I have now been following you for some years and always enjoy reading your writings or listening to your podcasts.
Recently, I was sharing with a friend about the deep friendship that existed between David and Jonathan, which I had always interpreted as nothing more than friendship, when I was struck to see the amount of writing suggesting that they actually had a homosexual relationship. I was wondering what the Jewish interpretation(s) were of the various passages between 1 Samuel 18 and 2 Samuel 1 referring to the relationship between the two.
Would you be able to shed some light? It would be so appreciated. Such an interpretation would appear to go completely against Leviticus 18:22, and I could not help but wonder why God would have retained David as King if what he did was detestable before God. When David sinned with Bathsheba, God rebuked him and David repented. But regarding his relationship with Jonathan, I do not see any rebuke from God.
There is a reason we speak of ancient Jewish wisdom rather than modern Jewish wisdom. It is not because the wisdom is applicable only to those who lived long ago or because there can be no fresh applications to our time. We firmly dispute both those mistaken ideas. However, everything must be grounded in the written and oral Torah transmitted from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Original thinking comes in applying the ancient wisdom to new circumstances, not in ignoring or negating it.
We find Secular Fundamentalism’s desperation to find validation for their moral squalor in the writings of Scripture to be fascinating. Do we care if there is any validation for our views in the writings of, say, Karl Marx. Of course not! Because we have little regard for him. Secular Fundamentalism’s yearning for Biblical validation reveals the deeply embedded, perhaps subconscious, respect they actually do have for the Bible.
When you say that you see a great deal of writing suggesting a homosexual relationship, what you see is all of recent vintage. As you note, the Bible and the oral tradition do not hesitate to discuss the sins of great people in the Bible. Had there been anything to these modern rumors about David and Jonathan, we would find it in writings of millennia ago, not only recent accounts. Since that is not so, we reject anything written in that vein. Creative literature it may be, but it is not part of the transmission chain from Sinai. In other words, it is not part of ancient Jewish wisdom and we have no hesitation in dismissing it as unadulterated bilge-water.
Don’t let revisionist history trouble your Bible study,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin