Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jonathan and David and Solomon and the Shulamite

The Hebrew Bible affirms the love between David and Jonathan in 2Samuel1v26 just as it does the love between Solomon and his Shulamite bride in Songs.

As the writer of Songs7v6 says his beloved is "delightful," or "pleasant" (נָּעַמְתְּ - na‘amt), David declares that Jonathan is just as so to him (נָעַמְתָּ - na‘ahmta). However, David expands the intensity of the word with the qualifier: "exceedingly" or "very" (מְאֹד - meh’oth).

As Solomon extols the Shulamite as his "love" (אַהֲבָה - ’ahavah) in Songs7v6, so David lauds "thy love" (אַהֲבָֽתְךָ - ’ahavatekha) when speaking to Jonathan in eulogy. Again, David qualifies the intensity of that love as even "surpassing the love of women" (מֵאַהֲבַת נָשִֽׁים - mé’ahavat nashim). Interestingly, the word "נָשִֽׁים - nashim" is more often translated "wives" than it is "women." The phrase noting the relationship between David and Jonathan can also be legitimately translated as, "thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of wives" - notable, considering David was polygamous.

David calls Jonathan, "brother" (אָחִי - ’achi) and the writer of Songs4v10 refers to his beloved as, "sister" (אֲחֹתִי - ’achoti). In this type of Semitic literary convention, the allusion to one's darling within the context of sibling relationship in both verses negates neither the quality of affection nor the real amatory experience connoted between the parties involved. Incidentally, in Songs8:1, the Shulamite also uses "brother" (כְּאָח - ke’ach) in referencing her beloved.
© 1 September 2012, ez duz it - the accidental theologian