1 Samuel 20:20
And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) I will shoot three arrows.—The two friends agree on a sign. It was a very simple one, and seems to speak of very early primitive times. Jonathan slightly varies from his original purpose. In 1Samuel 20:12 it seems as though he meant to have sent a special messenger had the news been good, but now the arrangement is that in either event he should come himself out from the city into the solitary valley where it was agreed David should remain in hiding by the stone “Ezel.” Dean Payne Smith rather strangely conceives that the arrows of the “sign” were to be aimed at the stone Ezel, but the description points to the “mark” as situated on the side of “Ezel,” in or behind which David was to be concealed.

The prince agreed that after the feast he would leave the city, as though about to practise shooting at a mark, and that he would bring with him a servant—probably-one of his young armour-bearers—when, at the spot agreed upon in the neighbourhood of David’s place of concealment near Ezel, he would post his servant in his place as marker, and then would shoot. After shooting, he would call out to his attendant, “the arrows are on this side of thee” (that is, between the mark and Jonathan himself), then David would know all was well; but if he cried “the arrows are beyond thee,” that is, on the further side of the mark, David would understand that all was over, and that he must fly. Jonathan evidently took these precautions not knowing whether or no he would be accompanied by friends of his father from the city, in which case the “sign” agreed upon would be sufficient to tell David what had happened at the feast. As it turned out, Jonathan was able to escape observation, and to go alone with his servant to the place of meeting. He used the sign to attract his friend’s attention, and then followed the last sorrowful parting, told in 1Samuel 20:41-42.

20:11-23 Jonathan faithfully promises that he would let David know how he found his father affected towards him. It will be kindness to ourselves and to ours, to secure an interest in those whom God favours, and to make his friends ours. True friendship rests on a firm basis, and is able to silence ambition, self-love, and undue regard for others. But who can fully understand the love of Jesus, who gave himself as a sacrifice for rebellious, polluted sinners! how great then ought to be the force and effects of our love to him, to his cause, and his people!The stone Ezel - It is not mentioned elsewhere, except possibly in 1 Samuel 20:41, where see the note. 19. when thou hast stayed three days—either with your family at Beth-lehem, or wherever you find it convenient.

come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand—Hebrew, "in the day," or "time of the business," when the same matter was under inquiry formerly (1Sa 19:22).

remain by the stone Ezel—Hebrew, "the stone of the way"; a sort of milestone which directed travellers. He was to conceal himself in some cave or hiding-place near that spot.

He chose this way to avoid Saul’s suspicion, because bows and arrows were the principal arms of those times; and Jonathan, as well as others, did oft go forth to exercise himself with them, both for recreation, and improvement of his skill in that art. Besides, he knew not that he should have any opportunity of private converse with David, by reason of passengers, though the event proved better than he expected.

And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof,.... On the side of the stone Ezel; three are pitched upon, according to the number of the days David was missing:

as though I shot at a mark; as if he made the stone the mark he shot at; so that his shooting would not be taken notice of.

And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. I will shoot, &c.] This sign was arranged in case Jonathan should be watched by Saul’s spies, and prevented from getting an interview with David without endangering him. No suspicion would be excited by Jonathan’s carrying the bow which was his usual weapon (1 Samuel 18:4).

Verses 20-23. - The two friends now agree upon the sign. Jonathan was to shoot three arrows at this stone, Ezel, as his mark, and was then to send his servant to gather them up. When he bad gone some distance Jonathan was to shout to him, loud enough for David to hear. If Jonathan said that the arrows were on that side the mark, i.e. between it and Jonathan, David was to come forth boldly, as all was well. But if Jonathan said that the arrows were further on, then David must understand that he was to seek safety in flight. For there is peace to thee, and no hurt, the Hebrew has "there is peace to thee, and it is nothing," a simpler and more idiomatic rendering. As touching the matter, etc. Rather, "As for the word that we have spoken, I and thou, behold, Jehovah is between me and thee forever." The word was the bond and covenant by which they had pledged their truth to one another. Though separated, their love was to continue, and Jehovah was to be their eternal centre of union, and the witness to their covenant.

1 Samuel 20:20"And I will shoot off three arrows to the side of it (the stone Ezek), to shoot for me at the mark," i.e., as if shooting at the mark. The article attached to החצּים is either to be explained as denoting that the historian assumed the thing as already well known, or on the supposition that Jonathan went to the field armed, and when giving the sign pointed to the arrows in his quiver. In the word צדּה the Raphe indicates that the suffix of ־ה is not a mere toneless ה, although it has no mappik, having given up its strong breathing on account of the harsh צ sound.
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