Project Genesis

Family and Relationships

Modesty & Sexuality

The Love of David and Jonathan

Question: Recently I was discussing King David with a guy and he claims that King David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers. Is this true and if not can you tell me where to find the answers to refute his remark? He quotes 1 Sam 1:26 as well as the story of David and Jonathan kissing in the field.

Answer: The Prophet speaks of a great love that they had for each other. Why must this be understood as carnal? The Bible tells us to love our neighbor – does this also mean a physical love? Real love means that you completely identify with the loved one, you share their joy and their pain as if it is happening to you. It doesn’t mean anything sexual unless you’re reading something into the text that’s not there. That says more about the reader than the text.

In Genesis 29:13 Laban kissed Jacob. What does your friend make of that? There are numerous instances of kissing in the Bible. It was the custom in those societies (in fact it still is in the Arab world even today, and on occasion in the Western world too) for men to kiss each other as a greeting when meeting or when parting. Those who are determined to see homosexual overtones in the relationship between David and Jonathan are usually looking to justify their own inclinations or beliefs and I suspect that this is the case with your friend.

Although it is not a proof in and of itself, we know that both David and Jonathan married and fathered many children and David was physically attracted to Bat Sheva. But my original point remains: why are we obliged to find proof that David and Jonathan were NOT homosexual lovers. Surely that it the presumptive state and the burden of proof lies with those who claim that they were lovers. Your friend can only point to statements in the Bible that speak of how close they felt to each other which is perfectly explained by the spiritual bond they felt.

All the Best,
Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

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