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Poole on 1 Samuel 20:27-34: Saul's Murderous Intent Exposed!

Verse 27:[1] And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?

[The second day after Kalends] The second day of the new moon is not commanded by the word of God to be a feast. Why then did Saul hold a feast? Responses: 1. so that he might appear more Religious. 2. So that, if anything should be left over of the peace offerings, it might be eaten on the next day, according to Leviticus 7. But he was thinking that David was going to be present then. For, if anyone was unclean at the time of the Passover, he ate it in the second month of the Passover.[2] They transferred that to other feast days (Martyr). הַשֵּׁנִי, on the second, understanding, day, namely, following Kalends; he says the same thing twice (Vatablus).

Which was the second day of the month, or, on the morrow of the new moon, being the second day; either, 1. Of the three days appointed, 1 Samuel 20:5, 19. Or, 2. Of the feast. Or, 3. Of the month. Saul said unto Jonathan, who was David’s friend, and best knew his mind and his ways.

[The son of Jesse] He calls him this contemptuously, and with annoyance. Thus Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:10 (Menochius). In the same way, he does not name Jonathan, but calls him the son of a woman, etc.[3] The names of those we hate, we refuse to hear, just as also to see their likeness (Sanchez).

He calls him the son of Jesse, in scorn and contempt, to note the meanness of his original; and as not deigning to call him by his proper name: see below, 1 Samuel 22:9; 25:10. Neither yesterday, nor today; for the uncleanness which came by some chance usually lasted but for one day. See Leviticus 11.

Verse 28:[4] And Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:6) answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Beth-lehem…

[He asked of me, etc.] Jonathan lies, but officiously, to excuse David (Lapide). [But it was not needful to force a lie upon him, as it is able to be seen from what things have already been said.]

[That he might go to Beth-lehem] [In Hebrew it is only, unto Beth-lehem,[5] but all supply, that he might go, or that he might hasten (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius).]

Verse 29:[6] And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king’s table.

[One of my brethren summoned me] Hebrew: my brother commanded me[7] (Jonathan, Pagnine, Montanus), either, 1. by commandment of their father (Junius, Piscator); or, 2. younger brothers were obeying those older (Vatablus). He commanded me through a messenger (Malvenda).

He hath commanded me to be there; either in his father’s name, or in the right of the firstborn; one branch of which was authority over his brethren in all the concerns of the family; whereof this was one.

[Let me go quickly, אִמָּלְטָה] Let me escape (Vatablus, Munster), that is, I shall be saved, that is, from attendance upon the King (Munster). Actually so that he might rescue himself from danger, but he speaks ambiguously (Malvenda).

Verse 30:[8] Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman (or, thou perverse rebel; Heb. son of perverse rebellion[9]), do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?

[Thou son of a woman that is a wanton ravisher of a man] Son of deserting women (Septuagint). In the place of נַעֲוַת/perverse, they appear to have read נַעֲרוֹת/scattered (Piscator, Lapide); as if in Hebrew it were said verbatim, of the girls of rebellion. For the term מַרְדּוּת signifies either domination, from רָדָה, to have dominion, or rebellion, from מָרַד, to rebel. I think that it is to be translated, thou son of a harlot. Hebrew: thou son of a woman bending/stooping herself to domination. Periphrasis (Piscator). Ours read מַרְדוֹת/mardoth, that is, dominating; that is, who are ruling over men by their beauty and allurement; or it read מוֹרְדוֹת, that is, descending to men, and wantonly forcing themselves upon them (Lapide). In Hebrew it is בֶּֽן־נַעֲוַ֖ת הַמַּרְדּ֑וּת וגו״, thou son of perverse (or iniquitous [Munster]) rebellion (Montanus, Munster, English), or perverse rebel (English). Thou obstinate scoundrel (Strigelius). Thou son altogether perverse, most obstinate (Junius and Tremellius). Thou son, understanding, of a woman, or mother, inurbane (Syriac, similarly the Arabic), or rebellious (Tigurinus), or perverse rebellious (English), perverse and rebellious (Vatablus), perverted by rebellion (Martyr), rejected on account of rebellion (Kimchi in Munster). As the Hebrews call a man son of man; so Saul calls a wicked man son of the wicked, but from the mother, let he condemn himself (Castalio). Thou son of a woman depraved to the very highest contumacy. Sons are wont to be like their parents. Saul, who does not want to accuse himself, casts the fault of his stubborn nature upon his mother (Grotius). That is to say, thou imitates the manners of thy mother, who was not obedient to me (Vatablus out of Munster); who on account of this, that she was rebellious to me, is deservedly to be judged as reprobate and perverse (Munster); that is to say, thou art illegitimate, who dost not imitate thy father in anything; whom I hate, thou lovest. As thou hast joined thyself to my enemy, so thy mother joined herself to another man (Martyr). Thou lovest David more than me, as if he, or one of his kinsmen, were thy father, not I (Lapide).

Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman; this base temper of thine thou hast not from me, but from thy mother; of whose perverseness I have had so much experience. Or, thou son of perverse rebellion, that is, thou perverse and rebellious son. Or, thou most perverse rebel; for in the Hebrew language, the word son, thus used, is an aggravation of a man’s crime, and notes one who is extraordinarily addicted to it. Thus he calls him, because he hid and preserved that man whom the king had commanded to be brought forth, that he might be slain. To thine own confusion; for it will be a horrible shame and reproach unto thee, that David by his crafty insinuations, and fair pretences, should cheat thee of thy kingdom.

[And to the confusion of thy disgraced mother] Hebrew: to the confusion, or shame, of the nudity (that is, nakedness [Piscator]) of thy mother. [Thus nearly all interpreters.] For they will say that she committed adultery; that is to say, thou appearest not to be my son, but rather of an adulteress, because thou obeyest me not (Vatablus). Since thou lovest suspected David so much, thou hast rendered thy mother, as if she had conceived thee by his father (Piscator). Or, because in this manner she was not able to boast in her son as King (Menochius out of Sanchez). I suspect that Saul, as that age was allowing, had multiple wives, and likewise many sons from them. Certainly he had two sons of the concubine Rizpah, 2 Samuel 21:8 (Sanchez).

To the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness; men will conclude, that thy mother was a whore, and thou a bastard; and that thou hast no royal blood in thy veins, that canst so tamely give up thy crown to so contemptible a person.

Verse 31:[10] For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die (Heb. is the son of death[11]).

As long as the son of Jesse liveth, etc.: Thus he grossly mistakes the cause of Jonathan’s loss of the kingdom, which was not David’s art, but Saul’s sin; and vainly endeavours to prevent God’s irrevocable sentence.

[He is a son of death] He is worthy of death (Vatablus). Thus a child of gehenna, Matthew 23:15[12] (Lyra); children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3 (Piscator). Yet he alleges no reason why he ought to die (Martyr).

Verse 32:[13] And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, (1 Sam. 19:5; Matt. 27:33; Luke 23:22) Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?

Verse 33:[14] And Saul (1 Sam. 18:11) cast a javelin at him to smite him: (1 Sam. 20:7) whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

[And Saul took hold of a javelin, etc.] Saul, since he was not able to render a reason for his deed, turns himself to tyranny, etc. Having been abandoned by God,[15] he is ἄστοργος, without natural affection;[16] and he fights with himself. For, he wants his son to reign, and yet he wants to ill him (Martyr). A spear was always ready to Saul’s hand. Perhaps Kings were always carrying a spear in their hand as a scepter in that time. Justinus’ Of Phillipic Histories[17] 43, concerning Romulus,[18] As yet in those times kings were having spears instead of a diadem, which the Greeks called scepters. Euripides in Hecuba,[19] concerning Polymestor,[20] he rules his people with a spear (Malvenda).

To smite him, that is, to wound him, though not to smite him even to the wall, as he designed to do to David, 1 Samuel 19:10.

[That it was determined by his father, etc.,כִּֽי־כָ֥לָה הִ֛יא מֵעִ֥ם אָבִ֖יו לְהָמִ֥ית אֶת־דָּוִֽד׃] Verbatim: that it was the very conclusion from with his father to kill David (Montanus); that it was decreed by his father, etc. (Syriac, Pagnine, similarly Jonathan, Tigurinus, Strigelius); that this malice was brought to perfection by my father to kill David (Septuagint).

Verse 34:[21] So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.

[Because his father had confounded him, כִּ֥י הִכְלִמ֖וֹ אָבִֽיו׃] Because his father had falsely charged (had shamed [Tigurinus], had defamed [Munster, similarly Pagnine]) him (Montanus).

Because his father had done him shame: Or, and because; for this is a second cause of his grief. The conjunction and is ofttimes omitted, and to be supplied; as Psalm 33:2;[22] 144:9;[23] Habakkuk 3:11.[24]

Verse 35:[25] And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.

In the morning, to wit, of the third day, appointed, for this work, verse 5.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י מִֽמָּחֳרַ֤ת הַחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ הַשֵּׁנִ֔י וַיִּפָּקֵ֖ד מְק֣וֹם דָּוִ֑ד ס וַיֹּ֤אמֶר שָׁאוּל֙ אֶל־יְהוֹנָתָ֣ן בְּנ֔וֹ מַדּ֜וּעַ לֹא־בָ֧א בֶן־יִשַׁ֛י גַּם־תְּמ֥וֹל גַּם־הַיּ֖וֹם אֶל־הַלָּֽחֶם׃ [2] See Numbers 9:10, 11; 2 Chronicles 30. [3] Verse 30. [4] Hebrew: וַיַּ֥עַן יְהוֹנָתָ֖ן אֶת־שָׁא֑וּל נִשְׁאֹ֙ל נִשְׁאַ֥ל דָּוִ֛ד מֵעִמָּדִ֖י עַד־בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם׃ [5] Hebrew: עַד־בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם׃. [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֡אמֶר שַׁלְּחֵ֣נִי נָ֡א כִּ֣י זֶבַח֩ מִשְׁפָּחָ֙ה לָ֜נוּ בָּעִ֗יר וְה֤וּא צִוָּֽה־לִי֙ אָחִ֔י וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ אִמָּ֥לְטָה נָּ֖א וְאֶרְאֶ֣ה אֶת־אֶחָ֑י עַל־כֵּ֣ן לֹא־בָ֔א אֶל־שֻׁלְחַ֖ן הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃ [7] Hebrew: וְה֤וּא צִוָּֽה־לִי֙ אָחִ֔י. [8] Hebrew: וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֤ף שָׁאוּל֙ בִּיה֣וֹנָתָ֔ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ בֶּֽן־נַעֲוַ֖ת הַמַּרְדּ֑וּת הֲל֣וֹא יָדַ֗עְתִּי כִּֽי־בֹחֵ֤ר אַתָּה֙ לְבֶן־יִשַׁ֔י לְבָ֙שְׁתְּךָ֔ וּלְבֹ֖שֶׁת עֶרְוַ֥ת אִמֶּֽךָ׃ [9] Hebrew: בֶּֽן־נַעֲוַ֖ת הַמַּרְדּ֑וּת. [10] Hebrew: כִּ֣י כָל־הַיָּמִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר בֶּן־יִשַׁי֙ חַ֣י עַל־הָאֲדָמָ֔ה לֹ֥א תִכּ֖וֹן אַתָּ֣ה וּמַלְכוּתֶ֑ךָ וְעַתָּ֗ה שְׁלַ֙ח וְקַ֤ח אֹתוֹ֙ אֵלַ֔י כִּ֥י בֶן־מָ֖וֶת הֽוּא׃ [11] Hebrew: בֶן־מָ֖וֶת הֽוּא׃. [12] Matthew 23:15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell (υἱὸν γεέννης) than yourselves.” [13] Hebrew: וַיַּ֙עַן֙ יְה֣וֹנָתָ֔ן אֶת־שָׁא֖וּל אָבִ֑יו וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֵלָ֛יו לָ֥מָּה יוּמַ֖ת מֶ֥ה עָשָֽׂה׃ [14] Hebrew: וַיָּ֙טֶל שָׁא֧וּל אֶֽת־הַחֲנִ֛ית עָלָ֖יו לְהַכֹּת֑וֹ וַיֵּ֙דַע֙ יְה֣וֹנָתָ֔ן כִּֽי־כָ֥לָה הִ֛יא מֵעִ֥ם אָבִ֖יו לְהָמִ֥ית אֶת־דָּוִֽד׃ [15] See 1 Samuel 16:14. [16] Romans 1:31: “Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection (ἀστόργους), implacable, unmerciful…” 2 Timothy 3:3: “Without natural affection (ἄστοργοι), trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good…” [17]Historiarum Philippicarum. [18] Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome. Rome is thought to have been established in the eighth century BC. [19] In Greek mythology, Hecuba was Queen of Troy, wife of King Priam, during the Trojan War. [20] The youngest son of Priam and Hecuba, Polydorus, was sent to King Polymestor of the Bistonians in Thrace for safety during the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, Polymestor betrayed Priam, and killed Polydorus for his treasure. The betrayal was discovered by Hecuba, who, with the help of Agamemnon, lures Polymestor to his death. [21] Hebrew: וַיָּ֧קָם יְהוֹנָתָ֛ן מֵעִ֥ם הַשֻּׁלְחָ֖ן בָּחֳרִי־אָ֑ף וְלֹא־אָכַ֞ל בְּיוֹם־הַחֹ֤דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי֙ לֶ֔חֶם כִּ֤י נֶעְצַב֙ אֶל־דָּוִ֔ד כִּ֥י הִכְלִמ֖וֹ אָבִֽיו׃ [22] Psalm 33:2: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery, an instrument of ten strings (בְּנֵ֥בֶל עָ֜שׂ֗וֹר, and must be supplied).” [23] Psalm 144:9: “I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery, an instrument of ten strings (בְּנֵ֥בֶל עָ֜שׂ֗וֹר, and must be supplied) will I sing praises unto thee.” [24] Habakkuk 3:11: “The sun moon (שֶׁ֥מֶשׁ יָרֵ֖חַ, and must be supplied) stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, at the shining of thy glittering spear (לְא֤וֹר חִצֶּ֙יךָ֙ יְהַלֵּ֔כוּ לְנֹ֖גַהּ בְּרַ֥ק חֲנִיתֶֽךָ׃, and must be supplied).” [25] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֔קֶר וַיֵּצֵ֧א יְהוֹנָתָ֛ן הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה לְמוֹעֵ֣ד דָּוִ֑ד וְנַ֥עַר קָטֹ֖ן עִמּֽוֹ׃

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II. He is enquired for the second day, 1 Samuel 20:27. Saul asked Jonathan, who he knew was his confidant, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat? He was his own son by marriage, but he calls him in disdain, the son of Jesse. He asks for him as…


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Study 1 Samuel in detail with the Illustrious Matthew Poole!

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