2 Samuel 11
David Commits Adultery with Bathsheba1 In the spring of the year, at the time when kings ▼
▼ Codex Leningrad (B19A), on which BHS is based, has here “messengers” (הַמַּלְאכִים, hammal’khim), probably as the result of contamination from the occurrence of that word in v. 4. The present translation follows most Hebrew mss and the ancient versions, which read “kings” (הַמֶּלָאכִים, hammela’kim).normally conduct wars, ▼
▼ Heb “go out.”David sent out Joab with his officers ▼
▼ Heb “and his servants with him.”and the entire Israelite army. ▼
▼ Heb “all Israel.”They defeated the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem. ▼
▼ The disjunctive clause contrasts David’s inactivity with the army’s activity.▼ 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his palace. ▼ From the roof he saw a woman bathing. Now this woman was very attractive. ▼
▼ The disjunctive clause highlights this observation and builds the tension of the story.3 So David sent someone to inquire about the woman. The messenger ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (the messenger) has been specified in the translation for clarity.said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
4 David sent some messengers to get her. ▼
▼ Heb “and David sent messengers and he took her.”She came to him and he had sexual relations with her. ▼
▼ Heb “he lay with her” (so NASB, NRSV); TEV “he made love to her”; NIV, CEV, NLT “he slept with her.”(Now at that time she was in the process of purifying herself from her menstrual uncleanness.) ▼
▼ The parenthetical disjunctive clause further heightens the tension by letting the reader know that Bathsheba, having just completed her menstrual cycle, is ripe for conception. See P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 286. Since she just had her period, it will also be obvious to those close to the scene that Uriah, who has been away fighting, cannot be the father of the child.Then she returned to her home. 5 The woman conceived and then sent word to David saying, “I’m pregnant.”
6 So David sent a message to Joab that said, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked about how Joab and the army were doing and how the campaign was going. ▼
▼ Heb “concerning the peace of Joab and concerning the peace of the people and concerning the peace of the battle.”8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your home and relax.” ▼
▼ Heb “and wash your feet.”When Uriah left the palace, the king sent a gift to him. ▼
▼ Heb “and there went out after him the gift of the king.”9 But Uriah stayed at the door of the palace with all ▼
▼ The Lucianic recension of the Old Greek translation lacks the word “all.”the servants of his lord. He did not go down to his house.
10 So they informed David, “Uriah has not gone down to his house.” So David said to Uriah, “Haven’t you just arrived from a journey? Why haven’t you gone down to your house?” 11 Uriah replied to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah reside in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and my lord’s soldiers are camping in the open field. Should I go to my house to eat and drink and have marital relations ▼
▼ Heb “and lay.”with my wife? As surely as you are alive, ▼
▼ Heb “as you live and as your soul lives.”I will not do this thing!” 12 So David said to Uriah, “Stay here another day. Tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem both that day and the following one. ▼
▼ On the chronology involved here see P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 287.13 Then David summoned him. He ate and drank with him, and got him drunk. But in the evening he went out to sleep on his bed with the servants of his lord; he did not go down to his own house.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote: “Station Uriah in the thick of the battle and then withdraw from him so he will be cut down and killed.”
16 So as Joab kept watch on the city, he stationed Uriah at the place where he knew the best enemy soldiers ▼
▼ Heb “the valiant men.” This refers in context to the strongest or most valiant defenders of the city Joab and the Israelite army were besieging, so the present translation uses “the best enemy soldiers” for clarity.were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, some of David’s soldiers ▼
▼ Heb “some of the people from the servants of David.”fell in battle. Uriah the Hittite also died.
18 Then Joab sent a full battle report to David. ▼
▼ Heb “Joab sent and related to David all the matters of the battle.”19 He instructed the messenger as follows: “When you finish giving the battle report to the king, 20 if the king becomes angry and asks you, ‘Why did you go so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you realize they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck down Abimelech the son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman throw an upper millstone ▼
▼ The upper millstone (Heb “millstone of riding”) refers to the heavy circular stone that was commonly rolled over a circular base in order to crush and grind such things as olives.down on him from the wall so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go so close to the wall?’ just say to him, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.’”
22 So the messenger departed. When he arrived, he informed David of all the news that Joab had sent with him. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and attacked us ▼
▼ Heb “and came out to us.”in the field. But we forced them to retreat all the way ▼
▼ Heb “but we were on them.”to the door of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall and some of the king’s soldiers ▼
▼ The translation follows the Qere (“your servants”) rather than the Kethib (“your servant”).died. Your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Tell Joab, ‘Don’t let this thing upset you. ▼
▼ Heb “let not this matter be evil in your eyes.”There is no way to anticipate whom the sword will cut down. ▼
▼ Heb “according to this and according to this the sword devours.”Press the battle against the city and conquer ▼
▼ Heb “overthrow.”it.’ Encourage him with these words.” ▼
▼ The Hebrew text does not have “with these words.” They are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for him. ▼
▼ Heb “for her lord.”27 When the time of mourning passed, David had her brought to his palace. ▼
▼ Heb “David sent and gathered her to his house.”She became his wife and she bore him a son. But what David had done upset the Lord. ▼
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