A Taste of Honey (Alphabetic KeyLink)
Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him,
and said, I did but taste (ta'am) a little (ma'at) honey with the end of the
rod (matteh) that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. And Saul answered, God do so and more
also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
1 Samuel 14:43f (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
The story of Jonathan being sentenced to death by his father for tasting a little
honey contains the first occurrence of the verb ta'am (to taste) in the Bible1.
This is a Tet KeyWord that God used in two Tet Alphabetic Verses, both in
conjunction with tov:
- AV Psa 34:8 O taste (ta'am) and see that the LORD is good (tov): blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
- AV Prov 31:18She perceiveth (ta'am) that her merchandise is good (tov): her candle goeth not out by night.
Taste is a primary means of discerning good food from bad, so ta'am became a metaphor of perception and
judgment, as in the verses above from Proverbs and Psalm 119 where
God used it with tov to form the alliterative phrase tuv ta'am:
- AV Psa 119:66 Teach me good judgment (tuv ta'am) and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
All the words in the table appear in 1 Samuel 14, with the first three together in verse 14:43
(quoted above). The first two are anagrams of each other, and the third is almost an anagram, differing only in the interchange
of the gutturals ה (Hey) and
ע (Ayin) as is common in many related Hebrew words. This is
more than mere wordplay; God designed the text to display the elemental meaning and symbolic power of Tet through alliteration,
anagrams, puns, and narrative, and geometrically integrated it all with the large-scale structure of Scripture.
The study of these deep relations enlightens our eyes and imbues God's Word with a taste "sweeter than honey" (Ps 119:103).
The story under consideration began with Saul's foolish and ungodly effort to force his people
to fight harder against the Philistines by placing a curse upon them:
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 (ta'am) any food.
1 Samuel 14:24 (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
This reveals Saul's fleshly orientation – he did not rely in any way on the Lord for
victory, rather, he sought to force ferocity on his people through the pain of hunger under the threat of death!
He put a curse on his own people! His was the way of the Devil, not of God. In contrast, his son Jonathan relied
entirely on the Lord for the victory he wrought that day:
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the
garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the
LORD to save by many or by few (ma'at).
1 Samuel 14:6 (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
Saul's ungodly action caused the people – starved and exhausted after much battle with no food – to sin
greatly, violating the Law of the Lord:
And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
And the people flew (eet) upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground:
and the people did eat them with the blood. Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against
the LORD, in that they eat with the blood.
1 Samuel 14:31f
The word עיט (eet, S# H5860) literally describes the shriek of a bird of prey as
it dives upon its victim with its beak open and claws extended. Samuel used the same word when he rebuked Saul for his disobedience
in the matter of Amalek, as discussed below. But Jonathan was nothing like Saul; he saw the error of his father's ways:
Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see (ra'ah), I pray you, how mine
eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted (ta'am) a little of this honey. How much more, if haply the
people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much
greater slaughter among the Philistines?
1 Samuel 14:29ff (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
The two highlighted words
appear together in one and only one other verse
in the entire Bible, the Tet verse of Psalm 34 (this KeyLink is discussed here):
- AV Psa 34:8 O taste (ta'am) and see (ra'ah) that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
We have, therefore, yet another profound KeyLink
from the Tet Alphabetic Verses to the Ninth Book.
But there is more! Both verses use exactly the same grammatical conjugation
– ראו (ru) – technically known as
the qal imperative masculine plural of the Resh KeyWord ra'ah (BW book pg 350). This exact form also appears in
the immediate context of the KeyLink based on 1 Samuel 12:23 where it is translated as "consider":
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:
but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart:
for consider (ru) how great things he hath done for you.
1 Samuel 12:23f (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
This specific word – ru (see) – forms an independent link between these two KeyLinks!
There is an endless wealth of insight here that could easily fill a book. These interwoven words, verses, and themes
tell a story teaching us to taste (ta'am) and see (ra'ah) the difference between
good (tov) and evil (ra). Note that see (ra'ah) is spelt with an
א (Aleph) whereas evil (ra) is spelt with an ע (Ayin). Both
are Resh KeyWords that play a significant roll on Spoke 20 (see Bible Wheel book pages 349-350).
The core of this story originated in Genesis with the Tree of Knowledge.
The deception of the Devil and the disobedience of our first parents initiated the epic struggle between good and evil that
has since colored all of God's good creation. This is the singular dominant thread running through every Book of the Bible,
but it manifests with peculiar precision here on Spoke 9 because of the symbolic meaning of Tet as Goodness.
Its relation to the Tree of Knowledge is made explicit in Jonathan's criticism of his father's error when he said
things may have gone much better if the people were allowed to "eat freely" (1 Sam 14:29).
This echoes what God said when He commanded Adam in the Garden:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou
shalt surely die (mot tamut).
This then loops back to the verse at the head of this section where Saul declared Jonathan's death sentence with the
words mot tamut, which are an exact letter-for-letter reproduction of the words used by the Lord God Almighty in His command
to Adam! The seed plot of Good versus Evil established in Genesis unfolds in 1 Samuel, and is replayed in the lives of Saul and Jonathan.
1) The first occurrence of the verb ta'am is in 1 Samuel 14:43 cited above.
The cognate noun (ta'am, S# G2940), does not follow the same pattern as it first appears in Exodus 16:31.
2) The text above is taken directly from the Bible Wheel book, pages 223-225.
Here are some additional observations I could not fit in the book.
It is impossible to miss the allusion to the Word of God as honey which enlightens our eyes, as in
Psalm 119:103: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey
to my mouth!" This exemplifies the close
association between God's word (דבר, davar) and honey (דבש, devash), the Hebrew words differing only
by shifting one letter forward one position in the
alphabet: the Resh of Davar becomes the Shin of Honey. This association is an
essential Key to Samson's riddle of Honey in the body of the Lion.
As seen in the table above, the word translated as "little" - ma'at - is simply
ta'am spelt backwords. The word for a rod
is מטה (matah, S# H4294), the active element being the Tet,
which carries the idea of stretching out (cf. natah, S# H5186). Likewise, the word
translated as "dipped" is טבל (Tabal, S# H2881) which is
used most frequently in the priestly consecration when the priest would dip his finger in the sacrificial
blood. In general, the Rod is a symbol of discernment based on the
idea of idea of duality represented by the second Letter Bet. This amplifies
the association of Tet with discernment through taste as discussed above.
And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them,
Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat;
and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every
man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
1 Samuel 15:34 (Spoke 9, Cycle 1)
Saul's foolish prohibition against eating caused the people to sin greatly by breaking God's
command against eating flesh "with the blood" which originates in
This is the first violation of this command in the Bible, showing the perfect integration of the order of
the Canon with the Inner Cycle of Genesis.