5 July 1 Samuel 14:24-46

5 July. Jonathan is saved by the Israelite army

“The men of Israel were miserable that day because Saul had made an oath for all of them. He had said, ‘No one should eat food before evening and before I finish defeating my enemies. If he does, he will be cursed!’ So no Israelite soldier ate food.”

“Now the army went into the woods, where there was some honey on the ground. They came upon some honey, but no one took any because they were afraid of the oath. Jonathan had not heard the oath Saul had put on the army, so he dipped the end of his stick into the honey and lifted some out and ate it. Then he felt better.”

“Then one of the soldiers told Jonathan, ‘Your father made an oath for all the soldiers. He said any man who eats today will be cursed! That’s why they are so weak.’ Jonathan said, ‘My father has made trouble for the land! See how much better I feel after just tasting a little of this honey! It would have been much better for the men to eat the food they took from their enemies today. We could have killed many more Philistines!’”

“That day the Israelites defeated the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon. After that, they were very tired. They had taken sheep, cattle and calves from the Philistines. Now they were so hungry they killed the animals on the ground and ate them, without draining the blood from them!”

“Someone said to Saul, ‘Look! The men are sinning against the LORD. They’re eating meat without draining the blood from it!’ Saul said, ‘You have sinned! Roll a large stone over here now!’ Then he said, ‘Go to the men and tell them that each person must bring his ox and sheep to me and kill it here and eat it. Don’t sin against the LORD by eating meat without draining the blood from it.’”

“That night everyone brought his animals and killed them there. Then Saul built an altar to the LORD. It was the first altar he had built to the LORD. Saul said, ‘Let’s go after the Philistines tonight and rob them. We won’t let any of them live!’ The men answered, ‘Do whatever you think is best.’ But the priest said, ‘Let’s ask God.’”

“So Saul asked God, ‘Should I chase the Philistines? Will you let us defeat them?’ But God did not answer Saul at that time.”

“Then Saul said to all the leaders of his army, ‘Come here. Let’s find out what sin has been done today. As surely as the LORD lives who has saved Israel, even if my son Jonathan did the sin, he must die.’ But no one in the army spoke.”

“Then Saul said to all the Israelites, ‘You stand on this side. I and my son Jonathan will stand on the other side.’ … Then Saul prayed to the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Give me the right answer.’ And Saul and Jonathan were picked… Saul said, ‘Now let us discover if it is I or Jonathan my son who is guilty.’ And Jonathan was picked.”

“Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Tell me what you have done.’ So Jonathan told Saul, ‘I only tasted a little honey from the end of my stick. And must I die now?’ Saul said, ‘Jonathan, if you don’t die, may God punish me terribly.’”

“But the soldiers said to Saul, ‘Must Jonathan die? Never! He is responsible for saving Israel today! As surely as the LORD lives, not even a hair of his head will fall to the ground! Today Jonathan fought against the Philistines with God’s help!’ So the army saved Jonathan, and he did not die.”

“Then Saul stopped chasing the Philistines, and they went back to their own land.”

          (1 Samuel 14:24-46)



In today’s reading, Saul made another fatal mistake. In his insistence on everyone fasting on the day of battle, he not only weakened his own soldiers, but he foolishly made a vow for all the Israelites that his own son was unaware of.

As a result, Jonathan unknowingly broke his father’s orders not to eat before sunset. His father later found out who had gone against his orders (by using the Urim and the Thumim – see Exodus 28:30 & 1 Samuel 10:20-22) and decreed that Jonathan must die – or God would punish Saul for breaking his vow.

But, in an act of rebellion that clearly threatened Saul’s authority as king, Jonathan was saved by the Israelite soldiers who recognised him as the hero of the day.

By his own folly, Saul had now laid himself open to God’s judgement.

The photo (by Dr Avishai Teicher) shows a ceramic replica of the Jewish High Priest's breastplate (on the front of the Central Sephardic Synagogue in Ramat Gan). The priest’s breastplate was also called the ‘Breastplate of Judgment’, because the Urim and Thummim (as used by Saul to determine the guilty party in today’s reading) were placed within it.

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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