Judaism and Homosexuality: A Brief History

The Jewish people have had a far more complicated relationship with homosexuality than the outright ban in Leviticus implies.


Let us begin at the very beginning of the Kingdom of Judah, with King David, who many suspect was gay. Or at least bisexual.
This view is based on just two verses, in the Book of Samuel, which could be interpreted as showing that David’s relationship with Jonathan ran deeper than mere friendship.

When the two first meet, the Bible tells us: “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1), and later, when Jonathan is killed, David laments, saying: “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:26).

Conservative commentators reject anything but a platonic interpretation, arguing that the chosen king of Judah could not conceivably have loved Jonathan physically, since homosexuality was already banned by Jewish Law.

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