Daily Tanach Monday Shmuel 1 Chapter 20-Part 2: Dovid and Yehonason plot what to do regarding the threat from Shaul

* The article below is an excerpt from the above Sefer

1.      The Rosh Chodesh feast by Shaul and the confrontation between Shaul and his son:

  • The meal on the day of Rosh Chodesh: On Rosh Chodesh, the king [Shaul] sat down to eat the meal. The king sat by his usual seat [at the head of the table[1]] near the wall, and Yehonason got up [and waited for Avner to sit next to his father so he can sit beside him and not lean in front of him[2]], and Avner sat next to Shaul, and Dovid’s seat was empty. Shaul did not say anything on that day [regarding Dovid], as he thought that Dovid did not come that day due to an impurity of Keri, [and he had yet to immerse for his state of Keri[3]].
  • The meal of the second day of the month: On the next day, on the second day of the month, Shaul made notice of Dovid’s vacant seat and said to Yehonason, his son: Why has the son of Yishai not come to the meal neither yesterday or today? Yehonason answered Shaul: Dovid asked of me if he can go to Beis Lechem. He asked if he can be sent away to his family for the [annual] family sacrifice in the city, as his brother [Eliav[4]] had asked him to come. [Dovid had asked:] “Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me be excused from attending the meal, and go see my brothers.” Yehonason concluded to his father that it is for this reason that he did not come to the king’s table for the meal. 
  • Shaul is furious at Yehonason and asks for Dovid to be brought to him to be killed: Shaul was furious against his son Yehonason and said to him: “You are the son of a unruly woman who is deserving of disciplinary action [as Shaul’s wife initiated the meeting for their marriage, as Shaul was shy, and she chased after him[5]]! I know that you have chosen the son of Yishaiy [for the monarchy], to your shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness. For all the days that the son of Yishaiy will be living on the earth, you and your kingdom will not be established. Now, send someone to bring him to me, as he is liable for capital punishment.
  • Yehonason defends Dovid and receives the wrath of his father: Yehonason said to his father Shaul: Why should he be put to death what has he done? Shaul [in his anger] picked up the spear to strike his son [Yehonason], and so Yehonason now knew that his father has decided to kill Dovid. Yehonason arose from the table in fierce anger; and he did not eat any food on the second day of Rosh Chodesh, as he was very upset at what his father said concerning Dovid, [and that[6]] his father had shamed him as a result of Dovid. 

2.      Yehonason meets Dovid in the field:

  • In the morning [of the third day], Yehonason went out into the field at the appointed time to meet with Dovid, and a young boy was with him. Yehonason said to the boy, “Go run and find the arrows which I will shoot.” So, the boy ran and Yehonason shot the arrow past the boy [as was the sign made with Dovid to show him that his father had indeed decided to kill and that he should run away].  The lad arrived to the area of the arrow that Yehonason had shot. Yehonason called after the lad, and told him “Was the arrow not shot past you?” Yehonason then said to the lad, “Go quickly and [gather the arrows and] don’t just stand there!” So, the lad of Yehonason gathered up the arrows, and came back to his master. The lad had no idea of the meaning behind all of this, although Yehonason and Dovid knew exactly what they were communicating. Yehonason gave his weapons to the lad that was with him, and told him to go bring it to the city. After the lad left, Dovid came out of his hiding place in the south. Dovid fell on his face to the ground three times, and prostrated himself three times. Dovid and Yehonason kissed one another, and wept together, although Dovid wept more than Yehonason. Yehonason said to Dovid that he should go to peace [i.e. go on with his travels with the help of G-d]. They had both sworn by the name of Hashem saying, “May Hashem be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.”


[1] Rashi 20:25

[2] Rashi 20:25

[3] Rashi 20:26

[4] Rashi 20:29

[5] Rashi 20:30

[6] Ralbag 20:34

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