Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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.

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