Introduction II Sam. 11:1-5
Ours is a generation of star stuck society, we marvel at the sighting of individuals we see on the TV or concerts. The celebrity is looked upon as almost God like in their lives. People will do almost anything to know these individual. Men lust and women will give themselves to these people not for justified reason but just the fact that they are famous. There are many famous people today that have enormous popularity but are low lives like the modern day rap artist gangsters.
1. Star Struck (II Sam 11:1-5)
· Not much detail was given about Bathsheba with the exception that she was awed by the King
· Many believe that she bathe to attract the Kings eye and was willing to commit sin with David
· She understood the Mosaic Laws and was a learned women high in society, the 30.
i. Bathsheba was given over to the celebrity mentality, she like many was in love with fame
ii. The bible states that she came willingly to David and laid with him, it was a chance of a lifetime
iii. The lust of the flesh she was called upon by a celebrity - Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt
iv. This is a spirit that grips many women in the church and the world, they allow Star Struck
v. Esteeming people of authority, fame or riches to the point of sexual impurity
vi. She did not have priorities in place Bathsheba was married to an officer of the army of God
· Perhaps Bathsheba suffered from loneliness, a long range relationship, no intimacy
a. Many women are frustrated with their relationship and fantasize the wonderful romance and act upon it
b. This is a state of mind left unchecked will allow for folly to seduce you
c. Desperate housewives - The grass is greener on the other side mentality - Hollywood romance
· (I Pet 3:1-6) A call to a simple life with priorities in family and love for one another
· (Titus 2:1-5) This is what Bathsheba should have practice instead of the high society live, possessions
2. Following The Dream or The One Night Stand (Vs 4)
· The illusion will call in Bathsheba's case David desired her and she was more than willing
· (II Tim 3:1-7) Silly women - If you image sin sooner or later it will come calling perhaps not a king but something you think it is
· Ladies their is a spirit that desires you to fall from grace, he's first step is your wants
a. Love, romance, lust, sex, money, fame, power and everything your soul desires
b. (1Tim 6:10-12) Love of money or gain is evil, Bathsheba desired an evil this through out her life
- She was set in life an officer husband, society and great beauty
- All she saw was the fame of the King and immediate sexual gratification, she was alone
- The devil attacks your weakness Bathsheba was being alone and beautiful
- Not focused on God and family, what are your concerns?
- (II Tim 2:22) - Flee or stay away from lust and cleave to God
- Bathsheba did not flee but cultivated a atmosphere for failure
3. Bathsheba's Lesson (Vs 5&6)
· Bathsheba was knock up, broke Mosaic Law, should have been put to death
i. Now we begin to lie and cover our sin - David called for Uriah
· Sin is never a cool thing when it is about to be exposed
i. This sin grew to the murder of Uriah (II Sam 11:14-15)
ii. (I Cor 6:18) - David did not flee and now he no longer is a defender but a murderer
· A simple thought grew into adultery and murder, Bathsheba didn't want this but sin can not be controlled
· Your foolishness - will cause great affliction to the kingdom, image what the people thought
a. I brought reproach to Israel, Bathsheba loses David's baby
b. Amnon rapes Tamar and Absalom kills Amnon
c. (II Sam 16:22-23) - Absalom rapes David's concubines in front of Israel
d. Absalom killed by David's officers
e. Adonijah - Death by Solomon
The sword did not leave David's house because a simple act of lust, unchecked
(I Cor 10:11-14) - This story teaches us about women and their power to bring a curse into King's palaces. We Need to learn from Bathsheba she was a women that wanted fame.
(James 4:4-10) - You can follow Bathsheba or you can humble yourself and learn from her life
2 Sam 11:1-5
11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Amnon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
1 Peter 3:1-6
3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
2 Tim 3:1-7
3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Tim 6:10-12
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses
2 Tim 2:22
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Sam 11:14-15
14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
1 Cor 6:18
18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body
2 Sam 16:22-23
22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.
23 And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
1 Cor 10:11-14
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
The daughter of Eliam (II Samuel 11:3; but of Ammiel according to I Chronicles 3:5), who became the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and afterward of David, by whom she became the mother of Solomon. Her father is identified by some scholars with Eliam mentioned in II Samuel 23:34 as the son of Ahithophel. The real meaning of the Hebrew form of the name "Bathsheba" is not clear. The second part of the name appears in I Chronicles 3:5 as "shua" (compare Genesis 37:2).
The story of David's seduction of Bath-sheba, told in II Samuel 11: et seq., is omitted in Chronicles. The king, while walking on the roof of his house, saw Bath-sheba, who was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and immediately fell in love with her. David then committed adultery with her and she conceived. In an effort to cover up his sin, David summoned Uriah from the army (with whom he was on campaign) to act as the bearer of a message. Uriah, unwilling to violate the ancient kingdom rule applying to warriors in active service (see Robertson Smith, "Religion of the Semites," pp. 455, 488), preferred to remain with the palace troops. After Uriah kept abstaining from his own wife, the king gave the order to his general, Joab, that Uriah should be abandoned to the enemy in battle. After Uriah's death, David was left free to make the now widowed Bath-sheba his wife.
According to the account in Samuel, David's action was displeasing to the Lord, who accordingly sent Nathan the prophet to reprove the king. After relating the parable of the rich man who took away the one little ewe lamb of his poor neighbor (II Samuel 12:1-6), and exciting the king's anger against the unrighteous act, the prophet applied the case directly to David's action with regard to Bath-sheba. The king at once confessed his sin and expressed sincere repentance. Bath-sheba's child by David was smitten with a severe illness and soon died, which the king accepted as his punishment. However, Nathan also noted that David's house would be cursed with turmoil because of this murder, such as with his other son, Absalom, eventually leading an insurrection that plunges the kingdom into civil war.
Bath-sheba soon became the favored wife, and, with the aid of Nathan, was able to obtain the succession-rights for her son Solomon (I Kings 1:11-31).
Bath-sheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David's famous counselor.
The Midrash portrays the influence of Satan bringing about the sinful relation of David and Bathsheba as follows: Bathsheba was on the roof of her house, perhaps behind a screen of wickerwork. Satan is depicted as coming in the disguise of a bird. David, shoots at it, strikes the screen, splitting it; thus Bath-sheba is revealed in her beauty to David (??? 107a). Bath-sheba may have been providentially destined from the Creation to become in due time the legitimate wife of David, but this relation was prematurely precipitated by David's impetuous act.
In the Gospel of Matthew (1:6) she is listed as an ancestor of Jesus.
The only passage in the Qur'an which has been brought into connection with the story of Bath-sheba is sura xxxviii. 20-25:
From this passage one can judge only some similarities of Nathan's parable. The Muslim world has shown an indisposition, to a certain extent, to go further, and especially to ascribe sin to David. As the commentator Baidawi (in loc.) justly remarks, this passage signifies only that David desired something which belonged to another, and that God rebuked him by a parable. At the very most, Baidawi continues, he may have asked in marriage a woman who had been asked in marriage by another, or he may have desired that another should abandon his wife to him—a circumstance which was customary at that time. The story of Uriah is regarded as a slander, filled with unnecessary violences and immorality, not the sort of thing that would happen to a man who is close to God.
What was probably only a somewhat mysterious exhortation to just dealing was made the foundation of an extensive legend. The subject is called emphatically "the Sin of David." Filled with spiritual pride, he asked a trial from God. One story is to the effect that he wished to gain the same rank that the Patriarchs had enjoyed, and that God told him that he must be tried as they had been. Another is that he thought he could endure a whole day without sin. God accepted the challenge, and Satan came upon him and allured him from his devotions with a dove of gorgeous plumage. It led him to where he caught sight of Bath-sheba bathing. The story then is similar to the Biblical one, with the following differences: There is no sin with Bath-sheba before the death of Uriah, nor is there the episode of the return of Uriah and his sleeping in the king's house. There is no child that dies, and in the Qur'anic narrative a similar part of Nathan was instead done by the two angels. After the death of Uriah, David marries Bath-sheba, and she becomes, according to most sources, the mother of Solomon.
To Muslims, the legendary Bath-sheba herself is a not a very known figure, being generally called simply the wife of Uriah. See Al-Tha'labi, "ḳiṣaṣ-anbiyya," pp. 243 et seq., ed. Cairo, 1298; and Ibn al-Athir, i. 95 et seq., ed. Cairo, 1301.
Her name, which perhaps means "daughter of the oath," is in I Chronicles 3:5 spelled "Bath-shua," the form becomes merely a variant reading of "Bath-sheba." The passages in which Bath-sheba is mentioned are II Samuel 11:2-12:24, and I Kings 1, 2.—both of which are parts of the oldest stratum of the books of Samuel and Kings. It is part of that court history of David, written by someone who stood very near the events and who did not idealize David. The material contained in it is of higher historical value than that in the later strata of these books. Budde would connect it with the J document of the Hexateuch.
The only interpolations in it which concern the story of Bath-sheba are some verses in the early part of the twelfth chapter, that heighten the moral tone of Nathan's rebuke of David; according to Karl Budde ("S. B. O. T."), the interpolated portion is xii. 7, 8, and 10-12; according to Friedrich Schwally (Stade's "Zeitschrift," xii. 154 et seq.) and H. P. Smith ("Samuel," in "International Critical Commentary"), the whole of xii. 1-15a is an interpolation, and xii. 15b should be joined directly to xi. 27. This does not directly affect the narrative concerning Bath-sheba herself. Chronicles, which draws a kindly veil over David's faults, omits all reference to the way in which Bathsheba became David's wife, and gives only the names of her children.
The father of Bath-sheba was Eliam (spelled "Ammiel" in I Chronicles 3:5). As this was also the name of a son of Ahithophel, one of David's heroes (II Samuel 23:34), it has been conjectured that Bathsheba was a granddaughter of Ahithophel and that the latter's desertion of David at the time of Absalom's rebellion was in revenge for David's conduct toward Bath-sheba
|This period extended from approximately
1020BC until 922BC, ending with the death of Solomon. During these years
Israel experienced a brief period when it was free from interference from
the great foreign powers around it.
Saul was the first leader of this period. He attempted
to gain independence from the Philistines who dominated the Hebrew tribal
groups by their superior technology, fortified positions and better
However, Saul did not have the personal qualities needed to consolidate his position. He was mentally unstable and could not count on consistent loyalty from his followers. Thus he was not able to gain a complete victory over the Philistines, and was challenged by a new leader, David. In a battle with the Philistines, Saul was defeated, and his favourite son Jonathan was killed. Saul committed suicide.
Canaan/Israel, as divided among the Twelve Tribes
David replaced Saul as leader of the Israelite people. David was a subtle and gifted man: a military leader, poet, musician, schemer and diplomat. Much of his reign was spent in fighting to gain territory and unify these newly acquired lands into the kingdom of Israel. David used a combination of military power and diplomacy to remove the threat of the Philistines and to take over the Canaanite towns. At certain periods in his reign he held the territories of Ammon, Moab, Edom, west of the Jordan, and Damascus. He made treaties with those regions he did not conquer.
The extension of territory demanded a control center: Jerusalem replaced the former capital, Hebron, as the capital of David's kingdom. Here he established a religious, political and military center, so that it acted as a unifying source for the Israelites.
Under Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and
David, Israel became an established kingdom, with a codified system of laws,
a governing bureaucracy, and extensive foreign connections. Trade was
promoted, mineral wealth was exploited, and the army was enlarged and
All this cost a great deal of money, and
the burden of taxes fell on the common people, especially in the northern
provinces. The gap between rich and poor widened noticeably during this
WOMEN’S LIVES IN THIS ERA
Before this period, land ownership had been common among all economic levels of the people. Almost all families had owned some land. However, during the kingdom period, ownership of land was more and more concentrated in the hands of the royal family, nobles and priests. Large estates, not smallholdings, became the rule rather than the exception. Peasant men and women were often dispossessed of land their families had held for many generations.
For women, this meant a gradual loss of property and status for their families, as
The people most affected were those who had been
neither rich nor poor. This large group was made up of peasant farming
families who occupied a status loosely equivalent to the lower middle-class
in modern society.
Inevitably, the small villages became less important.
Jerusalem dominated the thinking and the government of Israel. So the focus
of power moved away from the family unit, based in the village, and moved
instead to the public, urban sphere.
All of these were centered in Jerusalem and were limited to males. For the first time, women found themselves having very little say in the public life of the state.
For additional information on the lives of women in the Bible, see the home-page links to Family, Work, Religion, Major Events in a Woman's Life (Puberty and Menstruation, Marriage, Childbirth, and Death and Burials), Housing and Clothing.
Bathsheba means ‘daughter of opulence, riches’.
Solomon, Hebrew shelomoh, means ‘his replacement’, perhaps referring to Bathsheba’s first baby, who died soon after it was born.
Uriah means ‘Yahweh is my light’.
David means ‘beloved’.
What the story is about:
Bathsheba was the most significant woman during the period of the monarchy. She was the beloved wife of King David. After his death, she occupied the most prestigious position a woman could hold, that of Queen Mother. She took part in court intrigues and influenced political events, which gave the succession to her son Solomon.
The story of Bathsheba has special significance for Christians. In the gospel of Matthew, four women are included in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-17). Bathsheba is the fourth of these women.
The story of Bathsheba is about two different episodes in Jewish history:
1 Bathsheba and King David (2 Samuel 11:1-26, 12:15-25)
Bathsheba was seen by King David as she bathed, and became pregnant to him. Her husband Uriah was killed by David. She then married the King. Her baby, the son of David, died. She had a second son, who was called Solomon.
2 The struggle for the throne (1 Kings 1:1-37, 2:10-25)
David lost his sexual potency in old age, and a regency was arranged. Bathsheba and Nathan secured the throne for Solomon. Solomon succeeded to the throne, honoured his mother, and was advised by her.
1 BATHSHEBA AND KING DAVID
Ancient Greek armor of about the same period as Uriah, and a Canaanite Bronze Age sword
Uriah was a high-ranking professional soldier, one of the mercenaries used by King David. These men were stationed at Jerusalem, and were directly under the control of the king. They were David’s personal bodyguard, his champions, renowned for their bravery.
Bathsheba was a member of an elite warrior family. She was proud, strong and sure of herself. Since her husband was a close ally of David’s, it is safe to assume that she and David had already met.
‘It happened late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite”. So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.’
Read 2 Samuel 11:2-4.
'Bathsheba Bathing', from the Book of Hours (1498-9) of Louis XII of France
Bathsheba was in the courtyard of her house, washing herself after her
menstrual period. She was devout and observed the law regarding
purification, in the same way that her husband Uriah kept the ritual laws of
a warrior (11:11). Since she had recently menstruated, she was not carrying
Uriah’s child, but she was at the stage in her menstrual cycle when she was
most likely to conceive. King David was on the roof terrace of the palace
above, looking down. When he saw her washing herself, he desired her.
|Uriah refused to break the rules for
behaviour of soldiers on active service. Ancient people believed that sexual
intercourse robbed a man of some of his physical strength, so during active
service soldiers were required to abstain from sexual intercourse. Uriah
knew that his own soldiers could not visit their wives, so he led by
example, and did not visit Bathsheba. What his soldiers had to do, he did
David was backed into a corner, so he arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle. When Uriah was in the middle of the fighting, the soldiers around him pulled back and left him alone, so that he was cut down by the enemy. With Uriah now dead, David married Bathsheba and she went to live in the harem of the palace.
‘When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.’
But the baby dies soon after it is born.
Read 2 Samuel 11:14-27, 12:15-25.
A room from the harem complex in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
The harem that Bathsheba lived in would have been richly decorated but much smaller than the one illustrated here
|Some royal harems could have as many as
a thousand wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:3). But the harem that Bathsheba
lived in was much smaller, because Israel at that time was only an emerging
On the evidence we have, it is difficult to know what sort of person Bathsheba was. Was she a victim of rape? Or did she go to the palace willingly? Did she know that David arranged to have her husband killed? Did she mourn for the death of a noble man whom she loved? Or was her mourning just a pretence?
The story of Bathsheba's seduction probably became popular a generation later, during the reign of her son Solomon. So it would have been edited by court story-tellers who were influenced by Bathsheba and her son. This is why it is so hard to tell what really happened: we only learn what Bathsheba wanted us to know, or was forced to concede because it was already public knowledge. The story offers a range of possibilities.
Some time after the death of her first son, Bathsheba
had a second son, Solomon, who was loved by God.
'David's Promise', Frederick Goodall
|When, despite her beauty, the king did
not have sexual relations with Abishag, it was considered time for a
co-regency. This meant that someone would rule alongside David, to help him.
It was taken for granted that this co-regent would succeed the king.
David’s oldest surviving son Adonijah proclaimed himself king, and was accepted by many people. This may have been done without consulting King David. Bathsheba and Solomon did not support him since, if Adonijah became king they would almost certainly be killed, because Solomon was also a contender for the throne.
‘So Bathsheba went to the king in his room…. Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said “What do you wish?” She said to him “My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throng. But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it”.’
Read 1 Kings 1:15-40.
|Queen Elizabeth I of England had an astute adviser, William Cecil, Lord Burghley (pictured below); Bathsheba has a similar adviser in Nathan, the prophet, who helped her organise the coup d'etat against Adonijah|
Urged on by the prophet Nathan, Bathsheba warned David what was happening behind his back. In a brilliant speech, she made him suspicious of Adonijah by describing Adonijah’s support among the army. She told him that almost alone among his children, Solomon remained loyal. She appealed to his protective nature by telling him she feared for her own life. And she reminded him that he, not Adonijah, was the king. She showed great perception in the way she manipulated David’s emotions.
David saw what had happened, and swores to her that her son Solomon would rule as king after his death. He ordered this to be announced to all the people. Bathsheba had outmanoeuvred Adonijah in his attempted coup d’etat, and secured the throne for her son.
After David’s death Solomon became king.
Bathsheba was now held in great honour in the court, occupying the position
of Great Lady.
The Throne of Tutankhamon
After he ascended the throne, Solomon allowed his
half-brother Adonijah to live. Adonijah now approached Bathsheba with an odd
request: to help him get permission from Solomon to marry Abishag. He
clearly saw Bathsheba as the one to approach with a request to Solomon.
Without betraying the fact that she knew that a plot
was afoot, Bathsheba made the request to Solomon, as a way of warning him.
She knew what Adonijah was up to, and she knew how her son would. A woman in
her situation would know only too well that Adonijah was very dangerous; now
she acted to destroy him and to keep her son safe.
Prodded into action by his mother, Solomon acted to stamp out the threat posed by his half-brother, ordering him to be put to death. This story is the last we hear of Bathsheba.
Bathsheba was capable, subtle, and gifted at seizing an opportunity. She produced a son, Solomon, whose wisdom and intellectual brilliance would be known throughout history. Her son presided over a brilliant court, famous for its literature, culture, wealth, architectural achievements, and consolidation of Israel as a nation-state. Bathsheba should receive a good share of the credit for this.
The Temple that Solomon built has
completely vanished, but it is still possible to estimate the details of its
construction. Using libraries or the Internet, find out information about
the Temple. Look at
A modern reconstruction of the exterior of Solomon's Temple.
Check with the references given above, and see if you agree with the artist's image
Royal women in Ancient Times
Research the lives of royal women in the empires and kingdoms of the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean area, including:
· their influence and position at court
· their daily lives
· their likely interests
· their religious beliefs, etc.
How would the life of a royal wife in the Egyptian court have been different from Bathsheba’s life?
Design a poster that compares details of the court life of Bathsheba with similar royal wives in other courts throughout the ancient world.
2 Samuel 11:1-5
David's sin with Bath-sheba
Here is, I. David's glory, in pursuing the war against the Ammonites, v. 1. We cannot take that pleasure in viewing this great action which hitherto we have taken in observing David's achievements, because the beauty of it was stained and sullied by sin; otherwise we might take notice of David's wisdom and bravery in following his blow. Having routed the army of the Ammonites in the field, as soon as ever the season of the year permitted he sent more forces to waste the country and further to avenge the quarrel of his ambassadors. Rabbah, their metropolis, made a stand, and held out a great while. To this city Joab laid close siege, and it was at the time of this siege that David fell into this sin.
II. David's shame, in being himself conquered, and led captive by his own lust. The sin he was guilty of was adultery, against the letter of the seventh commandment, and (in the judgment of the patriarchal age) a heinous crime, and an iniquity to be punished by the judges (Job 31:11), a sin which takes away the heart, and gets a man a wound and dishonour, more than any other, and the reproach of which is not wiped away.
1. Observe the occasions which led to this sin.
(1.) Neglect of his business. When he should have been abroad with his army in the field, fighting the battles of the Lord, he devolved the care upon others, and he himself tarried still at Jerusalem, v. 1. To the war with the Syrians David went in person, 2 Sam 10:17. Had he been now at his post at the head of his forces, he would have been out of the way of this temptation. When we are out of the way of our duty we are in the way of temptation.
(2.) Love of ease, and the indulgence of a slothful temper: He came off his bed at evening-tide, v. 2. There he had dozed away the afternoon in idleness, which he should have spent in some exercise for his own improvement or the good of others. He used to pray, not only morning and evening, but at noon, in the day of his trouble: it is to be feared he had, this noon, omitted to do so. Idleness gives great advantage to the tempter. Standing waters gather filth. The bed of sloth often proves the bed of lust.
(3.) A wandering eye: He saw a woman washing herself, probably from some ceremonial pollution, according to the law. The sin came in at the eye, as Eve's did. Perhaps he sought to see her, at least he did not practise according to his own prayer, Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity, and his son's caution in a like case, Look not thou on the wine it is red. Either he had not, like Job, made a covenant with his eyes, or, at this time, he had forgotten it.
2. The steps of the sin. When he saw her, lust immediately conceived, and,
(1.) He enquired who she was (v. 3), perhaps intending only, if she were unmarried, to take her to wife, as he had taken several; but, if she were a wife, having no design upon her.
(2.) The corrupt desire growing more violent, though he was told she was a wife, and whose wife she was, yet he sent messengers for her, and then, it may be, intended only to please himself with her company and conversation. But,
(3.) When she came he lay with her, she too easily consenting, because he was a great man, and famed for his goodness too. Surely (thinks she) that can be no sin which such a man as David is the mover of. See how the way of sin is down-hill; when men begin to do evil they cannot soon stop themselves. The beginning of lust, as of strife, is like the letting forth of water; it is therefore wisdom to leave it off before it be meddled with. The foolish fly fires her wings, and fools away her life at last, by playing about the candle.
3. The aggravations of the sin.
(1.) He was now in years, fifty at least, some think more, when those lusts which are more properly youthful, one would think, should not have been violent in him,
(2.) He had many wives and concubines of his own; this is insisted on, 2 Sam 12:8.
(3.) Uriah, whom he wronged, was one of his own worthies, a person of honour and virtue, one that was now abroad in his service, hazarding his life in the high places of the field for the honour and safety of him and his kingdom, where he himself should have been.
(4.) Bath-sheba, whom he debauched, was a lady of good reputation, and, till she was drawn by him and his influence into this wickedness, had no doubt preserved her purity. Little did she think that ever she could have done so bad a thing as to forsake the guide of her youth, and forget the covenant of her God; nor perhaps could any one in the world but David have prevailed against her. The adulterer not only wrongs and ruins his own soul, but, as much as he can, another's soul too.
(5.) David was a king, whom God had entrusted with the sword of justice and the execution of the law upon other criminals, particularly upon adulterers, who were, by the law, to be put to death; for him therefore to be guilty of those crimes himself was to make himself a pattern, when he should have been a terror, to evil doers. With what face could he rebuke or punish that in others which he was conscious to himself of being guilty of? See Rom 2:22. Much more might be said to aggravate the sin; and I can think but of one excuse for it, which is that it was done but once; it was far from being his practice; it was by the surprise of a temptation that he was drawn into it. He was not one of those of whom the prophet complains that they were as fed horses, neighing every one after his neighbour's wife (Jer 5:8); but this once God left him to himself, as he did Hezekiah, that he might know what was in his heart, 2 Chron 32:31. Had he been told of it before, he would have said, as Hazael, What! is thy servant a dog? But by this instance we are taught what need we have to pray every day, Father, in heaven, lead us not into temptation, and to watch, that we enter not into it.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
2 Samuel 11:1
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
At the time when kings go forth to battle. The return of spring was the usual time of commencing military operations. This expedition took place the year following the war against the Syrians; and it was entered upon because the disaster of the former campaign having fallen chiefly upon the Syrian mercenaries, the Ammonites had not been punished for their insult to the ambassadors.
David sent Joab, and his servants ... they destroyed the children of Ammon. The powerful army that Josh commanded ravaged the Ammonite country, and committed great havoc both on the people and their property, until, having reached the capital, they besieged Rabbah. "Rabbah" denotes a great city. This metropolis of the Ammonites was situated in the mountainous tract of Gilead, not far from the source of the Arnon. Extensive ruins are still found on its site.
But David tarried still at Jerusalem, [yowsheeb (OT:3427), sat still; Septuagint, ekathisen]. At the time when kings go forth to battle, king David remained at home, from indolence or self-indulgence. The latter supposition is generally adopted, as affording the true solution, the key to the crime he perpetrated.
`Quaeritur AEgisthus, qua re esset factus adulter;
In promptu res est; desidiosus erat.'
2 Samuel 11:2
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
In an evening-tide, that David arose from off his bed. The Hebrews, like other Orientals, rose at day-break, and always took a nap during the heat of the day, and afterward they lounged in the cool of the evening on their flat-roofed terraces. It is probable that, since the climate of Palestine in spring is exceedingly mild and balmy, the custom may have obtained among the Hebrews, as is still universal in Persia and other Eastern countries, of sleeping on the house-top. The repose in the open air is much more refreshing than in the confinement of a room (see Morier's 'Second Journey to Persia'). Most of the people in modern Palestine sleep there in warm weather still.
2 Samuel 11:3
And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
One said - literally, he said to himself.
Is not this Bath-sheba ..., [Bat-Sheba` (OT:1339), daughter of the oath; or Bath-shua (1 Chron 3:5); Septuagint, Beersabee.] She seems to have been a celebrated beauty, whose renown had already reached the ears of David, as happens in the East, from reports carried by the women from harem to harem.
Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam - or Ammiel (1 Chron 3:5), one of David's worthies (2 Sam 23:34), and son of Ahithophel.
2 Samuel 11:4
And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
David sent messengers, and took her. The despotic kings of the East, when they take a fancy for a woman, send an officer to the house where she lives, who announces it to be the royal pleasure she should remove to the palace. An apartment is there assigned to her, and if she is chosen queen, the monarch orders the announcement to he made that he has taken her to be his chief wife. Many instances in modern Oriental history show the ease and despatch with which such secondary marriages are contracted, and a new beauty added to the royal seraglio. But David had to make a promise, or rather an express stipulation, to Bath-sheba, before she complied with the royal will (1 Kings 1:13,15,17,28); for, in addition to her transcendent beauty, she appears to have been a woman of superior talents and address in obtaining the object of her ambition; and in her securing that her son should succeed on the throne-in her promptitude to give notice of her pregnancy-in her activity in defeating Adonijah's natural expectation of succeeding to the crown-in her dignity as king's mother-we see very strong indications of the ascendancy she gained and maintained over David, who perhaps had ample leisure and opportunity to discover the punishment of this unhappy connection in more ways than one (Taylor's 'Calmet').
2 Samuel 11:5
And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
The woman conceived, and sent and told David. Some immediate measures of concealing their sin were necessary, as well for the king's honour as for her safety, because death was the punishment of an adulteress (Lev 20:10), and therefore Uriah was ordered home from the war.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
2 Samuel 11:1
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
(cf. 1 Chron 20:1). Siege of Rabbah. - "And it came to pass at the return of the year, at the time when the kings marched out, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah: but David remained in Jerusalem." This verse is connected with 2 Sam 10:14, where it was stated that after Joab had put to flight the Aramaeans who came to the help of the Ammonites, and when the Ammonites also had fallen back before Abishai in consequence of this victory, and retreated into their fortified capital, Joab himself returned to Jerusalem. He remained there during the winter or rainy season, in which it was impossible that war should be carried on. At the return of the year, i.e., at the commencement of spring, with which the new years began in the month Abib (Nisan), the time when kings who were engaged in war were accustomed to open their campaign, David sent Joab his commander-in-chief with the whole of the Israelitish forces to attack the Ammonites once more, for the purpose of chastising them and conquering their capital.
The Chethibh hamªlaa'kiym (OT:4428) should be changed into hamªlaakiym (OT:4428), according to the Keri and the text of the Chronicles. The ' (OT:589) interpolated is a perfectly superfluous mater lectionis, and probably crept into the text from a simple oversight. The "servants" of David with Joab were not the men performing military service, or soldiers, (in which case "all Israel" could only signify the people called out to war in extraordinary circumstances), but the king's military officers, the military commanders; and "all Israel," the whole of the military forces of Israel. Instead of "the children of Ammon" we find "the country of the children of Ammon," which explains the meaning more fully. But there was no necessity to insert 'erets (OT:776) (the land or country), as hishªchiyt (OT:7843) is applied to men in other passages in the sense of "cast to the ground," or destroy (e.g., 1 Sam 26:15). Rabbah was the capital of Ammonitis (as in Josh 13:25): the fuller name was Rabbath of the children of Ammon. It has been preserved in the ruins which still exist under the ancient name of Rabbat-Ammân, on the Nahr Ammân, i.e., the upper Jabbok (see at Deut 3:11). The last clause, "but David sat (remained) in Jerusalem," leads on to the account which follows of David's adultery with Bathsheba (vv. 2-27 and 2 Sam 12:1-25), which took place at that time, and is therefore inserted here, so that the conquest of Rabbah is not related till afterwards (2 Sam 12:26-31).
2 Samuel 11:2-27
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
David's Adultery. - David's deep fall forms a turning-point not only in the inner life of the great king, but also in the history of his reign. Hitherto David had kept free from the grosser sins, and had only exhibited such infirmities and failings as simulation, prevarication, etc., which clung to all the saints of the Old Covenant, and were hardly regarded as sins in the existing stage of religious culture at that time, although God never left them unpunished, but invariably visited them upon His servants with humiliations and chastisements of various kinds. Among the unacknowledged sins which God tolerated because of the hardness of Israel's heart was polygamy, which encouraged licentiousness and the tendency to sensual excesses, and to which but a weak barrier had been presented by the warning that had been given for the Israelitish kings against taking many wives (Deut 17:17), opposed as such a warning was to the notion so prevalent in the East both in ancient and modern times, that a well-filled harem is essential to the splendour of a princely court. The custom to which this notion gave rise opened a dangerous precipice in David's way, and led to a most grievous fall, that can only be explained, as O. v. Gerlach has said, from the intoxication consequent upon undisturbed prosperity and power, which grew with every year of his reign, and occasioned a long series of most severe humiliations and divine chastisements that marred the splendour of his reign, notwithstanding the fact that the great sin was followed by deep and sincere repentance.
Verse 2-5. Towards evening David walked upon the roof of his palace, after rising from his couch, i.e., after taking his mid-day rest, and saw from the roof a woman bathing, namely in the uncovered court of a neighbouring house, where there was a spring with a pool of water, such as you still frequently meet with in the East. "The woman was beautiful to look upon." Her outward charms excited sensual desires.
Verse 3. David ordered inquiry to be made about her, and found (wayo'mer (OT:559), "he, i.e., the messenger, said;" or indefinitely, "they said") that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hethite. halow' (OT:3808), nonne, is used, as it frequently is, in the sense of an affirmation, "it is indeed so." Instead of Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam, we find the name given in the Chronicles (1 Chron 3:5) as Bathshua the daughter of Ammiel. The form bat-shuwa` may be derived from bat-shewa`, in which b is softened into w; for Bathsheba (with beth) is the correct and original form, as we may see from 1 Kings 1:11,15,28. Eliam and Ammiel have the same signification; the difference simply consists in the transposition of the component parts of the name. It is impossible to determine, however, which of the two forms was the original one.
Verse 4. The information brought to him, that the beautiful woman was married, was not enough to stifle the sensual desires which arose in David's soul. "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin" (James 1:15). David sent for the woman, and lay with her. In the expression "he took her, and she came to him," there is no intimation whatever that David brought Bathsheba into his palace through craft or violence, but rather that she came at his request without any hesitation, and offered no resistance to his desires. Consequently Bathsheba is not to be regarded as free from blame. The very act of bathing in the uncovered court of a house in the heart of the city, into which it was possible for any one to look down from the roofs of the houses on higher ground, does not say much for her feminine modesty, even if it was not done with an ulterior purpose, as some commentators suppose. Nevertheless in any case the greatest guilt rests upon David, that he, a man upon whom the Lord had bestowed such grace, did not resist the temptation to the lust of the flesh, but sent to fetch the woman. "When she had sanctified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house." Defilement from sexual intercourse rendered unclean till the evening (Lev 15:18). Bathsheba thought it her duty to observe this statute most scrupulously, though she did not shrink from committing the sin of adultery.
Verse 5. When she discovered that she was with child, she sent word to David. This involved an appeal to him to take the necessary steps to avert the evil consequences of the sin, inasmuch as the law required that both adulterer and adulteress should be put to death (Lev 20:10).
Verse 6-8. David had Uriah the husband of Bathsheba sent to him by Joab, under whom he was serving in the army before Rabbah, upon some pretext or other, and asked him as soon as he arrived how it fared with Joab and the people (i.e., the army) and the war. This was probably the pretext under which David had had him sent to him. According to 2 Sam 23:39, Uriah was one of the gibborim ("mighty men") of David, and therefore held some post of command in the army, although there is no historical foundation for the statement made by Josephus, viz., that he was Joab's armour-bearer or aide-de-camp. The king then said to him, "Go down to thy house (from the palace upon Mount Zion down to the lower city, where Uriah's house was situated), and wash thy feet;" and when he had gone out of the palace, he sent a royal present after him. The Israelites were accustomed to wash their feet when they returned home from work or from a journey, to take refreshment and rest themselves. Consequently these words contained an intimation that he was to go and refresh himself in his own home. David's wish was that Uriah should spend a night at home with his wife, that he might afterwards be regarded as the father of the child that had been begotten in adultery. masª'eet (OT:4864), a present, as in Amos 5:11; Jer 50:4; Est 2:18.
(from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)