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David Commits Adultery with Bathsheba

11 In the spring of the year, at the time when kings[a] normally conduct wars,[b] David sent out Joab with his officers[c] and the entire Israelite army.[d] They defeated the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.[e] One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his palace.[f] From the roof he saw a woman bathing. Now this woman was very attractive.[g] So David sent someone to inquire about the woman. The messenger[h] said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

David sent some messengers to get her.[i] She came to[j] him and he went to bed with her.[k] (Now at that time she was in the process of purifying herself from her menstrual uncleanness.)[l] Then she returned to her home. The woman conceived and then sent word to David saying, “I’m pregnant.”

So David sent a message to Joab that said, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked about how Joab and the army were doing and how the campaign was going.[m] Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your home and relax.”[n] When Uriah left the palace, the king sent a gift to him.[o] But Uriah stayed at the door of the palace with all[p] 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 go to bed with[q] my wife? As surely as you are alive,[r] 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.[s] 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 at the front 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[t] were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, some of David’s soldiers[u] fell in battle. Uriah the Hittite also died.

18 Then Joab sent a full battle report to David.[v] 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[w] 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[x] in the field. But we forced them to retreat[y] all the way 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[z] died. Your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Tell Joab, ‘Don’t let this thing upset you.[aa] There is no way to anticipate whom the sword will cut down.[ab] Press the battle against the city and conquer[ac] it.’ Encourage him with these words.”[ad]

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for him.[ae] 27 When the time of mourning passed, David had her brought to his palace.[af] She became his wife and she bore him a son. But what David had done upset the Lord.[ag]

Footnotes

  1. 2 Samuel 11:1 tc Codex Leningrad (B19A), on which BHS is based, has here “messengers” (הַמַּלְאָכִים, hammalʾakhim), 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, hammelakhim).
  2. 2 Samuel 11:1 tn Heb “go out.”
  3. 2 Samuel 11:1 tn Heb “and his servants with him.”
  4. 2 Samuel 11:1 tn Heb “all Israel.”
  5. 2 Samuel 11:1 tn The disjunctive clause contrasts David’s inactivity with the army’s activity.
  6. 2 Samuel 11:2 tn Heb “on the roof of the house of the king.” So also in vv. 8, 9.
  7. 2 Samuel 11:2 tn The disjunctive clause highlights this observation and builds the tension of the story.
  8. 2 Samuel 11:3 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the messenger) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  9. 2 Samuel 11:4 tn Heb “and David sent messengers and he took her.”
  10. 2 Samuel 11:4 tn The expression בּוֹא אֶל (boʾ ʾel) means “come to” or “approach,” but is also used as a euphemism for sexual relations, the implied purpose for approaching someone. Here it refers only to the stage of approaching while the next verb describes the result. That she is the subject of this verb (while David is the subject of the next verb) probably indicates that the act was consensual.
  11. 2 Samuel 11:4 tn Heb “he lay down with her.” The verb שָׁכַב (shakav) “to lie down” can be a euphemism for going to bed for sexual relations.
  12. 2 Samuel 11:4 tn 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.
  13. 2 Samuel 11:7 tn Heb “concerning the peace of Joab and concerning the peace of the people and concerning the peace of the battle.”
  14. 2 Samuel 11:8 tn Heb “and wash your feet.”
  15. 2 Samuel 11:8 tn Heb “and there went out after him the gift of the king.”
  16. 2 Samuel 11:9 tc The Lucianic recension of the Old Greek translation lacks the word “all.”
  17. 2 Samuel 11:11 tn Heb “lie with.” The verb שָׁכַב (shakav) “to lie down” can be a euphemism for going to bed for sexual relations.
  18. 2 Samuel 11:11 tn Heb “as you live and as your soul lives.”
  19. 2 Samuel 11:12 tn On the chronology involved here see P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 287.
  20. 2 Samuel 11:16 tn 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.
  21. 2 Samuel 11:17 tn Heb “some of the people from the servants of David.”
  22. 2 Samuel 11:18 tn Heb “Joab sent and related to David all the matters of the battle.”
  23. 2 Samuel 11:21 sn 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.
  24. 2 Samuel 11:23 tn Heb “and came out to us.”
  25. 2 Samuel 11:23 tn Heb “but we were on them.”
  26. 2 Samuel 11:24 tc The translation follows the Qere (“your servants”) rather than the Kethib (“your servant”).
  27. 2 Samuel 11:25 tn Heb “let not this matter be evil in your eyes.”
  28. 2 Samuel 11:25 tn Heb “according to this and according to this the sword devours.”
  29. 2 Samuel 11:25 tn Heb “overthrow.”
  30. 2 Samuel 11:25 tn The Hebrew text does not have “with these words.” They are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
  31. 2 Samuel 11:26 tn Heb “for her lord.”
  32. 2 Samuel 11:27 tn Heb “David sent and gathered her to his house.”
  33. 2 Samuel 11:27 tn Heb “and the thing which David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Note the verbal connection with v. 25. Though David did not regard the matter as evil, the Lord certainly did.

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