The Lunar Palindrome: David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan’s relationship is deep, and can be studied at many levels of depth. At services this weekend (my niece’s Bat Mitzvah) the Haftara was Erev Rosh HaKodesh. The Rabbi spoke about the mysterious depth of this passage. However, the traditional cutting of The Prophets that is the source of the particular haftaros, is unfortunate. Seen in it’s the full context, (missed in the Haftara) this episode of Jonathan, David, and the New Moon is even more deeply mysterious. Its depth might make for a degree of theological stress in those Jews who discount The Individual Messiah.
The connection between the Haftara and Erev Rosh Kodesh is that the story from which it is drawn takes place at the New Moon. Erev means Evening, Rosh HaKodesh is “head of the new moon”.
I Samuel 20:18, Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty”. Jonathan is talking to David. Thus, Jonathan is warning him that his absence will further Saul’s paranoid anger at David. Yet, David is scared to present himself because Saul has demonstrated homicidal intentions to him.
We recall that Samuel scolded Saul for his sparing of Agag, the Amalekite king and the best of the livestock. Back in 15:7 Samuel said, “Is this not so? – Though you may be small in your own eyes, you are the head of the tribes of Israel; and Hashem has anointed you to be king over Israel.”
David had been gaining fame for his victories over the Philistines, and Saul was fuming, hearing: “Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.” Saul thought to make David his son-in-law. And David’s words must have stung Saul’s ears: Is it trivial in your eyes to be a son-in-law to the king? (18:23) Thus Saul demanded one hundred Philistine foreskins to “demonstrate” the value he was now placing upon the position. In addition he was sending David out on a nearly suicidal mission. (Perhaps a strategy David recalled when he so dealt with Uriah?) Nevertheless, David returned with all one hundred before the days had expired. (This time limit is just mentioned in passing, with no definition. But clearly a particular number of days were given to accomplish this feat. It seems it might be a part of a calendar, especially since this is all heading towards a New Moon.)
Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants about killing David, but Jonathan son of Saul, liked David very much. So Jonathan told David, saying, “My father Saul is trying to kill you, so now be cautious tomorrow morning and stay in the secret place, and hide yourself.” (19:1,2) Jonathan tried to change Saul’s mind in regard to David, and seemed to have succeeded. And David was able to return. Until another war, and more glory to David and more fear enveloped Saul. As David was soothing the King with his harp music, Saul tried to thrust him through with his spear.
David fled for his life.
And now begins a palindrome. Recall how the Haftara begins, in I Samuel 20:18. “Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow is the New Moon and you will be missed….‘ ”
But 14 verses prior to the beginning of the Haftara, at 20:5,
‘5 And David said unto Jonathan: ‘Behold, to-morrow is the new moon, when I should sit with the king to eat; so let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.6If thy father miss me at all, then say: David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Beth-lehem his city; for it is the yearly sacrifice there for all the family”. If Saul asks about him Jonathan will say he had family duty down in Bethlehem. If Saul is fine, then Jonathan will tell David, but if he becomes angry he will warn David that that the death decree has become final. Jonathan leads David to the field. He promises loyalty to David. In essence he is surrendering his birthright as Saul’s heir to David, and accepting a Davidic Dynasty. The mantle is to pass from the Tribe Of Benjamin to that of Judah, and from a son of Rachel, to a son of Leah. All he asks is that he and his family be spared death. (Typically, changes of dynasty require the annihilation of any potential claimant to the previous regime.) David is presumed to have affirmed this promise though the text does not make that clear. The signals were agreed to, Jonathan would shoot arrows. If he yells to his servant retrieving the arrows that they are behind him, it is safe, but if they are beyond the boy, David must flee.
The plan unfolded. It was the New Moon. What is the New Moon?
The Lunar cycle is 28 days long. The moon is full on the 14th day. It wanes over the next two weeks, until there is no moon visible from the earth. Obviously the moon has not evaporated! It still orbits the planet earth, and rotates around its own axis at exactly 28 days per revolution. This is uncanny. There is no astronomical or physical reason that this should be so. One “day” on the moon requires 28 earth days. So the moon rotates around its axis in the exact time that it revolves around the earth! Only one side is illuminated to observers on earth. The full moon always appears from earth to be the exact same lunar hemisphere every time, the familiar “Man-In-The-Moon”. As the moon’s rotation causes the rest of its surface to face us, that surface is dark in the lunar night. As more and more of the lunar night faces us the thinner, and thinner the visible part become. When the entire surface of the moon facing earth is in lunar night, the moon is not visible to observers on the earth. When human built spacecraft were able to orbit the moon, the dark side of the moon was seen for the first time in history. Ours, is the first generation to have seen this! Ever!
Back to David. I Sam. 20:24: David concealed himself in the field; it was the New Moon and the king sat at the meal to eat. 25, …. And David’s place was empty.
Imagine lining up across a page twenty-eight images of the moon. Place an empty black circle at both ends. In the middle place a white full moon. Show crescents in each space outward to the periphery. Big white moon, surrounded on left by a large 2/3 moon, with the 1/3 to the left darkened. The next box to the left we see a half moon with the left half dark. Then we see decreasing crescents with the light side facing the right, (with the increasingly large dark side on the left). Finally at the extreme left, we come to the black circle, the New Moon. Do the same from the right side of the full moon. We see a 2/3 moon with its left side lit, and then a half moon with the left side lit and the right dark, and so on to smaller and smaller crescents that cling to the left side until the entire moon is a black unseen circle.
David concealed himself in the field. He did so to escape potential death at the hands of Saul at the Feast Of The New Moon. The Moon is concealed. David also is concealed. David=Moon!
The palindrome begins at 20:5 with David says to Jonathan, ‘Behold tomorrow is the New Moon when I would normally sit with the king’. The fourteenth verse from that reads: (20:18) “Jonathan said to David ‘Tomorrow is the New Moon and you will be missed because your seat is empty.’ ” Just as the “seat of the moon” is empty!
The moon waxes from New over fourteen days, is full and wanes back to New over another fourteen days. Or put the other way the full moon wanes nightly for fourteen nights until it is absent, and then waxes for fourteen nights until it is full. This latter view places the new moon in the center, as pause with 14 days on either side.
The lunar cycle and the Haftara are both palindromes! The Moon has long been recognized as symbolizing Israel. The relationship between the earth, the moon, and the sun reveals The Creator’s Hand. The image of the moon as seen from earth, requires exactitude of astronomical size and distances and speeds of rotations and revolution that would be most unlikely to be happenstance.
The apparent size of the moon is exactly equal to the apparent size of the sun when seen from earth. This requires the size and distance of both sun and moon relative to earth to be in a very specific relationship. There is no physical, or gravitational necessity for this occurrence. Yet, when there is a total solar eclipse, the disc of the moon exactly covers the disc of the sun. This allows the Corona to be visible to us. The Corona obviously is always present. Like God’s Hand in Creation it is always present but as His Crown only rarely seen. “Crown” is from the word “Corona”. In Kabala: Ketar, or CROWN is the first Sefirah. Not claiming any Kabalistic wisdom I went to Wikipedia.
“This first Sefirah represents the primal stirrings of intent in the Ein Soph, or the arousal of desire to come forth into the varied life of being . But in this sense, although it contains all the potential for content, it contains no content itself, and is therefore called ‘Nothing’, ‘The Hidden Light’, ‘The air that cannot be grasped’. Being desire to bring the world into being, Ketar is absolute compassion ”
The Moon’s changing appearance, its palindromic pattern, its precise size and distance from the earth makes it God’s Hand in Space. Israel is God’s Hand on Earth.
The very first “coincidence” allows for the apparent sizes of the moon and sun to be equal as seen form earth. It also allows for Ketar to be glimpsed, physically as a symbol, as the Corona, and intellectually, by understanding the confluence of sizes and distances required to allow this view, and the lack of any astronomical necessity in its occurrence.
Also, equally unnecessary is the relationship of the speed of rotation of the moon around its axis and its revolution around the earth, that is responsible for the phenomenon of only seeing one side of the moon.
David is likened to the Moon. Therefore he must be likened to the entire moon, not just the appearance as seen from earth.
David thus is the revealed, full moon and the unrevealed new moon, or Dark Side of The Moon.
Earlier in Chapter 18 of I Samuel, Jonathan does a peculiar thing. Jonathan’s soul became so attached to David’s soul that he sealed a covenant with him. 18:4 And Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David; also his battle garments, down to his sword, his bow and his belt.
Saul, and Jonathan were Benjaminites. Benjamin was the younger son of Rachel, who died immediately upon giving birth to him. He is the only brother born in the land of Israel. And unless Rachel was lying to Laban about being “in the way of women” when he was searching for the household gods she was sitting upon, he was the only one conceived in The Land as well. So, there is something special about Benjamin. And there is a connection to Judah.
Judah became the de facto first born of Jacob. Leah unloved by Jacob, was blessed with sons as consolation and as a way to rise in his affection. The first three sons through certain actions disqualified themselves. Reuben, slept with one of Jacob’s other wives. (The Rabbis construct contortions of writings to show this is not the plain meaning. But no matter, whatever he did, he blew his First-Born Status.) Levi and Simeon massacred the Sechemites in their rage at their sister Dinah being wooed by the chief’s son. Jacob said they had made him odious in that region and it required him to get up and migrate south. (Though in the end of Genesis, Jacob gives the extra portion that he won in the war at Shechem to Joseph. Thus there is a reference to a war and conquest of Shechem.)
The first born of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite, was Joseph. We all know the story of Joseph, his robe, his dreams, his sale to Egypt, his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. We recall his becoming Vizier over all of Egypt’s storehouses of grain. Grain, that he had ordered to be stored for the coming famine. We recall how Jacob told his other sons (excepting Benjamin) to get up and go down to Egypt for rations.
We remember how Joseph framed them up and required them to return with Benjamin. We also recall Benjamin being framed with the Divination Cup tucked into his bags. We now recall Judah offering himself in lieu of Benjamin, and Joseph, breaking down and weeping at this point. He saw how Judah and his brothers had changed and repented of their mistreatment of him.
But let us look at the family structure in regard to the sons’ mothers.
Joseph and Benjamin are the only two sons of Rachel. The rest are of Leah, or of the two “concubines”. Joseph’s robe, or coat was envied and then shredded and sprinkled with blood to imply wild beasts tore him.
A couple or three hundred years later, a Benjaminite, a descendent of Rachel takes his robe and cloaks it around David a descendent of Judah a son of Leah. Leah’s sons had stripped Rachel’s first born of his coat, and Rachel’s second son gives his coat to a son of Leah.
The prophecies spoken by Jacob as he was dying indicate a powerful group of nations able to gore the peoples to the ends of the earth will spring from Joseph. Benjamin’s blessings are but an afterthought it seems to those of Joseph’s. The two sons with the majority of blessing are Judah and Joseph. One is of Leah, the other of Rachel. Leah is the first wife, and perhaps the only True Wife in God’s eyes. She alone of his wives was buried in the cave bought by Abraham. Leah’s firstborn carried the spiritual blessings. Rachel beautiful, Jacob’s love, produced the worldly powerful Joseph, and Benjamin.
Following the breakup of the United Kingdom of Solomon the Kingdom of Judah remained in possession of Jerusalem. With them stayed Benjamin, (Simeon had been scattered in Judah, and Levi were scattered throughout all twelve tribes but were abundant at the Temple in Jerusalem). The northern kingdom retained the name Israel, and was lead by the tribes of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh. The Assyrians conquered and exiled the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE. Despite theories and theories, they remain the Lost Tribes. The Kingdom Of Judah was conquered by Babylon and the Persian conquest of Mesopotamia put Cyrus in power. He allowed the Jews to return. This is the first we see of The Jewish People. All uses of the term “Jewish People” prior to this is anachronistic. The Jewish People a remnant of Israel maintained a fractal like similarity to the whole United Kingdom Of Israel. They were composed of sons of Leah and Benjamin. So Benjamin is the “Racheline” contribution to the Jewish People.
Jonathan by throwing in his lot with David allowed for the Jewish People to persist as a remnant of all of Israel. But, David became King of all Israel. There is the visible remnant of Israel, the Jewish People, but the Lost Tribes are still unseen.
The Lost Tribes were not assimilated into the term Jewish People. Though no doubt many refugees poured south at the time of the Assyrian Conquest, they went as individuals. The Babylonian experience was like a melting pot, or furnace. All the diverse groups that went in came out as The Jewish People.
But when and where have the promises made to Joseph been fulfilled? Ezekiel 37:18-28, makes clear that in the Messianic Age the Lost Tribes will be found and brought back into the Land. This means they still exist. If they exist, they must be unaware of who they are. If we cannot tell you the name of our maternal great grandmother, how much less would the exiles of the already apostate northern Kingdom recall their lineage?
David, as The Moon, represents all of Israel. When hidden, he is as the Lost Tribes. As the Jewish People, he is the luminous moon. Joseph is still waiting. He is to be found (represented)on the Dark Side of The Moon.
On an other note, the symbol of Islam, the Crescent Moon with a Star upon the Darkside is in essence the flagrant attempt of Ishmael/Esau to usurp Jacob.