Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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.

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