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David and Jonathan of the Bible - Hot Lovers or Just Good Friends with Benefits?

Updated on December 17, 2015

David and Jonathan - Friends with benefits?

The traditional and mainstream religious interpretation of the relationship has been one of platonic love and an example of homosociality.
The traditional and mainstream religious interpretation of the relationship has been one of platonic love and an example of homosociality.

The original "Ambiguously Gay" Duo?

I've been reading "Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of The Bible" by by David Plotz recently and it has certainly been an eye opener on many thing I thought were in the Old Testament.

David Plotz is a secular Jew who wanted to learn more about the bible. He was sitting through a long boring Ba mitzah ceremony and decided to flip through the Old Testament only to be shocked by some of the stuff in there. He decided that his Sunday School must have skipped over a lot of the bible so he decided to educate himself by reading the entire Old Testament.

Plotz bloged about his journey through the bible on the Slate web site ( and the blog was published in book form.

In Plotz's I first discovered the amazing love story of David and Jonathan. As Plotz puts in in reading 1 Samuel Chapter 18 and Chapter 19:

"Hmm. "The soul of [Saul's son] Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." Does it mean what I think it means?"

and Chapter 20:

"David and Jonathan get ever more Brokeback. The two are thrown together repeatedly, as Jonathan keeps tipping David off about Saul's plans to kill him. (Saul is enraged that his son has taken David's side and warns him, rightly, that if David lives, Jonathan will never be king.) Jonathan and David sneak off and swear their love for each other. Later, when David knows he has to flee Saul's court for good, they rendezvous in a farm field, kiss and weep, and bid each other goodbye. Again I ask: Does this mean what I think it means?"

The Good Book - David Plotz explains the inspiration of his Bible Blogging

Not that there is anything wrong with that

Such good friends walking hand in hand.
Such good friends walking hand in hand.
David embraces Jonathan
David embraces Jonathan
The men enjoy each other's company during a picnic in the country side.
The men enjoy each other's company during a picnic in the country side.

More Than Friends?

1 Samuel 20:41

King James Bible: [And] as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of [a place] toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

In the book "The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships" we find this intriguing analysis:

Then Jonathan and David met in secret. Jonathan begged David to come back to the palace, but David was afraid for his life. So they made a plan: Jonathan would go home and try to find out what his father was thinking. If his father had cooled down, he would let David know it was safe.

One night, at the royal table, the subject of David came up, and Jonathan spoke on his behalf. Saul said to Jonathan:

“You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen [David] the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established.” (1 Samuel 20:30)

Many gay men have experienced dinner conversations that sounded very similar to this one. They made the mistake of talking about their lover at the table, and their father became furious. More often than not, the blame goes first to the mother, who was “too soft,” or “too harsh,” or who “perverted” her son somehow. Then the father turns his anger toward the son: “Can’t you see how you’re shaming the whole family? Do you even care what this will do to your career? You’ll never amount to anything until you give up this foolishness!”

I think its pretty obvious that the Bible portrays a coded love affair between these two men. David appears to be bi-sexual with a demonstrated lust for just about anything as documented in the Bible. Jonathan on the other hand appears to be simply homosexual.

The Real Question

I think the real question here is not "were David and Jonathan gay" but if God has such a problem with homosexuality than why wasn't this story cleaned up and edited out? Certainly the Bible has gone through zillions of translations and rewrites over the thousands of years these stories have been told. Why couldn't one of the monks just edit out the words that so vividly describe this homosexual relationship? Bible scholars have pointed out that whole books of the bible have been lost over the centuries so why not just "fix" a few sentences or even edit out the gay lover?

I think the reason is that today's evangelist groups have more of a problem with homosexuality than did the Christians and Jews of the past. Anti-gay hate speech and demonizing seems to be more of a concern today than it was back in the day. In fact heroic male love was a popular subject of early middle eastern legends and many of these stories became woven into the Bible. Jeff Martinhauk, father, Episcopalian, aspirant to the priesthood, and out gay man writes on his blog:

In Jonathan Loved David, Tom Horner normalizes homosexuality in Biblical times into three categories: male temple prostitution, heroic male love, and sexual gratification between otherwise “straight” males (p. 21-23). He also believes that our understanding of homosexuality in Biblical times is challenged by “fifteen-hundred years of homophobia in western culture… to say the least” (p.36). If Horner is correct, then, it is not unreasonable to believe that Jonathan may have believed that he was pursuing love of the “heroic” kind while David was simply submitting to sexual gratification to pursue his own ends. Horner, however, finds David’s elegy of Jonathan and Saul in 2 Samuel to be a justification of David’s affection for Jonathan.


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    • peanutroaster profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from New England

      People using ancient text to justify their intolerance won't be persuade by anything other than real life enforceable laws that protect minorities.

    • Hanavee profile image

      Brian Gray 

      3 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Whether or not you are concerned about what the Bible says is irrelevant outside of the four walls of your home, because in the real world, most anti-gay bigotry originated in the Church through misinterpretation of that very same book that you say does not concern you. Whether you believe in the Bible, or are a confirmed atheist, it pays to know how to stop people from continuing anti-gay ignorance, and one of those ways is to show the error of their misinterpretation. No matter what your beliefs, they are still going to believe in the Bible, but at the very least, we need to help them see the light, and that light is this fact - the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality.


    • peanutroaster profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from New England

      I'm not really all that concerned about what some 400 year old book has to say about anything. Myths created by primitive civilizations have little importance on modern life other then having to deal with its use as cover for bigotry and intolerance.

    • Hanavee profile image

      Brian Gray 

      3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You might want to read the book, "Homosexuality, The Bible, The Truth - The Bible Does NOT Condemn Homosexuality," a book that proves with irrefutable and verifiable fact what the title states. Representing forty years of scholarly research, the book covers every passage that has ever been used to abuse homosexuals, and it also has a chapter on the subject of Jonathan and David. They were indeed lovers. The proofs are in the book. Hope you'll read it.


    • profile image

      Reverend Richard 

      6 years ago

      Great observations and well articulated discussion. If you are able to research the original language and meaning of these texts, you will discover the casual observations of this article to be sound and accurate.

    • peanutroaster profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New England

      2,000 years and counting...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a shame! Is there left anything sacred and untouched?! Looking forward when God vindicates his name...

    • WillSteinmetz profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting hub.


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