁ֖וֹ אֲהֵבֽוֹ׃] For according to the love of his own soul was he loving him (Piscator, thus Jonathan, Dutch, English). Others thus: by the love of himself was he loving him (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). Hebrew: of his own soul.[28] A Synecdoche of member (Piscator). He loved him as himself with an equal love (Arabic).

[1] Hebrew: וְלֹ֖א אִם־עוֹדֶ֣נִּי חָ֑י וְלֹֽא־תַעֲשֶׂ֧ה עִמָּדִ֛י חֶ֥סֶד יְהוָ֖ה וְלֹ֥א אָמֽוּת׃ [2] See Psalm 80:10: “The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars (אַרְזֵי־אֵל, the cedars of God).” [3] See Psalm 36:6: “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains (כְּהַרְרֵי־אֵל, like the mountains of God); thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.” [4] Hebrew: וְלֹֽא־תַכְרִ֧ת אֶֽת־חַסְדְּךָ֛ מֵעִ֥ם בֵּיתִ֖י עַד־עוֹלָ֑ם וְלֹ֗א בְּהַכְרִ֤ת יְהוָה֙ אֶת־אֹיְבֵ֣י דָוִ֔ד אִ֕ישׁ מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ [5] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרֹ֥ת יְהוֹנָתָ֖ן עִם־בֵּ֣ית דָּוִ֑ד וּבִקֵּ֣שׁ יְהוָ֔ה מִיַּ֖ד אֹיְבֵ֥י דָוִֽד׃ [6] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרֹת. [7] Genesis 15:18: “In the same day the Lord made (כָּרַת/cut) a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates…” [8] 1 Samuel 11:2: “And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I cut (supplying, a covenant)with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.” [9] 1 Samuel 22:8: “That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath cut (supplying, a covenant) with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” [10] 1 Kings 8:9: “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord cut (supplying, a covenant) with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” [11] Deuteronomy 5:2: “The Lord our God cut with us a covenant (כָּרַ֥ת עִמָּ֛נוּ בְּרִ֖ית) in Horeb.” [12] Exodus 23:5: “If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help (עָזֹ֥ב תַּעֲזֹ֖ב, thou shalt surely leave) with him.” [13] 2 Samuel 6:6: “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth (וַיִּשְׁלַ֙ח עֻזָּ֜א) to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.” [14] Exodus 9:15: “For now I will stretch out my hand (שָׁלַ֣חְתִּי אֶת־יָדִ֔י), that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.” [15] 1 Chronicles 13:9: “And when they came unto the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand (וַיִּשְׁלַ֙ח עֻזָּ֜א אֶת־יָד֗וֹ) to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.” [16] 1 Chronicles 16:7. [17] Genesis 9:5: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require (אֶדְרֹשׁ); at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man (מִיַּ֥ד כָּל־חַיָּ֖ה אֶדְרְשֶׁ֑נּוּ וּמִיַּ֣ד הָֽאָדָ֗ם); at the hand of every man’s brother will I require (מִיַּד֙ אִ֣ישׁ אָחִ֔יו אֶדְרֹ֖שׁ) the life of man.” [18] 2 Chronicles 24:22: “Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon it, and require (וְיִדְרֹשׁ) it.” [19] Barnabas Brissonius (1531-1591) was a French jurist, an expert in Greek and Roman jurisprudence. [20]De Formulis et Solennibus Populi Romani Verbis. [21] That is, Tostatus. [22] Exodus 5:1: “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast (וְיָחֹגּוּ) unto me in the wilderness.” [23] Isaiah 53:2: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him (וְלֹֽא־מַרְאֶ֖ה וְנֶחְמְדֵֽהוּ׃).” [24] Hosea 2:2: “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away (וְתָסֵר) her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts…” [25] See 1 Samuel 18:3. [26] Hebrew: וַיּ֤וֹסֶף יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ לְהַשְׁבִּ֣יעַ אֶת־דָּוִ֔ד בְּאַהֲבָת֖וֹ אֹת֑וֹ כִּֽי־אַהֲבַ֥ת נַפְשׁ֖וֹ אֲהֵבֽוֹ׃ [27] Hebrew: בְּאַהֲבָת֖וֹ אֹת֑וֹ. [28] Hebrew: נַפְשׁוֹ.

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