Jonathan in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

jon'-a-than (yehonathan, yonathan, "Yahweh has given"; Ionathan; compare JEHONATHAN): (1) (Hebrew yehonathan): The young "Levite" of Judges 17; 18 referred to by name in 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 nun of Manasseh is "suspended." Rashi states the reason thus: "Because of the honor of Moses was the nun 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).

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