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No indication is given as to his origin, and he appears in the narrative for the first time when David is contemplating the erection of a house to the Lord (2 Samuel 7). He assures the monarch of the Lord's support and of the divinely ordained establishment of his kingdom for all time, but dissuades him from the idea of building the proposed temple, stating that this honour was reserved for his son and successor (2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15). Nathan appears later to reproach David in the name of the Lord for his crime of adultery and murder narrated in 2 Samuel 11, and, after skilfully proposing the allegory of the poor man's little ewe lamb, surprises the king with the words: "Thou art the man". He then declares the anger of the Lord and the punishments that are to fall upon David, although in view of the latter's repentance his sin is pronounced forgiven, for his crimes had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:1-15). The prophet next appears on the scene when it is question of securing to Solomon the succession to the throne of his father. Adonias, abetted by Joab and the high priest Abiathar, made an attempt to have himself proclaimed king. The plan was frustrated by Nathan who, first through Bethsabee and later in a personal interview, informed David as to the doings of Adonias, and persuaded the aged monarch to confirm his promise in favour of Solomon and have him proclaimed king at the fountain of Gihon (1 Kings 1:8-45). In this instance Nathan served the interests of the country as well as those of David and Solomon by averting a civil war. He is credited by the Chronicler with having written a part of the history of David, together with Samuel the seer and Gad the seer (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 29:25). The time of Nathan's death is not given, but his name is mentioned in Sirach 47:1.
The name Nathan augmented by the theophorous prefix or suffix is borne by other members of the family of David. Thus one of his brothers was Nathanael (1 Chronicles 2:14), and one of his nephews, Jonathan (2 Samuel 21:21).
By some scholars he is identified with Nathan the prophet (1), and by others with Nathan the son of David (2). Both opinions are merely conjectural. His son Zabud is designated as "priest", this being an indication, among many others, that the functions of the priesthood were not at that period exercised exclusively by the descendants of Aaron.
He was among those who, at the command of Esdras, put away the foreign wives they had married.
APA citation. (1911). Nathan. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10711a.htm
MLA citation. "Nathan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10711a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Sean Hyland.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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