Jonathan Protects David & The Pass at Micmash

I understand it now, You are putting the evil spirit in Saul, not to have David hurt, but to show everyone that no one can hurt David because You are with him.  You even control the evil spirits when You want to. 

1 There’s nothing You can’t do. 

A town on the Northeast boundary of the territory of Benjamin (Josh 18:24), given to the Levites (Josh 21:17 1 Chr 6:60).

It stood on the northern frontier of the kingdom of Judah, Geba and Beersheba marking respectively the northern and southern limits (2 Kgs 23:8).

In 2 Sam 5:25 “Geba” should be altered to “Gibeon,” which stands in the corresponding passage, 1 Chr 14:16. In Jdg 20:10, 33 1 Sam 13:3, 16, the Hebrew reads “Geba,” the translation “Gibeah” being due to confusion of the two names.

From 1 Sam 14:5 we gather that Geba stood to the South of the great gorge, Wady Suweinit, commanding the pass at Michmash.

This was the scene of Jonathan’s daring enterprise against the Philistines, when, accompanied by his armor-bearer, he accomplished an apparently impossible feat, climbing the rocky steeps of the gorge to the North and putting the enemy to flight.

There can be no doubt that the modern village of Jeba` occupies the ancient site.

It stands to the South of Wady Suweinit, looking toward Michmash-modern Mukhmas-with Seneh, the crag on the southern lip of the gorge, in front of it.

The distance from Jerusalem is about 6 miles.

It was fortified by Asa with materials that his enemy Baasha had used to fortify Ramah against him (1 Kgs 15:22).

It is named by Isaiah in his description of the terrifying march of the Assyrians upon Jerusalem from the North (10:28).

It appears among the cities which were reoccupied by Israel after the Exile.

“And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done?  What is mine iniquity?  And what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?

And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me?  It is not so” (1 Sam 20:1-2).

“Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee” (1 Sam 20:4).

The next day was the New Moon and David was expected to eat with the king and he refused not to show up. 

But David said he was going to hide in the field for three days, and if Saul missed him he wanted Jonathan to tell him that he went to Beth-lehem for a yearly sacrifice for his family.

Cliffs near Michmash and the Pass
A town in the territory of Benjamin, apparently not of sufficient importance to secure mention in the list of cities given in Josh 18:21.

It first appears as occupied by Saul with 2,000 men, when Jonathan, advancing from Gibeah, smote the Philistine garrison in Geba (1 Sam 13:2).

To avenge this injury, the Philistines came up in force and pitched in Michmash (1 Sam 13:5).

Saul and Jonathan with 600 men held Geba, which had been taken from the Philistine garrison (1 Sam 13:16).

It will assist in making clear the narrative if, at this point, the natural features of the place are described.

Michmash is represented by the modern Mukhmas, about 7 miles North of Jerusalem.

From the main road which runs close to the watershed, a valley sloping eastward sinks swiftly into the great gorge of Wady es-Suweinit.

The village of Mukhmas stands to the North of the gorge, about 4 miles East of the carriage road. The ancient path from Ai southward passes to the West of the village, goes down into the valley by a steep and difficult track, and crosses the gorge by the pass, a narrow defile, with lofty, precipitous crags on either side-the only place where a crossing is practicable.

To the South of the gorge is Geba, which had been occupied by the Philistines, doubtless to command the pass.

Their camp was probably pitched in a position East of Mukhmas, where the ground slopes gradually northward from the edge of the gorge.

The place is described by Josephus as “upon a precipice with three peaks, ending in a small, but sharp and long extremity, while there was a rock that surrounded them like bulwarks to prevent the attack of the enemy”.

Conder confirms this description, speaking of it as “a high hill bounded by the precipices of Wady es-Suweinit on the South, rising in three flat but narrow mounds, and communicating with the hill of Mukhmas, which is much lower, by a long and narrow ridge.”

The Philistines purposed to guard the pass against approach from the South.

On the other hand they were not eager to risk an encounter with the badly armed Israelites in a position where superior numbers would be of little advantage.

It was while the armies lay thus facing each other across the gorge that Jonathan and his armor-bearer performed their intrepid feat (1 Sam 14:1).

“If he say thus, It is well…but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.

Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant…if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father? 

And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?

Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me?  Or what if thy father answer thee roughly? 

And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field.

And Jonathan said David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about tomorrow 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.

The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father. 

And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not.

But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house forever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David everyone from the face of the earth.  

So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.

And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. 

Then Jonathan said to David, Tomorrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty. 

And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel. 

And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark. 

And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the LORD liveth.

But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the LORD hath sent thee away. 

And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between thee and me forever” (1 Sam 20:7-23).

Shiloh and Michmash
Standing where the Holy of Holies was.

Ask most Americans where Shiloh is, and you’ll likely get a blank stare.

Historians may point to a Civil War battle in Hardin County, Tennessee.

Music buffs may start singing the chorus to a Neil Diamond song.

But question someone who knows his or her Bible, and Shiloh means something far more significant.

Shiloh is a Promise and a Person.

The patriarch Jacob first spoke of Shiloh on his deathbed, giving a promise to the tribe of Judah:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49:10).

Most commentators agree that Jacob’s prediction had messianic overtones and included a promise of kings as well as a place of rest.

Ultimately, the tribe of Judah would produce the Messiah, Jesus (Heb 7:14; Rev 5:5).

After Israel entered the Promised Land, the Tabernacle of Moses indeed did rest from its wanderings.

It rested at a place named Shiloh (Josh 18:1).

Shiloh is a Place

Archaeologists have identified a large, level area.

The space measures 400 feet long and 77 feet wide.

Although not all agree, this place likely represents the place where the Tabernacle at Shiloh rested.

It was hard to take in the truth of it, but if the Tabernacle at Shiloh stood where I was standing, then the Holy of Holies had been beneath my feet.

God’s glory—right there!

For three centuries, those obedient among the tribes of Israel would have come here to the Tabernacle at Shiloh for the annual feasts.

Joshua divided the tribes’ allotment of land at Shiloh (Josh 18).

At Shiloh the godly woman, Hannah, prayed to conceive, and her son Samuel ministered before the Lord here (1 Sam 1:1-28; 3:21).

From the time Israel entered the land until the time of Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant remained in the Tabernacle at Shiloh.

But because ancient Israel refused to walk with God,

“He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, the tent which He had pitched among men, and gave up His strength to captivity and His glory into the hand of the adversary” (Ps 78:60-61).

The Philistines took the Ark and destroyed Shiloh in 1104 B.C. (1 Sam 4:10-11).

So David hid himself in the field, and King Saul sat at the table.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neitehr yesterday, nor today?

And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Beth-lehem:

…for our family hath a sacrifice in the city…Therefore he cometh not unto the king’s table.

Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan…Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? 

For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.

And Jonathan answered…Wherefore shall he be slain?  What hath he done? 

And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. 

So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.

And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. 

And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 

And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? 

And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.

But the lad knew not anything: only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 

And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city. 

And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

Mukhmas, also known as Michmash Gorge, where Jonathan battled the Philistines.

And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed forever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city” (1 Sam 20:27-42).

1 God is always in control.  I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things (Is 45:7).“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deut 32:39).

The Pass at Micmash

Reference to a specific geographic feature is not typical in Scripture, but the geographic details of the pass near Micmash and Geba are carefully described in Sam 14:5.

Most north/south traffic in the hill country follows the watershed ridge, because of the deeply cutting ravines (wadis) on either side.

The mile-wide break in the otherwise steep cliffs of the Wadi Suwenit allowed for the existence of a secondary route in the territory of Benjamin, which paralleled the watershed ridge route and came to be known simply as “the pass.”

During the time of King Saul the Philis­tines guarded this pass, but Jonathan and his armor-bearer surprised the enemy garrison by circumventing it and climbing the steep cliffs of Bozez and Seneh.

Isaiah prophesied of a terrifying army that would travel along this road, leaving baggage at Micmash and spending the night at Geba.

Asa’s earlier fortifications of Geba were also an apparent recognition of the importance of this route.

Scholars routinely identify Micmash with the modem Arab village of Mukhmas, nearly 7 miles (11.2 km) northeast of Jeru­salem in the West Bank.

However, very few Iron Age remains have been found there, and thus some suggest that Micmash may have been at Khirbet el-Hara el-Fawqa, less than 1 mile (1.6km) farther north – a spot at which researchers have found both Iron I and II Age sherds.