Reminder: The Ancient Hebrews had a different concept of sexuality than modern audiences, making efforts to apply modern labels to ancient relationships complicated.
The nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan has long been disputed, with most Jewish and Christian Biblical scholars considering their relationship to be a close platonic friendship. Both men had relationships with women, including multiple wives and concubines in the case of David, as well as his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Jonathan also had a five year old son at the time of his death.
However, other scholars have suggested that their relationship might have been romantic or sexual in nature.
The issue experienced a revival of interest in response to the 2009 television show Kings, which was inspired by the Biblical story of David and presented the Jonathan character (Jack Benjamin, played by Sebastian Stan) as gay.
Their relationship is covered primarily in the Book of Samuel.
For example, when they meet:
When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
When Saul becomes jealous of David's prowess in battle and growing popularity and decides to have him killed, Jonathan defends David to his father and earns this reaction:
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?"
Jonathan also warns David and helps him flee the city. The two men say goodbye for the last time:
As soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.'" He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city.
Later, when Jonathan is killed in battle, David laments:
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
David later adopted Jonathan's son as his own.
- David loved Jonathan more than women (pro-homosexual relationship interpretation)
- Were David and Jonathan Homosexual Lovers? (anti-homosexual relationship interpretation)
- Wikipedia: David and Jonathan (neutral)
- 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (New Revised Standard Version)
- 1 Samuel 20:30 (New Revised Standard Version)
- 1 Samuel 20:41-42 (New Revised Standard Version)
- 2 Samuel 1:26 (New Revised Standard Version)
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