(=Trimmed for Relevant qoutes and verses=)
So How Did David Really “Love” Jonathan?
Is it possible David and Jonathan could express love toward each other, even swear an oath and enter into a covenant, without being homosexuals? Well, let’s begin by looking at the issue of the love they felt for each other. The David’s love for Jonathan is displayed in the Biblical text the very first time that Jonathan meets David (immediately following David’s defeat of Goliath and as he is presented to King Saul)
1 Samuel 18:1-3
Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. And Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
Jonathan also makes a covenant with David:
1 Samuel 20:16-17
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD require it at the hands of David’s enemies.” And Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.
And later, when Jonathan is killed, David laments his loss with these words:
2 Samuel 1:25-26
“How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.”
Two Hebrew words are used here to describe the emotion of love in these passages. The first is ‘ahab (aw-hab’) or ‘aheb (aw-habe’), and it can definitely be used to describe a sexual relationship between a man and a wife. The second word is ‘ahabah (a-hab-aw), and this two can be used to describe a similar marital love. But in the 247 times these words are used to describe love in the Old Testament, far less than 20% of the time are they actually used to describe the love between two sexual partners. Far more often, (over 4 to 1) the words are used to describe the love between friends or between God and his creation. Here are just a few examples:
*Series of Verses*
In these passages, it is obvious that the word used for love is not meant to connote a sexual relationship. Now it is clear with David and Jonathan there is no Biblical account of a sexual relationship. That is interesting in itself. If they were homosexual lovers, why is there no open description of this fact? Some (as we’ve seen above) would argue the social pressures forced the writer to hide the truth. But there are open discussions of homosexual activity in other places in the Bible, why not here? Part of the problem is in those other areas of the Bible where homosexual behavior is openly discusses, it is always in a negative sense (as something we shouldn’t do). If Samuel is cleverly hiding the homosexual behavior between David and Jonathan here, he is doing so as a prophet of God, knowing full well such behavior is offensive to God! Does that seems consistent with the canon of Old Testament scripture?
So how is it then, that David and Jonathan’s love was deeper than that of a man and woman? Well, these two men were certainly connected as brothers. In fact, they were brothers-in-arms during war. If any of you ever had the chance to talk to two friends who fought side by side in World War 2 (just watch “Band of Brothers”) you know the love between men in a situation like that is deeper in some ways than the love between a man and a woman. Is this not also a possible reading of the text here? And is this reading not more compatible with the other clear teaching of the Bible and the historic accepted traditional understanding to the relationship between David and Jonathan?"
So Why Did They Kiss?
"In this passage, Jonathan is sending David away because he knows his father (King Saul) is trying to kill David. Jonathan knows he may never see his dear friend again. So he kisses David. The Hebrew word used for this kiss is nashaq (naw-shak’) and it is used 35 times in the Old Testament. I in only 4 of these uses is the word used to describe a sexual or romantic kiss. Over and over again, the word is used to describe the cultural greeting of the time:
*Number of verses*
The kiss between David and Jonathan, when seen accurately in the majority context and used of the Hebrew word, does nothing to advance the notion they were homosexuals. Even today, we see men in the middles east continue to greet and interact with each other, utilizing a kiss to express their friendship or commitment to one another without a homosexual relationship."
So Why Did He Take His Clothes Off?
Another claim on the part of revisionists is Jonathan disrobed in front of David in some sort of sexual way or as some sort of sexual display or commitment:
*Series of quotes*
Reading from the context of the culture, 1 Samuel 18:3-5 actually describes a covenant of brotherhood between Jonathan and David, as Jonathan pays high tribute to the man who just killed Goliath and had earned the right to wear the armor. This hardly proves the two men were homosexual lovers.
But Does It Look Like a Marriage?
Those who interpret David and Jonathan’s relationship in a homoerotic sense also point to scripture to make the case Jonathan and David considered themselves to be married in some way. Look at this passage describing Saul’s reaction when he discovered that Jonathan was ultimately siding with David
1 Samuel 20:30-31
Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? “For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.”
Advocates of a homosexual reading of this passage will sometimes point to the description of “nakedness” in this verse and claim it is referring to a sexual relationship. The inference here is that the context implies that Jonathan somehow chose David sexually (as a homosexual partner). This interpretation then goes on to claim Saul is upset because Jonathan could not be established as king unless and until he had a female partner with which to bear children who could become heirs to the throne.
But who is described as naked? It’s Jonathan’s mother! There is nothing in the passage describing a sexual relationship between the two men. In fact, this passage says nothing about any type of marriage. Saul is upset about one thing: Jonathan took David’s side against Saul. Jonathan and David were sworn to each other as brothers, and Saul was simply mad Jonathan would treat David more like family than his own father."
So Why Does He Say David Is A Son-In-Law Twice?
But there is another passage of Scripture sometimes used to make the case for a homosexual union between Jonathan and David. It is a curious passage seeming to indicate David had two opportunities to become Saul’s son-in-law. Let’s begin with a peak at the passage in question, presented in a partial way, as it is often presented by homosexual advocates:
1 Samuel 18:17,21
Then Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife, only be a valiant man for me and fight the Lord’s battles.”… And Saul thought, “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David, “For a second time you may be my son-in-law today.”
Those who hope to interpret a homosexual relationship here maintain Saul has offered David a second opportunity to be his son-in-law because the first opportunity for David was realized through Jonathan! They argue David’s union with Jonathan makes him Saul’s son-in-law, even before David’s marriage to Merab, Saul’s daughter. But before we can truly assess what would make David Saul’s son-in-law in the first place, we had better look at the issue of ‘betrothal’ in the ancient world. In Biblical times, the moment a woman was ‘betrothed’ to a man (pledged or promised to be married to him), she was considered married to him, even though she was not yet formally united to the man in a ceremony. For this reason, a woman who was betrothed to someone and slept with another man was considered to be an adulteress. That’s right, you could commit adultery even before you were officially married. If a woman wanted to break a betrothal, something similar to a divorce would have to occur.
Once we understand this historic truth, many other passages of scripture start to make sense. Take a look at this passage from Deuteronomy:
If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.
Clearly in this law written for Israel, an engaged girl is described as a wife, even before she is officially married. In addition to this, we are all familiar with this part of the nativity story:
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Joseph thinks about divorcing Mary for what he thinks she has done. How can he do this when they aren’t even married yet? Because, (once again) this engaged woman was considered married to her betrothed, even before the official ceremony. OK, now let’s take a look at the situation with David and Merab one more time. As it turns out, David had already been betrothed to Merab; this occurred the moment he defeated Goliath:
1 Samuel 18:17-21
Then Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife, only be a valiant man for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “My hand shall not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” So it came about at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. When they told Saul, the thing was agreeable to him. And Saul thought, “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David, “For a second time you may be my son-in-law today.”
This is the key to the comment that Saul makes in verse 21. Although Saul had already betrothed his daughter to David as a result of his killing of Goliath, Saul conveniently ignored this betrothal when he instead promised Merab to Adriel the Meholathite. Look at what traditional commentaries have to say about this:
Now Saul’s comment in verse 21 makes sense. Saul had betrothed Merab to David twice. Once when he defeated Goliath and once here in the passages that precede verse 21.
So Were They Homosexuals?
In order to believe David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers, you are going to have to ignore the plain reading of the scripture and the historic and traditional understanding of the text. In addition, you are going to have to believe Samuel, one of God’s prophets in the tradition of the Mosiac cultural law that condemns homosexuality in Leviticus, would then approve of this homosexual relationship enough to carefully cloak it in the text. Would not this prophet of God, in the strong tradition of Judaism and the law of Moses have an opinion on this?
Hopefully this very brief review of the texts under consideration will help you to understand the orthodox Christian perspective of David and Jonathan’s relationship. David and Jonathan were the deepest of friends. True brothers in both Cause and Faith. But they were nothing more.
J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity 8 Comments
[4/14/2018 9:34:14 AM]
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