JONATHAN, JEHONATHAN ():
1. Son or descendant of Gershom, son of Moses. He officiated as a priest to the idol of Micah—a service continued in his family till the Israelites were driven from their country (Judges xviii. 30). In the passage in which Jonathan's parentage is mentioned "Moses" is written with a suspended נ, so that it may be read "Manasseh"; and this reading is given by the Septuagint. On the other hand, the only son of Gershom, son of Moses, is called "Shebuel" in I Chron. xxiii. 16. Still, according to the Talmudists and to Jerome, Jonathan was the descendant of Moses. The Talmudists declare (B. B. 109b) that the "nun" was inserted in the name of this Moses out of respect to the great lawgiver, and that the former's name was changed to "Manasseh" because the wickedness of Jonathan resembled that of King Manasseh. They identify Jonathan with the above-mentioned Shebuel (ib. 110a), saying that he was so named because he repented ( = "he returned to God"). The same interpretation is given by the Targum to I Chron. xxiii. 16.
The adventure of Jonathan is narrated as follows: A young Levite of Beth-lehem-judah, in search of a home, happened to come to the house of Micah, and he was appointed by the latter to be his private priest. He was afterward recognized by the five Danite spies who were sent by their tribe to select a territory. When, later, the spies came that way with the warriors of their tribe, they attacked Micah's house, and carried off the gods and the young Levite. The Danites conquered Laish, established there the idol of Micah, and appointed Jonathan to be their priest (Judges xvii. 7-xviii. 30).
2. Biblical Data: Eldest son of Saul (I Chron. viii. 33). Soon after his father's accession (I Sam. xiii. 2) Jonathan is represented as sharing his father's perils and enterprises, as the leader of a thousand men—one-third of the force kept under arms by Saul. Like Saul, Jonathan possessed great strength and agility, and, as becoming in a Benjamite, was a clever archer (II Sam. i. 22-23; I Chron. xii. 2). It was Jonathan who put to the sword the garrison of the Philistines in Geba, and thereby gave the signal for a general rising of the Israelites (I Sam. xiii. 3). This led to the complete overrunning of the land by the Philistines. The two armies, Israelitish and Philistine, met at the passage of Michmash, and took up positions on opposite sides of the ravine (I Sam. xiii. 16, 23). Jonathan, accompanied by his armor-bearer, scaled the opposite rock and surprised the Philistines, having previously decided to take an omen from the conduct of the enemy: if the enemy, on seeing him, should make a move as though about to attack him, he would wait in the ravine; but if the enemy dared him to ascend, he would do so. The latter took place, and the daring act of Jonathan put the Philistines to flight (I Sam. xiv. 6-23). On that occasion Jonathan narrowly escaped death at the hands of his father. Before pursuing the Philistines Saul had pronounced a curse upon any one who should eat before the evening; Jonathan, unaware of this, ate some honey, and Saul sentenced him to death; the people, however, interfered on his behalf and saved him (I Sam. xiv. 24-45).Jonathan and David.
Jonathan's attachment to David began soon after the latter's victory over Goliath; "the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (I Sam. xviii. 1). The latter expression is repeated in I Sam. xx. 17, their love being further described in II Sam. i. 26 as "passing the love of women." The friendship was confirmed by a covenant, Jonathan giving David his garments, sword, and bow, and on several occasions David escaped death at the hands of Saul through the intervention of Jonathan. Their parting was full of pathos, and was marked by passionate embraces and tears (I Sam. xviii. 3-4; xix. 1-7; xx. 1-34, 41-42).
The disinterestedness of Jonathan's affection for David is emphasized in the fact that Saul himself reminded him that while he had nothing to gain through David he had much to lose. It seems that Jonathan fully understood that popular feeling was running toward David, and that his father's insanity was weakening the probability that the throne would remain with his family. Jonathan himself said to David at their last meeting, "Thou wilt reign over Israel and I will be thy second" (I Sam. xx. 30-31, xxiii. 17; comp. xviii. 5). In fact, their covenant stipulated that David should not exterminate Jonathan's posterity (I Sam. xx. 15, 42).
The greatest affection is said to have existed between Jonathan and Saul; and when Jonathan undertook the dangerous attack on the enemy he had to conceal his intention from his father (I Sam. xiv. 1). Saul's words, "though it be . . . Jonathan my son, he shall surely die" (I Sam. xiv. 39), show the father's love for his son. When Saul decided on the death of David he consulted Jonathan, who induced him to abandon his intention (I Sam. xix. 1, 4-6). Jonathan was incredulous when told that his father, without revealing to him his decision, had again decided to slay David (I Sam. xx. 2). During Saul's growing insanity the mutual attachment of father and son seems to have weakened. Saul on one occasion rebuked Jonathan, and cast his spear at him, whereupon Jonathan left the table (I Sam. xx. 30-34). Jonathan fell with his father and two younger brothers on Mount Gilboa (I Sam. xxxi. 2, 6).
Jonathan's omen (see
According to the Rabbis, when the virtues of David were enumerated before Saul (I Sam. xvi. 18), the latter in his jealousy exclaimed, "My son Jonathan possesses them too" (Sanh. 93b). The battle between Jonathan and the Philistines (I Sam. xiv. 13) was one of the three in which the heathen combined against the children of Israel, but were hindered by God from achieving their evil intentions (Gen. R. lxxxi. 4). Jonathan's love for David is considered the type of disinterestedness (Ab. v. 17). Jonathan is ranked by R. Judah the Saint among the great self-denying characters of Jewish history, though one of the rabbis remarked that his love for David may have been a result of his conviction that David's great popularity was certain to place him on the throne in the end (B. M. 85a). Jonathan is declared guilty of the destruction of Nob (I Sam. xxii. 18-19), and of its consequences, which he could have prevented by lending David two loaves of bread (Sanh. 104a).
3. Son of Shimeah and nephew of David, who slew a giant of Gath (II Sam. xxi. 20-21; I Chron. xx. 6-7); perhaps identical with the Jonathan, uncle of David, who is styled "a wise man, and a scribe" (I Chron. xxvii. 32). 4. Son of Abiathar the priest, and last descendant of Eli. As a courier, he rendered great services to David during Absalom's rebellion (II Sam. xv. 27, 36; xvii. 17, 20). He also brought to Adonijah the news of Solomon's accession (I Kings i. 42 et seq.). 5. Son of Shage the Hararite; one of David's mighty men (I Chron. xi. 34). The parallel list gives "Shammah the Hararite" (II Sam. xxiii. 33). 6 (Jehonathan). Son of Uzziah; one of David's treasurers (I Chron. xxvii. 25). 7 (Jehonathan). Scribe in whose house Jeremiah was imprisoned (Jer. xxxvii. 15, 20). 8. Son of Kareah and brother of Johanau; one of the captains after the fall of Jerusalem (Jer. xl. 8). In the Septuagint his name is omitted. 9. Father of Ebed, who returned from captivity at the head of fifty males of the children of Adin (Ezra viii. 6). 10. Son of Joiada. See Johanan ben Jehoiada. 11. Son of Asahel; he opposed (R.V.) or assisted (A. V.) Ezra in regard to marriage with foreign women (Ezra x. 15). 12. Father of Zechariah the priest, who was one of the musicians in the time of Nehemiah (Neh. xii. 35).