Are you misquoting scripture about Jonathan and David?

by Beau
(Texas)


Rick Brentlinger Answers -


Thanks Beau, for asking some good questions. I'm happy to provide answers which are faithful to Biblical truth.
"“And it came to pass, when he (David) had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” I Samuel 18:1-3, KJV

The Hebrew word translated in English as knit: “the soul of Jonathan was (qashar) knit with the (nephesh) soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own (nephesh) soul.”

Qashar (knit), when linked with nephesh, (soul) as here, refers to being romantically in love with someone. Nephesh conveys the idea of soul, self, life, desire, emotion, passion. In this context, nephesh refers to the seat of emotions and passions while knit describes an activity which involves the mind, the will and the character.

When the nephesh-soul of Jonathan is qashar, knit, bound, tied to the nephesh/soul of David, we have a strong statement from the Holy Spirit, the ultimate Author of scripture, about the intense romantic, emotional attachment which bound these men. When used of physical objects, the word qashar means to tie physically. When used of incorporeal souls, as here, qashar signifies emotional and romantic attachment.

Nongays insist ahab and qashar never mean romantic love when used of two men. Yet nothing in the Hebrew language requires that conclusion. The interpretative bias which draws that conclusion is the result of the negative presuppositions many lexicographers and linguists bring to the discussion of homosexuality.

Things to keep in mind
about Jonathan and David


  1. You believe that King Saul in 1 Samuel 18:21 is referring to his daughters, the Royal Princesses, Merab and Michal.
    "And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain."

    “In twei douytris two dowries thou schalt be my sone in lawe to dai.” -John Wycliffe Translation - 1395.

    “This daye shalt thou be my doughters husbade ye secode time.” -Miles Coverdale Translation - 1535.

    “Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time.” ASV.

    “Wherefore Saul said to David, You shall this day be my son-in-law in doing one of two things.” -Lamsa Translation

    “And Saul said to David a second time, You shall be my son-in-law today.” -Green’s Literal Translation.

    “Saul commanded, And today you shall be my son in law a second time.” -The Interlinear Bible.

    “So again he said to David, "You're going to be my son-in-law." -Peterson's The Message Bible

  2. When King Saul says, “Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the twain” (two), we have at least four possible interpretations.

    a. Saul is referring to Princess Merab and Princess Michal.

    b. Saul is referring to two dowries, one for Princess Merab, whom Saul never gave to David, and one for Princess Michal, whom David married.

    c. Saul is repeating his offer of a bride for David, making the offer a second time.

    d. Saul is referring to Crown Prince Jonathan and Princess Michal. Those who hold this view believe King Saul recognized Jonathan and David’s relationship as more than platonic friendship.

    I believe that choice d. makes the most sense because it fits the context, the meaning of the Hebrew words and the great emphasis God Himself placed on telling us about the Jonathan and David partnership.

  3. Remember that David was never engaged to and never married Princess Merab. She was promised to him for killing Goliath but she was never given to David.

  4. Crown Prince Jonathan is the only member of King Saul's family with whom David has a close relationship at this time. The phrase "one of the twain" is more understandable and makes more sense as referring to Jonathan and David, who did already have a publicly acknowledged partnership, 1 Samuel 18:1-3, than Princess Merab and David, who are never said anywhere in the Bible to have a relationship. King Saul's eldest daughter, Princess Merab is never a significant factor in the Jonathan and David story.

  5. The Hebrew word ahab can mean several things depending on the context in which it is used.

    The Hebrew word ahab, used to describe Jonathan’s love for David, occurs 208 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. It is translated love in the KJV 169 times and occurs in our story in 1 Samuel 16:21, 18:1, 3, 16, 20, 20:17 and II Samuel 1:26.

    The Holy Spirit used ahab in Genesis 29:20 to describe Jacob's love for his wife Rachel and the love of the Shulamite girl for Solomon in Song of Solomon 3:1-4.

    The love of the Shulamite girl for Solomon is described as coming from her nephesh-soul, just as Jonathan’s love for David sprang from his nephesh-soul.

    Scripture uses ahabah to describe sexual love in the context of opposite sex marriage in Proverbs 5:19. Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon defines ahab as “human love for a human object, including:

    1. love of man toward man,

    2. love of man toward himself,

    3. love between man and woman,

    4. love as sexual desire.”

    How can we determine if ahab refers to romantic love or love as sexual desire, between two men? Context gives us insight because the way ahab is translated depends on context.

    In 1 Samuel 16:21, ahab is used of King Saul’s love for David. Nothing in the context indicates romantic, sexual attraction between Saul and David. Therefore we conclude ahab refers to non-romantic love between men in this usage.

    In 1 Samuel 18:16, ahab is used of the love of all Israel and Judah for David. Nothing in the context indicates romantic, sexual attraction between Israel, Judah and David. Therefore we conclude that ahab refers to non-romantic love in this usage.

    In 1 Samuel 18:20, where Michal is said to love David, it is universally believed that ahab refers to the romantic, sexual love of Princess Michal for David. The Hebrew word for love = ahab has not changed. What has changed is the context. Ahab in 1 Samuel 18:20 refers to the love of a woman for a man, both of whom eventually enter a marriage covenant.

    So when we see that God the Holy Spirit uses the Hebrew word ahab in 1 Samuel 18:3 to describe Jonathan's love for David, it makes perfect sense, based on everything else the Bible tells us about the Jonathan and David relationship and the partnership covenant they formed, to conclude that they loved each other romantically.

Click to add your Comments.

Links to related information


How could David have a romantic
sexual partnership with Jonathan?


Were David and Jonathan
committed same sex partners?


Why is the Bible not explicit
about David and Jonathan?


If Jonathan and David were gay
why were they not put to death?


Did David have wives before or
after his partnership with Jonathan?


Beau's Original Questions:

"In your section about the love between Jonathan and David, why are you taking another meaning for what it was intended?

Here is what you wrote:

"Same same marriage. The partnership of Jonathan and David is an example of same sex marriage in the Bible. Jonathan’s father referred to David as his son in law in I Samuel 18:21."

In this section of scripture, Saul is referring to David marrying his daughters (Merab and Adriel), not Jonathan.

And in your section about David and Jonathan you use the Hebrew word "ahab" which is the term for love. Then you give meanings for the word ahab, but you also failed to mention another meaning is "the act of being a friend".

ahab is also used in verse 16 of chapter 20 when it talked about Israel loving David. So is that to mean that all of the people of Israel love David in a romantic way?"


Comments for Are you misquoting scripture about Jonathan and David?

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Jan 12, 2011
Did I miss something about David and Jonathan?
by: Ann

I read 1 Samuel 18:21 where Saul asks David a second time to be his son in law. But I thought the reason why he asked a second time is because he initially wanted to give his oldest daughter Merab first (v.17). The Bible never mentioned Saul giving him Jonathan or did I miss that verse by mistake. Thank you.

Sep 16, 2012
Clearly Love
by: Terry

We get very hung up on sex in our society, and that is appropriate because we should connect sexuality with love, committment, honesty,loyalty and fidelity.
In this instance, however, I believe that love is the most important factor. It is obvious from any thorough study of the Johnathan and David story that Johnathan loved David. It was far more than friendship - the story notes that it was stunningly unusual and extraordinary. Johnathan was smitten with David to the extent that he prefered David to ascend to the throne rather than himself! Whether they did or did not have sexual relations is not as important as the way scripture describes this love-relationship as so deep and honorable.
I personably believe that there was a sexual dimension to the relationship, but it is clear that it is a Holy Spirit approved love either way.

Sep 16, 2012
david & jonathan
by: Anonymous

The gifts Jonathan gave to David, (i.e. his arms belt, and robe) are indicative of gifts one man would give another man in a same sex union in the Mediteranian (sic) area in that time period. Just one more piece of evidence that the covenant between them was a marriage type union.

Mar 02, 2013
ONE little problem
by: TruthSeeker

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 says, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Romans 1:27 "Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."

1 Corinthians 6:9 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."

If David and Jonathan were Gay, they would by law immediately have been put to death. No way around it. Especially in the OT they would have probably been struck with fire or stoned or something. There is no way that God would allow what he considers an abomination to go unpunished be his faithful servants. They would be in fact unfaithful, because of their disobedience.

The world says homosexuality is natural. The bible clearly says that it is un-natural. It is a sin. A choice that we make even if it is a big temptation. Just because we feel a strong temptation does not make it acceptable or right. IF you really love God you are willing to give up what ever sin he asks of you. Because you love God more than the sin.

Rick's comment: First, you are confusing temple prostitutes with gays and lesbians. Please don't make that rookie mistake again.

Second, my answers are easily available by clicking on the scriptures cited above.

Third, being gay or lesbian is not a sin and no verse of scripture, in context, labels it sin.

Fourth, Being gay or lesbian is not a choice, as the Lord Jesus Christ makes clear in Matthew 19:12.

I genuinely admire Truthseekers - thanks for stopping by.

Sep 23, 2015
Gay clobber passages
by: Lane

It's pretty clear that the Law and Romans. Corinthians & Timothy are referring to the same activities: Heterosexuals who are engaging in homosexual activities; either in pagan worship and/or pederasty/ pedophillia, etc.

The pattern Paul lays out in Romans 1 in no way describes homosexuals or how 'homosexuals became homosexuals. It does however perfectly describe perverted heterosexuals engaging in homosexual sex acts 'abandoning their true heterosexual natures and burning in lust for one another, in additions to their heterosexual sex. The OT Law and Paul agree that this is the activity that God prohibits.

Jan 16, 2016
David's adulterous relationship with Bathsheba
by: Jeanne

I've been researching a lot and discovering things. But i came across to some site when I was researching about David and Jonathan ---
The Questioner talked about 1 Samuel 18:1-4(something like this) then the Respondent (in his site) stated how he did know that David and Jonathan are not Gay because of
"(1) David was married to Jonathan’s sister, Michal—and he had a few other wives, and (2) David’s biggest blunder was his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba—a woman he saw bathing on a rooftop. Jehova(God) was not happy about David’s lust or with his decision to have Bathsheba’s husband killed so he could hide his sin."

I just want to know more about this because I got a little confused too. If ever David commit adultery to Jonathan, not to Michal, David did still lust for Bathsheba and killed Bathsheba's husband(He did commit now 2 bad things to Jehova)

I really hope that you will reply, also with Jehova's guidance :)

Rick's comment: Hi Jeanne - As I understand it, if David wasn't gay, he was probably bisexual. That accounts for his love relationship with Jonathan and his lust for Bathsheba. These links provide additional insight.

David and Jonathan

David loved Jonathan

Why is the Bible not more explicit about David and Jonathan?

Could King David have been bisexual instead of gay?

If David and Jonathan were gay...


Sep 15, 2016
The word is custom fit, one size fits all.
by: Yve

Please stop leaning to your own understanding! The scriptures are not about homosexuality but about a purely platonic relationship between God and His creation. God is HOLY! No amount of wrongly dividing of the Word of truth is going to change it because it is His inspired immutable word...

Rick's comment: Hi Yve - I've already published several thousand comments from anti-gay folks. This is not a free speech zone, for you to critique gays based on your unstudied opinions.

So I've deleted your first excessively long comment and have deleted most of this one also. Here is wonderful biblical truth for you to consider.

Why did David refer to Jonathan as his brother in 2 Samuel 1:26?

In the Bible, a wife is sometimes referred to as a sister, not meaning a biological sister but a sister in the sense of being a female, a wife.

"Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" 1 Corinthians 9:5, KJV

"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck." Song of Solomon 4:9, KJV - see also Song 4:10, 4:12, 5:1, 5:2

"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." 2 Samuel 1:26, KJV

When David refers to Jonathan as his brother, he doesn't mean a biological brother. He is referring to Jonathan using the same kind of reference that a man would have used in referring to a female spouse. David refers to Jonathan as his brother in the sense of being a male, a husband. Jonathan was David's spouse.

With that truth in mind, please read 1 Samuel 20:30. King Saul, the father of Crown Prince Jonathan, who also knew David quite well, believed Jonathan and David were in a sexual relationship.

That is the meaning of the crude and vulgar Hebraism King Saul uses in 1 Samuel 20:30.

The blessed Holy Spirit recorded in the Bible the testimony of an eyewitness to the Jonathan and David relationship, who expressed his belief that J and D were in a sexual relationship.

Isn't that interesting?


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