1 Samuel 14:41
Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
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(41) Give a perfect lot.—The rendering in the margin, “show the innocent,” is a better and more accurate rendering of the Hebrew. “Give a perfect lot” is the translation given by Rabbi D. Kimchi. Dean Payne Smith observes that “there are few mistakes of the English Version which have not some good authority for them, as King James’ translators were singularly well versed in Jewish literature, while they seem strangely to have neglected the still higher authority of the ancient versions.”

In the forty-first and in the following verse the LXX. version is lengthened out with a long paraphrase, which, however, contains no fact of additional interest.

1 Samuel 14:41-42. Give a perfect lot — Or, Declare the perfect, or guiltless person. That is, O Lord, so guide the lot, that it may discover who is guilty in this matter, and who innocent. The people escaped — They were pronounced guiltless. Jonathan was taken — God so ordered the lot; not that he approved Saul’s execration, (1 Samuel 14:24,) or his oath that the transgressor should die, (1 Samuel 14:39,) nor that he would expose Jonathan to death; but that Saul’s folly might be chastised, when he saw what danger it had brought upon his eldest and most excellent son; and that Jonathan’s innocence might be cleared.

14:36-46 If God turns away our prayer, we have reason to suspect it is for some sin harboured in our hearts, which we should find out, that we may put it away, and put it to death. We should always first suspect and examine ourselves; but an unhumbled heart suspects every other person, and looks every where but at home for the sinful cause of calamity. Jonathan was discovered to be the offender. Those most indulgent to their own sins are most severe upon others; those who most disregard God's authority, are most impatient when their own commands are slighted. Such as cast abroad curses, endanger themselves and their families. What do we observe in the whole of Saul's behaviour on this occasion, but an impetuous, proud, malignant, impious disposition? And do we not in every instance perceive that man, left to himself, betrays the depravity of his nature, and is enslaved to the basest tempers.Give a perfect lot - The phrase is obscure, but the meaning is probably as in the margin. 31-34. the people were very faint. And the people flew upon the spoil—at evening, when the time fixed by Saul had expired. Faint and famishing, the pursuers fell voraciously upon the cattle they had taken, and threw them on the ground to cut off their flesh and eat them raw, so that the army, by Saul's rashness, were defiled by eating blood, or living animals; probably, as the Abyssinians do, who cut a part of the animal's rump, but close the hide upon it, and nothing mortal follows from that wound. They were painfully conscientious in keeping the king's order for fear of the curse, but had no scruple in transgressing God's command. To prevent this violation of the law, Saul ordered a large stone to be rolled, and those that slaughtered the oxen to cut their throats on that stone. By laying the animal's head on the high stone, the blood oozed out on the ground, and sufficient evidence was afforded that the ox or sheep was dead before it was attempted to eat it. Give a perfect lot, or declare (for giving is oft put for declaring or pronouncing, as Deu 11:29 13:1,2 Pr 9:9) the perfect or guiltless person; i.e. O Lord, so guide the lot, that it may discover who is guilty in this matter, and that it may clear the innocent.

The people escaped, to wit, the danger; they were pronounced guiltless.

Therefore Saul said to the Lord God of Israel,.... After the division was made between him and his son on one side, and the people of Israel on the other, and everything was ready for the drawing of the lot; Saul put up to God the following petition, as knowing that though the lot is cast into the lap, the disposing of it is of the Lord:

give a perfect lot; or man, let it fall upon the guilty person, and let the innocent go free; the Targum is,"cause it to come in truth;''

let truth and righteousness take place; let the right man be found out, and taken; the petition seems to be too arrogant and presumptuous, and insinuates as if the Lord did not always dispose the lot aright:

and Saul and Jonathan were taken; the lot being cast, it fell upon them:

but the people escaped; from the lot, and appeared to be innocent, clear of any blame; so that it was not the sin they had been guilty of, in eating flesh with the blood, which was the cause that no answer was returned.

Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give {r} a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.

(r) Cause the lot to fall on him that has broken the oath, but he does not consider his presumption in commanding the same oath.

41. Give a perfect lot] This and not the marginal rendering “Shew the innocent” is the best explanation of an obscure phrase which occurs nowhere else.

The Sept. however has a very different reading, which with some emendation may be rendered, “And Saul said, O Lord God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant to day? If the iniquity be in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim: and if it be in thy people Israel, give Thummim.” If this reading is correct, it points to the conclusion that the “judgment of Urim and Thummim” was obtained by a special method of casting lots, which was employed on the present occasion. See further on 1 Samuel 28:6. The Heb. text implies that the ordinary lot only was used.

1 Samuel 14:41In order to find out the guilt, or rather the culprit, Saul proceeded to the lot; and for this purpose he made all the people stand on one side, whilst he and his son Jonathan went to the other, and then solemnly addressed Jehovah thus: "God of Israel, give innocence (of mind, i.e., truth). And the lot fell upon Saul and Jonathan (ילּכד, as in 1 Samuel 10:20-21); and the people went out," sc., without the lot falling upon them, i.e., they went out free.
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