Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and you shall be missed, because your seat will be empty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou shalt be missed.—Well then, resumes Jonathan—after the passionate conclusion of the solemn covenant betwixt the friends—the last trial shall be as you propose. At the State banquet of my father tomorrow your seat, as agreed upon, will be empty, then you and I—when King Saul misses you—will know the worst.
11. Jonathan said to David, Come, let us go into the field—The private dialogue, which is here detailed at full length, presents a most beautiful exhibition of these two amiable and noble-minded friends. Jonathan was led, in the circumstances, to be the chief speaker. The strength of his attachment, his pure disinterestedness, his warm piety, his invocation to God (consisting of a prayer and a solemn oath combined), the calm and full expression he gave of his conviction that his own family were, by the divine will, to be disinherited, and David elevated to the possession of the throne, the covenant entered into with David on behalf of his descendants, and the imprecation (1Sa 20:16) denounced on any of them who should violate his part of the conditions, the reiteration of this covenant on both sides (1Sa 20:17) to make it indissoluble—all this indicates such a power of mutual affection, such magnetic attractiveness in the character of David, such susceptibility and elevation of feeling in the heart of Jonathan, that this interview for dramatic interest and moral beauty stands unrivalled in the records of human friendship.Thy seat, i.e. the place where David used to sit at meals with Saul. See 1 Samuel 20:25. 1 Samuel 20:5, Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. thy seat will be empty] At the sacrificial feast. See 1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Samuel 20:25.
18–42. This section is the Haphtarah for the New Moon when it falls on the first day of the week.Verses 18, 19. - Jonathan now arranges his plan for communicating the result to David. For when thou hast stayed three days, at which all the versions stumble, a slight alteration gives the right sense: "And on the third day." David on the third day was to go down quickly - Hebrew, "greatly, i.e. he was to go a long way down into the valley. The rendering quickly is taken from the Vulgate, but makes no sense. It did not matter whether David went fast or slow, as he was to hide there for some time, but it was important that David should be far away, so that no prying eye might chance to catch sight of him. When the business was in hand. Literally, "the day of the business," probably that narrated in 1 Samuel 19:2-7. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Chaldee all understand "a working day," in opposition to a feast day; but "where thou didst hide thyself on a week day" gives no intelligible meaning. By the stone Ezel. As the name Ezel is formed from a verb signifying to go, some understand by it a road stone, a stone to mark the way. 1 Samuel 20:12, 1 Samuel 20:13); and then entreated him, with a certain presentiment that David would one day be king, even then to maintain his love towards him and his family for ever (1 Samuel 20:14-16); and lastly, he made David swear again concerning his love (1 Samuel 20:17), and then gave him the sign by which he would communicate the promised information (1 Samuel 20:18-23).
1 Samuel 20:12 and 1 Samuel 20:13 are connected. Jonathan commences with a solemn invocation of God: "Jehovah, God of Israel!" and thus introduces his oath. We have neither to supply "Jehovah is witness," nor "as truly as Jehovah liveth," as some have suggested. "When I inquire of my father about this time to-morrow, the day after to-morrow (a concise mode of saying 'to-morrow or the day after'), and behold it is (stands) well for David, and then I do not send to thee and make it known to thee, Jehovah shall do so to Jonathan," etc. ("The Lord do so," etc., the ordinary formula used in an oath: see 1 Samuel 14:44). The other case is then added without an adversative particle: "If it should please my father evil against thee (lit. as regards evil), "I will make it known to thee, and let thee go, that thou mayest go in peace; and Jehovah be with thee, as He has been with my father." In this wish there is expressed the presentiment that David would one day occupy that place in Israel which Saul occupied then, i.e., the throne. - In 1 Samuel 20:14 and 1 Samuel 20:15 the Masoretic text gives no appropriate meaning. Luther's rendering, in which he follows the Rabbins and takes the first ולא (1 Samuel 20:14) by itself, and then completes the sentence from the context ("but if I do it not, show me no mercy, because I live, not even if I die"), contains indeed a certain permissible sense when considered in itself; but it is hardly reconcilable with what follows, "and do not tear away thy compassion for ever from my house." The request that he would show no compassion to him (Jonathan) even if he died, and yet would not withdraw his compassion from his house for ever, contains an antithesis which would have been expressed most clearly and unambiguously in the words themselves, if this had been really what Jonathan intended to say. De Wette's rendering gives a still more striking contradiction: "But let not (Jehovah be with thee) if I still live, and thou showest not the love of Jehovah to me, that I do not, and thou withdrawest not thy love from my house for ever." There is really no other course open than to follow the Syriac and Arabic, as Maurer, Thenius, and Ewald have done, and change the ולא in the first two clauses in 1 Samuel 20:14 into ולוּ or ולא, according to the analogy of the form לוּא (1 Samuel 14:30), and to render the passage thus: "And mayest thou, if I still live, mayest thou show to me the favour of the Lord, and not if I do, not withdraw thy favour from my house for ever, not even (ולא) when Jehovah shall cut off the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth!" "The favour of Jehovah" is favour such as Jehovah shall cut off," etc., shows very clearly Jonathan's conviction that Jehovah would give to David a victory over all his enemies.
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