In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little lad. And he said to his lad, "Run and find the arrows which I shoot." As the lad ran. Jonathan called after the lad and said, "Is not the arrow beyond you?" And Jonathan called after the lad, "Hurry, make haste, stay not." So Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master. But the lad knew not a thing (davar); only Jonathan and David knew the thing (davar).

Let us follow the exchange between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel Chapter 20.

David, a retainer, is afraid of the ruling king Saul. He finds an ally in the king's son, Jonathan. The young prince accepts a task: To ascertain Saul's intentions towards David. But he needs to transfer this information without open betrayal. Jonathan comes up with a plan, and tells David to return in three days, hide and watch:

And I will shoot three arrows. And behold, I will send the lad, saying, "Go, find the arrows." If I say to the lad, "Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them," then you are to come, for as the Lord lives it is safe for you, and there is no danger. But if I say to the youth, "Look, the arrows are beyond you," then leave; for the Lord has sent you away."

a MESSAGE about correct translation

That plan was soon put into action:

The reason I bring the story concerns, of course, the two underlined appearances of the term "davar". Since the entire episode is about how Jonathan tells David of Saul's anger, I find the mistranslations of the term as "thing" to be particularly disturbing. How can anyone neglect the logos nature of this covert operation? It is clearly a communication; not a "thing" and not a "matter". We could talk of the "Ten Things" that God Cheap Women Canada Goose Mystique Parka White Australia gave Moses on Mount Sinai, because a decree is also a "thing". Likewise, it's possible to translate Genesis 11:1: "And the whole earth was of one language, and of one thing" (rather than one speech). Indeed we can even call the Hebrew name for Deuteronomy as the Book of Things (dvarim), without it being a lie. The problem with these options is the loss of data. We are missing the SPEECH nature of Gods words on Sinai, or of Moses' book long oration, or the nature of the universal uniformity in the time of the Tower of Babel, or of Jonathan's arrow game. As Rembrandt so brilliantly shows: Jonathan is in love. David is not.

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