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1 Samuel Chapter 20 | Parsha:

1David fled from Naioth in Ramah; he came to Jonathan and said, “What have I done, what is my crime and my guilt against your father, that he seeks my life?” 2He replied, “Heaven forbid! You shall not die. My father does not do anything, great or small, without disclosing it to me; why should my father conceal this matter from me? It cannot be!” 3David swore further, “Your father knows well that you are fond of me and has decided: Jonathan must not learn of this or he will be grieved. But, as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.” 4Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want, I will do it for you.”

5David said to Jonathan, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and I am to sit with the king at the meal. Instead, let me go and I will hide in the countryside until the third evening. 6If your father notes my absence, you say, ‘David asked my permission to run down to his home town, Bethlehem, for the whole family has its annual sacrifice there.’ 7If he says ‘Good,’ your servant is safe; but if his anger flares up, know that he is resolved to do [me] harm. 8Deal faithfully with your servant, since you have taken your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. And if I am guilty, kill me yourself, but don’t make me go back to your father.” 9Jonathan replied, “Don’t talk like that! If I learn that my father has resolved to kill you, I will surely tell you about it.” 10David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” 11Jonathan said to David, “Let us go into the open”; and they both went out into the open.

12Then Jonathan said to David, “By the Lord, the God of Israel! I will sound out my father at this time tomorrow, [or] on the third day; and if [his response] is favorable for David, I will send a message to you at once and disclose it to you. 13But if my father intends to do you harm, may the Lord do thus to Jonathan and more if I do [not] disclose it to you and send you off to escape unharmed. May the Lord be with you, as He used to be with my father. 14Nor shall you fail to show me the Lord’s faithfulness, while I am alive; nor, when I am dead, 15shall you ever discontinue your faithfulness to my house—not even after the Lord has wiped out every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth. 16Thus has Jonathan covenanted with the house of David; and may the Lord requite the enemies of David!”

17Jonathan, out of his love for David, adjured him again, for he loved him as himself. 18Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow will be the new moon; and you will be missed when your seat remains vacant. 19So the day after tomorrow, go down all the way to the place where you hid the other time, and stay close to the Ezel stone. 20Now I will shoot three arrows to one side of it, as though I were shooting at a mark, 21and I will order the boy to go and find the arrows. If I call to the boy, ‘Hey! the arrows are on this side of you,’ be reassured and come, for you are safe and there is no danger—as the Lord lives! 22But if, instead, I call to the lad, ‘Hey! the arrows are beyond you,’ then leave, for the Lord has sent you away. 23As for the promise we made to each other, may the Lord be [witness] between you and me forever.”

24David hid in the field. The new moon came, and the king sat down to partake of the meal. 25When the king took his usual place on the seat by the wall, Jonathan rose and Abner sat down at Saul’s side; but David’s place remained vacant. 26That day, however, Saul said nothing. “It’s accidental,” he thought. “He must be unclean and not yet cleansed.” 27But on the day after the new moon, the second day, David’s place was vacant again. So Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why didn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal yesterday or today?” 28Jonathan answered Saul, “David begged leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29He said, ‘Please let me go, for we are going to have a family feast in our town and my brother has summoned me to it. Do me a favor, let me slip away to see my kinsmen.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30Saul flew into a rage against Jonathan. “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!” he shouted. “I know that you side with the son of Jesse—to your shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness! 31For as long as the son of Jesse lives on earth, neither you nor your kingship will be secure. Now then, have him brought to me, for he is marked for death.” 32But Jonathan spoke up and said to his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33At that, Saul threw his spear at him to strike him down; and Jonathan realized that his father was determined to do away with David. 34Jonathan rose from the table in a rage. He ate no food on the second day of the new moon, because he was grieved about David, and because his father had humiliated him.

35In the morning, Jonathan went out into the open for the meeting with David, accompanied by a young boy. 36He said to the boy, “Run ahead and find the arrows that I shoot.” And as the boy ran, he shot the arrows past him. 37When the boy came to the place where the arrows shot by Jonathan had fallen, Jonathan called out to the boy, “Hey, the arrows are beyond you!” 38And Jonathan called after the boy, “Quick, hurry up. Don’t stop!” So Jonathan’s boy gathered the arrows and came back to his master.— 39The boy suspected nothing; only Jonathan and David knew the arrangement.— 40Jonathan handed the gear to his boy and told him, “Take these back to the town.” 41When the boy got there, David emerged from his concealment at the Negeb. He flung himself face down on the ground and bowed low three times. They kissed each other and wept together; David wept the longer.

42Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace! For we two have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord: ‘May the Lord be [witness] between you and me, and between your offspring and mine, forever!’”

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