4 July 1 Samuel 14:1-23

4 July.  Jonathan defeats the Philistines at Michmash

“One day Jonathan, Saul’s son, said to the officer who carried his armour, ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine camp on the other side [of the valley].’ But Jonathan did not tell his father… No one knew Jonathan had left.”

“There was a steep slope on each side of the pass that Jonathan planned to go through to reach the Philistine camp. The cliff on one side was named Bozez, and the cliff on the other side was named Seneh. One cliff faced north towards Michmash, The other cliff faced south towards Geba.”

“Jonathan said to his officer who carried his armour, ‘Come. Let’s go to the camp of those men who are not circumcised. Maybe the LORD will help us. The LORD can give us victory if we have many people, or just a few.’ The officer who carried Jonathan’s armour said to him, ‘Do whatever you think is best. Go ahead. I’m with you.’”

“Jonathan said, ‘Then come. We will cross over to the Philistines and let them see us. If they say to us, “Stay there until we come to you,” we will stay where we are. But if they say, “Come up to us,” we will climb up, and the LORD will let us defeat them. This will be the sign for us.’”

“When both Jonathan and his officer let the Philistines see them, the Philistines said, ‘Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in!’ The Philistines in the camp shouted to Jonathan and his officer, ‘Come up to us. We’ll teach you a lesson!’”

“Jonathan said to his officer, ‘Climb up behind me, because the LORD has given the Philistines to Israel!’ So Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, and his officer climbed just behind him. Jonathan struck down the Philistines as he went, and his officer killed them as he followed behind him.”

“In that first fight Jonathan and his officer killed about 20 Philistines over a fifth of a hectare of ground. All the Philistine soldiers panicked – those in the camp and those in the raiding party. The ground itself shook! God had caused the panic!”

“Saul’s guards were at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin when they saw the Philistine soldiers running in every direction. Saul said to his army, ‘Check to see who has left our camp.’ When they checked, they learned that Jonathan and his officer were gone.”

“So Saul said to Ahijah the priest, ‘Bring the Ark of God.’ … While Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp was growing. Then Saul said to Ahijah, ‘Put your hand down!’ Then Saul gathered his army and entered the battle. They found the Philistines confused, striking each other with their swords!”

“Earlier, there were Hebrews who had served the Philistines and had stayed in their camp, but now they joined the Israelites with Saul and Jonathan. When all the Israelites hidden in the mountains of Ephraim heard that the Philistine soldiers were running away, they also joined the battle and chased the Philistines.”

“So the LORD saved the Israelites that day, and the battle moved on past Beth Aven.”

          (1 Samuel 14:1-23)



Having lured their enemy into the wooded hill country of Ephraim, the Israelites were terrified by the size of the Philistine army. Not only were they heavily outnumbered, but the Israelites were so short of swords and spears that many were armed with little more than axes, sickles and ox goads (see 1 Samuel 13:19-22).

The Michmash Pass ran along the floor of a steep-sided valley (the Wadi Suweinit) running west from Jericho.  About 10 miles / 16 km west of Jericho, the steep-sided pass was bordered by tall cliffs and was overlooked (and controlled) by two settlements - Michmash (meaning ‘hidden’) just out of sight below the summit of the northern ridge, and Geba (meaning ‘hill’) on the southern ridge (see 1 Samuel 14:4-5).

Jonathan had assembled his forces at Geba, and during the night, made a daring solo raid across the gorge with his young armour-bearer, killing twenty sentries guarding the Philistine camp at Michmash.

As a result, the Philistines were thrown into confusion, and Saul was able to lead the main body of Israelites successfully against the panic-stricken enemy, pursuing the remnants of the Philistine army 3 miles / 5 km north to Beth Aven (now the Palestinian village of Burqa) – half-way to Bethel (see 12 on the map posted on 27 June).

The photo (by lehava beer sheva) shows a typical mountain pass in Israel.

You can read more about Saul and Jonathan @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/30-israel-becomes-a-kingdom-under-saul-and-david/samuel-condemns-saul-at-gilgal/

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