And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee (1 Samuel 20:12)

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    @NigelJ David is not addressing Jonathan. Jonathan is addressing David.
    – Bob
    Aug 7, 2023 at 20:23
  • This is an example to us all. to speak to God directly, even when in conversation with one another. For God (in Christ) is surely in the midst of his people. Jonathan is addressing, first, his brother David, and then, still in conversation with his brother, addresses God Almighty. See the Literal Hebrew. . . . . . . Yes, indeed, I erred by transposition. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 7, 2023 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


The little "problem": in 1 Sam 20:12 is specifically addressed by Ellicot when he comments:

The vocative, however, “O Lord God,” &c., of the English Version has been generally looked upon as an impossible rendering—“there being no analogy for such a mode of address”—Lange.

The versions avoid it by supplying different words.

  • So the Syriac and Arabic render “The Lord of Israel is my witness”;
  • the LXX., “The Lord God of Israel knows.”
  • Others have supplied a word which they find in two Hebrew MSS., “As the Lord God of Israel liveth.”

The meaning, however, is perfectly clear.

The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament offers another solution:

Jonathan commences with a solemn invocation of God: "Jehovah, God of Israel!" and thus introduces his oath. We have neither to supply "Jehovah is witness," nor "as truly as Jehovah liveth," as some have suggested.

In either case, it is clear that Jonathon is NOT addressing David as YHWH.

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