He would never be king, but is the king Israel needs: After God's heart, an obedient Adam and innocent son, willing to die for a guilty people..

..all the while Saul plays for God in an obscure re-enactment of the Fall.

Is Jonathan a 'type' of Christ? // 1 Samuel 14 // A thread
// The Story

- Yahweh brings about a miraculous victory for Israel through Jonathan
- Saul pledges a rash vow: no eating allowed until he is avenged
- Jonathan, unawares, eats
- People sin by eating blood
- God is silent
- Saul blames Jonathan
- Saul almost kills Jonathan
// Context

From the beginning of the book of Samuel, Saul's kingship seems to be doomed; he does not fit the royal Messianic expectations. Why? (a-e):

(a) His kingship comes as a result of the people's rejection of Yahweh's rule (1 Sam. 8:7).
(b) When introduced in 1 Sam. 10, he is presented as utterly incompetent, not being able to find his father's donkeys; also, all ideas have to come from his servant.

(c) When his time comes to be king, he cowardly hides in fear, instead of trusting Yahweh's anointing.
(d) He is not from the royal tribe of Judah, but Benjamin (cf. Gen. 49:8-12),
(e) coming from the contextually dubious town of Gibeah (cf. Judg. 19-20).

In line with these expectations, Saul quickly loses his dynasty (1 Sam. 13) and his throne (ch. 14) b/c of disobedience to God
What about Jonathan?

Well, per 1 Sam. 13:13-14, he will never be king:

If Saul had obeyed, "the LORD would have established" his "kingdom over Israel forever." However, "now" his "kingdom shall not continue."

None of Sauls sons will be king.
Instead, "The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart (לבב)."

This man, we learn later, is David.

Yet, before we get there, the author seems to ironically communicate: Jonathan will never be king, but he is actually the type of king Israel needs! Enter 1 Sam. 14.
// 1 Samuel 14

Jonathan is the 'type' of king Israel needs.
But is he also a 'type' of the Messiah?

In the story, Jonathan seems to be presented as:

(1) A man after God's heart,
(2) a new Adam
(3) an Isaac-like, innocent son, willing to die as a sacrifice for a guilty people
(1) 1 Sam. 14 starts with recounting Jonathan and his armor-bearer trusting Yahweh and bringing about great victory for Israel against a multitude of Philistines.

Indeed, Yahweh "saved Israel that day" (1 Sam. 14:23)

This stands in stark contrast with the previous chapter...
...where Saul (and thus Jonathan) lost his dynasty bc of lack of trust in Yahweh.

Interestingly, in response to Jonathan's suggestion to trust Yahweh and attack the whole garrison of Philistines together, his armor-bearer had responded: "do all that is in your heart (לבב)" 14:7.
This is the first time the word לבב is used since Samuel declared: "The LORD has sought out a man after his own לבב"

Is the author subtly and ironically telling us that Jonathan, Saul's son, is the type of king Israel needs? One who trusts Yahweh and thus is one after his לבב?
(2) The chapter continues with Saul's rash vow: "Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I AM avenged on MY enemies” (14:24)

Again a stark contrast, as the victory was just attributed to Yahweh (14:23). Saul, however, is all about HIMSELF and swears a stupid oath
Then we encounter a seemingly repetitious passage:

"Now when all the people [literally: "land", ארץ] came to the forest, behold, there was honey (דבשׁ) on the ground. And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping." (14:25-26)
It is as if the people find themselves in "a land (ארץ) flowing with milk and honey (דבשׁ)" (Deut. 11:9) - a promise that amounted to God overturning the curse (cf. Gen. 3:17) in the promised land, a land that God would care for as a new garden of Eden (Deut. 11:11-13).
Aka, Yahweh is lavishly providing for his people in the Land.

Saul, however, is troubling the Land (cf. 1 Sam. 14:29; like Achan the troubler in Joshua 7:25) and causing a metaphorical famine in the Land (like Ahab the troubler in 1 Kings 18:18). He is bringing back the curse!
Jonathan finds himself in this 'garden of Eden'-like setting, with the prohibition to eat hanging over his head. However, Jonathan is unaware of his father's vow.

So, he transgresses the command, eats, and as a result, his eyes (עין) are brightened (14:27)..
This echoes the Fall, where Adam in the garden transgresses by eating, resulting in a change of state in the eyes (עין) (Gen. 3:6-7).

And Saul, assuming the role of God in the re-enactment (cf. 1 Sam. 8:7), is going to hold Jonathan accountable with terms reminiscent of Gen. 2-3
“Tell me what you have done (מֶ֣ה עָשִׂ֑יתָה)” 1 Sam 14:43
“What is this that you have done (מַה־זֹּ֣את עָשִׂ֑י)" Gen. 3:13

"You shall surely die (מֹ֥ות תָּמ֖וּת), Jonathan" 1 Sam. 14:45, cf. 40
"In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (מֹ֥ות תָּמֽוּת)" Gen. 2:17
We already know that Jonathan would be a better king than Saul, but is he also a better 'king' than Adam?

Like Adam he has transgressed by eating in a place with trees, on account of which he will "surely die".

Unlike Adam he is innocent before Yahweh and trusted his provision.
(3) Earlier, as a result of Saul's vow, the people were faint and ended up eating spoil with blood in it (14:31-32).

Saul seems to think Yahweh's subsequent silence is due to Jonathan's transgression.

His silence, however, is more likely due to the people's transgression.
Regardless, Saul is ready to kill his offspring.

As the father is about to sacrifice his son, he obediently answers, “Here I am (הנני), I will die" (14:43).

However, as we will see, the son is going to be "redeemed" (פדה) so that he does not die (14:45).
The use of the phrase פדה is interesting, as it connotes sacrifice; yet no sacrifice was made for Jonathan.

Its usage might be explained by how these two Hebrew phrases (הנני and פדה), in context, seem to forge a connection with Gen 22 and Ex 13:
3 times in Gen 22, where Abraham is ready to sacrifice hís son Isaac, Abraham obediently answers "Here I am" (הנני) (22:1, cf. 7, 11).

In Ex 13, we find instructions on the "redemption" (פדה) of the firstborn son, who is to be redeemed by a lamb.

Gen 22/Ex 13 also connect:
As @L_MMorales observes, “Just as all Israel had been saved in the sparing of Isaac through the provision of a ram in Gen 22, so all Israel would be saved by the sparing of firstborn sons through the provision of lambs, sacrificed in place of those sons.” (In: Exodus Old and New)
Why are these connections significant?

They possibly function as an interpretive lens: Jonathan is presented as an Isaac-like son who is about to be sacrificed by his father. His subsequent 'redemption' is also described in sacrificial terms, even though no sacrifice was made.
In light of this, it is interesting that in 1 Sam 14 the one who is willing to be sacrificed is also the one who "worked with God" and "worked great salvation in Israel" (14:45)

Especially since not Jonathan, but the people were guilty; they sinned against Yahweh (14:33)
// Conclusion

Does all of this remind you of another One who worked great salvation in Israel?

An obedient, Adam-like One, who trusted in Yahweh for provision?

An innocent One who was willing to be sacrificed for a guilty people?
A courageous One who, when his accusers came to kill him, stepped forward in a garden and said: "I am he" (Joh. 18:6)?

Indeed, a first-born Son, who also was the sacrificial lamb (Joh. 19:35)?
Jonathan is the 'type' of king Israel needs.

Does that make him a ‘type’ of Christ? You decide.

// The end.
[Inspired by @JamesBejon, @DrJimHamilton, @L_MMorales, Stephen G. Dempster & my friend James Smetanin.]

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