Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what you have done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand, and, see, I must die.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Lo, I must die.—These wild and thoughtless vows are peculiarly characteristic of this half-barbaric period. We have already observed that the age now closing had been peculiarly the age of vows. A similar terrible oath, equalling Saul’s in its rashness, had been taken by Jephthah. It is noticeable that not only Saul, who vowed the vow, but Jonathan, its victim, were convinced that the vow, though perhaps hastily and rashly made, must be kept. “Against both these,” says Erdman in Lange with great force “rises the people’s voice as the voice of God, the question (in 1Samuel 14:45), ‘Shall Jonathan die? ‘and the answer,’ Far be it,’ expresses the sorrowful astonishment and the energetic protest of the people, who were inspired by Jonathan’s heroic deed and its brilliant result. . . . Over against Saul’s oath the people set their own: ‘As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground.’ Probably Saul was not unwilling in this awful question, when his son’s life trembled in the balance, to submit his will for once to the people’s.”
“Take then no vow at random: ta’en in faith,
Preserve it; yet not bent, as Jephthah once,
Blindly to execute a rash resolve,
Whom better it had suited to exclaim,
‘I have done ill than to redeem his pledge
By doing worse.”—Dante, Paradise, 5:63-68.1 Samuel 14:27, it was needless here to repeat it.
and Jonathan told him; the whole of the matter, all the truth, without any reserve:
and said, I did but take a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand; he speaks of the fact as a trivial thing, as if it was not deserving of death, though he was willing to submit to it; yet it seems strange he should say nothing of his ignorance of the charge and oath of Saul, and plead that in excuse of it; though Josephus (h) makes him to take notice of it: and, "lo, I must die"; am condemned to die, as the Targum; for which he was prepared and ready, being willing to testify an entire subjection to his father's authority and will. Josephus (i) represents him speaking with a generosity and greatness of soul, after this manner,"death is most sweet to me, which is for the sake of maintaining thy piety and religion; and after so glorious a victory, it is the greatest consolation to me to leave the Hebrews conquerors of the Philistines.''Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)43. Tell me] In like manner Joshua moved Achan to confess, when the lot had fixed upon him as the “troubler of Israel” (Joshua 7:19).
I did but taste, &c.] I did certainly taste … here I am: I will die. Jonathan’s words are not a lamentation over his hard fate, as the E. V. implies, but a confession that the guilt, though involuntary, was his, and an heroic expression of readiness to sacrifice his life for his country even in the hour off victory.
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