1 Samuel 14:24-48

Jonathan Eats Honey

24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground.
26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[a]
28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”
29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted.
32 They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.
33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it.” “You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.”
34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the LORD by eating meat with blood still in it.’ ” So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there.
35 Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this.
36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.” “Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied. But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”
37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.
38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today.
39 As surely as the LORD who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.
40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.” “Do what seems best to you,” they replied.
41 Then Saul prayed to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault,[b] respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared.
42 Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”
44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.”
45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the LORD lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.
47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings[c] of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.[d]
48 He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.

1 Samuel 14:24 in Other Translations

KJV
24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
ESV
24 And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, "Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies." So none of the people had tasted food.
NLT
24 Now the men of Israel were pressed to exhaustion that day, because Saul had placed them under an oath, saying, “Let a curse fall on anyone who eats before evening—before I have full revenge on my enemies.” So no one ate anything all day,
MSG
24 Saul did something really foolish that day. He addressed the army: "A curse on the man who eats anything before evening, before I've wreacked vengeance on my enemies!" None of them ate a thing all day.
CSB
24 and the men of Israel were worn out that day, for Saul had placed the troops under an oath: "Cursed is the man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies." So none of the troops tasted [any] food.

1 Samuel 14:24-48 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 14

This chapter gives an account of an adventure of Jonathan and his armourbearer smiting a garrison of the Philistines, 1Sa 14:1-14, which with other circumstances struck terror into the whole army; which being observed by Saul's spies, he and his men went out against them, and being joined by others, pursued them, and obtained a complete victory, 1Sa 14:15-23, but what sullied the glory of the day was a rash oath of Saul's, adjuring the people not to eat any food till evening which Jonathan not hearing of ignorantly broke, 1Sa 14:24-31 and which long fasting made the people so ravenous, that they slew their cattle, and ate them with the blood, contrary to the law of God, for which they were reproved by Saul, 1Sa 14:32-34, upon which he built an altar, and inquired of the Lord whether he should pursue the Philistines all that night till morning, but had no answer; which made him conclude sin was committed, and which he inquired after, declaring that if it was his own son Jonathan that had committed it he should surely die, 1Sa 14:35-39, the people being silent, he cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonathan; who had it not been for the resolution of the people that rescued him out of his hands, because of the great salvation he had wrought, must have died, 1Sa 14:40-46 and the chapter is cited with an account of Saul's battles with the neighbouring nations in general, and of his family, 1Sa 14:47-52.

1 Samuel 14:24-48 In-Context

22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit.
23 So on that day the LORD saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.
24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground.
26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.
28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”
29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted.
32 They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.
33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it.” “You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.”
34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the LORD by eating meat with blood still in it.’ ” So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there.
35 Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this.
36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.” “Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied. But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”
37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.
38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today.
39 As surely as the LORD who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.
40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.” “Do what seems best to you,” they replied.
41 Then Saul prayed to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault, respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared.
42 Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”
44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.”
45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the LORD lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.
47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.
48 He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.
49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal.
50 His wife’s name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul’s army was Abner son of Ner, and Ner was Saul’s uncle.

Cross References 30

  • 1. Joshua 6:26
  • 2. ver 43; Psalms 19:10; Proverbs 16:24; Proverbs 24:13; 1 Samuel 30:12
  • 3. Joshua 7:25; 1 Kings 18:18
  • 4. ver 5
  • 5. S Joshua 10:12
  • 6. 1 Samuel 15:19; Esther 9:10
  • 7. S Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-14; Leviticus 19:26; Dt 12:16,23-24
  • 8. S Genesis 9:4
  • 9. Leviticus 19:26
  • 10. S 1 Samuel 7:17
  • 11. S Genesis 25:22; S Judges 18:5
  • 12. 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 28:6,15; 2 Samuel 22:42; Psalms 18:41
  • 13. Joshua 7:11; 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 14. S Numbers 14:21; 2 Samuel 12:5; Job 19:25; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 42:2
  • 15. ver 44
  • 16. Joshua 7:15
  • 17. Acts 1:24
  • 18. Proverbs 16:33
  • 19. John 1:7
  • 20. S Joshua 7:19
  • 21. S ver 27
  • 22. S Ruth 1:17
  • 23. ver 39
  • 24. 1 Kings 1:52; S Matthew 10:30; Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34
  • 25. 2 Samuel 14:11
  • 26. S Genesis 19:37
  • 27. S Genesis 19:38; 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Samuel 11:1-13
  • 28. 1 Samuel 21:7
  • 29. ver 52; 2 Samuel 8:3; 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 23:36
  • 30. S Genesis 36:12; Numbers 13:29; Judges 3:13; 1 Samuel 15:2,7; 1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 28:18; 1 Samuel 30:13; 2 Samuel 1:13; 1 Chronicles 4:43

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or "his strength was renewed" ; similarly in verse 29
  • [b]. Septuagint; Hebrew does not have "“Why … at fault."
  • [c]. Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint "king"
  • [d]. Hebrew; Septuagint "he was victorious"
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