1 Samuel 20:5
And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
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(5) The new moon.—On the religious ceremonies connected with the day of the new moon at the beginning of each month, see the Mosaic enactments in Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15.

At the court of Saul the feast seems to have been carefully observed, doubtless with the blast of trumpets, and with solemn burnt offerings and sin offerings, for we notice in this narrative that the plea of possible ceremonial uncleanness was at once accepted as an excuse for absence. (See 1Samuel 20:26.)

The sacrificial and ceremonial rites were accompanied by a state and family banquet, at which David, as the king’s son-in-law, and also as holding a high post in the royal army, was expected to be present.

Jonathan persisted in looking upon his father’s later designs against the life of David as simply frenzied acts, incident upon his distressing malady, and evidently believed that after his strange seizure at Ramah he would return, and treat David with the confidence of old days when he met him at the feast of the new moon. David, however, believed otherwise, and was convinced, to use his own expressive words, that there was but a step between him and death. He would not trust himself, therefore, to Saul’s hands until his friend had made the experiment he suggested.

20:1-10 The trials David met with, prepared him for future advancement. Thus the Lord deals with those whom he prepares unto glory. He does not put them into immediate possession of the kingdom, but leads them to it through much tribulation, which he makes the means of fitting them for it. Let them not murmur at his gracious appointment, nor distrust his care; but let them look forward with joyful expectation to the crown which is laid up for them. Sometimes it appears to us that there is but a step between us and death; at all times it may be so, and we should prepare for the event. But though dangers appear most threatening, we cannot die till the purpose of God concerning us is accomplished; nor till we have served our generation according to his will, if we are believers. Jonathan generously offers David his services. This is true friendship. Thus Christ testifies his love to us, Ask, and it shall be done for you; and we must testify our love to him, by keeping his commandments.The new moon, or beginning of each month, was celebrated with especial sacrifices and blowing of trumpets (marginal references.) The feast was kept with great solemnity as "a day of gladness," and we may presume that the "peace offerings" offered on the occasion furnished the tables of those that offered. 5. David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to-morrow the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat—The beginning of a new month or moon was always celebrated by special sacrifices, followed by feasting, at which the head of a family expected all its members to be present. David, both as the king's son-in-law and a distinguished courtier, dined on such occasions at the royal table, and from its being generally known that David had returned to Gibeah, his presence in the palace would be naturally expected. This occasion was chosen by the two friends for testing the king's state of feeling. As a suitable pretext for David's absence, it was arranged that he should visit his family at Beth-lehem, and thus create an opportunity of ascertaining how his non-appearance would be viewed. The time and place were fixed for Jonathan reporting to David; but as circumstances might render another interview unsafe, it was deemed expedient to communicate by a concerted signal. The new moon was a solemn and festival time, as among the Romans and other heathens, so also with the Hebrews, who solemnized it with offering peace-offerings to God, and feasting together upon the remainders of it, after the manner. See Numbers 10:10 28:11 Psalm 81:3.

I should not fail to sit with the king at meat; then he useth to expect my company above other times.

Unto the third day, i.e. unto the next day but one after the new moon; as appears by comparing 1 Samuel 20:19,27,35. His meaning is not that he should hide himself in any certain place all the three days, but that he should secure himself, either at Bethlehem with his friends, or in any other place, till the third day.

And David said unto Jonathan,.... Moved that the following method might be taken as a trial of the disposition of Saul's mind towards David:

behold, tomorrow is the new moon; the first day of the month, which was kept solemnly with burnt offerings and peace offerings, see Numbers 10:10. Some say (r) this feast was not kept for the new moon, but because it was the day of the feast of trumpets or the first day of the new year, which fell together on that day; the calends, or first day of the month, was with the Heathens sacred to deity (s), in imitation of the Jews:

and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat; it had been usual for him at such a time to sit at table with the king; next to him, as Jarchi interprets it, either as his son-in-law, or as one of his princes; the custom being for the king, and his family and nobles, to eat together on that day upon the peace offerings; and it was the duty of David to attend at that time, and it might be expected he would:

but let me go; he asked leave of Jonathan, who had power in his father's absence to grant it, he not being yet returned from Naioth:

that I may hide myself in the fields, unto the third day at even; or until the time of the evening of the third day, as the Targum, which was the evening of the second day of the month; for that was the third from that evening they were discoursing together, as Ben Gersom observes; the fields he proposed to hide himself in were near to Gibeah, and he doubtless meant some cave in those fields, where he might be, and not be seen by men; though it cannot be thought that he remained, or proposed to remain, in such a place during that time, where he would be in want of food, but that he would abide incognito among his friends somewhere or another, until the festival was over.

(r) Weemse's Expos. Ceremon. Law, c. 22. p. 100, 101. (s) Macrob. Saturnal. l. 1. c. 15. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 18. in fine.

And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the {c} new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.

(c) At what time there would be a solemn sacrifice, Nu 28:11, to which they added peace offerings and feasts.

5. the new moon] The New Moon or first day of the lunar month was celebrated with special sacrifices and blowing of trumpets. See Numbers 28:11-15; Numbers 10:10; Psalm 81:3. It was observed as a day of rest (Amos 8:5), and apparently used as an opportunity for religious instruction (2 Kings 4:23).

to sit with the king at meat] To join as a member of the royal household in the sacrificial feast (1 Samuel 20:24) which lasted for two days at least (1 Samuel 20:27).

let me go] As the sequel proved, the plan was well devised for ascertaining whether the lesson of Naioth had wrought any change in Saul, or whether in his sane moments he was now deliberately resolved to kill David.

Verses 5-7. - Tomorrow is the new moon. The first day of the new moon was a joyful festival, its appearance being greeted with the sounding of trumpets, and celebrated by a burnt offering and a sin offering. It was, moreover, kept by Saul as a family festival, at which David, as his son-in-law, was expected to be present. As, moreover, David was to hide unto the third day at even, counting from the time when he was arranging his plans with Jonathan, it is plain that it was the rule to prolong the feasting unto the second day. When then Jonathan, convinced by David's pleading, had consented to aid him in his own way, they arrange that he shall absent himself from this festival, and remain during it hidden out of sight. In case Saul missed him and asked the reason of his absence, Jonathan was to offer as an excuse for him that he had earnestly requested leave to pay a hurried visit to Bethlehem, in order to be present at an annual festival: and if Saul took the excuse in good part it would be a sign that he had no malicious purposes towards David, whereas if he fell into a rage it would be a proof of a settled evil design. A yearly sacrifice for all the family. For all the mishpachah, i.e. not for all Jesse's household, but for all that subdivision of the tribe of Judah to which Jesse belonged; for a tribe was divided into families, and these again into fathers' houses (Joshua 7:16, 17). The occasion would thus be a grand one. In 1 Samuel 16:2 we have an instance of a special sacrifice at Bethlehem, but this feast of the mishpachah was held every year; and evidently before the temple was built at Jerusalem these local sacrifices were the rule. We may well believe that there was such a festival, and that the fictitious part of Jonathan's story was that David had been summoned to it. 1 Samuel 20:5When Jonathan answered, "What thy soul saith, will I do to thee," i.e., fulfil every wish, David made this request, "Behold, to-morrow is new moon, and I ought to sit and eat with the king: let me go, that I may conceal myself in the field (i.e., in the open air) till the third evening." This request implies that Saul gave a feast at the new moon, and therefore that the new moon was not merely a religious festival, according to the law in Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15, but that it was kept as a civil festival also, and in the latter character for two days; as we may infer both from the fact that David reckoned to the third evening, i.e., the evening of the third day from the day then present, and therefore proposed to hide himself on the new moon's day and the day following, and also still more clearly from 1 Samuel 20:12, 1 Samuel 20:27, and 1 Samuel 20:34, where Saul is said to have expected David at table on the day after the new moon. We cannot, indeed, conclude from this that there was a religious festival of two days' duration; nor does it follow, that because Saul supposed that David might have absented himself on the first day on account of Levitical uncleanness (1 Samuel 20:26), therefore the royal feast was a sacrificial meal. It was evidently contrary to social propriety to take part in a public feast in a state of Levitical uncleanness, even though it is not expressly forbidden in the law.
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