Jonathan's use of _wl)_

Ben Crick ben.crick at
Tue Apr 24 17:26:19 EDT 2001

On Tue 24 Apr 2001 (09:29:23), dstabno at wrote:
> Is it possible that in this unique situation Jonathan is using language
> in an unusual way?  Is the writer of Samuel recording some kind of idiomatic
> usage or a dialect, or even sarcasm?  How could we determine if this is
> the case?  Does modern Hebrew shed any light on it?

 Dear Dave,

 The text of the books of Samuel is notoriously difficult. SR Driver wrote
 a whole book about it. /Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel/,
 Oxford, 1890. On pp 128-130 you will find his notes on 1 Samuel 20:9, 12,
 and 14-16.

 In verse 9, Driver suggests that the W:Lo' is asking a rhetorical question,
 as in Exodus 8:22 MT (26 English). "Shall I not tell you?". He points out
 that others suggest an aposiopesis "If I do not tell you, *then may the LORD
 do so to me and more also...*" (the Covenant formula, verse 13a). The W:Lo'
 in verse 12 is taken this way.

 Verse 12 seems to have a protasis introduced by KiY, with verse 13a as the
 apodosis introduced by KoH. Is Jonathan's speech a /prayer/ to YHWH, or is
 it a solemn oath in the name of YHWH?  The 2nd ms pronouns refer not to YHWH
 but to David. The Revised Version takes YHWH as vocative, and adds `eD after
 DaWiD: "Be witness, O LORD, God of Israel...", following the Syriac. The LXX
 adds OIDEN after KURIOS hO QEOS ISRAHL, reading YaDa` into the Hebrew.

 In verses 14-15, Driver says that the second W:Lo' is resumptive of the first;
 but he allows that "most moderns" prefer to point it W:Lu' (with qibbuts),
 yielding "And /mayest thou/, if I am still alive, /mayest thou/ show toward
 me, etc."; compare 2 Samuel 18:12 (W:Lu' for W:Lo').

 Driver says that the repetition of W:Lo' in verse 15 is "more awkward even
 than in v 14". What we have here is an anacoluthon as it stands. Perhaps,
 suggests Driver, we ought to follow the solution presented in the LXX:
 uniting 15b to 16, and treating it as a continuation of Jonathan's speech.
 Jonathan wishes to be exempted from the House of David's destruction of the
 House of Saul (see LXX).

 I'll leave modern Hebrew to others.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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