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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 20


David fled from the sheds near Ramah, and went to Jonathan. "What have I done?" he asked him. "What crime or what offense does your father hold against me that he seeks my life?"


Jonathan answered him: "Heaven forbid that you should die! My father does nothing, great or small, without disclosing it to me. Why, then, should my father conceal this from me? This cannot be so!"


But David replied: "Your father is well aware that I am favored with your friendship, so he has decided, 'Jonathan must not know of this lest he be grieved.' Nevertheless, as the LORD lives and as you live, there is but a step between me and death."


Jonathan then said to David, "I will do whatever you wish."


David answered: "Tomorrow is the new moon, when I should in fact dine with the king. Let me go and hide in the open country until evening.


If it turns out that your father misses me, say, 'David urged me to let him go on short notice to his city Bethlehem, because his whole clan is holding its seasonal sacrifice there.'


If he says, 'Very well,' your servant is safe. But if he becomes quite angry, you can be sure he has planned some harm.


Do this kindness for your servant because of the LORD'S bond between us, into which you brought me: if I am guilty, kill me yourself! Why should you give me up to your father?"


But Jonathan answered: "Not I! If ever I find out that my father is determined to inflict injury upon you, I will certainly let you know."


David then asked Jonathan, "Who will tell me if your father gives you a harsh answer?"


(Jonathan replied to David, "Come, let us go out into the field." When they were out in the open country together,


Jonathan said to David: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, I will sound out my father about this time tomorrow. Whether he is well disposed toward David or not, I will send you the information.


Should it please my father to bring any injury upon you, may the LORD do thus and so to Jonathan if I do not apprise you of it and send you on your way in peace. May the LORD be with you even as he was with my father.


Only this: if I am still alive, may you show me the kindness of the LORD. But if I die,


never withdraw your kindness from my house. And when the LORD exterminates all the enemies of David from the surface of the earth,


the name of Jonathan must never be allowed by the family of David to die out from among you, or the LORD will make you answer for it."


And in his love for David, Jonathan renewed his oath to him, because he loved him as his very self.)


Jonathan then said to him: "Tomorrow is the new moon; and you will be missed, since your place will be vacant.


On the following day you will be missed all the more. Go to the spot where you hid on the other occasion and wait near the mound there.


On the third day of the month I will shoot arrows, as though aiming at a target.


I will then send my attendant to go and recover the arrows. If in fact I say to him, 'Look, the arrow is this side of you; pick it up,' come, for you are safe. As the LORD lives, there will be nothing to fear.


But if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrow is beyond you,' go, for the LORD sends you away.


However, in the matter which you and I have discussed, the LORD shall be between you and me forever."


So David hid in the open country. On the day of the new moon, when the king sat at table to dine,


taking his usual place against the wall, Jonathan sat facing him, while Abner sat at the king's side, and David's place was vacant.


1 Saul, however, said nothing that day, for he thought, "He must have become unclean by accident, and not yet have been cleansed."


On the next day, the second day of the month, David's place was vacant. Saul inquired of his son Jonathan, "Why has the son of Jesse not come to table yesterday or today?"


Jonathan answered Saul: "David urgently asked me to let him go to his city, Bethlehem.


'Please let me go,' he begged, 'for we are to have a clan sacrifice in our city, and my brothers insist on my presence. Now, therefore, if you think well of me, give me leave to visit my brothers.' That is why he has not come to the king's table."


But Saul was extremely angry with Jonathan and said to him: "Son of a rebellious woman, do I not know that, to your own shame and to the disclosure of your mother's shame, you are the companion of Jesse's son?


Why, as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, you cannot make good your claim to the kingship! So send for him, and bring him to me, for he is doomed."


But Jonathan asked his father Saul: "Why should he die? What has he done?"


At this Saul brandished his spear to strike him, and thus Jonathan learned that his father was resolved to kill David.


Jonathan sprang up from the table in great anger and took no food that second day of the month, for he was grieved on David's account, since his father had railed against him.


The next morning Jonathan went out into the field with a little boy for his appointment with David.


There he said to the boy, "Run and fetch the arrow." And as the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him in the direction of the city.


When the boy made for the spot where Jonathan had shot the arrow, Jonathan called after him, "The arrow is farther on!"


Again he called to his lad, "Hurry, be quick, don't delay!" Jonathan's boy picked up the arrow and brought it to his master.


The boy knew nothing; only Jonathan and David knew what was meant.


Then Jonathan gave his weapons to this boy of his and said to him, "Go, take them to the city."


When the boy had left, David rose from beside the mound and prostrated himself on the ground three times before Jonathan in homage. They kissed each other and wept aloud together.


At length Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, in keeping with what we two have sworn by the name of the LORD: 'The LORD shall be between you and me, and between your posterity and mine forever.'"



1 [26] The meal on the first day of the month would have religious overtones, and a ritual impurity ( Lev 15:16; Deut 23:10-12) would bar David from sharing in it.

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