Saul picked out three thousand men from the Israelites. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and on the highland of Bethel, and a thousand were with his son Jonathan in Gibeah. But Saul had sent the rest of the people each to his home.
Then Jonathan attacked the company of the Philistines in Gibeah; and the Philistines heard of it. But Saul sounded a call to arms throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” So all Israel heard the report that Saul had attacked the Philistines, and also that Israel was hated by them.
Then the Philistines were gathered together to fight with Israel: three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and foot soldiers as many as the sand of the seashore. They came up and camped in Michmash. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a tight place (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves, in holes, in the rocks, in tombs, and in pits. Also many people crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Then Saul counted the people who were with him and found that there were about six hundred men. And Saul and his son Jonathan, together with the people who were with them, remained in Gibeah, while the Philistines camped in Michmash. Then the Philistines came out of the camp in three divisions to steal whatever they could find: one division turned toward Ophrah, in the land of Shual, another toward Bethhoron, and another toward the hill that looks down over the valley of Zeboim. But the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.
Now on that day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over against the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
Meantime Saul was sitting just outside of Gibeah under the pomegranate-tree which is near the threshing-floor, and there were with him about six hundred men. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.
Along the ravine by which Jonathan tried to go over against the Philistines there was a steep rock on one side, and a steep rock on the other; one was named The Shining, and the other The Thorny. One rock rose up north of Michmash, and the other south of Geba.
So Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the camp of these heathen Philistines. Perhaps Jehovah will act for us, for there is nothing that can keep Jehovah from delivering his people either by many or by few.” His armor-bearer replied, “Do whatever you wish, I will do my best to help you.” Then Jonathan said, “See, we will cross over to the men and show ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Stand still until we can reach you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up; for this shall be the proof that Jehovah has given them into our power.”
When both of them showed themselves to the Philistines, the Philistines said, “There are Hebrews coming out of the holes where they have hidden.” So they called to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us, and we will show you something!” Then Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for Jehovah has given them into the power of Israel.”
So Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet and his armor-bearer after him. And the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and put them to death. In the first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men with spears and rocks from the field. Then there was a great panic in the camp, in the open field, and among all the Philistines. Even those who were out robbing were panic-stricken, and the earth quaked, so that it produced a God-sent panic.
The watchmen of Saul in Gibeah looked and saw the great company of Philistines melting away and rushing here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Look now and see who is gone from us.” When they searched they found that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here,” for at that time it was with the Israelites. While Saul was still speaking to the priest, the noise and disorder among the Philistines kept on increasing. Therefore, Saul said to the priest, “Do not wait to consult Jehovah!”
Then Saul and all the people that were with him gathered together and went into battle. And every Philistine’s sword was turned upon his fellow, so that there was a very great confusion among them. The Hebrews who once were on the side of the Philistines and who had joined their army also went over to the side of the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel who were hiding in the highlands of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines had fled, closely followed them in the battle. So Jehovah delivered Israel that day, and the battle passed over beyond Bethhoron. But Saul made a great mistake that day, for he strictly commanded the people, saying, “The man who shall eat any food until evening and until I take vengeance on my enemies shall be punished.” So none of the people tasted food.
Now there was honey on the surface of the ground; and when the people came to the forest, they saw a stream of honey, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the punishment. But Jonathan had not heard when his father commanded the people. Therefore he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and he felt refreshed. Then one of the people spoke up and said, “Your father strictly commanded the people, saying, ‘The man who eats food this day shall be punished.'” But Jonathan replied, “My father has brought great trouble on the land. See how I have been refreshed because I tasted a little of this honey. If only the people had eaten freely to-day of the spoil of their enemies, many more of the Philistines would have been slain.”
Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and take spoil until daybreak, and let us not leave one of them.” They said, “Do whatever you think best.” But the priest said, “Let us ask of God.” So Saul asked of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Wilt thou deliver them over to Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. Therefore Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people, and find out who has done wrong to-day. For as surely as Jehovah the deliverer of Israel lives, even though it be Jonathan my son, he shall die.” But not one of the people answered him.
Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other.” The people said to Saul, “Do what you think best.” Therefore Saul said, “Jehovah, God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If the sin be mine or that of Jonathan my son, Jehovah, God of Israel, show it by the lot marked Urim; but if the sin lies with thy people Israel, show it by the lot marked Thummim.” Then the lot fell on Jonathan and Saul and not on the people. So Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son. He whom Jehovah selects must die.” The people said to Saul, “It shall not be so!” But Saul made the people do as he said, and they cast the lot between him and Jonathan his son; and it fell on Jonathan.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I did indeed taste a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am! I am ready to die.” Saul said, “God do so to me and more too; Jonathan, you shall surely die!” But all the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die who has brought this great deliverance to Israel? Far from it! As surely as Jehovah lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has done this day what God wished.” So the people saved Jonathan from death.