Jonathan - jonŽa-than

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


 (יהונתן, yehōnāthān, יונתן, yōnāthān, “Yahweh has given”; Ἰωναθάν, Iōnathán; compare JEHONATHAN):

(1) (Hebrew yehōnāthān): The young “Levite” of Jdg_17:1-13; 18 referred to by name in Jdg_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 nūn of Manasseh is “suspended.”

Rashi states the reason thus: “Because of the honor of Moses was the nūn 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 (Jdg_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 (Jdg_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 (Jdg_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 (Jdg_18:11-20). At Laish he founded a priesthood which was thus descended from Moses (Jdg_18:30).

It has been held that there are two sources in the narrative in Jdg_17:1-13; 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 Gen_31:30 ff; Jdg_8:27; 1Sa_19:13).

(2) Son of King Saul. See separate article.

(3) (Hebrew yehōnāthān, yōnāthān, 2Sa_15:27, 2Sa_15:36; 2Sa_17:17, 2Sa_17:20; 1Ki_1:42, 1Ki_1:43): 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 yehōnāthān, 2Sa_21:21 parallel 1Ch_20:7): Son of Shimei or Shimea, David's brother; he is said to be the slayer of Goliath. See JEHONADAB (1).

(5) (2Sa_23:32, Hebrew yehōnāthān = 1Ch_11:34, Hebrew yōnāthān): One of David's mighty men. See JASHEN.

(6) (Hebrew yōnāthān, 1Ch_2:32, 1Ch_2:33): A Jerahmeelite.

(7) (Hebrew yehōnāthān, and so 1Ch_27:25 the King James Version): Son of Uzziah, and one of David's treasurers.

(8) (Hebrew yehōnāthān, 1Ch_27:32): A dōdh 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 yōnāthān, Ezr_8:6; 1 Esdras 8:32): Father of Ebed, a returned exile.

(10) (Hebrew yōnāthān, Ezr_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 yōnāthān, Neh_12:11): A priest, descendant of Jeshua (Joshua) = “Johanan” (Neh_12:22, Neh_12:23); see JEHOHANAN, (3).

(12) (Hebrew yōnāthān, Neh_12:14): A priest.

(13) (Hebrew yōnāthān, Neh_12:35): A priest, father of Zechariah.

(14) (Hebrew yehōnāthān, Jer_37:15, Jer_37:20; Jer_38:26): A scribe in whose house Jeremiah was imprisoned.

(15) (Hebrew yōnāthān, Jer_40:8): Son of Kareah; a Judahite captain who joined Gedaliah after the fall of Jerusalem.

(16) (Ἰωνάθης, Iōnáthēs, 1 Macc 2:5; 9 through 13; and Ἰναθάν, Inathán 2 Macc 8:22; Swete reads Ionáthēs): 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).


Taken from: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by James Orr, M.A., D.D., General Editor