Tuesday, April 9, 2013

David and Jonathan - Part IIc

...a continuation of the detailed analysis begun in this post: Were David and Jonathan Gay Lovers?

Another claim arises from this last verse that we have examined. In the first half it speaks of how “pleasant” Jonathan was to David, but in the second half of the verse, we read this:

2 Sam 1:26b Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women.

Is David saying, in the midst of his mourning over both Saul and Johnathan, that he prefers sex with Jonathan over sex with women? I suppose, if one were to take just that phrase alone without context one might raise an eyebrow. But a more complete read of the text makes the meaning clear. David starts the verse off with the words “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan.” David declares the relationship here. If he had said “my lover Jonathan”, we could throw out everything I have said to this point. Instead, David’s own words confirm that which the scripture has already informed us: David and Jonathan had a brotherly love for each other. What David is telling us now, is that brotherly love has dimensions that exceed the bond and companionship that even a wife can provide. There is nothing to suggest that this refers to a "better" sexual love than sex with a woman. In fact, it reflects a stark non-sexual contrast to the sexual love between man and wife. David knew both the romantic, sexual, marital love of a woman (with Jonathan's sister, no less) and the “comrades in arms” love of a brother. David’s last words regarding Jonathan prove their love was of the latter type.

One last word on words before I tackle the last minor argument. I have demonstrated how NONE of the words and phrases used in the text are universally or even remotely related to romance, sex, or marriage. But that doesn’t mean the bible doesn’t talk about those things. There are plenty of Hebrew idioms for, as well as direct discussions of, sex and marriage throughout the bible, including, importantly, descriptions of homosexual sex. But not a single one of them are used do describe David and Jonathan’s relationship. So, not only does the text not say what homosexual advocates say it says, but it is completely void of those expressions in the bible that do mean what they want it to mean.

There is one final argument that I have heard regarding David and Jonathan. It is a minor consideration but I will cover it simply to avoid it coming up later. There are some who claim, through a very selective parsing of the text of 1 Sam 18:6-13, that Saul kept David under surveillance and then kicked him out of the palace because of Saul’s displeasure with David and his son’s sexual relationship. Here is all the pertinent text for review. The context and reason for Saul’s actions should be clear.

1 Sam 18:6 It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. 7. The women sang as they played, and said, "Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands." 8. Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" 9. Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on... 12. Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 13. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.

Saul’s motivation is clearly jealousy over David’s fame, not any kind of anger over his relationship with Jonathan. In fact, at this point in the text, it is not even clear if Saul knew how close David and Jonathan were.


To conclude, there is simply no scriptural foundation to the theory that David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers. You may believe the theory if you want to, but do so knowing that you have no rational, factual basis for those beliefs. Enjoy your fantasy, but I prefer the truth.

David and Jonathan - Part IIb

...A continuation of the detailed analysis begun in this post: Were David and Jonathan Gay Lovers?

The next set of arguments focuses on three words in three verses which supposedly insinuate romantic or sexual relations. The verses are:

1 Sam 19:2b ...But Jonathan, Saul's son, greatly delighted in David
1 Sam 20:3a Yet David vowed again, saying, "Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight...
2 Sam 1:26a I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me.

It is suggested that the first word, translated “delighted”, refers to sexual intimacy. This is another one of those generic words that can refer to many kinds of delight, desire, or preference. The context determines who delights in whom or what. Sometimes it refers to a husband’s delight in his wife, but even those cases are not specifically sexual. It refers more to whether or not he is generally happy with her. Esther 2:14 may possibly refer to, or emphasize, the sexual component of a woman’s appeal to King Xerxes as he seeks a queen. But that is not clear. Otherwise, it is used in many, many different ways. We delight in God, God delights in us, kings delight in their subjects, fathers delight in their sons, etc. It should be noted that this very same word is used in the previous chapter. 1 Sam 18:22 says – “And Saul commanded his servants, [saying], Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law.” Clearly, this has no sexual overtones to it at all. So, the Hebrew word translated “delighted” is not an idiom for sexual intimacy and may very likely never refer to sexual intimacy, or, if it does so, only does so once out of 75 OT occurrences.

The next suggestion is that the “favor” David found in Jonathan’s sight was of a romantic nature, as if to say Jonathan was romantically smitten with David. As with the other words or phrases we are examining, we need to see if such a use for the word exists elsewhere. The word translated “favor” or “grace” occurs 69 times in the Old Testament. It is almost always used to refer to the “favor” a person in authority shows to a subordinate. Even the few times it is used within a martial context, it reflects the patriarchal notion that the inferior wife finds favor in the superior husband’s eyes. There is never a sense of any romance involved. In addition, as we have found with most of these words and phrases, we have an example right within the 1 Samuel narrative we are reviewing which clearly shows the meaning of the word. 1 Sam 16:22 says – “And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favor in my sight”. As even a casual reader of the Old Testament knows, Saul had NO romantic feelings for David.

Finally, it is suggested that the “pleasant” company that Jonathan and David kept has romantic or sexual overtones. A scriptural review of the word is once again in order. This word occurs only 8 times in the OT in its verbal form, and 13 times as an adjective. Two times in Song of Solomon it refers to the feelings of one of the lovers to the other. All other references to human relations are decidedly not romantic. Two such uses stand out. In Psalm 133:1, David exclaims “how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” Here, David himself, the composer of this lament that we are looking at regarding Saul and Jonathan, uses the same expression to refer to the bonds of brotherhood. But we don’t even need to go outside of the lament in question. Just 3 verses earlier (v. 23), David says “"Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted…” There is no reason to believe that the pleasantness David speaks of in verse 26 is any different than the pleasantness he speaks of in verse 23 (which also includes Saul), where it is not romantic in any way.

David and Jonathan - Part IIa

In the previous post, I gave a brief, verse by verse, breakdown of the claim and the facts surrounding the preposterous idea that David and Jonathan were gay lovers. Below and in the next couple of posts is a more detailed exegetical analysis.

The first verse relating David and Jonathan is 1 Samuel 18:1. It supposedly contains three such "proofs" that their relationship was romantic and sexual. (Also listed are the two other verse that echo one of the "proof" phrases.)

1 Sam 18:1 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.

1 Sam 18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
1 Sam 20:17 Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.

Proponents of the theory say that:

1. the "love" that is mentioned is inherently romantic,
2. that the phrase "knit to the soul of" harkens back to Genesis 2:24 and the "oneness" of marriage,
3. that the phrase "loved him as himself" is a marital idiom. (this is repeated in 1 Sam 18:3 and 1 Sam 20:17)

The Hebrew word translated "loved" is 'ahab (and the noun derivative 'ahabah). It is like our word "love" in that it can mean many things and many kinds or degrees of love. Although it can mean the romantic love between two spouses, it does not inherently mean that. Context, primarily the participants in the love, determines what particular "flavor" of love is involved. So, we need to look at the rest of the text to determine that context. Let us see if there is anything in the surrounding text which suggests, even remotely, that romantic, sexual, or marital relations are being discussed.

The Hebrew word translated "knit" is qashar. It is a verb meaning to bind or tie together. It can also mean to conspire against. In terms of human relationships, it is used 18 times in the sense of a group in a conspiracy. It is only used 2 other times for human relationships and both times it references this binding of two souls. The one time is, of course, in the reference to David and Jonathan. The other occurrence is in Genesis 44:31 referring to the relationship between Jacob and his son Benjamin. After Benjamin had been framed for stealing, Judah is imploring Joseph (who the brothers do not recognize) to allow Benjamin to return to Jacob, for if he doesn't, Jacob will die of grief over the loss of his only other son by Rachel (the first being, of course, the very same Joseph). Judah describes this unbreakable father son bond in this way: "Now, therefore, when I come [i.e. return] to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound [qashar] up in the lad's life; It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad [is] not [with us], that he will die". Unless one is to suggest that Jacob and Benjamin were incestuous gay lovers, the indication in this verse is that this "knitting of souls" is a father/son, or brother to brother type of bond. At any rate, that expression is never used in reference to husband/wife, marital bonds anywhere in the OT. And what of the leaving, cleaving, and oneness in Genesis? Well, those are completely different Hebrew words and expressions that are never used to describe David and Jonathan's relationship. The scriptural evidence demonstrates that this expression is not romantic in any way and enforces the fact that David and Jonathan were "as close as brothers".

The third expression referring to Jonathan loving David as he loved himself occurs in three verse. The assertion is that this phrase mirrors Ephesians 5:28 - "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;" and therefore is an idom for the marriage relationship. Of course, on the surface the two don't match up well because the verses related to Jonathan speak of his "soul", not his "body". Paul also goes on to make further reference to the church "body" and to Christ and the church. But Paul does also reference the Genesis 2 marriage declaration. Still, a comparison to similar wording in the New Testament is simply a diversion. The real issue is how the Hebrews of the Old Testament would have viewed this phrase. This form "loved...as...own...self/soul/life" only occurs four times in the Old Testament. The first three are, of course, the three verses noted above pertaining to Jonathan. But the forth is highly significant because it also uses this phrase AND speaks of the marital relationship. It is Deuteronomy 13:6 - "If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly..." Note that the expression is here used to describe only friendship. It is expressly distinguished from the marriage relationship within the same verse. Here, we see that an expression that supposedly describes a marital relationship not only doesn't do so but is specifically contrasted with it.

Were David and Jonathan Gay Lovers?


The gay marriage debate has brought up this very tired and sordid old lie about David and Johnathan and I feel compelled to respond with an old post of mine from christianforums.net to refute it. We should be past having to deal with this nonsense but alas, we are not. Get ready for a several part article.

This claim pops up from time to time in the forums as homosexual advocates struggle to find anything positive in scripture regarding homosexuality. I wrote a long refutation in a thread which I will repeat here and in the next few entries. The thread itself lived a very short life, probably due to the length of my commentary, and did not produce any tangible counter arguments (it didn't produce any debate at all). I think that means the reasoning was rather sound (*pats self on back*). Never-the-less, I wish to reproduce it now for posterity.

Part I - An overview of the relevant scriptures.

There are many here, including many of the more liberal Christians, that claim that not only is homosexual sex not universally condemned in the bible but that there is a homosexual relationship that is blessed by God. That is the supposed gay love affair of David and Jonathan. They go as far as to claim that David and Jonathan had the equivalence of a "marriage" and that it would be recognized by God as such. Although such speculation has always seemed preposterous to me, I had not ever actually done an exegesis of the associated texts to see if the claim had merit. That is until now. Below I will break down the "proof texts" that are claimed by proponents of this theory and show that there is absolutely no support or justification for their claim.

For reference, the main chapters that relate David and Jonathan's relationship are 1st Samuel 18, 19, and 20, and 2nd Samuel 1.

First let's take a 10,000 foot approach to the text. One of the claims is that God "blessed" this supposed affair and that God recognizes it as a "marriage". Since 1st and 2nd Samuel are books of history, we would need a direct confirmation that God weighed in on the events and relationships at hand. For example, in 1 Samuel 9:17 we have this - "And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people." Although this is a historical account of the ascent of Saul, we also know that God ordained Saul because God said it directly. Later, in 1 Sam 15:11, God says directly to Samuel - "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul [to be] king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night." God is interjecting His opinion into the history. Then God says in 1 Sam 16:1 - "And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons."

In all of these texts, it is clear God is the one doing the blessing and rejecting, ordaining and dethroning. But, when one reads the texts regarding David and Jonathan, God is silent. Nowhere does it say that God blesses, ordains, or institutes their relationship. But God is not completely silent in the entirety of these passages. There is plenty of evidence that God blessed David in his military endeavors. But nowhere is such a blessing given for David's and Jonathan's relationship, per se. David and Jonathan do swear a covenant between them to the Lord. But that is for the prosperity and continued existence of their families in light of the imminent danger posed to David by Saul; kind of a "You watch my back, I'll watch yours" agreement. (We see David later honoring this covenant with Jonathan's son). So, regardless of what kind of relationship it was, the bible is meerly giving a historical account. The claim that God blessed the "love" relationship is without basis and the claim that God recognized it as a "marriage" is pure fantasy.

Now let's look at the specific verses, phrases, and words that are claimed to show that David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers. There is a lot of analysis so I will summarize the findings first. In the second part I will give the detailed analysis of each claim.

Claim: The use of "love" to describe David and Jonathan's relationship points to the romantic aspects of it.
Truth: The Hebrew word is used for all kinds of love - romantic, brotherly, Godly, selfless (agape). Context decides.
Ref: 1 Sam 18:1,3; 1 Sam 20:17 and others

Claim: The phrase "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David" alludes to the cleaving and oneness of the martial relationship as exemplified in Genesis 2:24.
Truth: The phrase in this form relating to the knitting of two souls is used only one other time and that is for a father son relationship (Jacob/Benjamin). It is never used in scripture to describe romantic or marital relationships. The Hebrew word translated "cleave" in Genesis is a completely unrelated word.
Ref: 1 Sam 18:1

Claim: The phrase "he [Jonathan] loved him [David] as his own soul" is a marital idiom.
Truth: This phrase is never used in OT scripture to describe a marriage relationship and in fact is used only one other time outside of the Jonathan and David narrative. There it actually unequivocally differentiates the love between close friends (the kind Jonathan and David had) from martial love (Deut. 16:6)
Ref: 1 Sam 18:1,3; 1 Sam 20:17

Claim: The phrase "Jonathan...greatly delighted in David" is a sexual innuendo.
Truth: Like "love", the Hebrew word translated "delighted" is a generic term and context determines its use. Significantly, it is also used in the midst of the David/Jonathan narrative for Saul and the people's delight in David (1 Sam 18:22). It is never used in the OT to refer to sexual intimacy (a possible exception may be Esther 2:14), but instead refers to one person’s non-sexual (i.e. relational) satisfaction with another.
Ref: 1 Sam 19:2

Claim: The phrase "Your father [Saul] knows well that I [David] have found favor in your [Jonathan's] sight" is romantic.
Truth: This is typically used as an expression between a subordinate and their superior, as in "let me find favor in your sight, O my lord, the king" (2 Sam 16:4). Saul even says of David in 1 Sam 16:22 that "he has found favor in my sight".
Ref: 1 Sam 20:3

Claim: The phrase "You [Jonathan] have been very pleasant to me [David]" refers to sexual intimacy.
Truth: There is only one instance, in Song of Solomon, (a poetic book with clear sexual context vs. this historic book), that the word translated "pleasant" might be referring to sexual intimacy. Otherwise in scripture, it simply means delightful and is used non-sexually for both people and things. Significantly, in Psalm 113:1, it is used to describe the company of brothers.
Ref: 2 Sam 1:26

Claim: The Phrase "Your [Jonathan's] love to me [David] was more wonderful Than the love of women" is comparing the homosexual relationship to David's heterosexual relationships.
Truth: This occurs in a lament over Jonathan's (and Saul's) death. The verse starts "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan" clearly establishing that the relationship is brotherly. Rather than compare two types of sexual love, this verse contrasts brotherly love from sexual love.
Ref: 2 Sam 1:26

Claim: Saul was wary of David and first kept him under a watchful eye and then had him removed from the palace because of Saul's displeasure over David and Jonathan's homosexual affair.
Truth: The surrounding verses make it clear that Saul's actions were out of jealousy that David was being so militarily successful and was receiving so many accolades from the people.
Ref: 1 Sam 18:6-13

The next few posts give a detailed breakdown of each of the above claims.