Jonathan — 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 (Judg. 18:30). His history is recorded in 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 Sam. 13:2). Like his father, he was a man of great strength and activity (2 Sam. 1:23), and excelled in archery and slinging (1 Chr. 12:2;2 Sam. 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 Sam. 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 Sam. 31:2, 8). He was first buried at Jabesh-gilead, but his remains were afterwards removed with those of his father to Zelah, in Benjamin (2 Sam. 21:12–14). His death was the occasion of David’s famous elegy of “the Song of the Bow” (2 Sam. 1:17–27). He left one son five years old, Merib-baal, or Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 4:4; comp. 1 Chr. 8:34).
(4.) Son of Shammah, and David’s nephew, and also one of his chief warriors (2 Sam. 21:21). He slew a giant in Gath.