top of page

Poole on 1 Samuel 20:9-13: A Covenant of Friendship, Part 1

Verse 9:[1] And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?


[Far be this from thee (thus Vatablus)] Understanding, that thou shouldest suspect that of me (Vatablus, Rabbi Salomon and Kimchi and Rabbi Levi in Dieu); or far be it, that is, that thou, being innocent, shouldest be killed by my hand (Menochius).


Far be it from thee; I abhor the thoughts of either killing thee myself, or giving thee up to my father to slay thee.


[If I will certainly have known that malice has been determined, etc.] Hebrew: for if I will have known that malice of my father has been brought to perfection, that it he might come upon thee, וְלֹ֥א אֹתָ֖הּ אַגִּ֥יד לָֽךְ׃, and I not tell that to thee (Montanus, Pagnine). The ו/and in וְלֺא, and not, the Vulgate and Pagnine make superfluous [says Dieu]. Others omit the negative particle that is inוְלֹ֥א אֹתָ֖הּ, and not that. Thus Rabbi Levi, If I will have known…I will indicate it to thee (Dieu). [Thus the Syriac and Arabic, which translate it, and I will indicate it to thee.] Would I not indicate that to thee? (Junius and Tremellius). And will I not report that to thee? (thus Jonathan) [as an Interpreter renders it in the Biblical Polyglot: But Dieu renders it others, as we shall see]. Dost thou not think that I would indicate that to thee? (Munster, Tigurinus). The Septuagint and Jonathan more rightly render it, for if I will have certainly known…and will not have indicated that to thee, supplying, may the Lord do so to me, and more. אִם/if [inכִּ֣י׀ אִם־יָדֹ֣עַ אֵדַ֗ע וגו״, if I will have certainly known, etc.] is a particle of swearing; which sets forth the first part of a conditional proposition; the second, wherein an execration is contained, is wont to be left unexpressed. I think that it is altogether simple and ἐμφατικώτατον/emphatic in this place (Dieu). Not in all things ought the children to obey the fathers: which matter we treated at length in Concerning the Law of War and Peace[2] 2:26:3. Both David’s innocence, and God’s promises, not unknown to Jonathan, were on David’s side in the mind of Jonathan. That is clear in 1 Samuel 23:17 (Grotius).


Verse 10:[3] Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?


[Who shall report to me, if perchance they father answer harshly[4] (thus the Septuagint and Jonathan in Mariana, Junius and Tremellius)] Here, אוֹ/or is put in the place of אִם/if by Heterosis:[5] and מַה/what means something; which usually signifies an interrogative quid/what (Piscator). מִי יַגִּ֣יד לִ֑י א֛וֹ מַה־יַּעַנְךָ֥ אָבִ֖יךָ קָשָֽׁה׃. A concise oration; therefore, something is to be understood (Vatablus). Who shall report to me good? or what/how (or if, for מַה/what is expounded by אִם/if even by the Rabbis) thy father will have responded harshly to thee (Pagnine, similarly Munster, Vatablus out of the Hebrews, Malvenda). Hebrew: קָשָׁה / harsh, understanding, word; that is, whether he desires to ruin me altogether, or only to banish me from his house (Vatablus). Moreover, David said these things, because this was difficult; for Jonathan was not easily able to go out to David, in such a way that he might avoid the eyes of all, nor safely to commit a secret to the servants (Menochius out of Lyra).


Who shall tell me? etc.: By what means or messenger shall I understand this? for peradventure thou wilt not be able to come to me thyself.


Verse 11:[6] And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.


[Let us go out into the field] Either, so that they might converse more familiarly (Vatablus); or, they, looking up to the heavens, might call Jehovah to witness (Castalio); for they were wont to swear under the open sky (Grotius).


Let us go out into the field: Lest they should be overheard.


[When they had gone forth] Jonathan in his own character, David in a feigned (Menochius out of Serarius); and so without spear or sword, as it is gathered from what follows (Menochius).


Verse 12:[7] And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded (Heb. searched[8]) my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee (Heb. uncover thine ear;[9] 1 Sam. 20:2[10])…


[O Lord God of Israel, etc.] [They vary:] 1. Some join this verse to the following, in this manner, O Jehovah, God of Israel, if I will have searched out, etc., and will not have sent, etc., Jehovah, I say, do so (thus Vatablus out of the Vulgate, thus Pagnine, Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, English). Others do not join it to what follows, but they write that the oration is broken off, for which reason something is to be understood (Vatablus). The Hebrews are wont to set down proverbs, or what things have a proverbial form, not whole and entire, but rather a part of them; as it is wont to happen with these, which are worn by familiar use, so that something is worn away from them. Of which sort are oaths, covenants, etc. So also do the Latins speak, O gods, your honesty, that is, I call to witness, or implore. By Hercules! by Castor![11] Let Dius Fidus,[12] understanding, love, help (Sanchez). [Moreover, they variously supplement this passage:] The Lord God of Israel, understanding, either knows (Septuagint), or lives (Vatablus), or let Him be witness (Syriac, Arabic), or regard. It is a manner of swearing (Munster); even let Him do so (Vatablus, Piscator), which is to be supplied from the beginning of the following verse (Vatablus). The Consequent of the hypothetical proposition at the beginning of the speech was broken off: but at the end, resumed and completed. It is Ellipsis and Epanalepsis[13] (Piscator). Or thus, O Lord, etc., understanding, I bear witness to thy faithfulness; if I deceive, be thou witness of the perfidy, and destroy thou me (Sanchez, similarly Lapide). Out of the passion of love Jonathan speaks with perturbation, in a halting and clipped manner, as those in the heat of love are wont to do. He turns his mind and mouth from God to his beloved David (Lapide). This verse and the three following are confused, as full of the clipped expressions and passions of the two friends vying with one another in fear and love (Malvenda).


O Lord God of Israel, do thou hear and judge between us. It is an abrupt speech, which is usual in great passions.


[If I will have searched out the purpose of my father, כִּֽי־אֶחְקֹ֣ר אֶת־אָבִ֗י] That (or if [Pagnine, Mariana, Tigurinus, Vatablus], or when [Piscator, Munster]) I will have searched out (I will examine [Jonathan]) my father (Pagnine, Jonathan, Vatablus, similarly Tigurinus, Munster, Mariana, English), that is, the mind and purpose of my father (Vatablus, similarly the Arabic); or from my father (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator).


[Tomorrow or the third day, כָּעֵ֤ת׀ מָחָר֙ הַשְּׁלִשִׁ֔ית] Verbatim: according to the time tomorrow of the third (Vatablus), or according to the time tomorrow the third (Montanus, Malvenda), that is, at this very hour, tomorrow, or the third day (Vatablus). Tomorrow, at the third hour (Arabic, Syriac); according to this time tomorrow or the next day, or the third day (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Pagnine in Vatablus, thus Munster, Tigurinus); according to this time tomorrow, or on the third day (Jonathan in Vatablus). At a time, tomorrow, or the third, that is, day (Mariana). Tomorrow at whatever time, or the third day (English).


[And there be anything good upon David, וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד] And behold good unto David (Montanus); if there be good upon David (Pagnine), or concerning David (Septuagint); if behold there be good towards David (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). If he should show himself benevolent (Tigurinus, similarly Munster, Syriac, Arabic); if the response be good, if he speak well concerning thee (Vatablus).


[And I send not immediately to thee] [Similarly most interpreters. They continue the sense with the following verse, and make it known, etc.] Then, say I, Jehovah do so, etc. (Piscator). וְלֹֽא־אָז֙ אֶשְׁלַ֣ח אֵלֶ֔יךָ, and will I not have sent unto thee? (Pagnine, Montanus). I am going to send to thee (Arabic). Should I not then send to thee? (Junius and Tremellius). It is an expression of exclamation with admiration; that is to say, Good God, could it happen that I, who love thee so, should not perform that office? (Junius).


[And make it known to thee] Hebrew: and I will reveal to thine ear[14] (Malvenda). Concerning which phrase see on Ruth 4:4,[15] and 1 Samuel 9:15[16] (Malvenda).


Verse 13:[17] (Ruth 1:17) The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and (Josh. 1:5; 1 Sam. 17:37; 1 Chron. 22:11, 16) the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father.


[But if the malice of my father persist against thee,כִּֽי־יֵיטִ֙ב אֶל־אָבִ֤י אֶת־הָֽרָעָה֙ עָלֶ֔יךָ] Verbatim: That it will be good to my father, evil upon thee (Montanus). If it please (be preferable [Munster], will appear good [Junius and Tremellius]; if it seem good [Tigurinus]) to my father to bring evil upon thee (Pagnine, similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Vatablus). יֵיטִב, to do good, in the place of יָשַׁר, to be good/pleasing. If it seem right to my father, etc. (Munster); should he wish to harm thee, etc. (Castalio). That (or if) it be good to me father (that is, should he have inwardly determined) evil against thee (Mariana), or upon thee (Vatablus). Should he desire to destroy thee, I will reveal this to thee (Vatablus). It is an Aposiopesis[18] of the contrary by Euphemism; that is to say, so may he bless, as I will uncover: or curse, as I will not uncover (Malvenda out of Junius).


[And the Lord be with thee, etc.] That is to say, Be thou successful in thy conflicts (in peace and war [certain interpreters in Malvenda]), when thou wilt be King (Vatablus, similarly Munster). So that the Lord might be with thee, etc.; so that I might serve the divine will, which has assigned to thee the kingdom bestowed on my father (Junius, Piscator).


[Just as He was with my father] That is, in the early days of the kingdom, before he fell from his innocence (Sanchez). Jonathan tacitly prophesies the kingdom to David (Lapide).


The LORD be with thee, as He hath been with my father: The Lord give thee that honour and success in all thy affairs which he hath given to my father. Jonathan undoubtedly knew of Samuel’s final and irrevocable sentence of Saul’s rejection from the kingdom, and of the substitution of some other person after God’s own heart in his stead; and that David was this person he might strongly suspect, (that which even Saul suspected,) both from his eminent piety, and wisdom, and valour, and universal worth, and from the great things which God had done, both by him and for him, in preserving and advancing him by such unusual methods; and it is most likely that Jonathan did ask David about it, and that David did faithfully inform him of the whole truth, as may be gathered both from the words here following, and from 1 Samuel 23:17. And that the knowledge hereof did not raise jealousy, and envy, and rage in him, who was the next heir of the crown, as it did in his father, must be ascribed to Jonathan’s piety towards God, to whose disposal he cheerfully submitted himself, and to his sincere friendship to David, in whose happiness he rejoiced as in his own.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוֹנָתָ֖ן חָלִ֣ילָה לָּ֑ךְ כִּ֣י׀ אִם־יָדֹ֣עַ אֵדַ֗ע כִּֽי־כָלְתָ֙ה הָרָעָ֜ה מֵעִ֤ם אָבִי֙ לָב֣וֹא עָלֶ֔יךָ וְלֹ֥א אֹתָ֖הּ אַגִּ֥יד לָֽךְ׃ [2] De Jure Belli ac Pacis. [3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר דָּוִד֙ אֶל־יְה֣וֹנָתָ֔ן מִ֖י יַגִּ֣יד לִ֑י א֛וֹ מַה־יַּעַנְךָ֥ אָבִ֖יךָ קָשָֽׁה׃ [4] Hebrew: א֛וֹ מַה־יַּעַנְךָ֥ אָבִ֖יךָ קָשָֽׁה׃. [5] That is, one form put in the place of another. [6] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֽוֹנָתָן֙ אֶל־דָּוִ֔ד לְכָ֖ה וְנֵצֵ֣א הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וַיֵּצְא֥וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃ [7] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹנָתָ֜ן אֶל־דָּוִ֗ד יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ כִּֽי־אֶחְקֹ֣ר אֶת־אָבִ֗י כָּעֵ֤ת׀ מָחָר֙ הַשְּׁלִשִׁ֔ית וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד וְלֹֽא־אָז֙ אֶשְׁלַ֣ח אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְגָלִ֖יתִי אֶת־אָזְנֶֽךָ׃ [8] Hebrew: אֶחְקֹר. [9] Hebrew: וְגָלִ֖יתִי אֶת־אָזְנֶֽךָ׃. [10] 1 Samuel 20:2: “And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it meוְלֹ֥א יִגְלֶ֖ה) אֶת־אָזְנִ֑י): and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.” [11] In Greco-Roman mythology, Castor was one of the Gemini twins and renowned as a great horseman and soldier. In the comedies of Plautus, women swear by Castor, men by Pollux. The Spartans swore “by the two gods”. [12] Dius Fidius is a god of oaths, associated with Jupiter. [13] That is, a figure of speech in which the beginning of a clause or sentence is repeated at the end of that same clause or sentence. [14] Hebrew: וְגָלִ֖יתִי אֶת־אָזְנֶֽךָ׃. [15] Ruth 4:4a: “And I thought to advertise thee (אֶגְלֶ֧ה אָזְנְךָ֣), saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people….” [16] 1 Samuel 9:15: “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear (גָּלָ֖ה אֶת־אֹ֣זֶן שְׁמוּאֵ֑ל, had told in the ear of Samuel) a day before Saul came, saying…” [17] Hebrew: כֹּֽה־יַעֲשֶׂה֩ יְהוָ֙ה לִֽיהוֹנָתָ֜ן וְכֹ֣ה יֹסִ֗יף כִּֽי־יֵיטִ֙ב אֶל־אָבִ֤י אֶת־הָֽרָעָה֙ עָלֶ֔יךָ וְגָלִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־אָזְנֶ֔ךָ וְשִׁלַּחְתִּ֖יךָ וְהָלַכְתָּ֣ לְשָׁל֑וֹם וִיהִ֤י יְהוָה֙ עִמָּ֔ךְ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הָיָ֖ה עִם־אָבִֽי׃ [18] An aposiopesis is a sudden breaking off of speech.

Recent Posts

See All

3 comentarios


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
09 feb 2023

William Gouge's Domestical Duties: 'By reason of that near bond which is between master and servants, and their near and continual abiding together, and the many employments which masters have for their servants, servants come to know many of their master's secrets: faithfulness therefore requires to keep them close. Provided that they be not such secrets as tend to the dishonor of God, or to the danger of the commonwealth and church, no nor of a private person: for Jonathan is commended for discovering the mischief which Saul had secretly intended against David. [1 Samuel 20:12]'

Me gusta

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
09 feb 2023


Matthew Henry: 'Here...Jonathan protests his fidelity to David in his distress. Notwithstanding the strong confidence David had in Jonathan, yet, because he might have some reason to fear that his father's influence, and his own interest, should make him warp, or grow cool towards him, Jonathan thought it requisite solemnly to renew the professions of his friendship to him (1 Samuel 20:9): "Far be it from thee to think that I suspect thee of any crime for which I should either slay thee myself or deliver thee to my father; no, if thou hast any jealousy of that, Come let us go into the field (1 Samuel 20:11), and talk it over more fully." He did not challenge him t…

Me gusta

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
09 feb 2023

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

Me gusta
bottom of page