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Poole on 1 Samuel 20:35-42: A Sad Parting

Verse 35:[1] 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. Verse 36:[2] And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him (Heb. to pass over him[3]).


[Bring, מְצָא] Find (Pagnine, Vatablus); that is, seek, and bring the discovered arrows (Vatablus).

[He shot another arrow beyond the lad, וְהֽוּא־יָרָ֥ה הַחֵ֖צִי לְהַעֲבִרֽוֹ׃] And he shot an arrow, sending it beyond him (Junius, Piscator); he shot beyond it/him (Pagnine), that is, either beyond the target (Munster, Vatablus), or beyond the lad (Vatablus, Tigurinus, Arabic). Note that here חֵצִי/arrow is written instead of חִצִּים/arrows (Munster). Verse 37:[4] And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?

[He came to the place of the dart] Or arrow [thus most interpreters]. It is a Periphrastic manner of expressing the target. Unto the target (Junius).

To the place, that is, near to the place. Or, and the lad went, or was going on to the place; for the words following show the he was not yet come thither. The Hebrew verb בּוֹא/bo, which properly signifies to come, sometimes signifies to go; as here, and Ruth 3:7;[5] Jonah 1:3.[6] Verse 38:[7] And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.

[Haste, etc.] For he saw that it was a suitable time to speak with David alone, because there was no one in the field (Lyra, similarly Munster).

Haste, stay not; so he bids him, because finding the coast clear, he made haste to take the opportunity to speak with his dearly beloved David. Verse 39:[8] But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter. Verse 40:[9] And Jonathan gave his artillery (Heb. instruments[10]) unto his (Heb. that was his[11]) lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.

His artillery; his bow, and arrows, and quiver. Verse 41:[12] And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

[David arose, etc., וְדָוִ֗ד קָ֚ם מֵאֵ֣צֶל הַנֶּ֔גֶב] David arose from the southern side (Pagnine). Understanding, either of the stone (Vatablus, Munster, Junius, Piscator, thus Jonathan, Syriac), or of the field (Junius, Piscator). Jonathan had sent arrows to the northern (or opposite [Malvenda]) side, lest the boy run into David (Vatablus, Mariana).

Toward the south; in respect of the stone where David by appointment hid himself.

[And they wept together, but David more, וַיִּבְכּוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֔הוּ עַד־דָּוִ֖ד הִגְדִּֽיל׃] And they wept a man with his companion (one with another [Pagnine], one upon another [Syriac]) until David multiplied (Jonathan), until David exceeded (English, Munster), in weeping (Munster). [Similarly all:] until David made great to weep. In favor of which opinion is both the very order of the words, and the beginning of the following verse (Piscator). [Junius alone, differing from all, departs, and thus translates it:] And they wept one with another, until he had lifted David up. Hebrew: he had made great, or had lifted up, as in Psalm 41:9,[13] had lifted the one dismayed in heart, as the following verse shows, just as he also did afterwards in 1 Samuel 23:17 (Junius). David cried more abundantly, because he was now to be separated from his friend, from his wife, from the republic, and from the Sacred Rites of the people of God (Martyr).

Until David exceeded; as well he might, because he was driven away, not only from his dear friend Jonathan, but also from his wife, and all his relations, and from the commonwealth of Israel, and from the service of God; as he complains below, 1 Samuel 26:19. Verse 42:[14] And Jonathan said to David, (1 Sam. 1:17) Go in peace, forasmuch as (or, the LORD be witness of that which, etc.; see 1 Samuel 20:23) we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

[Go in peace: whatever we have sworn, etc., לֵ֣ךְ לְשָׁל֑וֹם אֲשֶׁר֩ נִשְׁבַּ֙עְנוּ וגו״] Go in peace, or depart with peace: because (or forasmuch as [English]) we have sworn, etc. (Montanus, Piscator, English). Depart with the peace of that which we swore (Junius and Tremellius). [Others otherwise:] There is an Ellipsis here, which is remarkably appropriate for those grieving (Vatablus). For, the force of grief, with the spirit shut up, took away the ability to speak at length (Tirinus out of Lapide and Sanchez). Thus Laodamia[15] in Ovid’s Epistles 13, I was loosed from thine embrace, Protesilaus. And my tongue, commissioning thee, left the words unfinished: I was hardly able to say that sad, Farewell (Sanchez). Similar Aposiopeses or things left unsaid are quite common in the Scriptures; like, if I lie to David;[16] if they shall enter into my rest:[17] Like unto these is that in Psalm 23:5, my inebriating cup.[18] And in Luke 19:42, if thou hadst known, etc. (Sanchez). [But they supplement it in a variety of ways:] Go is peace, and be mindful of this matter, which we have sworn, etc. (Pagnine, thus Mariana). Others: And the Lord be witness of that which we have sworn (English). Others thus: And what things we have sworn, etc., understanding, let them be fixed, confirmed (Munster, Tigurinus, similarly Castalio, Strigelius, Dutch).

We have sworn both of us; therefore doubt not but I will ever love thee, and faithfully serve thee; and the like I assure myself from thee; and this must be our comfort in our state of separation.


[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֔קֶר וַיֵּצֵ֧א יְהוֹנָתָ֛ן הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה לְמוֹעֵ֣ד דָּוִ֑ד וְנַ֥עַר קָטֹ֖ן עִמּֽוֹ׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְנַעֲר֔וֹ רֻ֗ץ מְצָ֥א נָא֙ אֶת־הַ֣חִצִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מוֹרֶ֑ה הַנַּ֣עַר רָ֔ץ וְהֽוּא־יָרָ֥ה הַחֵ֖צִי לְהַעֲבִרֽוֹ׃ [3] Hebrew: לְהַעֲבִרוֹ. [4] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֤א הַנַּ֙עַר֙ עַד־מְק֣וֹם הַחֵ֔צִי אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָרָ֖ה יְהוֹנָתָ֑ן וַיִּקְרָ֙א יְהוֹנָתָ֜ן אַחֲרֵ֤י הַנַּ֙עַר֙ וַיֹּ֔אמֶר הֲל֥וֹא הַחֵ֖צִי מִמְּךָ֥ וָהָֽלְאָה׃ [5] Ruth 3:7: “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went (וַיָּבֹא) to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came (וַתָּבֹא) softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.” [6] Jonah 1:3: “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going (בָּאָה) to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go (לָבוֹא) with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” [7] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֤א יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י הַנַּ֔עַר מְהֵרָ֥ה ח֖וּשָׁה אַֽל־תַּעֲמֹ֑ד וַיְלַקֵּ֞ט נַ֤עַר יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ אֶת־הַחֵ֖צִי וַיָּבֹ֖א אֶל־אֲדֹנָֽיו׃ [8] Hebrew: וְהַנַּ֖עַר לֹֽא־יָדַ֣ע מְא֑וּמָה אַ֤ךְ יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ וְדָוִ֔ד יָדְע֖וּ אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר׃ [9] Hebrew: וַיִּתֵּ֤ן יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ אֶת־כֵּלָ֔יו אֶל־הַנַּ֖עַר אֲשֶׁר־ל֑וֹ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ לֵ֖ךְ הָבֵ֥יא הָעִֽיר׃ [10] Hebrew: כֵּלָיו. [11] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ. [12] Hebrew: הַנַּעַר֮ בָּא֒ וְדָוִ֗ד קָ֚ם מֵאֵ֣צֶל הַנֶּ֔גֶב וַיִּפֹּ֙ל לְאַפָּ֥יו אַ֛רְצָה וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ שָׁלֹ֣שׁ פְּעָמִ֑ים וַֽיִּשְּׁק֣וּ׀ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֗הוּ וַיִּבְכּוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֔הוּ עַד־דָּוִ֖ד הִגְדִּֽיל׃ [13] Psalm 41:9: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up (הִגְדִּיל) his heel against me.” [14] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יְהוֹנָתָ֛ן לְדָוִ֖ד לֵ֣ךְ לְשָׁל֑וֹם אֲשֶׁר֩ נִשְׁבַּ֙עְנוּ שְׁנֵ֜ינוּ אֲנַ֗חְנוּ בְּשֵׁ֤ם יְהוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר יְהוָ֞ה יִֽהְיֶ֣ה׀ בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֗ךָ וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעִ֛י וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ פ וַיָּ֖קָם וַיֵּלַ֑ךְ וִיהוֹנָתָ֖ן בָּ֥א הָעִֽיר׃ [15] In Greek mythology, Laodamia committed suicide after the death of her husband, Protesilaus, at Troy, rather than live without him. [16] Psalm 89:35: “Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David (אִם־לְדָוִ֥ד אֲכַזֵּֽב׃, if I lie to David).” [17] Psalm 95:11: “Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest (אִם־יְ֜בֹא֗וּן אֶל־מְנוּחָתִֽי׃, if they shall enter into my rest).” [18] Psalm 23:5: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over (כּוֹסִ֥י רְוָיָֽה׃, my cup of saturation).”

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Mar 10, 2023

William Jay's Morning Exercises: 'Surely these tears teach us that there is nothing degrading in sensibility. Indeed, all true greatness is tender and sympathetic. Jonathan and David, the heroes of the age, one of whom had slain a whole garrison, [1 Samuel 13:3] and the other Goliath, [1 Samuel 17:49] both wept till each exceeded. [1 Samuel 20:41] Homer, that exquisite painter of nature, considers Ulysses as excelling all men in wisdom, yet represents him as weeping three times in six lines. He describes Achilles, too, so extraordinary in courage, as weeping often and plentifully. Let not, therefore, the unfeeling pride themselves as superior in fortitude and philosophy. Feeling is the noblest distinction and ornament of humanity, and in proportio…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Mar 10, 2023


Matthew Henry: 'Here is, 1. Jonathan's faithful performance of his promise to give David notice of the success of his dangerous experiment. He went at the time and to the place appointed (1 Samuel 20:35), within sight of which he knew David lay hid, sent his footboy to fetch his arrows, which he would shoot at random (1 Samuel 20:36), and gave David the fatal signal by shooting an arrow beyond the lad (1 Samuel 20:37): Is not the arrow beyond thee? That word [beyond] David knew the meaning of better than the lad. Jonathan dismissed the lad, who knew nothing of the matter, and, finding the coast clear and no danger of a discovery, he presumed upon one minute'…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Mar 10, 2023

Study 1 Samuel in detail with the Illustrious Matthew Poole! www.fromreformationtoreformation.com/1-samuel

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