2 Samuel 11

CHAPTER XI

David sends Joab against the Ammonites, who besieges the city

of Rabbah, 1.

He sees Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, bathing; is enamoured of

her; sends for and takes her to his bed, 24.

She conceives, and informs David, 5.

David sends to Joab, and orders him to send to him Uriah, 6.

He arrives; and David having inquired the state of the army,

dismisses him, desiring him to go to his own house, 7, 8.

Uriah sleeps at the door of the king's house, 9.

The next day the king urges him to go to his house; but he

refuses to go, and gives the most pious and loyal reasons

for his refusal, 10-11.

David after two days sends him back to the army, with a letter

to Joab, desiring him to place Uriah in the front of the

battle, that he may be slain, 12-15.

He does so; and Uriah falls, 16, 17.

Joab communicates this news in an artful message to David,

18-25.

David sends for Bath-sheba and takes her to wife, and she bears

him a son, 26, 27.

NOTES ON CHAP. XI

Verse 1. When kings go forth] This was about a year after the

war with the Syrians spoken of before, and about the spring of the

year, as the most proper season for military operations. Calmet

thinks they made two campaigns, one in autumn and the other in

spring; the winter being in many respects inconvenient, and the

summer too hot.

Verse 2. In an evening-tide-David arose] He had been reposing on

the roof of his house, to enjoy the breeze, as the noonday was too

hot for the performance of business. This is still a constant

custom on the flat-roofed houses in the East.

He saw a woman washing herself] How could any woman of delicacy

expose herself where she could be so fully and openly viewed? Did

she not know that she was at least in view of the king's terrace?

Was there no design in all this? Et fugit ad salices, et se cupit

ante videri. In a Bengal town pools of water are to be seen

everywhere, and women may be seen morning and evening bathing in

them, and carrying water home. Thus David might have seen

Bath-sheba, and no blame attach to her.

Ver. 4 shows us that this washing was at the termination of a

particular period.

Verse 3. The daughter of Eliam] Called, 1Ch 3:5, Ammiel; a word

of the same meaning, The people of my God, The God of my people.

This name expressed the covenant-I will be your God; We will be

thy people.

Verse 4. And she came in unto him] We hear nothing of her

reluctance, and there is no evidence that she was taken by force.

Verse 5. And the woman conceived] A proof of the observation on

2Sa 11:4; as that is the time in which women are most apt to

conceive.

Verse 8. Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet.] Uriah had

come off a journey, and needed this refreshment; but David's

design was that he should go and lie with his wife, that the child

now conceived should pass for his, the honour of Bath-sheba be

screened, and his own crime concealed. At this time he had no

design of the murder of Uriah, nor of taking Bath-sheba to wife.

A mess of meat from the king.] All this was artfully contrived.

Verse 9. Slept at the door] That is, in one of the apartments or

niches in the court of the king's house. But in Bengal servants

and others generally sleep on the verandahs or porches in face of

their master's house.

Verse 10. Camest thou not from thy journey?] It is not thy

duty to keep watch or guard; thou art come from a journey, and

needest rest and refreshment.

Verse 11. The ark, and Israel-abide in tents] It appears

therefore that they had taken the ark with them to battle.

This was the answer of a brave, generous and disinterested man.

I will not indulge myself while all my fellow soldiers are exposed

to hardships, and even the ark of the Lord in danger. Had Uriah no

suspicion of what had been done in his absence?

Verse 13. He made him drunk] Supposing that in this state he

would have been off his guard, and hastened down to his house.

Verse 14. David wrote a letter] This was the sum of treachery

and villany. He made this most noble man the carrier of letters

which prescribed the mode in which he was to be murdered. This

case some have likened to that of Bellerophon, son of Glaucus,

king of Ephyra, who being in the court of Proetus, king of the

Argives, his queen Antia, or as others Sthenoboea, fell violently

in love with him; but he, refusing to gratify her criminal

passions, was in revenge accused by her to Proetus her husband, as

having attempted to corrupt her. Proetus not willing to violate

the laws of hospitality by slaying him in his own house, wrote

letters to Jobates, king of Lycia, the father of Sthenoboea, and

sent them by the hand of Bellerophon, stating his crime, and

desiring Jobates to put him to death. To meet the wishes of his

son-in-law, and keep his own hands innocent of blood, he sent him

with a small force against a very warlike people called the

Solymi; but, contrary to all expectation, he not only escaped

with his life, but gained a complete victory over them. He was

afterwards sent upon several equally dangerous and hopeless

expeditions, but still came off with success; and to reward him

Jobates gave him one of his daughters to wife, and a part of his

kingdom. Sthenoboea, hearing this, through rage and despair killed

herself.

I have given this history at large, because many have thought it

not only to be parallel to that of Uriah, but to be a fabulous

formation from the Scripture fact: for my own part, I scarcely see

in them any correspondence, but in the simple circumstance that

both carried those letters which contained their own condemnation.

From the fable of Bellerophon came the proverb, Bellerophontis

literas portare, "to carry one's own condemnation."

Verse 17. Uriah the Hitite died also.] He was led to the attack

of a place defended by valiant men; and in the heat of the

assault, Joab and his men retired from this brave soldier, who

cheerfully gave up his life for his king and his country.

Verse 20. If-the king's wrath arise] It is likely that Joab had

by some indiscretion suffered loss about this time; and he

contrived to get rid of the odium by connecting the transaction

with the death of Uriah, which he knew would be so pleasing to the

king.

Verse 25. The sword devoureth one as well as another] What

abominable hypocrisy was here! He well knew that Uriah's death was

no chance-medley; he was by his own order thrust on the edge of

the sword.

Verse 26. She mourned for her husband.] The whole of her conduct

indicates that she observed the form without feeling the power of

sorrow. She lost a captain and got a king for her spouse; this

must have been deep affliction indeed: and therefore:-

_____ Lachrymas non sponte cadentes

Effudit; gemitusque expressit pectore laeto.

"She shed reluctant tears, and forced out groans from a joyful

heart."

Verse 27. When the mourning was past] Probably it lasted only

seven days.

She became his wife] This hurried marriage was no doubt intended

on both sides to cover the pregnancy.

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.] It was

necessary to add this, lest the splendour of David's former

virtues should induce any to suppose his crimes were passed over,

or looked on with an indulgent eye, by the God of purity and

justice. Sorely he sinned, and sorely did he suffer for it; he

sowed one grain of sweet, and reaped a long harvest of calamity

and wo.

ON a review of the whole, I hesitate not to say that the

preceding chapter is an illustrious proof of the truth of the

sacred writings. Who that intended to deceive, by trumping up a

religion which he designed to father on the purity of God, would

have inserted such an account of one of its most zealous

advocates, and once its brightest ornament? God alone, whose

character is impartiality, has done it, to show that his religion,

librata ponderibus suis, will ever stand independently of the

conduct of its professors.

Drs. Delaney, Chandler, and others, have taken great pains to

excuse and varnish this conduct of David; and while I admire their

ingenuity, I abhor the tendency of their doctrine, being fully

convinced that he who writes on this subject should write like the

inspired penman, who tells the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING

BUT THE TRUTH.

David may be pitied because he had fallen from great eminence;

but who can help deploring the fate of the brave, the faithful,

the incorruptible Uriah? Bath-sheba was probably first in the

transgression, by a too public display of her charms; by which

accidentally, the heart of David was affected wounded, and

blinded. He committed one crime which he employed many shifts to

conceal; these all failing, he is led from step to step to the

highest degree of guilt. Not only does he feel that his and her

honour, but even their lives, are at stake; for death, by the

law of Moses, was the punishment of adultery. He thought therefore

that either Uriah must die, or he and Bath-sheba perish for their

iniquity; for that law had made no provision to save the life of

even a king who transgressed its precepts. He must not imbrue his

own hands in the blood of this brave man; but he employs him on a

service from which his bravery would not permit him to shrink; and

it which, from the nature of his circumstances, he must inevitably

perish. The awful trial is made, and it succeeds. The criminal

king and his criminal paramour are for a moment concealed; and one

of the bravest of men falls an affectionate victim for the safety

and support of him by whom his spotless blood is shed! But what

shall we say of Joab, the wicked executor of the base commands of

his fallen master? He was a ruffian, not a soldier; base and

barbarous beyond example, in his calling; a pander to the vices of

his monarch, while he was aware that he was outraging every law of

religion, piety, honour, and arms! It is difficult to state the

characters, and sum up and apportion the quantity of vice

chargeable on each.

Let David, once a pious, noble, generous, and benevolent hero,

who, when almost perishing with thirst, would not taste the water

which his brave men had acquired at the hazard of their lives; let

this David, I say, be considered an awful example of apostasy from

religion, justice, and virtue; Bath-sheba, of lightness and

conjugal infidelity; Joab, of base, unmanly, and cold-blooded

cruelty; Uriah, of untarnished heroism, inflexible fidelity, and

unspotted virtue; and then justice will be done to each character.

For my own part, I must say, I pity David; I venerate Uriah; I

detest Joab, and think meanly of Bath-sheba. Similar crimes have

been repeatedly committed in similar circumstances. I shall take

my leave of the whole with:-

Id commune malum; semel insanivimus omnes;

Aut sumus, aut fuimus, aut possumus, omne quod hic est.

God of purity and mercy! save the reader from the ευπεριστατος

αμαρτια, well circumstanced sin; and let him learn,

"Where many mightier have been slain,

By thee unsaved, he falls."

See the notes on the succeeding chapter.

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