David's Beauty and Jonathan's Love
By Bruce L. Gerig

David’s beauty – Only a handful of strikingly handsome men are singled out as such in the Bible. For example, Joseph is described as “fair in form [yepheh-to’ar] and fair of appearance [yepheh mar’eh]” (Gen 39:6, J. Green’s literal trans.), or “handsome and good-looking” (NRSV). Further, if this is read similar to a hendiadys (a construction where two words connected by “and” express a singular idea,1 then it might simply be said that Joseph was “stunningly beautiful” (Peterson). (The description of Joseph as “a goodly person and well-favored” in the KJV is completely inadequate.) Saul is introduced as a “handsome [tob] young man” (1 Sam 9:2, NRSV). Of Absalom (David’s third son, by Maacah2), it was said, “Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty [yapheh] as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish” and he cut his [long] hair only once a year (2 Sam 14:25-26). Also, Adonijah (David’s fourth son, by Haggith3) was “a very handsome man [tob-to’ar]”; he, like Absalom, would try to wrest the throne from his father (1 Kings 1:5-6). Later, Daniel and his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) were among those Judean youths selected because they were “without physical defect and handsome [tob mar’eh, Dan 1:4; J. Green: ‘of good look’],” as well as of noble birth and good education, to be taken captive to Babylon to serve King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1:3-6). An African, “an Egyptian, a handsome man [mar’eh]” is also mentioned (2 Sam 23:21). Throughout these references, the key words used are tob (Strong, #2896, “good [in the widest sense], beautiful”) and yapheh (#3303, “beautiful, fair”), combined with to’ar (#8389, “outline, i.e. figure or appearance”) and mar’eh (#4758, “appearance or shape”).4

It is interesting to note here that “handsome blood” seems to run in Jonathan’s and David’s families. Although we don’t know what Jonathan looked like from any physical description given of him in the Bible, 1 Sam 9:2 does say that Saul, his father, was “handsome” and very tall (“he stood head and shoulders above everyone else,” NRSV). Since attractive males often marry attractive females and produce attractive children, might not Jonathan also have been handsome and tall like his father? When Samuel comes to anoint a new king from among Jesse’s sons, he is first impressed with the “appearance [mar’eh]” and “height” of Eliab, the eldest (1 Sam 16:6), who looked like a king should, tall and handsome.5 However, after God rebukes Samuel for thinking that Eliab’s good looks were a sign that he would make a good ruler (v. 7), we are really surprised when David appears and the narrator ebulliently (excitedly) describes him as being “altogether handsome!” Either the author was such an admirer of David (or the David traditions) that he cannot help but admire his appearance.6 Later, David’s stunning good looks are passed on to (and especially noted in) his sons, Absalom and Adonijah.

In the early material on David (1 Sam 16-17), three times the narrator calls attention to David’s beauty – more times in the Bible than in any other case. First, the prophet Samuel notes that David “was ruddy [admoni, Strong #132], and had beautiful eyes [yapheh ‘ayinim, #3303, #5869], and was handsome [to behold, tob ro’i, #2896, #7210].” (16:12, NRSV) Then, when a young court servant recommends David to Saul, he describes him (among other things) as “a handsome [to’ar, #8389] person” (16:18, NKJV). Finally, the giant notes that David, his opponent, was “a youth, ruddy [admoni] and good-looking [yapheh mar’eh, #3303, #4758]” (17:42, NKJV). Here, the common language used throughout the OT to describe beauty is found again, including yapheh and tob (“beautiful, handsome” in both cases), along with to’ar and mar’eh (“[in] figure or shape”). However, new words in the David descriptions include ro’i (#7210, “a … sight [to behold]) and admoni and ‘ayinim, translated as “ruddy” and “eyes” respectively in the NRSV – although the last two Hebrew words present a challenge to translators.

The servant’s description: “a handsome person” (1 Sam 16:18, NKJV) – In the second reference to David’s beauty, Kyle McCarter points out that the Hebrew ‘ys t’r (= ish to’ar, lit. “a man of form”) is shorthand for “a man of good form,” which the Septuagint Greek translation makes clear.7 In the Hebrew text, to’ar (“form”) is found combined with tob (“good”) in the description of Adonijah’s physique, in 1 Kings 1:6.8 Clearly, “very handsome” (NIV) is a much better translation than “very goodly” man (KJV). The giant’s description: “a youth, ruddy and good-looking” (1 Sam 17:42, NKJV) – In the third reference to David’s beauty, McCarter notes that “a youth [na‘ar],” here in the original story text, has probably been expanded by the narrator in 1 Samuel by pulling from 16:12 – to draw attention once again to David’s handsomeness.9 The storyteller clearly has an interest in male beauty and in David’s looks, and cannot help but repeat that David is “a good-looking young man” (B. Green).10 The Hebrew wording for “good-looking” is different here (yapheh mar’eh) than in 16:12 (tob ro’i), but the meaning is the same (“beautiful in appearance” and “beautiful to behold”). The word na‘ar (#5288) applied to David in 1 Sam 17:33,42,55 refers to a youth no older than a teenager, while ‘elem (#5958, 17:56) points to a youth who is coming into or has reached adulthood.11 The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon uses “sexually ripe” to describe an ‘alma, (“young woman” #5959), the counterpart for an ‘elem (“young man”) – reminding us that maidens and lads at this age were ready to find sexual mates. Probably David was around eighteen years of age.12

Samuel’s description: “he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome” (1 Sam 16:12, NRSV) – This, the first and main description of David’s beauty, is made up of three parts. (1) “Handsome” – We shall look at the last, more simple, part first. The two words tob ro’i mean literally a “good sight [to see].”13 Many modern translations have rendered these two Hebrew words as “handsome” (Hertzberg 1964, p. 136; NEB 1970; Ackroyd 1971, p. 131; GNB 1983; NRSV 1989; REB 1989), or similarly as “handsome features” (NIV 1978), “attractive appearance” (NJB 1998), or David was “good-looking” (NKJV 1982, CEV 1995, Peterson 2002). Weak translations, that flatten the meaning, include “goodly to look at” (KJV 1611), a “pleasant bearing” (JB 1966), and a “fine appearance” (Klein 1983, p. 157). Instead, Lamsa (1933) captures the full force with “very handsome.”

(2) “Beautiful eyes” – The Hebrew yapheh ‘ayinim has been read as saying either that David was pleasing to look at or had beautiful eyes – he was a “good-looker” or “beautiful-of-eyes.”14 Translations that take the former route have suggested “beautiful countenance” (KJV 1611; Fokkelman 1986, p. 130), “fine appearance” (NIV 1978), “handsome to the eye” (McCarter 1980, p. 274), and “handsome to look at” (Elman 1994, p. 228; NAB 1995). However, because “handsome to the eye” so closely parallels the last part of this description (“handsome [form]”), most translators have taken ‘ayinim (“eyes,” plural of ‘ayin, #5869) in 16:12 to be a reference to David’s eyes, not the onlooker’s.15 In fact, ‘ayin is the most common Hebrew word used to refer to the physical organ of sight.16 Elsewhere we read of Leah’s “eyes” (‘ayinim, Gen 29:17a), although the accompanying adjective rak has been variously translated, as “weak” (RSV 1946, NIV 1978), or probably better as “tender” (KJV 1611; Hamilton 1995, p. 257) or even “lovely” (NRSV 1989, NJB 1998).17 However, Leah is paled by the adjectives piled up for Rachel, her sister (29:17b), who is described as yapheh-to’ar and yapheh mar’eh (lit. “beautiful in appearance,” twice), rendered as “shapely and beautiful” (NJB 1998), “beautiful in both face and figure” (REB 1989), “shapely, and in every way a beauty” (LB 1976), and probably best of all “stunningly beautiful” (Peterson 2002). In the same way, multiple Hebrew terms of beauty are heaped on David – painting him as one of the most gorgeous males in the Bible. Moreover, 1 Sam 16:12 is the only place in the OT where a male’s “beautiful eyes” are mentioned. Such translations as “bright eyes” (Ackroyd 1971, p. 131; NEB 1970; NKJV 1982; REB 1989), “eyes [that] sparkled” (GNB 1983, cf. CEV 1995), “pleasant eyes” (LB 1976), “fair eyes” (Fox 1999, p. 81), and “fine eyes” (Alter 1999, p. 97) water down the Hebrew and often introduce shades of meaning that are not really rooted in the original language.

(3) “Ruddy” – What does it mean that David was admoni, rendered in most translations as “ruddy”? Admoni (#132) relates to dam (#1818, “blood”), adam (#119, “to be red”) and adom (#122, “rosy, red”) – the last being the most frequent term found for this color in the OT and used e.g. to describe the “red” bean stew that Jacob made for Esau (Gen 25:30,34, CEV).18 Adam (#120, #121) was also the name given to the first human, who had red blood in his veins and may have been reddish like the dust of the earth from which he was formed (Gen 2:7).19 However, admoni (#132, “reddish, ruddy”) is a rare word, appearing only in these references to David (16:12, 17:42) and in Gen 25:25, where we are told that the newborn Esau “came out red [admoni], all his body like a hairy mantle” (NRSV) or “cloak” (NJB). Esau was later called Edom (#123, “Red”, Gen 25:30; 36:1,8,43), a name given to the region where he and his family settled and their descendents prospered, SE of the Dead Sea, where the sandstone is reddish in color.20 Claus Westermann held that admoni pointed to a “reddish-brown” color,21 while John Hartley (2000) more to a “tawny [tan]” color.22 This rare term probably refers to something more than a tan. No one knows the exact color, except that admoni means “reddish”23 and we do well to stick to that. Nahum Sarna believed that, since redheadedness sometimes was associated in ancient times with the dangerous and the sinister, a ruddy complexion is inferred; although he also notes that in Egyptian and Cretan art, as well as in Ugaritic texts, red skin was equated with heroes.24 Clearly, the term is applied to David in a most complementary way.25 Victor Hamilton notes that admoni could refer to the color of the baby Esau’s skin or hair, but probably the latter.26 Robert Graves and Raphael Patai visualize the baby Esau as having red, shaggy hair – which some rabbis saw as a sign of his later murderous inclinations toward Jacob, his brother.27

Reddish skin color? – It is not surprising then that some interpreters feel that admoni describes David’s skin color. Tony Cartledge notes that “fairer skin” would stand out among dark-complected people.28 Lighter skin would have been striking in appearance.29 Jerry Landay describes David as “average in stature, but with finely chiseled Semitic features, dark hair, a ruddy complexion, and almond-shaped eyes of exceptional beauty.”30 Most translations of 16:12 have rendered admoni using the ambiguous “ruddy” (13 out of 20 versions checked) – although some describe David (16:12) as a boy of “fresh complexion” (JB 1966), a “healthy” boy” (GNB 1983, CEV 1995), someone with “ruddy cheeks” (Ackroyd 1971, p. 131; NEB 1970; REB 1989), and “ruddy-faced” (LB 1976). The worst translation, undoubtedly, is Robert North’s “pink-cheeked babyface.”31 Red hair? – Other interpreters think that admoni describes David’s hair color. For example, Robert Alter sees David as “the fair-haired boy of Israel [and] if the term ‘red’ or ‘reddish’ refers to hair color, it might be something like auburn [reddish-brown].”32 Keil and Delitzsch say that red hair no doubt would be regarded as “a mark of beauty in southern lands, where hair is generally black.”33 Reddish hair and skin color? – Still, there is a third option, recognizing that often reddish hair and reddish skin go hand in hand. Fred Young speaks of David as having “red hair and fair skin.”34 Hans Hertzberg applies admoni to “fair hair and colouring,” which match David’s whole attitude which is “fair and winning.”35 The New Oxford Annotated Bible says that David was both “‘reddish’ of hair and complexion.”36 Steven McKenzie envisions David as being short, “with a ruddy complexion and thick, reddish-brown, uncontrollable hair.”37

So, as Jonathan Kirsch writes, David “was not only a charismatic figure who inspired love and loyalty but also ‘a comely [attractive] person,’ a man of compelling physical beauty” – even a kind of fairy-tale prince!38 He appears in court (16:18ff) as a “bewilderingly beautiful boy with a magical gift for the harp [lyre],”39 and only grows more striking as he enters young manhood. The description of David’s looks in these three references has transformed him, in fact, into “an icon of sensuous male attractiveness,” not unlike the Greek Apollo or Roman Antinous.40 With red or reddish-brown tousled hair, fairer skin with a reddish tint, endowed with the most beautiful eyes imaginable, and displaying a physique lean in line and firm in tone, David could not help but turn everybody’s head.

Jonathan’s love – Not surprisingly, after making such an ado about David’s looks, the reader begins to find responses to this in the text. For example, in 1 Sam 18:1 we read, “Now when he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul [nephesh] of Jonathan was knit to the soul [nephesh] of David, and Jonathan loved [aheb, #157] him as his own soul [nephesh].Then (v. 3), “Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he [Jonathan] loved [ahaba, #160] him as his own soul.” Later, when the two make a second covenant, we are told (20:17) that “Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he [Jonathan] loved [ahaba, #160] him; for he loved [ahaba, #160] him as he loved [aheb, #157] his own soul.” (NKJV, underlining added) In addition to this, we are told in 19:1 that Jonathan “delighted [kaphes, #2654] greatly” in David” (NKJV). So, in response to three references to David’s beauty, there appear three references describing Jonathan’s love for him – two of them twice using the verb “love” and the third using the related verb “delights [in].” Strong’s lexicon notes that the aheb (#157) means “to have affection for (sexually or otherwise),” along with the related terms oheb (#159) and ahaba (#160), the last a feminine form.41 The male and female forms of “love” (verb and noun) appear to be used interchangeably in Scripture, e.g. in Song of Songs 2:4-5, the beloved [girl] says, “He [King Solomon] brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love [#160]. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love [#160].” (NRSV) Here the feminine form ahaba is used to describe both the “love” of a male (the king) and of a female (his new concubine).

Of course, the word “love” in Hebrew, as in English, can convey a wide range of very diverse meanings. J.P. Fokkelman notes that in the pages of 1-2 Samuel one can see it applied to selfish love, self-love, tenderness, masked aggression, infatuation, and sexual violence, as well as true and lasting love. 42 Love can be utilitarian as well as erotic.43 Here in 1 Sam 16-19 it can be said that “all Israel and Judah loved David” (18:16) because of his courage and skill shown against Goliath (17:45-51a), the great victory that resulted for Israel (17:51b-53), and the continuing successes he won on the battlefield as a commander (18:13-14). The king’s servants at court loved David (18:22), not only as a popular, acclaimed hero (18:6-7), but because of a more intimate look they got, discovering that he was e.g. “a skilled player [musician]” and “well spoken,” as well as good-looking and God-favored (16:18, NJB). Certainly “Michal loved David” (18:20) romantically and sexually. As Norah Lofts puts it, Michal feasts her eyes and her ears on David and falls in love. “And the beautiful young man who could accompany his music with songs of his own making, who had easy good manners and an air of confidence and high destiny, proved as attractive to Saul’s daughters and son as to the king himself.”44 “Half the women in Israel were in love with him,” she continues45 – being aware that very often stunningly good looks solicit erotic feelings, whether recognized or subliminal, from both sexes far and wide, of those who see and admire them. Yet, what are we to make of Jonathan’s love? At first glance, 18:1-4 seems clearly to speak of “intense feelings of personal affection and homoeroticized endearment.”46 However, as Jonathan Kirsch notes, “The nature of the love between David and Jonathan is one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the biblical life story of David.”47

Various interpretations of Jonathan’s love – More than a century ago, W.G. Blaikie (1898) characterized this love as a spiritual love, writing that Jonathan’s fascination with David’s “childlike trust in God” shows “what a pure heart he must have had,” and “noble character.” What tied them together was “the bond of a common, all prevailing faith, faith in the covenant God of Israel…”48 Henry Preserved Smith (1899) viewed it on a more natural level, as a kind of friendship of “brotherhood,” sealed with a covenant49 – as did W. Robertson Smith earlier (1894), who compared Jonathan’s and David’s friendship to that between the Greek warriors Glaucus and Diomede, who exchanged garments as a sign of their commitment one with another.50

Later, Hans Hertzberg (1964) would call this “the most beautiful description of a friendship which the Bible offers us” – viewing it basically as an attraction of similarities. On Jonathan’s side, it was “completely disinterested” (from the standpoint of ulterior motives). Jonathan saw in David his alter ego.51 The Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (2001) defines “alter ego” as “1. a second self; a perfect substitute… 2. an inseparable friend. 3. another aspect of one’s self.” Other dictionaries read, “another side of oneself; a second self … an intimate friend or constant companion”52 and “a person’s secondary or alternative personality … an intimate and trusted friend.”53 Both Jonathan and David saw much of himself in the other. Surely they talked about their deep faith in God and spiritual topics, shared their experiences on the battlefield and their hopes for Israel, spoke of family stresses and strains – and revealed in subtle ways their growing love for one another. Mary Evans (2000) writes that Jonathan welcomed David “as a kindred spirit, equally impulsive, equally brave, and equally confident that God was behind Israel.”54 Tony Cartledge (2001) believes that the description of David as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14) points to “David’s openness – his spirit of adventure, his delight in trying new things, [and] his willingness to let God work through him.” His heart was not closed nor had he figured everything out. He was open to the future, to new possibilities, to mystery, and to the spirit of God.55 Likewise, Jonathan also appears to have had an open spirit, to have loved doing the unexpected, to have had a sense of the mysterious working of the Lord’s spirit, and to not fear attempting impossible things. Adin Steinsaltz (1984) suggests that Jonathan was “heroic and beautiful in body and soul,” as was David, although perhaps the latter was “simpler [and] more earthy.” Both were handsome heroes in Israel.56 On the other hand, both might have been attracted to differences in the other, as well. Jonathan may have enjoyed a certain unaffected simplicity in the village hero57 (when David felt he could let down his guard), as well as his remarkable musical gifts. In return, David must have found it flattering to be invited into the prince’s inner world, as well as to gain from the wisdom and experience of his older companion. Also, lest we get too removed from the real world with these Bible characters, they probably laughed, told jokes, and played games together, as friends so.

J.P. Fokkelman (1986) sees here a remarkable selfless love. He envisions Jonathan “watching the amazing dual” with Goliath, and he saw more deeply than anyone else David’s “rock-firm faith” and the creativity and courage he derived from this. Further, he views Jonathan as the ideal example of the fulfilling of Lev 19:18b (“[Y]ou shall love your neighbor as yourself.”), the standard for this being the respect and esteem one has learned to give to oneself. He notes, however, that this does not mean that their love could not also have been homoerotic – and he adds, “Only [a careful study of] the text can steer us through … the sea of eros and dualistic claims.” In any case, Jonathan’s love was the “alpha and omega [beginning and end]” of the two men’s friendship.58 Certainly, a concerned, caring, self-giving and sacrificing love was part of this friendship, offered without bounds by Jonathan to David, whatever he got in return for it. He probably couldn’t help himself. Such is the case with people who are in love.

Another, pervasive view that developed over the past forty years is that this was primarily a political love, a giving of allegiance and loyalty on Jonathan’s part to David as the future king of Israel. The impetus for this view arose from an article by William Moran (1963), in which he proposed that the covenant love of Israel for Yahweh in Deuteronomy referred not to personal attachment or affection, but was a command that the Israelites show loyalty to the Lord through unqualified obedience to the demands of the Law. He pointed to various ancient suzerain-vassal (ruler-subject) treaties and texts, such as an oath which Ashurbanipal of Assyria (in the 7th cent. B.C.) required his subjects to swear, that “the king of Assyria, our lord, we will love.” Also, letters sent by Canaanite kings to Akhenaton of Egypt (in the 14th cent. B.C.) repeatedly declare their “love” for the pharaoh, which Moran read as confirming their servant relationship to him. Moran held that this view of love as political language extended through the whole of Deuteronomistic History (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings). So, when “all Israel and Judah loved David” in 1 Sam 18:16, this simply meant that the whole nation gave the new hero their allegiance and support, anticipating the covenant loyalty they would one day give him as king. In a footnote, Moran further declared that the love between Jonathan and David (18:1,3; 20:17) was not about personal affection but “loyalty, service and obedience” that Jonathan promised to David as Israel’s future king.59 Moran’s view gained great popularity – although it raises troublesome questions: (1) Can all “love” mentioned in 1-2 Samuel, even that with political elements, be confined to such an absolute, narrow “political” meaning – or is love often more complex than that? (2) Can any description of love between God and Israel be transported to love between humans without recognition of the wide diversity of forms that such love can take and that are, in fact, seen in Scripture itself? (3) Does defining the kind of “love” God seeks from Israel strictly in terms of loyalty and obedience not fail to take into account the emotional side of human adoration (and God’s probable response to this), revealed, for example, in such notable examples as Deborah’s and Barak’s song of praise (Judg 5), Hannah’s prayer of exaltation (1 Sam 2:1-9), and David’s psalm of joy (2 Sam 22)? (4) How widely was David’s royal destiny really known during his stay at court, and how realistic is it to insert political symbolism into the overall story? For example, Michal provided David a pathway to the throne in marrying him; yet all interpreters view her “love” primarily as sensual and erotic. Why not the same for Jonathan?

In fact, most commentators, while taking note of Moran’s hypothesis, never adopted his idea that Jonathan’s and David’s love was to be understood exclusively as political and covenantal in nature. For example, J.A. Thompson (1974) points to a “political significance” in the term “love” in 1 Sam 18:1-4, but also this included a “natural affection” that may have been “deep and genuine.”60 Peter Ackroyd (1975) also suggests a “political sense” for the love between David and Jonathan, but insists on a “nonpolitical and political meaning.”61 Kyle McCarter (1980) suggests there is a “political nuance” here in 18:1-4, but also there is “a deep bond of friendship” – and the “common meaning” of “love” is especially evidenced in 19:1.62

Of course, all of the above interpretations do not preclude the possibility of this also being a homoerotic love. Tom Horner notes that it was only natural that two heroes would gravitate toward each other, as objects of desire. “Ordinarily heroic love affairs in the ancient East were between two persons of equal rank” and David was from a good family. However, “it was only natural that Jonathan act as the initator; David never could have.”63 Also, David Damrosch (1987) astutely notes, “As the story now stands, this relationship has been developed far beyond anything that would have been required simply to assure the audience that David and Jonathan were close friends and that David did not wish to deny the succession to Saul’s heir [or, we add, that Jonathan was unwilling to accept David as Yahweh’s choice for the next ruler over Israel].” Their bond has both “a political expression and erotic overtones.” Moreover, their friendship “has clear overtones of a relationship of husband and wife,” and even “suggests a quasi-marriage.”64

As Silvia Schroer and Thomas Staubli (2000) emphasize, the Hebrew word for “love” (aheb, and its variants) is always context-dependent. Interestingly, the love relationship between Jonathan and David appears in 1 Sam 18:1-4 “like a bolt [of lightning] out of the blue”!65 The original sense of nephesh (“soul” in most translations) is “yearning throat” – which points to the “craving, drive-like and life-seeking aspects of human existence,” such as the survival instinct, the sex drive, and yearning desire. The same terms found in 18:1,3 are also used by the woman in Song of Songs 3:1-4, who upon her bed at night “sought him who my soul [nephesh, #5315] loves [aheb, #157];” then she goes out wandering the streets and squares of the city seeking the one “whom my soul loves,” so filled is she with longing and passion (3:1-2, NRSV).66 Further, the statement in 1 Sam 19:1 that “Jonathan took great delight [kaphes, #2654] in David” recalls the story in Gen 34 of Shechem son of Hamor who “seized [Dinah] and lay with her by force” because “his soul [nephesh, #5315] was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob [and] he loved [aheb, #157] the girl, and spoke tenderly to her.” (34:2-3, NRSV) Later, Hamor asks Jacob to give Dinah to Shechem as his wife, because “the heart [nephesh] of my son Shechem longs for your daughter” (v. 8). One finds the same words here – nephesh (“soul, heart”) and aheb (“love”) – as found in 1 Sam 18:1-4 and 20:17. Also, the verbs – “drawn to / joined with” (Gen 34:3, dabaq, #1692) and “longs for / is bound to” (Gen 34:8, kasaq, #2836)67 – recall the “bound to / tied to” (qashar) that is found in 1 Sam 18:1. Hence, Schroer and Staubli hold that “David and Jonathan shared a homoerotic and, more than likely, a homosexual relationship.”68


FOOTNOTES: 1. Cf. Hamilton 1990, p. 103.    2. 2 Sam 3:3.    3. 2 Sam 3:4.    4. Cf. Harrison, R.K., “Beauty,” ISBE I(1979), p. 444-45; and [Anon.], “Handsome,” ISBE II(1982), p. 612.    5. Kirsch, p. 44.    6. Cartledge, p. 202.    7. The Septuagint text for 1 Sam 16:18 reads an_r agathos t_ eidei = “a man of good appearance [shape].” Cf. McCarter 1980, p. 280.    8. Klein, p. 166.    9. McCarter 1980, p. 288.    10. Green, B., p. 290.    11. Pecota, D.B., et al., “Young(er) Man,” ISBE IV(1988), p. 1165-66.    12. See Supplement 12A in this series.    13. Strong, #2896, #7210.    14. Green, B., p. 281.    15. Cf. Klein, p. 161.    16. Opperwall, N.J., “Eye,” ISBE, II(1982), p. 249.    17. Cf. Hamilton 1995, p. 258-59.    18. Cf. Clippinger, W.G., “Blood,” ISBE I(1979), p. 526.    19. Cf. Cartledge, p. 202.    20. MacDonald, B., “Edom,” ISBE II (1982), p. 18.    21. Westermann, p. 183.    22. Hartley, p. 236.    23 Wenham, p. 176.    24. Sarna, p. 180.    25. Westermann, p. 183.    26. Hamilton 1995, p. 178.    27. Genesis Rabbah, p. 687-91; in Graves & Patai, p. 189.    28. Cartledge, p. 202.    29. Baldwin, p. 122.    30. Landay, p. 27.    31. Quoted in Youngblood, p. 685.    32. Alter, p. xviii.    33. Keil & Delitzsch, p. 169.    34. Young, p. 286.    35. Hertzberg, p. 138.    36. New Oxford Annotated Bible, note for 1 Sam 16:12, p. 424.    37. McKenzie, p. 65. The “controllable hair” is drawn from the reference to a piece of goat’s hair that Michal placed on the head of a covered statue that she wanted to look like David, in 1 Sam 19:13.    38. Kirsch, p. 45.    39. Samuel, Maurice, “Three Wives,” orig. 1955, reprinted in Clines 1991 (p. 270-79), p. 270.    40. Houser, in Houser & Johansson, “David and Jonathan,” Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, I, p. 297.    41. Strong, #157, #159, #160.    42. Fokkelman II(1986), p. 196.    43. Cf. Clines, David, “Michal Observed: An Introduction to Reading her Story,” in Clines 1991 (p. 24-63), p. 32.    44. Lofts, Norah, “Michal,” orig. 1950, reprinted in Clines 1991 (p. 234-45), p. 234,236.    45. Ibid., p. 237.    46. Ackerman, p. 170.    47. Kirsch, p. 60.    48. Blaikie, p. 293,292.    49. Smith, H.P., p. 166.    50. Smith, W.R., p. 335.    51. Hertzberg, p. 155.    52. American Heritage College Dictionary, “alter ego.”    53. New Oxford American Dictionary, “alter ego.”    54. Evans, p. 85.    55. Cartledge, p. 204.    56. Steinsaltz, Adin, “The Princess and the Shepherd,” orig. 1984, reprinted in Clines 1991 (p. 280-84), p. 281.    57. Ibid.    58. Fokkelman II(1986), p. 195-97.    59. Cf. Ackerman’s summary, p. 170-72.    60. Thompson, p. 336.    61. Ackroyd 1975, p. 213-14.    62. McCarter 1980, p. 305,322.    63. Horner, p. 26,28.    64. Damrosch, p. 202-04.    65. Schroer & Staubli, p. 27-28.    66. Ibid., p. 28.    67. Cf. Hartley, J.E., “Join; Joined, Joining,” ISBE II(1982), p. 1111; and Herzog, J.J., “Desire,” ISBE, I(1979), p. 929.    68. Schroer & Staubli, p. 28,22.

Ackerman, Susan, When Heroes Love, 2005.
Ackroyd, Peter, The First Book of Samuel, 1971.
--------, “The Verb Love – ’aheb in the David Jonathan Narratives – A Footnote,” Vetus Testamentum, 25 (1975), p. 213-214.
Alter, Robert, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 & 2 Samuel, 1999.
American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th ed. 2002.
Baldwin, Joyce, 1 & 2 Samuel: An Introduction & Commentary, 1988.
Blaikie, W.G., The First Book of Samuel, 1898.
Brown, Francis, et al., The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 2000 ed.
Cartledge, Tony, 1 & 2 Samuel (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary), 2001.
Clines, David, and Tamara Eskenazi, eds., Telling Queen Michal’s Story, 1991.
Damrosch, David, The Narrative Covenant, 1987.
Elman, Yaakov, The Living Nach: Early Prophets – A New Translation Based on Traditional Jewish Sources, 1994.
Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, ed. by Wayne Dynes, vols. I-II, 1990.
Evans, Mary, 1 & 2 Samuel (New International Biblical Commentary), 2000.
Fokkelman, J.P., Narrative Art and Poetry in the Books of Samuel. Vol. II: The Crossing Fates (I Sam. 13-31 & II Sam. 1), 1986.
Fox, Everertt, Give Us a King: Samuel, Saul, and David. A New Translation of Samuel I-II, 1999.
Graves, Robert, and Raphael Patai, Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, 1983.
Green, Barbara, How Are the Mighty Fallen? A Dialogical Study of King Saul in 1 Samuel, 2003.
Green, Jay, Sr., gen. ed. & trans., The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English, 2nd ed. 1986.
Hamilton, Victor, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament), 1990.
--------, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-18-50 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament), 1995.
Hartley, John, Genesis (New International Biblical Commentary), 2000.
Hertzberg, Hans, I & II Samuel: A Commentary, 1964.
Horner, Tom, Jonathan Loved David, 1978.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vols. I-IV, 1979-88.
Keil, C.F., and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Books of Samuel, 1950.
Kirsch, Jonathan, King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel, 2000.
Klein, Ralph, 1 Samuel (Word Biblical Commentary), 1983.
Landay, Jerry, David: Power, Lust and Betrayal in Biblical Times, 1998.
McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr., I Samuel (Anchor Bible), 1980.
McKenzie, Steven, King David: A Biography, 2000.
Moran, William, “The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 25 (1963), p. 77-87.
New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd ed. 2005.
New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV), ed. by Michael Coogan, 3rd ed. 2001.
Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd ed. 2001.
Sarna, Nahum, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis, 1989.
Schroer, Silvia & Thomas Staubli, “Saul, David and Jonathan – The Story of a Triangle? A Contribution to the Issue of Homosexuality in the First Testament,” in Samuel and Kings, ed. by Athalya Brenner, 2000, p. 22-36.
Smith, Henry Preserved, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel, 1899.
Smith, W. Robertson, The Religion of the Semites, 2nd ed. 1894, reprinted 1956.
Strong, James, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” in Strong’s Abingdon’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible…, 1890.
Thompson, J.A., “The Significance of the Verb Love in the David-Jonathan Narratives in 1 Samuel,” Vetus Testamentum, 24 (1974), p. 334-338.
Wenham, Gordon, Genesis 16-50 (Word Biblical Commentary), 1994.
Westermann, Claus, Genesis: A Practical Commentary, 1987.
Young, Fred, “First and Second Samuel,” in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, ed. by Charles Pfeiffer and Everett Harrison, 1962, p. 273-305.
Youngblood, Ronald, “1, 2 Samuel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, III, 1992, p. 551-1104.

TRANSLATIONS: Contemporary English Version, 1995.    Good News Bible, 1983.    Jerusalem Bible, 1966.    King James Version, 1611.    Lamsa, George: Holy Bible … from the Aramaic of the Peshitta, 1933.    Living Bible, 1976.    New American Bible, 1995.    New American Standard Bible, 1960.    New English Bible, 1970.    New International Version, 1978.    New Jerusalem Bible, 1998.    New King James Version, 1982.    New Revised Standard Version, 1989.    Peterson, Eugene: The Message, 2002.    Revised English Bible, 1989.    Revised Standard Version, 1946.


© 2005 Bruce L. Gerig

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