But the people said to Saul, “Must Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As Yahweh lives, if one of his hairs falls to the ground...for he has acted with God this day!” So the people rescued Jonathan, so that he did not die. Bible other translations

“But the people said.” Thankfully, the people of Israel intervened against the madness of King Saul. They emphasized their speech with a counter-oath to Saul’s oath, saying, “As Yahweh lives.” Then in an interesting blend of power and tact, they do not directly threaten the king, but speak in a way that firmly states their case without a specific threat. They say, “if one of his hairs falls to the ground….” This is technically the figure of speech anacoluthon, or “sudden silence,” when the speaker stops and lets the listener fill in the blank from their imagination. For example, if two kids are fighting in the back seat of the car, the parent who is driving might say, “If I have to come back there…!” That is a threat of sorts, but it is unspecific so the kids have to figure out what might happen if the parent had to stop the car and deal with them. Similarly, the people said to Saul, “if one of his hairs falls to the ground,” leaving it up to Saul to imagine what might happen if Jonathan was harmed.

Commentary for: 1 Samuel 14:45