2 Samuel 11
David’s affair with Bathsheba
Bathsheba the naked beauty1In the spring of the year, when kings at war typically return to the battlefield, David sent his army to finish the fight with Ammon. He sent his commander Joab, all the officers, and all the soldiers to Ammon’s capital of Rabbah.  But David stayed behind, in Jerusalem.
2Late one afternoon, after a siesta, David got up and walked to the flat rooftop  of his palace. He saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. 3David had his people find out who she was. They gave him this report: “The woman is Bathsheba. She’s the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”  4David sent for Bathsheba. She came to him, he had sex with her,  then she went home. At the time of the bath, she was purifying herself at the end of her menstrual cycle.  5She became pregnant. She sent the message to David. “I’m pregnant.”
6David sent a message to Joab: “Tell Uriah the Hittite to report to me.” Joab did. 7David asked Uriah how the war was going and how Joab and the soldiers were doing.
Uriah won’t go home to Bathsheba8Afterward, David told him, “Go home, wash up,  and relax.” David sent him away with a gift.  9Uriah did not go home to his wife. He slept on a mat by the entrance into David’s palace, where the guards were posted.
10The next morning, David’s people told the king, “Uriah didn’t go home last night.” David called in Uriah and asked, “What’s going on with you? You’re back from a long trip and you didn’t even go to your own home. Why not?”
11Uriah said, “The sacred Box of the Ten Commandments  and the soldiers of Israel and Judah are camped in tents on a battlefront. My commander Joab and many of his soldiers are sleeping in the open fields. How can I go into the comfort of my home to eat and rest and sleep in the arms of my wife? I won’t do it. I swear it on the life of my king.”
12David told him, “Okay, then stay here today. I’ll send you back to the battlefront tomorrow.” Uriah stayed in Jerusalem. 13The next day, David invited him to eat and drink with him. David got him good and drunk. But in the evening, Uriah still refused to go home.  Once again he slept on a mat outside the palace near the guards.
Uriah KIA14The next morning, David wrote a sealed message  for Uriah to deliver to Joab. 15The message read, “Put Uriah on the front line where the fighting is most intense. Have him take the point, then pull everyone else back so he’s left alone to die fighting.”
16Joab surveyed the battlefield. He saw where the enemy’s best warriors were fighting. He ordered Uriah to attack them. 17Ammon’s defenders charged out of the gates and engaged Uriah and the Israelite soldiers with him. Some of David’s men were killed in action there. Uriah was among them.
David gets news of Uriah’s death18Joab sent a messenger to deliver the news to David. 19Joab told the messenger, “Tell the king everything that happened in the firefight. 20If he gets mad, he might ask why I didn’t anticipate that the enemy would use their archers to fire from the walls. 21If he does, remind him that even Gideon’s son Abimelech died that way. A woman on the wall at Thebez dropped a grain-grinding stone on his head.  It happens. And make sure to tell him Uriah the Hittite is dead.”
22The messenger told David everything Joab said. 23He told David, “The enemy overpowered us. They charged us onto the field, but we pushed them back to their city gate. 24That’s when their archers opened fire from the walls. They killed some of your men. Your soldier Uriah the Hittite is dead, too.”
25David told the messenger, “Give this reply to Joab: ‘Don’t let this setback bother you. A battle sword doesn’t care who you are. So take the fight to the enemy and capture that city.’ Give Joab that message to encourage him.” 
David marries Bathsheba26When Uriah’s wife got the news that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.  27When the mourning was over, David sent for her and married her. She gave birth to David’s son. But the LORD was angry about what David did.
Rabbah was about a three-day march east, across the Jordan River, near to what is now Amman, capital of Jordan.
People treated flat rooftops a bit like we treat a porch or a deck. It’s a place to work outside or to relax in the cool of a fair-weather day. It was common to have a short wall around the perimeter, to protect children from falling off.
Uriah wasn’t just a soldier. He was one of about 30 men in David’s elite strike force known as The Thirty (1 Chronicles 11:41).
David already had at least seven wives at the time. The writer gives no indication if Bathsheba was a willing partner or a woman suffering through a royal command performance. Women seemed to have little to no influence, as in some nations even today. They were treated much like children.
Women had to wait a week after their menstrual flow stopped before they could take their bath that ritually cleansed them. That means Bathsheba was at or near her most fertile time of the month, which is about two weeks before the start of the next menstrual cycle. Jewish women in Bible times, as today, were considered ritually unclean during menstruation (Leviticus 15:19-33). They couldn’t offer sacrifices during this time, and they rendered anyone they touched ritually unclean. Getting cleansed involved a waiting period and a ritual bath.
“Wash up” is more literally, “wash your feet,” possibly a euphemism for “sleep with your wife.”
It’s hard to resist guessing what the gift was. Probably not baby shoes, diapers, and a rattle.
The Ark of the Covenant. It was a gold-covered chest that held the stone tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments.
Some readers might react, “Drunk, Uriah was a better man than David was sober.”
Messages this important were often written on a scroll that was rolled up and tied shut with string. Then a plug of clay was pressed into the string and stamped with the king’s signet ring or seal. Anyone reading the message had to break the clay plug, which dried quickly.
People hearing that story from ancient times might react to David’s message by saying, “Give the message to Joab yourself. What are you doing in Jerusalem when your army is fighting a battle for you? Jerk.”
People formerly mourned a loved one for seven days (Genesis 50:10), though mourning could go on for a month (Numbers 20:29). If Bathsheba was as intelligent as later stories in the Bible suggest, she must have known that she played a role—even if it was unwilling—in her husband’s murder.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.