Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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1 KINGS - Chapter 20

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1 Kings xx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. To Jonathan, at Gabaa. He thought it no longer safe to remain at Najoth.

Ver. 2. Be. The recent machinations and orders of Saul had been concealed from his son, with whom he used to consult on all important matters. (Calmet) --- Perceiving, however, that Jonathan was unwilling to come into his measures, Saul, in his phrenzy, tried to destroy David. (Haydock) --- But Jonathan, forming his judgment of others by his own upright heart, relied on the oath of his father, (Calmet) and on the information he had lately communicated to him, when he desired David to be slain. (Menochius) --- Abulensis believes that the particulars of a preceding reconciliation have been lost, which Salien supplies, the year of the world 2973.

Ver. 3. As I may say, is not in Hebrew. Septuagint, "the space between me and thy father is filled up, unto death." We can never more have any union, nor dwell together in safety. (Haydock)

Ver. 4. Soul, is often put for desire, Psalm xxvi. 12. (Calmet)

Ver. 5. To-morrow is the new moon. The neomenia, or first day of the moon, kept according to the law, as a festival; and therefore Saul feasted on that day; and expected the attendance of his family. (Challoner) (Numbers x. 10.) --- Moon. Literally, "calends," a Greek word, intimating that the people were informed, or "called" together, on that occasion; as many nations follow the lunar system in the regulation of the year. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins say that people were stationed on the highest hills to observe the first appearance of the moon, and to give notice of it. But for fear of a mistake, two days were observed, as here we see that Saul gave a feast for such a length of time. This, however, is very uncertain. David speaks without any reference to the watchmen, as of a thing well known to all. The reason of Saul's feasting two days, was because one of them was the sabbath. The following work-day David came to Nobe, (ver. 19,) and partook of the loaves which had been changed on the sabbath day, chap. xxi. 6., and Leviticus xxiv. 8. --- Sit. The custom of sitting at table seems to have been more ancient than that of lying. The Persians chiefly introduced the latter. They had very low tables, so that one of them was placed under the feet of Alexander, when he sat upon the throne of Darius, which was too high for him. (Curtius v.) Both customs frequently prevailed at the same time, Ecclesiasticus ix. 12., and xxxi. 12. Women probably always sat, as the Chaldean says Esther did, Esther vii. 8. See Athen. i. 14. V. Max. ii. 1. --- Day. The second of the month, after the sabbath was ended. (Calmet) --- Pezron thinks that both the last and first days of the month were festivals. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 6. Tribe. It might seem an effect of pride, not to accept of such invitations of the king, without some good excuse. Ovid speaks of feasts instituted for relations alone. (Fast. ii.)

Proxima cognati dixere Charistia cari

Et venit ad socios turba propinqua Deos. (Menochius)

--- Saul might pretend that his throwing his spear at David, was an effect of his distemper; and as the latter had returned to his palace after the first attempt, he might judge that he would do the like now, though he had so lately sought his life. David probably retired to Bethlehem, and returned the third day, when he bid adieu to Jonathan and to the court of Saul for ever, (ver. 21.; Calmet) though he saw Jonathan once more at Ziph, chap. xxiii. 16.

Ver. 7. Height. Hebrew, "the evil is completed (or resolved upon) by him." (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Lord, the most durable and sacred, confirmed by the name of God. (Calmet) --- Kill. So Moses besought God to take away his life. A friend would put him to as little torture as possible. (Menochius) --- But David only means strongly to assert his own innocence. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Thee. Hebrew, "then, should I not tell thee?" (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "and if it reach not thy cities, I will inform thee."

Ver. 12. After. Septuagint, "The Lord....has known that I will sift my father, as opportunity shall serve, thrice," or repeatedly. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Father, at the beginning of his reign. Jonathan foresees that David will be his father's successor. (Calmet) --- Hence he commends himself and family to his protection. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Die. Hebrew literally, "If I live, thou shalt not shew me, &c....and if I die, (15) thou shalt not," &c. It seems there is a negation too much. Jonathan requests that David would shew mercy to him and to his family; or he is willing that neither should partake of his kindness, if he prove a traitor to his friend. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "And thou shalt not only, while yet I live, shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not: (15) But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever, no not when the Lord hath cut off," &c. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. May he. It is a curse upon himself, if he should not be faithful to his promise. --- It. That is, revenge it upon David's enemies, and upon me, if I shall fail of my word given to him. (Challoner) --- The Hebrew and several Latin manuscripts stop at earth; and what follows, is not found in some Greek and Latin editions. (Calmet) --- Enemies. May God punish David's enemies, and me among the rest. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. Enemies. This seems to be a second translation of the former sentence, with a small variation. --- Required may be expressed in the future, as an imprecation made by the two friends against those who should attempt to break the covenant, or to oppose David's reign. Septuagint omit this verse entirely, and translate the following, (17) "and Jonathan continued to swear to David, inasmuch as he loved him, because he loved the soul of the man who loved him." He had such an affection for David, that he extended his love to all his friends. Protestants, "so Jonathan made a covenant with....David, saying: Let the Lord even require it at," &c. (Haydock) --- He did so in due time, and the covenant between these two had its effect. (Calmet)

Ver. 19. Morrow. Hebrew, "and after three days (Haydock; or, on the third day) thou shalt," &c. Syriac and Arabic, "Thou wilt be called for at table, at the third hour." (Calmet) --- Septuagint use the same word, trioseuseis, as in the following verse: "I will shoot thrice at wild beasts, with arrows, sending as far as Laarmattarai," so here they may insinuate that David must "wait three days," (Haydock) or come on each of these days, that he may not slip an opportunity. (Cajetan) --- Work. Le Clerc translates, "in the day of the business." Protestants, "where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel." Alexandrian Septuagint, "by this affair." Vatican [Septuagint], "Ergab," a word which Grabe admits instead of ergon, in his edition. (Haydock) --- Other copies, with the Syriac and Arabic, have simply, "near this stone," which Junius styles speculam, as if it were a butt or landmark, (Calmet) or a stone to shew the road, (Lyranus) or mile-stone, (Tirinus) which latter supposition is not probable, as David desired to be concealed. (Menochius) --- He would therefore choose some cavern, so as to be able to hear what Jonathan said, without being seen. (Haydock) --- this precaution was necessary for the safety of both. (Menochius)

Ver. 23. Ever. Let us always inviolably adhere to our covenant. (Haydock)

Ver. 24. Field, on the third day, having gone in the mean time to Bethlehem, ver. 6.

Ver. 25. Arose, out of respect. Septuagint, "he had the precedence over Jonathan" alone, as the latter sat "on the king's right hand, and Abner on the left," Arabic. (Calmet) --- David's place was after Abner. (Menochius)

Ver. 26. Purified, having perhaps touched some dead body, &c., Leviticus xi. 24.

Ver. 27. To-day, which was the sabbath. (Calmet) --- On the new moons people did not travel far. (Menochius)

Ver. 29. Sacrifice. Hebrew, "my family hath a sacrifice," &c., ver. 5. (Haydock)

Ver. 30. A man. Hebrew, "of an unjust revolt." Thou hast taken part against thy father. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "son of the perverse rebellious woman." Septuagint, "of the fugitive, (Haydock) or of those girls who go in quest of men." We must not suppose that Jonathan's mother was really of this description. Saul, in rage, wishes to affront his son, (Calmet) as some frantic parents call their children bastards, not reflecting that the reproach would fall upon themselves. --- Isai, as he styles him out of contempt, ver. 27. --- Mother. Hebrew, &c., "of thy mother's nakedness or shame." (Menochius) --- Instead of a crown, thou must expect ot be reduced to a private station, to the disgrace of my family. (Haydock)

Ver. 31. The son of death. That is, one that deserveth death, and shall surely be put to death. (Challoner) --- So people are often styled sons of perdition, of hell, of light, &c., (Calmet) when they are worthy of such things. (Haydock) --- All the crime of David, was his too exalted merit, which, under a jealous prince, is often fatal. Nec minus periculum ex magn fam, quam ex mal. (Tacitus, Agricola.)

Ver. 34. Great. Literally, in the anger of fury." (Haydock) --- Him, either David or Jonathan. (Calmet) --- Indeed the crime of rebellion had been imputed to both. (Haydock) --- Jonathan was grieved on account of the affront and danger (Menochius) to which he had been publicly exposed, as well as for his friend, upon whose destruction he perceived that his father was now deliberately bent, and not merely during his fits of madness. --- Confusion. Septuagint, "because his father had completed his malice against him;" (Haydock) or, "had resolved to make an end of him." (Calmet)

Ver. 36. Another. The Hebrew, &c., do not express this distinctly; (Calmet) but we find, ver. 38, "the lad gathered up the arrows."

Ver. 40. Arms. Protestants, "artillery:" but the bow and arrow, &c., are meant. The boy was sent away under this pretext.

Ver. 41. Place. Protestants, "out of a place towards," &c. (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "from the side of the rock Asha;" (or Ezel, ver. 19,) though the name is written rather differently in Hebrew. But this was the place appointed. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "from sleep,....and adored him,....and each bewailed his neighbour, to great perfection." (Haydock) --- More. Jonathan strove to comfort him, as he was leaving wife, friends, and all. (Menochius)

Ver. 42. Stand. This is not expressed in the text, which is left imperfect, (Haydock) to denote the anguish of the parting friends, (Menochius) very beautifully. (Salien) --- David did not exactly comply with this covenant, and his grandson lost half the kingdom, 2 Kings xix. (Tirinus)


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Saul being obstinately bent upon killing David, he is sent away by Jonathan.

1 But David *fled from Najoth, which is in Ramatha, and came and said to Jonathan: What have I done? what is my iniquity, and what is my sin against thy father, that he seeketh my life?

2 And he said to him: God forbid, thou shalt not die: for my father will do nothing great or little, without first telling me: hath then my father hid this word only from me? no, this shall not be.

3 And he swore again to David. And David said: Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, and he will say: Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved. But truly as the Lord liveth, and thy soul liveth, there is but one step (as I may say) between me and death.

4 And Jonathan said to David: Whatsoever thy soul shall say to me, I will do for thee.

5 And David said to Jonathan: Behold to-morrow is the new moon, and I, according to custom, am wont to sit beside the king to eat: let me go then that I may be hid in the field till the evening of the third day.

6 If thy father look and inquire for me, thou shalt answer him: David asked me that he might run to Bethlehem, *his own city: because there are solemn sacrifices there for all his tribe.

7 If he shall say: It is well: thy servant shall have peace: but if he be angry, know that his malice is come to its height.

8 Deal mercifully then with thy servant: for thou hast brought me, thy servant, into a covenant of the Lord with thee. But if there be any iniquity in me, do thou kill me, and bring me not in to thy father.

9 And Jonathan said: Far be this from thee: for if I should certainly know that evil is determined by my father against thee, I could do no otherwise than tell thee.

10 And David answered Jonathan: Who shall bring me word, if thy father should answer thee harshly concerning me?

11 And Jonathan said to David: Come, and let us go out into the field. And when they were both of them gone out into the field,

12 Jonathan said to David: O Lord God of Israel, if I shall discover my father's mind, to-morrow, or the day after, and there be any thing good for David, and I send not immediately to thee, and make it known to thee,

13 May the Lord do so and so to Jonathan, and add still more. But if my father shall continue in malice against thee, I will discover it to thy ear, and will send thee away, that thou mayst go in peace, and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.

14 And if I live, thou shalt shew me the kindness of the Lord: but if I die,

15 Thou shalt not take away thy kindness from my house for ever, when the Lord shall have rooted out the enemies of David, every one of them from the earth, may he take away Jonathan from his house, and may the Lord require it at the hands of David's enemies.

16 Jonathan therefore made a covenant with the house of David: and the Lord required it at the hands of David's enemies.

17 And Jonathan swore again to David, because he loved him: for he loved him as his own soul.

18 And Jonathan said to him: To-morrow is the new moon, and thou wilt be missed:

19 For thy seat will be empty till after to-morrow. So thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou must be hid, on the day when it is lawful to work, and thou shalt remain beside the stone, which is called Ezel.

20 And I will shoot three arrows near it, and will shoot as if I were exercising myself at a mark.

21 And I will send a boy, saying to him: Go and fetch me the arrows.

22 If I shall say to the boy: Behold the arrows are on this side of thee, take them up: come thou to me, because there is peace to thee, and there is no evil, as the Lord liveth. But if I shall speak thus to the boy: Behold the arrows are beyond thee: go in peace, for the Lord hath sent thee away.

23 And concerning the word which I and thou have spoken, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.

24 So David was hid in the field, and the new moon came, and the king sat down to eat bread.

25 And when the king sat down upon his chair (according to custom) which was beside the wall, Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place appeared empty.

26 And Saul said nothing that day, for he thought it might have happened to him, that he was not clean, nor purified.

27 And when the second day after the new moon was come, David's place appeared empty again. And Saul said to Jonathan, his son: Why cometh not the son of Isai to meat neither yesterday, nor to-day?

28 And Jonathan answered Saul: He asked leave of me earnestly to go to Bethlehem.

29 And he said: Let me go, for there is a solemn sacrifice in the city, one of my brethren hath sent for me: and now if I have found favour in thy eyes, I will go quickly, and see my brethren. For this cause he came not to the king's table.

30 Then Saul being angry against Jonathan, said to him: Thou son of a woman that is the ravisher of a man, do I not know that thou lovest the son of Isai to thy own confusion, and to the confusion of thy shameless mother?

31 For as long as the son of Isai liveth upon earth, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Therefore now presently send, and fetch him to me: for he is the son of death.

32 And Jonathan answering Saul, his father, said: Why shall he die? what hath he done?

33 And Saul caught up a spear to strike him. And Jonathan understood that it was determined by his father to kill David.

34 So Jonathan rose from the table in great anger, and did not eat bread on the second day after the new moon. For he was grieved for David, because his father had put him to confusion.

35 And when the morning came, Jonathan went into the field according to the appointment with David, and a little boy with him.

36 And he said to his boy: Go, and fetch me the arrows which I shoot. And when the boy ran, he shot another arrow beyond the boy.

37 The boy therefore came to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot: and Jonathan cried after the boy, and said: Behold the arrow is there further beyond thee.

38 And Jonathan cried again after the boy, saying: Make haste speedily, stand not. And Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows, and brought them to his master:

39 And he knew not at all what was doing: for only Jonathan and David knew the matter.

40 Jonathan therefore gave his arms to the boy, and said to him: Go, and carry them into the city.

41 And when the boy was gone, David rose out of his place, which was towards the south, and falling on his face to the ground, adored thrice: and kissing one another, they wept together; but David more.

42 And Jonathan said to David: Go in peace: and let all stand that 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.

43 And David arose, and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.



1: Year of the World 2944, Year before Christ 1060.

6: Luke ii. 4.