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jon'-a-than (given of God, the gift of Jehovah, Yahweh has given, whom Jehovah gave)
David, Levite, Mephibosheth, Saul
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Gustave Dore, David and Jonathan


Easton's Bible Dictionary

whom Jehovah gave, The name of fifteen or more persons that are mentioned in Scripture. The chief of these are,

(1) A Levite descended from Gershom ( Judges 18:30 ). His history is recorded in Judges 17:7 - 13 and 18:30 . The Rabbins changed this name into Manasseh "to screen the memory of the great lawgiver from the stain of having so unworthy an apostate among his near descendants." He became priest of the idol image at Dan, and this office continued in his family till the Captivity.

(2) The eldest son of king Saul, and the bosom friend of David. He is first mentioned when he was about thirty years of age, some time after his father's accession to the throne ( 1 Samuel 13:2 ). Like his father, he was a man of great strength and activity ( 2 Samuel 1:23 ), and excelled in archery and slinging (1 Chronicles 12:2 ; 2 Samuel 1:22 ). The affection that evidently subsisted between him and his father was interrupted by the growth of Saul's insanity. At length, "in fierce anger," he left his father's presence and cast in his lot with the cause of David ( 1 Samuel 20:34 ). After an eventful career, interwoven to a great extent with that of David, he fell, along with his father and his two brothers, on the fatal field of Gilboa ( 1 Samuel 31:2 , 31:8 ). He was first buried at Jabesh-gilead, but his remains were afterwards removed with those of his father to Zelah, in Benjamin ( 2 Samuel 21:12 - 14 ). His death was the occasion of David's famous elegy of "the Song of the Bow" ( 2 Samuel 1:17 - 27 ). He left one son five years old, Merib-baal, or Mephibosheth ( 2 Samuel 4:4 ; Compare 1 Chronicles 8:34 ).

(3) Son of the high priest Abiathar, and one who adhered to David at the time of Absalom's rebellion ( 2 Samuel 15:27 , 15:36 ). He is the last descendant of Eli of whom there is any record.

(4) Son of Shammah, and David's nephew, and also one of his chief warriors ( 2 Samuel 21:21 ). He slew a giant in Gath.


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

given of God


Smith's Bible Dictionary

that is, "the gift of Jehovah,"

(1) The eldest son of King Saul. (B.C. about 1095-1056.) He was a man of great strength and activity. ( 2 Samuel 1:23 ) He was also famous as a warrior, ( 1 Chronicles 12:2 ) as is shown by the courage he showing in attacking the garrison of the Philistines, in company with is armor-bearer only, slaying twenty men and putting an army to flight. ( 1 Samuel 14:6 - 16 ) During the pursuit, Jonathan, who had not heard of the rash curse, ch. ( 1 Samuel 14:24 ) which Saul invoked on any one who ate before the evening, tasted the honey which lay on the ground. Saul would have sacrificed him; but the people interposed in behalf of the hero of that great day, and Jonathan was saved. ch. ( 1 Samuel 14:24 - 45 ) 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. Their last meeting was in and forest of Ziph, during Saul's pursuit of David. ( 1 Samuel 23:16 - 18 ) From this time forth we hear no more till the battle of Gilboa. In that battle he fell. ( 1 Samuel 31:2 , 31:8 ) (B.C. 1056.) his ashes were buried first at Jabesh-gilead, ch. ( 1 Samuel 31:13 ) but were afterward removed with those of his father to Zelah in Benjamin. ( 2 Samuel 21:12 ) The news of his death occasioned the celebrated elegy of David. He left a son, Mephibosheth. [MEPHIBOSHETH]

(2) A nephew of David. ( 2 Samuel 21:21 ; 1 Chronicles 20:7 ) He engaged in single combat with and slew a gigantic Philistine of Gath. ( 2 Samuel 21:21 ) (B.C. 1018.)

(3) The son of Abiathar, the high priest, is the last descendant of Eli of whom we hear anything. ( 2 Samuel 15:36 ; 17:15 - 21 ; 1 Kings 1:42 , 1:43 ) (B.C. 1023.)

(4) One of Davids heroes. ( 2 Samuel 23:32 ; 1 Chronicles 11:34 )

(5) The son or descendant of Gershom the son of Moses. ( Judges 18:30 ) [MICAH] (B.C. about 1425.)

(6) One of the Bene-Adin. ( Ezra 8:6 )

(7) A priest, the son of Asahel, in the time of Ezra. ( Ezra 10:15 ) (B.C. 459.)

(8) A priest of the family of Melieu. ( Nehemiah 12:14 )

(9) One of the sons of Kareah, and brother of Johanan. ( Jeremiah 40:8 ) (B.C. 587.)

(10) Son of Joiada, and his successor in the high priesthood. ( Nehemiah 12:11 , 12:22 , 12:23 ) (B.C. before 332.)

(11) Father of Zechariah, a priest who blew the trumpet at the dedication of the wall. ( Nehemiah 12:35 )

(12) 1 Esdras 8:32 [See No. 6] (B.C. 446.)


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

jon'-a-than (yehonathan, yonathan, "Yahweh has given"; Ionathan; compare JEHONATHAN):

(1) (Hebrew yehonathan): The young "Levite" of Judges 17; 18 referred to by name in Judges 18:30,

where he is called "the son of Gershom, the son of Moses," and where the King James Version has "Manasseh" for Moses, following the Massoretic Text in which the letter nun of Manasseh is "suspended."

Rashi states the reason thus: "Because of the honor of Moses was the nun written so as to alter the name." The original word was Moses, but it was thought undesirable that a descendant of his should have anything to do with images; and so Jonathan was made to have affinity (metaphorically) with Manasseh. See GB, Intro, 335 - 38.

Jonathan was a Levitical Judahite of Beth-lehem-judah, who came to the house of Micah, in the hill country of Ephraim, and hired himself as a priest in Micah's sanctuary (Judges 17:1 - 13). The Danites sent 5 men north to spy for new territory, and on their way the spies came to the house of Micah, where they found Jonathan and consulted the oracle through him (Judges 18:1 - 5). Having received a favorable answer, they set out and came to Laish, and on their return south they advised that an expedition be sent thither (Judges 18:6 - 10). Their clansmen accordingly sent out a band of warriors who on their way passed by Micah's house. The spies informed their comrades of the ephod and teraphim and images there, and they seized them, inducing Jonathan at the same time to accompany them as their priest (Judges 18:11 - 20). At Laish he founded a priesthood which was thus descended from Moses (Judges 18:30).

It has been held that there are two sources in the narrative in Judges 17; 18 (see Moore, Judges, 365 - 72). The section is important because of the light it throws on life and religion in early Israel. The "Levites" were not all of one tribe (see Moore, op. cit., 383 - 84); there were priests who claimed descent from Moses as well as Aaronite priests; and images were common in early Hebrew worship (compare Genesis 31:30 ; Judges 8:27 ; 1 Samuel 19:13).

(2) Son of King Saul. (yehonathan; also yonathan, "Yahweh has given"; Ionathan):

The eldest son of Saul, the first king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin.

1. Three Periods:

The life of Jonathan, as far as we are told about him, falls naturally into 3 periods.

(1) First Period.
He comes on the scene as the right hand and lieutenant of his father in his early struggles to beat off the hostile tribes, especially the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11), who beset the territory of Israel on all sides. As soon as Saul had gained his first decisive victory, the people rallied to him in great numbers, so that he was able to count upon 3,000 men whenever they took the field. These were divided into two small armies, Saul retaining 2,000 and making Michmash his headquarters, the rest being stationed at Gibeah under Jonathan, some 5 miles distant as the crow flies. Jonathan thus commanded the base, while his father led the fighting force. This position of comparative inactivity does not appear to have been much to the taste of Jonathan. Midway between the two camps was a Philistine outpost at Geba, facing Michmash across the pass of that name, a valley with steep sides, now the Wady Suweinit. Saul does not seem to have felt himself strong enough to commence hostilities against the Philistines, and took means to increase the forces at his disposal. The Philistines no sooner heard that the Israelites had cast off their yoke (1 Samuel 13:3 b: for "Let the Hebrews hear," read "The Hebrews have revolted," after the Septuagint), than they came out in great numbers (1 Samuel 13:5). They seem to have compelled Saul to evacuate Michmash, which they occupied, Saul falling back on Gibeah (1 Samuel 13:16) and Gilgal with a greatly reduced following (1 Samuel 13:3 , 4 a seems to be a summary anticipation, in Hebrew style, of the events detailed in 1 Samuel 14). In spite of this, Jonathan, accompanied only by his armor-bearer, surprised the Philistine outpost at Geba (1 Samuel 14:5, "Gibeah" should be "Geba"), which was killed to a man. This feat precipitated a general engagement, in which the Israelites, whose only weapons appear to have been their farming implements (1 Samuel 13:20), Saul and Jonathan alone being armed with iron swords and spears, routed their enemies. The completeness of the victory was impaired by the superstitious action of Saul in refusing to allow the people to eat until the day was over (1 Samuel 14:24). As this order was unwittingly broken by Jonathan, Saul wished to have him executed; but this the people refused to allow, as they clearly recognized that the credit of the victory was due to the energetic action of Jonathan in striking before the enemy had time to concentrate. (In the Hebrew text there is some confusion between Gibeah and Geba; compare 1 Samuel 10:5 margin and 13:3.)

(2) Second Period.
The 2nd period of the life of Jonathan is that of his friendship for David. The narrative is too well known to need recapitulating, and the simple tale would only be spoiled by telling it in other words. Jonathan's devotion to David was such that he not only took his part against his father, Saul (1 Samuel 18 ; 19), but was willing to surrender to him his undoubted claim to become Saul's successor (1 Samuel 20). Their last meeting took place in the "desert" of Ziph, to the South of Hebron, some time after David had been driven into outlawry (1 Samuel 23:16 - 18).

(3) Third Period.
The 3rd phase of Jonathan's life is that of the exile of David, when Saul was directing his energies to combat what he no doubt considered the rebellion of the son of Jesse. During this civil war, if that can be called war in which one of the two sides refuses to take the offensive against the other, Jonathan remained entirely passive. He could not take part in proceedings which were directed against his friend whom he believed to be destined to occupy the place which he himself should in the ordinary course of events have filled. We therefore hear no more of Jonathan until the encroachments of the Philistines once more compelled Saul to leave the pursuit of the lesser enemy in order to defend himself against the greater. Saul's last campaign against the Philistines was short and decisive: it ended in the defeat of Gilboa and the death of himself and his sons. The men of Jabesh-gilead, out of gratitude for Saul's rescue of their town at the beginning of his reign, crossed over to Beth-shan, on the walls of which town the Philistines had hung in chains the bodies of Saul and Jonathan, and took them down under cover of darkness and carried them to Jabesh. There they burned the bodies after the manner of the primitive inhabitants of the land, and buried the bones.

2. His Character:

If we may judge from the little which has been handed down to us concerning him, Jonathan must have been one of the finest spirits that ever lived. His character is, as far as our knowledge goes, nearly perfect. He was athletic and brave (1 Samuel 14:13 ; 2 Samuel 1:22 , 23).

3. Military Qualities:

He could keep his plans secret when secrecy was necessary in order to carry them to a successful issue (1 Samuel 14:1), and could decide on what course of action to follow and act upon it on the instant. His attack upon the Philistine garrison at Geba (or Gibeah, if we adopt the reading of the Septuagint and Targum of 1 Samuel 13:3; compare 10:5) was delivered at the right moment, and was as wise as it was daring. If he had a fault, from a military point of view, it may have been an inability to follow up an advantage. The pursuit of the Philistines on the occasion referred to ended with nightfall. In this respect, however, he perhaps cannot be censured with justice, as he never had an entirely free hand.

4. Filial Piety:

Jonathan's independence and capacity for acting on his own responsibility were combined with devotion to his father. While holding his own opinion and taking his own course, he conformed as far as possible to his father's views and wishes. While convinced of the high deserts of David, he sought by all means to mitigate Saul's hatred toward him, and up to a certain point he succeeded (1 Samuel 19:6). Filial duty could not have been more severely tested than was that of Jonathan, but his conduct toward both his father and his friend is above criticism. Only on one occasion did his anger get the better of him (1 Samuel 20:34) under gross provocation, Saul having impugned the honor of Jonathan's mother (1 Samuel 20:30, Septuagint) Ahinoam (1 Samuel 14:50), and attempted his life. The estrangement was momentary; Saul and Jonathan were undivided in life and in death (2 Samuel 1:23 to be so read).

5. Friendship for David:

But it is as the befriender of David that Jonathan will always be remembered. He is the type of the very perfect friend, as well as of the chivalrous knight, for all time. His devotion to David was altogether human; had it been dictated by a superstitious belief in David's destiny as the future ruler of his people (1 Samuel 23:17), that belief would have been shared by Saul, which was not the case (1 Samuel 20:31). In disinterestedness and willingness to efface his own claims and give up his own titles the conduct of Jonathan is unsurpassed, and presents a pleasing contrast to some of the characters with whom we meet in the Bible. In this respect he resembles 'Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, who was the bravest of the brave, save when fighting in his own cause, and who had no ambition to fill the highest posts. So Jonathan preferred to serve rather than to command (1 Samuel 23:17). Jonathan and David stand for the highest ideal of Hebrew friendship, as do Damon and Pythias in Greek literature.

6. Inspired Affection:

We may be sure that Jonathan won the affection of the people. His squire was ready to follow him anywhere (1 Samuel 14:7). David's devotion to him seems to have been sincere, although it unfortunately coincided with his own self-interest. Jonathan appears to have inspired as great an affection as he himself felt (1 Samuel 20:41 ; 2 Samuel 1:26). His quarrel with his father was largely due to the solicitude of the latter for his son's interests (1 Samuel 18:29 ; 20:31).

7. His Descendants:

Jonathan's sons were, in common with his brother's, killed in the wars. One alone--Meribbaal (Mephibosheth)--survived. Jonathan's posterity through him lasted several generations. A table of them is given in 1 Chronicles 8:33 parallel 9:40 (compare 2 Samuel 9:12). They were famous soldiers and were, like their ancestors, distinguished in the use of the bow (1 Chronicles 8:40).

(3) (Hebrew yehonathan, yonathan, 2 Samuel 15:27 , 36 ; 17:17, 20 ; 1 Kings 1:42 , 43):
Son of Abiathar the priest. He acted with Ahimaaz as courier to inform David of events at Jerusalem during Absalom's revolt. It was he who also brought to Adonijah the news of Solomon's accession.

(4) (Hebrew yehonathan, 2 Samuel 21:21 parallel 1 Chronicles 20:7):
Son of Shimei or Shimea, David's brother; he is said to be the slayer of Goliath. See JEHONADAB (1).

(5) (2 Samuel 23:32, Hebrew yehonathan = 1 Chronicles 11:34, Hebrew yonathan):
One of David's mighty men. See JASHEN.

(6) (Hebrew yonathan, 1 Chronicles 2:32 , 33):
A Jerahmeelite.

(7) (Hebrew yehonathan, and so 1 Chronicles 27:25 the King James Version):
Son of Uzziah, and one of David's treasurers.

(8) (Hebrew yehonathan, 1 Chronicles 27:32):
A dodh of David, the Revised Version (British and American) "uncle," the Revised Version margin "brother's son"; if he was David's nephew, he will be the same as (4) above. He "was a counselor" to David, and "a man of understanding, and a scribe."

(9) (Hebrew yonathan, Ezra 8:6; 1 Esdras 8:32):
Father of Ebed, a returned exile.

(10) (Hebrew yonathan, Ezra 10:15; 1 Esdras 9:14):
One who either supported (Revised Version (British and American)) or opposed (Revised Version margin, the King James Version) Ezra in the matter of foreign marriages; see JAHZEIAH.

(11) (Hebrew yonathan, Nehemiah 12:11):
A priest, descendant of Jeshua (Joshua) = "Johanan" (Nehemiah 12:22 , 23); see JEHOHANAN, (3).

(12) (Hebrew yonathan, Nehemiah 12:14):
A priest.

(13) (Hebrew yonathan, Nehemiah 12:35):
A priest, father of Zechariah.

(14) (Hebrew yehonathan, Jeremiah 37:15 , 20 ; 38:26):
A scribe in whose house Jeremiah was imprisoned.

(15) (Hebrew yonathan, Jeremiah 40:8):
Son of Kareah; a Judahite captain who joined Gedaliah after the fall of Jerusalem.

(16) (Ionathes, 1 Macc 2:5; 9 - 13; and Inathan 2 Macc 8:22; Swete reads Ionathes):
The Maccabee surnamed Apphus in 1 Macc 2:5, son of Mattathias.

(17) Son of Absalom (1 Macc 13:11).
He was sent by Simon the Maccabee to capture Joppa (compare 1 Macc 11:70, where there is mentioned a Mattathias, son of Absalom).

(18) A priest who led in prayer at the first sacrifice after the return from exile (2 Macc 1:23).



bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, friend of david, jonathan, lonathan, manasseh, son of saul, warrior, yehonathan, yonathan, young levite



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Gustave Dore, David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan
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Gustave Dore, 1866, France
(This is a photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work of art. This work is in the public domain in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author + 100 years or less.)