Jon'athan (Heb. Yonathan, יוֹנָתָן, 1Sa 13:2-3,16,22; 1Sa 14:1,3-4,12-14,17,21,27,29,39-45,49; 1Sa 19:1; 1 Kings 1, 42, 43; 1Ch 2:32-33; 1Ch 10:2; 1Ch 11:34; Ezr 8:6; Ezr 10:15; Ne 12:11,14,35; Jer 40:8; Sept. Ι᾿ωνάθαν), a contracted form of JEHONATHAN (יהוֹנָתָן, q.d. Theodore, 1Ch 27:25; 2Ch 17:8; Ne 12:18; Anglicized "Jonathan" elsewhere, Jg 18:30; 1Sa 14:6,8; 1Sa 18:1,3-4; 1Sa 19:1-2,4,6-7; 1Sa 20:1,3-5,9-13,16-18,25,27-28,30,32-35,37-40,42; 1Sa 23:16,18; 1Sa 31:2; 2Sa 1:4-5,12,17,22-23,25-26; 2Sa 4:4; 2Sa 9:1,3,6-7; 2Sa 15:27, 36; 17:17 20; 21:7, 12, 13, 14, 21; 22:32; 1Ch 8:33-34; 1Ch 9:39-40; 1Ch 20:7; 1Ch 27:32; Jer 37:15,20; Jer 38:26; Sept. Ι᾿ωνάθαν), the name of fifteen or more men in the canonical Scriptures, besides several in the Apocrypha and Josephus.
I. A Levite descended from Gershom, the son of Moses (Jg 18:30). It is indeed said, in our Masoretic copies, that the Gershom from whom this Jonathan sprang was "the son of Manasseh;" but it is on very good grounds supposed that in the name Moses (משׁה), the single letter n (נ) has been interpolated (and it is usually written suspended, Buxtorf, Tiber. p. 14), changing it into Manasseh (מנשׂה), in order to save the character of the great lawgiver from the stain of having an idolater among his immediate descendants (Baba Bathra, 109, b). The singular name Gershom, and the date of the transaction, go far to establish this view. Accordingly the Vulgate, and some copies of the, Septuagint, actually exhibit the name of Moses instead of Manasseh. (See Clarke's Comment. ad loc.) The history of this Jonathan is involved in the narrative which occupies Jg 17:13, and is one of the two accounts which form a sort of appendix to that book. The events themselves appear to have occurred soon after the death of Joshua, and of the elders who outlived him, when the government was in a most unsettled state. Its proper place in the chronological order would have been between the second and third chapters of the book. B.C. cir. 1590.
Jonathan, who was resident at Bethlehem, lived at a time when the dues of the sanctuary did not afford a livelihood to the numerous Levites who had a claim upon them, and belonged to a tribe destitute of the landed possessions which gave to all others a sufficient maintenance. He therefore went forth to seek his fortune. In Mount Ephraim he came to "a house. of gods," which had been established by one Micah, who wanted nothing but a priest to make his establishment complete. SEE MICAH. This person made Jonathan what was manifestly considered the handsome offer of engaging him as his priest for his victuals, a yearly suit of clothes, and ten shekels (about six dollars) a year in money. Here he lived for some time, till the Danite spies, who were sent by their tribe to explore the north, passed this way and formed his acquaintance. When, not long after, the body of armed Danites passed the same way in going to settle near the sources of the Jordan, the spies mentioned Micah's establishment to them, on which they went and took away not only "the ephod, the teraphim, and the graven image," but the priest, also, that they might set up the same worship in the place of which they were going to take possession. Micah vainly protested against this robbery; but Jonathan himself was glad at the improvement in his prospects, and from that time, even down to the captivity, he and his descendants continued to be priests of the Danites in the town of Laish, the name of which was changed to Dan.
There is not any reason to suppose that this establishment, whether in the hands of Micah or of the Danites, involved an apostasy from Jehovah. It appears rather to have been an attempt to localize or domesticate his presence, under those symbols and forms of service which were common among the neighboring nations, but were forbidden to the Hebrews. The offense here was twofold — the establishment of a sacred ritual different from the only one which the law recognized, and the worship by symbols, naturally leading to idolatry, with the ministration of one who could not legally be a priest, but only a Levite. and under circumstances in which no Aaronic priest could legally have officiated. It is more than likely that this establishment was eventually merged in that of the golden calf, which Jeroboam set up in this place, his choice of which may very possibly have been determined by its being already in possession of "a house of gods." The Targum of R. Joseph, on 1Ch 23:16, identifies this Jonathan with Shebuel, the son of Gershom, who is there said to have repented (עֲבִד תּתוּבָא) in his old age, and to have been appointed by David as chief over his treasures. All this arises from a play upon the name Shebuel, from which this meaning is extracted in accordance with a favorite practice of the Targumist.
II. Second of the two sons of Jada, and grandson of Jerahmeel, of the family of Judah; as his brother Jether died without issue, this branch of the line was continued through the two sons of Jonathan (1Ch 2:32-33). B.C. considerably post 1612.
III. The eldest son of king Saul and the bosom friend of David (Josephus Ι᾿ωνάθη, Ant. 6:6,1). He first appears some time after his father's accession (1Sa 13:2). If his younger brother Ishbosheth was forty at the time of Saul's, death (2Sa 2:8), Jonathan must have been at least thirty when he is first mentioned. Of his own family we know nothing except the birth of one son, five years before his death (2Sa 4:4). He was regarded in his father's lifetime as heir to the throne. Like Saul, he was a man of great strength and activity (2Sa 1:23). of which the exploit at Michmash was a proof. He was also famous for the peculiar martial exercises in which his tribe excelled — archery and slinging (1Ch 12:2). His bow was to him what the spear was to his father: "the bow of Jonathan turned not back" (2Sa 1:22). It was always about him (1Sa 18:4; 1Sa 20:35). It is through his relation with David that he is chiefly known to us, probably as related by his descendants at David's court. But there is a background, not so clearly given, of his relation with his father. From the time that he first appears he is Saul's constant companion. He was always present at his father's meals. As Abner and David seem to have occupied the places afterwards called the captaincies of "the host" and "of the guard," so he seems to have been (as Hushai afterwards) "the friend" (comp. 1Sa 20:25; 2Sa 15:37). The whole story implies, without expressing, the deep attachment of the father and son. Jonathan can only go on his dangerous expedition (1Sa 14:1) by concealing it from Saul. Saul's vow is confirmed, and its tragic effect deepened, by his feeling for his son, "though it be Jonathan my son" (1Sa 14:39). "Tell me what thou hast done" (1Sa 14:43). Jonathan cannot bear to believe his father's enmity to David: "My father will do nothing, great or small, but that he will show it to me and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so" (1Sa 20:2). To him, if to any one, the wild frenzy of the king was amenable — "Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan" (1Sa 19:6). Their mutual affection was indeed interrupted by the growth of Saul's insanity. Twice the father would have sacrificed the son: once in consequence of his vow (1 Samuel 14); the second time, more deliberately, on the discovery of David's flight; and on this last occasion, a momentary glimpse is given of some darker history. Were the phrases "son of a perverse rebellious woman" — "shame on thy mother's nakedness" (1Sa 20:30-31), mere frantic invectives? or was there something in the story of Ahinoam or Rizpah which we do not know? "In fierce anger" Jonathan left the royal presence (ib. 34). But he cast his lot with his father's decline, not with his friend's rise, and "in death they were not divided" (2Sa 1:23; 1Sa 23:16).
1. The first main part of his career is connected with the war with the Philistines, commonly called, from its locality, "the war of Michmash" (1Sa 13:21, Sept.), as the last years of the Peloponnesian War. were called, for a similar reason, "the war of Decelea." In the previous war with the Ammonites (1Sa 11:4-15) there is no mention of him; and his abrupt appearance, without explanation, in 13:2, may seem to imply that some part of the narrative has been lost. B.C. 1073. He is already of great importance in the state. Of the 3000 men of whom Saul's standing army was formed (13:2; 24:2; 26:1, 2), 1000 were under the command of Jonathan at Gibeah. The Philistines were still in the general command of the country; an officer was stationed at Geba, either the same as Jonathan's position or close to it. In a sudden act of youthful daring, as when Tell rose against Gessler, or as in sacred history Moses rose against the Egyptian, Jonathan slew this officer (Auth. Vers. "garrison," Sept. τὸν Νασίβ, 1Sa 13:3-4. See Ewald, 2, 476), and thus gave the signal for a general revolt. Saul took advantage of it, and the whole population rose. But it was a premature attempt. The Philistines poured in from the plain, and the tyranny became more deeply rooted than ever. SEE SAUL. Saul and Jonathan (with their immediate attendants) alone had arms, amidst the general weakness and disarming of the people (1Sa 13:22). They were encamped at Gibeah, with a small body of 600 men, and as they looked down from that height on the misfortunes of their country, and of their native tribe especially, they wept aloud (Sept. ἔκλαιον, 1Sa 13:16).
From this oppression, as Jonathan by his former act had been the first to provoke it, so now he was the first to deliver his people. On the former occasion Saul had been equally with himself involved in the responsibility of the deed. Saul "blew the trumpet" Saul had "smitten the officer of the Philistines" (1Sa 13:3-4). But now it would seem that Jonathan was resolved to undertake the whole risk himself. "The day," the day fixed by him (Sept. γίνεται ἡ ἡμέρα, 1Sa 14:1), approached, and without communicating his project to any one, except the young man, whom, like all the chiefs of that age, he retained as his armor bearer, he sallied forth from Gibeah to attack the garrison of the Philistines stationed on the other side of the steep defile of Michmash (1Sa 14:1). His words are short, but they breathe exactly the ancient and peculiar spirit of the Israelitish warrior: "Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that Jehovah will work for us; for there is no restraint to Jehovah to save by many or by few." The answer is no less characteristic of the close friendship of the two young men, already like that which afterwards sprang up between Jonathan and David. "Do all that is in thine heart; .... behold, I am with thee as thy heart is my heart (Sept., 1Sa 14:7)." After the manner of the time (and the more, probably, from having taken no counsel of the high priest or any prophet before his departure), Jonathan proposed to draw an omen for their course from the conduct of the enemy. If the garrison, on seeing them, gave intimations of descending upon them, they would remain in the valley; if, on the other hand, they raised a challenge to advance, they were to accept it. The latter turned out to be the case. The first appearance of the two warriors from behind the rocks was taken by the Philistines as a furtive apparition of "the Hebrews coming forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves;" and they were welcomed with a scoffing invitation (such as the Jebusites afterwards offered to David), "Come up, and we will show you a thing" (14:4-12). Jonathan immediately took them at their word. Strong and active as he was, "strong as a lion, and swift as an eagle" (2Sa 1:23), he was fully equal to the adventure of climbing on his hands and feet up the face of the cliff. When he came directly in view of them, with his armor bearer behind him, they both, after the manner of their tribe (1Ch 12:2), discharged a flight of arrows, stones, and pebbles from their bows, crossbows, and slings, with such effect that twenty men fell at the first onset. A panic seized the garrison, thence spread to the camp, and thence to the surrounding hordes of marauders; an earthquake combined with the terror of the moment; the confusion increased; the Israelites who had been taken slaves by the Philistines during the last three days (Sept.) rose in mutiny; the Israelites who lay hid in the numerous caverns and deep holes in which the rocks of the neighborhood abound, sprang out of their subterranean dwellings. Saul and his little band had watched in astonishment the wild retreat from the heights of Gibeah; he now joined in the pursuit, which led him headlong after the fugitives, over the rugged plateau of Bethel, and down the pass of Beth-horon to Ajalon (1Sa 14:15-31). SEE GIBEAH. The father and son had not met on that day: Saul only conjectured his son's absence from not finding him when he numbered the people. Jonathan had not. heard of the rash curse (14:24) which Saul invoked on any one who ate before the evening. In the dizziness and darkness (Hebrew, 1Sa 14:27) that came on after his desperate exertions, he put forth the staff which apparently had (with his sling and bow) been his chief weapon, and tasted the honey which lay on the ground as they passed through the forest. The pursuers in general were restrained even from this slight indulgence by fear of the royal curse; but the moment that the day, with its enforced fast, was over, they flew, like Muslims at sunset during the fast of Ramadan, on the captured cattle, and devoured them, even to the brutal neglect of the law which forbade the dismemberment of the fresh carcasses with the blood. This violation of the law Saul endeavored to prevent and to expiate by erecting a large stone, which served both as a rude table and as an altar; the first altar that was raised under the monarchy. It was in the dead of night, after this wild revel was over, that he proposed that the pursuit should be continued fill dawn; 'and then; when the silence of the oracle of the high priest indicated that something had occurred to intercept the divine favor, the lot was tried, and Jonathan appeared as the culprit. Jephthah's dreadful sacrifice would have been repeated; but the people interposed in behalf of the hero of that great day, and Jonathan was saved (1Sa 14:24-46).
2. But the chief interest of Jonathan's career is derived from the friendship with David, which began on the day of David's return from the victory over the champion of Gath, and continued till his death. It is the first Biblical instance of a romantic friendship, such as was common afterwards in Greece, and has been since in Christendom; and is remarkable both as giving its sanction to these, and as filled with a pathos of its own, which has been imitated, but never surpassed, in modern works of fiction. "The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" — "Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women" (1Sa 18:1; 2Sa 1:26). Each found in each the affection that he found not in his own family; no jealousy of rivalry between the two, as claimants for the same throne, ever interposed: "Thou shalt be king in Israel, and I shall be next unto thee" (1Sa 23:17).
The friendship was confirmed, after the manner of the time, by a solemn compact often repeated. The first was immediately on their first acquaintance. Jonathan gave David as a pledge his royal mantle, his sword, his girdle, and his famous bow (1Sa 18:4). His fidelity was soon called into action by the insane rage of his father against David. He interceded for his life, at first with success (1Sa 19:1-7). Then the madness returned, and David fled. It was in a secret interview during this flight, by the stone of Ezel, that the second covenant was made between the two friends, of a still more binding kind, extending to their mutual posterity — Jonathan laying such emphasis on this portion of the compact as almost to suggest the belief of a slight misgiving on his part of David's future conduct in this respect. It is this interview which brings out the character of Jonathan in the liveliest colors — his little artifices — his love for both his father and his friend — his bitter disappointment at his father's unmanageable fury — his familiar sport of archery. With passionate embraces and tears the two friends parted, B.C. cir. 1062, to meet only once more (1 Samuel 20). That one more meeting was far away in the forest of Ziph, during Saul's pursuit of David. Jonathan's alarm for his friend's life is now changed into a confidence that he will escape: "He strengthened his hand in God." Finally, and for the third time, they renewed the covenant, and then parted forever (1Sa 23:16-18). B.C. cir. 1061.
From this time forth we hear no more till the battle of Gilboa. In that battle he fell, with his two brothers and his father, and his corpse shared their fate (1Sa 31:2,8). B.C. 1053. His remains were buried first at Jabesh- Gilead (ib. 13), but afterwards removed with those of his father to Zelah in Benjamin (2Sa 21:12). The news of his death occasioned the celebrated elegy of David, in which, as the friend, he naturally occupies the chief place (2Sa 1:22-23,25-26), and which seems to have been sung in the education of the archers of Judah, in commemoration of the one great archer, Jonathan: "He bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow" (2Sa 1:17-18).
Jonathan left one son, aged five years old at the time of his death (2Sa 4:4), to whom he had probably given his original name of Merib- baal, afterwards changed for Mephibosheth (comp. 1Ch 8:34; 1Ch 9:40). SEE MEPHIBOSHETH. Through him the line of descendants was continued down to the time of Ezra (1Ch 9:40), and even then their great ancestor's archery was practiced among them. SEE DAVLD.
See Niemeyer, Charakter. 4, 413; Herder, Geist. der Hebr. Poesie, 2, 287; Koster, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1832, 2, 366; Ewald, Isr. Gesch. 2, 530; Pareau, Elegia Davidis, etc. (Groning. 1829); Simon, De amicitia Davidii et Jonah (Hildburgh. 1739).
IV. Son of Shage, a relative of Ahiam, both among David's famous warriors and descendants of Jashen of the mountains of Judah (2Sa 23:32; 1Ch 11:34). B.C. 1046. SEE HARARITE.
V. Son of the high priest Abiathar, and one of the adherents to David's cause during the rebellion of Absalom (2Sa 15:27,36). He remained at En-rogel under pretence of procuring water, and reported to his master the proceedings in the camp of the insurgents (2Sa 17:20; Josephus Ι᾿ωνάθης, Ant. 7, 9, 2). B.C. cir. 1023. At a later date his constancy was manifested on a similar occasion by announcing to the ambitious Adonijah the forestallment of his measures by the succession of Solomon (1 Kings 1, 42, 43). B.C. cir. 1015. "On both occasions it may be remarked that he appears as the swift and trusty messenger. He is the last descendant of Eli of whom we hear anything" (Smith). SEE DAVID.
VI. Son of Shammah (Shimeah or Shimea), and David's nephew, as well as one of his chief warriors, a position which he earned by slaying a gigantic relative of Goliath (2Sa 21:21; 1Ch 20:7; Josephus Ι᾿ωνάθης, Ant. 7, 12, 2). B.C. 1018. He was also made secretary of the royal cabinet (1Ch 27:32, where דּוֹד is mistaken in the Auth. Vers. for the usual sense of "uncle"). B.C. 1014. "Jerome (Quest. Hebr. on 1Sa 17:12) conjectures that this was Nathan the prophet, thus making up the eighth son, not named in 1Ch 2:13-15. But this is not probable" (Smith).
VII. Son of Uzziah, and steward of the agricultural revenue of David (1Ch 27:25; Heb. and A.V. "JEHONATHAN").
VIII. One of the Levites sent by Jehoshaphat to aid in teaching the Law to the people (1Ch 17:8; Heb. and A.V. "JEHONATHAN").
IX. A scribe whose house was converted into a prison in which Jeremiah was closely confined (Jer 27:15,20; Jer 38:26). B.C. 589.
X. Brother of Johanan, the son of Kareah, and associated with him in his intercourse with Gedaliah. the Babylonian governor of Jerusalem (Jer 40:8). B.C. 587.
XI. Son of Shemaiah and priest contemporary with Joiakim (Ne 12:18; Heb. and A.V. "JEHONATHAN").
XII. Son of Melicu and priest contemporary with Joiakim. (Ne 12:14). B.C. between 536 and 459.
XIII. Father of Ebed, which latter was an Israelite of the "sons" of Adin that returned from Babylon with Ezra (Ezr 8:6) at the head of fifty males, a number which is increased to 250 in 1 Esdr. 8:32, where Jonathan is written Ι᾿ωνάθας. B.C. ante 459.
XIV. Son of Asahel, a chief Israelite associated with Jahaziah in separating the returned exiles from their Gentile wives (Ezr 10:15). B.C. 459.
XV. Son of Joiada and father of Jaddua, Jewish high priests (Ne 12:11); elsewhere called JOHANAN (Ne 12:22), and apparently John by Josephus, who relates his assassination of his own brother Jesus in the Temple(Ant. 11, 7, 1 and 2). Jonathan, or John, was high priest for thirty-two years, according to Eusebius and the Alexandr. Chronicles (Selden, De Success. in Pontif. cap. 6, 7). SEE HIGH PRIEST.
XVI. Son of Shemaiah, of the family of Asaph, and father of Zechariah, which last was one of the priests appointed to flourish the trumpets as the procession moved around the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem (Ne 12:35). B.C. ante 446.
XVII. A son of Mattathias, and leader of the Jews in their war of independence after the death of his brother Judas Maccabaeus, B.C. 161 (1 Macc. 9:19 sq.). — Smith. SEE MACCABEES.
XVIII. A son of Absalom (1 Macc. 13:11), sent by Simon with a force to occupy Joppa, which was already in the hands of the Jews (1 Macc. 12:33), though probably held only by a weak garrison. Jonathan expelled the inhabitants (τοὺς ὄντας ἐν αὐτῆ); comp. Josephus, Ant. 13, 6, 3) and secured the city. Jonathan was probably a brother of Mattathias (2) (1 Macc. 11:70).
XIX. A priest who is said to have offered up a solemn prayer on the occasion of the sacrifice made by Nehemiah after the recovery of the sacred fire (2 Macc. 1, 23 sq.; compare Ewald, Gesch. d. V. Isr. 4, 184 sq.). The narrative is interesting, as it presents a singular example of the combination of Dublic prayer with sacrifice (Grimm, ad 2 Macc. 1.c.).
XX. A Sadducee at whose instigation Hyrcanus (q.v.) abandoned the Pharisees for their mild sentence against his maligner Eleazar (Josephus, Ant. 13, 10, 6).
XXI. Son of Ananus, appointed Jewish high priest, A.D. 36, by Vitelius in place of Joseph Caiaphas (Ant. 18, 4, 2), and deposed after two years, when his brother Theophilus succeeded him (ib. 5, 2). He was reappointed by Agrippa A.D. 43, but this time he declined that honor in favor of his brother Matthias (Josephus, Ant. 19, 6, 4); he was sent by Cumanus to Claudius in a quarrel with the Samaritans, but appears to have been released by the emperor (War, 2, 12, 6 and 7); he was at last murdered by the Sicarii (War, 2, 13, 3). He was perhaps the high priest whom Felix caused to be assassinated for his reproofs of his bad government (Josephus, Ant. 20, 8, 5). (See Frankel, Monatsschrift, 1, 589; Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 3, 263, 287, 357.) SEE HIGH PRIEST.
XXII. A common weaver, leader of the Sicarii in Cyrene, captured and put to death by the Romans after various adventures (Josephus, War, 7, 11, 12).
XXIII. A Jew who challenged the Romans to single combat during the last siege, and. after slaying one combatant, Pudens, was at length killed by Priscus (Josephus, War, 6, 2,10).