In Samuel book 1 chapter 14 a confusing scenario arises. First Jonathan (and his armor bearer) go out to the camp of the Philistines. Then King Saul curses anyone who will eat bread that day until evening (verse 24). Everyone avoids all food, even honey, because they are afraid of the oath. Jonathan, who isn't there, ends up tasting honey from his staff. Later Saul consults God and is not answered. He then proceeds to make an actual oath(?) that whoever is at fault, even if it be his son, shall be put to death (39). Finally when he finds out it was Jonathan he says he must be put to death. The people defend Jonathan and his death is averted (45).

I am having difficulty understanding all of this

  1. Why would we assume Saul's curse applied to Jonathan in the first place? Jonathan wasn't there. would it have applied to people in towns many miles away?
  2. Was it a curse or an oath? Why is it referred to as both?
  3. Whatever it was, it was clearly only directed at eating bread, why was Jonathan culpable for eating honey? (it is clear that Jonathan is culpable from the text infra.)
  4. If Saul makes an oath to kill Jonathan why doesn't he do so? Has Saul sinned for not fulfilling his oath?
  • This is a demo of Theocratically sanctioned Democracy. Just because a "theocratic authority" (like the Vatican) blindly declares an unjustified edict, the LORD will not guarantee support for such an edict if the masses reject it.
    – Cynthia
    Jul 13, 2012 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


As to Question #3. The KJV has it written a curse would come from a man eating any food. SO that explains at least that question for you.

And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. (1Sa 14:24)KJV

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