NATHAN (Heb. נָתָן), prophet in the days of David and Solomon). Nathan, together with Zadok the priest, anointed Solomon as king after encouraging and activating the people of the royal court to proclaim him king. Two of his prophecies are known: one about the postponement of the building of the Temple from David's time to the time of his son (ii Sam. 7; i Chron. 17) and the election of David's dynasty; the second is the prophecy of rebuke to David about Bath-Sheba and the killing of Uriah (ii Sam. 12: 1–15). From his involvement in the life of the court and the clear connection of his prophecy to the king and the monarchy, Nathan, like the prophet Gad, may be designated as a court prophet. From the contents of his prophecies, however – not only his sharp rebuke in connection with Bath-Sheba but also his advice regarding the Temple, which was not in any way subject to the king's approval or control – there is justification for placing Nathan in the category of prophets who rebuke and advise, such as Elijah and Elisha (see *Prophets and Prophecy).
In his prophecy about the postponement of the building of the Temple to the time of Solomon, Nathan promises the House of David unconditionally that his dynasty will endure forever, and that the relationship between the Lord and each of David's successors will be like that between father and son. The reason for the postponement of the building of the Temple is not clarified. (The explanation of bloodshed in i Chron. 22:7–10 seems to have been inserted later.) On the basis of the wanderings in the wilderness, where God was present in the Tent and the Tabernacle, it would appear, however, that the monarchy was not yet firmly established and that the time had not yet come for removing the symbols of tribal tradition – the Tent and the Tabernacle and replacing them with a permanent house (temple) of the Lord, similar to the house (palace) of the king. The view of the monarchy in Nathan's prophecy – in which it is seen as granted to David by an act of divine grace (no reference is made to the monarchy of Saul) and as a complete and unbroken continuation of the Lord's providence and governance from the time of the Exodus from Egypt to the time of the judges – differs essentially from that of i Samuel 8–12, according to which Samuel opposed monarchy as such. The antiquity of the prophecy attributed to Nathan is attested by the description of the monarchy as a calm and secure period of respite, without any intimation of the division of the kingdom. The punishment of a king's son who transgresses will be a rebuke only "with the rod of men, and with the stripes of human beings" (ii Sam. 7:14). In the rebuke over the affair of Bath-Sheba, Nathan, by means of the parable of the poor man's lamb, traps David (even with his privilege as king) into passing judgment upon himself. This prophecy contains a harsh vision of the future of the house of David: "the sword shall never depart from your house" (ii Sam. 12:10). This prediction, which is not recalled in this way in any other passage in the Bible, and which probably does not allude to any actual event such as the division of the kingdom, stamps the rebuke with the seal of authenticity. Nathan appears not only as warning against evil and demanding expiation for murder but also as commanding the king to establish law and justice, which is his duty as judge and is embodied in the monarchy itself, as explicitly stated in the chronicles of David's reign (ii Sam. 8:15; see *David, *Solomon). The "book of Nathan the prophet," which relates the histories of David and Solomon, is mentioned in Chronicles (i Chron. 29:9; ii Chron. 9:29), in keeping with the theory of the author of Chronicles who also represents other prophets as chroniclers of the events of their days.
J.A. Montgomery, The Book of Kings (icc, 1951), 67–79; G. Widengren, Sakrales Koenigtum im Alten Testament (1955), 59–61; K.H. Bernhardt, in: vt Supplement, 8 (1961), 161–3; H.W. Hertzberg, Samuel (1964), 282–7, 312–5.
NATHAN (tenth century bce), or, in Hebrew, Natan; a prophet in the court of King David. Nathan is presented in the Hebrew scriptures as a prophet and intimate of David's court, appearing in three different scenes. In the first scene (2 Sm. 7:1–17), Nathan is consulted by David about the king's plans to build a temple for Yahveh. Nathan approves of the plan, which will be carried out by David's son, and also promises David by divine oracle the establishment of a perpetual dynasty. This scene constitutes the climax of the Deuteronomist's account of David's reign, in which Nathan acts as the spokesman for the historian's royal ideology.
In the second scene (2 Sm. 12:1–15), Nathan presents to David the divine reprimand for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. By means of a parable about an unjust rich man who robbed a poor man of his only lamb he is able to get David to condemn himself. He also predicts future troubles for David's household.
In the third story (1 Kgs. 1), Nathan is part of a court conspiracy in which he advises Bathsheba of a plan to persuade the senile David to make Solomon king instead of his older brother Adonijah. The plan is successful, and Nathan and Zadok anoint Solomon even before David's death. Here divine guidance plays no part in the events, only human ambition.
These last two scenes are part of a literary work known to modern scholars as the succession story, which some would date to the time of Solomon and thus have it reflect a historical memory of these events. But there are reasons to believe that the succession story is a late fiction and tells nothing about the nature of prophecy in the time of David. Also suspect is the Chronicler's attribution to Nathan of historical chronicles that he suggests are his sources for the reigns of David and Solomon (1 Chr. 29:29, 2 Chr. 9:29).
Treatments of the prophet Nathan are invariably included in the broader studies of King David. A more detailed review of the scholarly discussion on these texts may be found in my book In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History (New Haven, 1983), chap. 8.
Bodner, Keith. "Nathan: Prophet, Politician and Novelist?" Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 95 (2001): 43–54.
John van Seters (1987)
NATHAN , U.S. family. simon nathan (1746–1822), who was born in England, went to the colonies in 1773 by way of Havana. During the Revolution, he supported the revolutionary cause and helped ship supplies to the colonists from Jamaica where he then resided. After leaving the island, he proceeded to New Orleans and from there went to Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1779. He loaned large sums of money to the Virginia state government for which he received the thanks of the then governor, Thomas Jefferson. When these loans were not repaid he suffered great financial loss, and was involved in protracted litigation with Virginia for many years. Possibly as a consequence of this litigation, he went to Philadelphia and enlisted in the militia. There, in 1780, he met and married Grace Mendes Seixas (1752–1831), the daughter of Isaac Mendes *Seixas. Nathan became a Mason the following year, a trustee of the Congregation Mikveh Israel in 1782, and president of
the congregation in the years 1782 and 1783. Soon afterward, he moved to New York, where he served as president of the Congregation Shearith Israel in 1785, 1786, 1794, and 1796. He opened a successful dry goods business with Aaron Pimental, enabling him to contribute sums of money to the synagogue.
Their son seixas (Isaac Mendes) nathan (1785–1852) married his cousin Sara Seixas (1791–1834), daughter of Benjamin Mendes Seixas (1746–1817). They had 15 children. They and their children married into the Lazarus, Lyons, Cardozo, Gomez, and Hendricks families among others. Some of Simon Nathan's descendants include: the noted poetess emma *lazarus; her sister josephine (1846–1910), a noted essayist; the novelist robert *nathan; annie nathan *meyer, founder of Barnard College; maud nathan (1862–1946), suffragette and president of the Consumers' League for 20 years; and benjamin n. *cardozo, member of the United States Supreme Court.
D. de S. Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone (1952).
NATHAN , English family, distinguished in public service. The first member of the family to settle in England was meyer (Michael) nathan who came from Dessau about 1790. His grandson, Jonah, married twice. sir nathaniel (1843–1916), the son of Jonah's first marriage, a barrister practicing in Birmingham from 1873 to 1888, became attorney general, judge of the Supreme Court, and from 1901 to 1903 acting chief justice of Trinidad. His half brother, sir frederic lewis (1861–1933), explosives expert and soldier, joined the Royal Artillery in 1879 and organized explosives manufacture before and during World War i. Later, he specialized in fuel problems and was president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers from 1925 to 1927. From 1905 to 1926 he was commandant of the Jewish Lads' Brigade. Frederic's brother sir matthew (1862–1939) joined the Royal Engineers in 1880 and served in Sudan and India. The first Jew to be a colonial governor, he was governor of the Gold Coast (1900–03), Hong Kong (1904–07), and Natal (1907–09). Secretary to the General Post Office and the Board of Inland Revenue, he was appointed undersecretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1914 and was in sole charge of Dublin Castle when the Easter Rising occurred in 1916. An inquiry criticized his failure to warn the British government of the danger. After serving as secretary of the Ministry of Pensions he became governor of Queensland (1920–26) and retired to Somerset where he took part in local government and wrote a monumental local history. In Jewish life, he represented the New West End Synagogue on the United Synagogue Council. The fourth brother, sir robert (1866–1921), served in the Indian civil service from 1888 to 1915 and was appointed chief secretary to the governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1910. In World War i he did important work in counterespionage.
P.H. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), index; Roth, Mag Bibl. index; dnb, s.v. add. bibliography: odnb online for Sir Matthew Nathan; A.B. Haydon, Sir Matthew Nathan, British Colonial Governor and Civil Servant (1972).
[Vivian David Lipman]
The name of a prophet in the days of david and solomon; the name also of one of David's sons. The prophet Nathan [Heb. nātān, shortened form of a theophoric compound, such as nātan-’ēl, "God has given (a son)"] dissuaded David from building a temple and gave him the important oracle that promised perpetuity to the Davidic Dynasty (2 Sm 7.1–29). He reproved David for his adultery and murder of Uriah (2 Sm 12.1–15). According to the Biblical chronicler, it was with Nathan's concurrence that David arranged the musical service for the sanctuary (2 Chr 29.25). Nathan supported Solomon in his bid for the throne (1 Kgs 1.10–45). According to 1 Chr 29.29 and 2 Chr 9.29 Nathan wrote a history of David and Solomon.
Nathan, son of David (2 Sm 5.14), is probably the ancestor of the family mentioned in Zec 12.12. St. Luke (3.31) traces the lineage of Jesus through this Nathan rather than through Solomon.