Jonathan (1 Samuel)

Jonathan (Hebrew: יְהוֹנָתָןYəhōnāṯān or יוֹנָתָןYōnāṯān; "Yahweh has gifted") is a heroic figure in 1 Samuel in the Hebrew Bible. A prince of the United Kingdom of Israel, he was the eldest son of King Saul as well as a close friend of David, who eventually succeeded Saul as king.

Prince Jonathan
Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton of Stretton - Jonathan’s Token to David - Google Art Project.jpg
Jonathan shooting three arrows to warn David[1]
Prince of Israel and King David's friend
Venerated inRoman Catholicism
FeastDecember 29[2]
AttributesBow and Arrow

Like his father, he was a man of great strength and swiftness (2 Samuel 1:23), and he excelled in archery (1 Samuel 20:20, 2 Samuel 1:22) and slinging (1 Chronicles 12:2).[3]

Conflicts with SaulEdit

Jonathan first appears in the biblical narrative as the victor of Geba, a Philistine stronghold (1 Samuel 13), while in the following chapter he carries out a lone and secret attack on another Philistine garrison, demonstrating his "prowess and courage as a warrior."[4] However, he eats honey without knowing that his father had said, "Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes" (1 Samuel 14:24). When he learns of his father's oath, Jonathan disagrees with the wisdom of it, as it requires the soldiers to pursue the enemy although weak from fasting.[5] Saul decides to put Jonathan to death for breaking the ban, but relents when the soldiers protest (1 Samuel 14:45).

The story of David and Jonathan is introduced in Samuel 1 (18:1), where it says that "Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself". The feeling is expressed before the men exchanged a single word in an interaction that has been described as philia or love at first sight.[a] The relationship between David and Jonathan has also been compared more explicitly to other homoerotic relationships in Near Eastern literature, including by the Near Eastern scholar Cyrus H. Gordon, who noted the instance in the Book of Jashar, excerpted in Samuel 2 (1:26), in which David "proclaims that Jonathan's love was sweeter to him than the love of a women" as being similar to Achilles' comparison of Patroclus to a girl and Gilgamesh's love for Enkidu "as a woman".[7]

Saul suspects that Jonathan is colluding with David, who he believes is conspiring to overthrow him. Saul insults Jonathan calling him the "... son of a perverse and rebellious woman!" in 1 Samuel 20:30.[b] Saul even goes so far as to attempt to kill Jonathan by throwing a javelin at him during a fit of paranoid rage. But, before this event happened, all Jonathan did was ask his father what did David do to him so that he would be put to death? (1 Sam. 20:32-33), which suggests David had never wronged Saul.[c]

The last meeting between Jonathan and David would take place in a forest of Ziph at Horesh, during Saul's pursuit of David. There, the two would make a covenant before the Lord before going their separate ways.[11][3]

DeathEdit

 
David and Jonathan, 1642, by the studio or a follower of Rembrandt. Jonathan is the figure in the turban.[12]

Jonathan died at the battle of Mount Gilboa along with his father and brothers[13] (1 Samuel 31). His bones were buried first at Jabesh-gilead, (1 Samuel 31:13) but were later removed with those of his father and moved to Zelah.[3] [14] Jonathan was the father of Mephibosheth, to whom David showed special kindness for Jonathan's sake (2 Samuel 9).

Cultural symbolismEdit

Jonathan has typically been portrayed as a "model of loyalty to truth and friendship", in the words of T. H. Jones.[4]

He is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church with a feast day on 29 December.[2]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ In the text, the attraction of Jonathan to David begins almost immediately, as Saul is delighted by his new companion. This attraction is given extravagant expression. In the first place it appears to be love (philia) at first sight. We are told: "When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David" (1 Sam 18:1). It seems unlikely that it was caused by something David has said, since what David said to Saul immediately preceding is only "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite" (17:58). Joyce Baldwin suggests that this indicates that Jonathan recognised David as the future king.[6]
  2. ^ While this is an "idiom of insult directed at Jonathan",[8] some scholars see in this verse support for the theory that Ahinoam, the wife of Saul, was the same Ahinoam who is described as the second wife of David. Jon Levenson and Baruch Halpern suggest that the phrase "to the shame of your mother's nakedness" suggests "David's theft of Saul's wife",[9] but such an event is never described in the Bible and one Bible scholar, Diana V. Edelman, has ruled it as unlikely:

    Such a presumption would require David to have run off with the queen mother while Saul was still on the throne, which seems unlikely. In view of the possession of the royal harem as a claim to royal legitimacy, Nathan’s comment can be related to David’s eventual possession of Saul’s wives after he ascended the throne in the wake of Eshbaal’s death ...[10]

    The taking of Saul's wives by David had not yet taken place, and when it did happen was not theft – at that point in the narrative, Saul and Jonathan were dead, and the royal harem were all widows. In fact, it was YHWH (God of Israel) that anointed David's lineage with the Kingship instead of Saul's.
  3. ^ Jonathan sharing mutual interests with David denied his own throne because David was anointed by Samuel; the last judge and first priest of Israel. In other words, the hand to the King. Jonathan denied his throne to serve his God, and he blessed David. Therefore, Jonathan is righteous before the Lord.

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ "Jonathan's Token to David - Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton of Stretton". Google Arts & Culture.
  2. ^ a b "Jonatan". Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon.
  3. ^ a b c "BIBLEing.com, 'Jonathan'". Retrieved 2014-05-23.
  4. ^ a b T. H. Jones, "Jonathan," in J. D. Douglas, (ed.), New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 654.
  5. ^ "Bar, Shaul. "Saul and Jonathan". Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2019, p. 95" (PDF).
  6. ^ Baldwin 1988, p. 135.
  7. ^ Gordon 1955, p. 89; Horner 1978, p. 19.
  8. ^ David Toshio Tsumura, The First Book of Samuel (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 520.
  9. ^ Jon D. Levenson and Baruch Halpern, "The Political Import of David's Marriages", JBL 99 [1980] 515.
  10. ^ Edelman, Diana. "Ahinoam (Person)", The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. (David Noel Freedman. ed.) New York: Doubleday, 1992, 1:118:
  11. ^ "1 Samuel 23:15".
    "1 Samuel 23:18".
  12. ^ "Hermitage News". Archived from the original on July 4, 2008.
  13. ^ (1 Chronicles 10:1–2)
  14. ^ G. Darshan, "The Reinterment of Saul and Jonathan’s Bones (II Sam 21, 12–14) in Light of Ancient Greek Hero-Cult Stories", ZAW, 125,4 (2013), 640–645.

SourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Adam Green, King Saul, The True History of the First Messiah (Lutterworth Press, 2007) – includes a critical literary reassessment of the character and personality of Jonathan and his relationships with Saul and David.