2 Samuel 12
New English Translation
Nathan the Prophet Confronts David
12 So the Lord sent Nathan[a] to David. When he came to David,[b] Nathan[c] said,[d] “There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing except for a little lamb he had acquired. He raised it, and it grew up alongside him and his children.[e] It used to[f] eat his food,[g] drink from his cup, and sleep in his arms.[h] It was just like a daughter to him.
4 “When a traveler arrived at the rich man’s home,[i] he did not want to use one of his own sheep or cattle to feed[j] the traveler who had come to visit him.[k] Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and cooked[l] it for the man who had come to visit him.”
5 Then David became very angry at this man. He said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die![m] 6 Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!”[n]
7 Nathan said to David, “You are that man! This is what the Lord God of Israel has said: ‘I chose[o] you to be king over Israel and I rescued you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house, and put your master’s wives into your arms.[p] I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well! 9 Why have you shown contempt for the Lord’s decrees[q] by doing evil in my[r] sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife to be your own wife! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 So now the sword will never depart from your house. For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!’ 11 This is what the Lord has said: ‘I am about to bring disaster on you[s] from inside your own household![t] Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion.[u] He will go to bed with[v] your wives in broad daylight![w] 12 Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight.’”[x]
13 Then David exclaimed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord!” Nathan replied to David, “Yes, and the Lord has forgiven[y] your sin. You are not going to die. 14 Nonetheless, because you have treated the Lord with such contempt[z] in this matter, the son who has been born to you will certainly die.”
15 Then Nathan went to his home. The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and the child became very ill.[aa] 16 Then David prayed to[ab] God for the child and fasted.[ac] He would even[ad] go and spend the night lying on the ground. 17 The elders of his house stood over him and tried to lift him from the ground, but he was unwilling, and refused to eat food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. But the servants of David were afraid to inform him that the child had died, for they said, “While the child was still alive he would not listen to us[ae] when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He will do himself harm!”[af]
19 When David saw that his servants were whispering to one another, he[ag] realized that the child was dead. So David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” They replied, “Yes, he’s dead.” 20 So David got up from the ground, bathed, put on oil, and changed his clothes. He went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then, when he entered his palace, he requested that food be brought to him, and he ate.
21 His servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? While[ah] the child was still alive, you fasted and wept. Once the child was dead you got up and ate food!” 22 He replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept because I thought,[ai] ‘Perhaps[aj] the Lord will show pity and the child will live.’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Am I able to bring him back at this point? I will go to him, but he cannot return to me!”
24 So David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He came to her[ak] and went to bed with her.[al] Later she gave birth to a son, and David[am] named him Solomon. Now the Lord loved the child[an] 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that he should be named Jedidiah[ao] for the Lord’s sake.
David’s Forces Defeat the Ammonites
26 [ap] So Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal city. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and have captured the water supply of the city.[aq] 28 So now assemble the rest of the army[ar] and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will capture the city and it will be named for me.”
29 So David assembled all the army and went to Rabbah and fought against it and captured it. 30 He took the crown of their king[as] from his head—it was gold, weighed about seventy-five pounds,[at] and held a precious stone—and it was placed on David’s head. He also took from the city a great deal of plunder. 31 He removed[au] the people who were in it and made them labor with saws, iron picks, and iron axes, putting them to work[av] at the brick kiln. This was his policy[aw] with all the Ammonite cities. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.
- 2 Samuel 12:1 tc A few medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, and the Syriac Peshitta add “the prophet.” The words are included in a few modern English version (e.g., TEV, CEV, NLT).
- 2 Samuel 12:1 tn Heb “him”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Samuel 12:1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Nathan) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Samuel 12:1 tn The Hebrew text repeats “to him.”
- 2 Samuel 12:3 tn Heb “his sons.”
- 2 Samuel 12:3 tn The three Hebrew imperfect verbal forms in this sentence have a customary nuance; they describe past actions that were repeated or typical.
- 2 Samuel 12:3 tn Heb “from his morsel.”
- 2 Samuel 12:3 tn Heb “and on his chest [or perhaps, “lap”] it would lie.”
- 2 Samuel 12:4 tn Heb “came to the rich man.” In the translation “arrived at the rich man’s home” has been used for stylistic reasons.
- 2 Samuel 12:4 tn Heb “and he refused to take from his flock and from his herd to prepare [a meal] for.”
- 2 Samuel 12:4 tn Heb “who had come to him” (also a second time later in this verse). The word “visit” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons and for clarity.
- 2 Samuel 12:4 tn Heb “and prepared.”
- 2 Samuel 12:5 tn Heb “the man doing this [is] a son of death.” See 1 Sam 20:31 for another use of this expression, which must mean “he is as good as dead” or “he deserves to die,” as 1 Sam 20:32 makes clear.
- 2 Samuel 12:6 tc With the exception of the Lucianic recension, the Old Greek translation has here “sevenfold” rather than “fourfold,” a reading that S. R. Driver thought probably to be the original reading (S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel, 291). However, Exod 22:1 [21:37 HT] specifies fourfold repayment for a stolen sheep, which is consistent with 2 Sam 12:6. Some mss of the Targum and the Syriac Peshitta exaggerate the idea to “fortyfold.”tn Heb “the lamb he must repay fourfold because he did this thing and because he did not have compassion.”
- 2 Samuel 12:7 tn Heb “anointed.”
- 2 Samuel 12:8 tn Heb “and the wives of your lord into your chest [or “lap”].” The words “I put” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons and for clarification.
- 2 Samuel 12:9 tn Or “word, message.” The “word of the Lord” sometimes refers to a prophetic message from God and sometimes to his past revelation. Here it refers to the Lord’s laws which David has violated.
- 2 Samuel 12:9 tc So the Qere; the Kethib has “his.”
- 2 Samuel 12:11 tn Heb “raise up against you disaster.”
- 2 Samuel 12:11 tn Heb “house” (so NAB, NRSV); NCV, TEV, CEV “family.”
- 2 Samuel 12:11 tn Or “friend.”
- 2 Samuel 12:11 tn Heb “will lie down with.” The verb שָׁכַב (shakhav) “to lie down” can be a euphemism for going to bed for sexual relations.
- 2 Samuel 12:11 tn Heb “in the eyes of this sun.”
- 2 Samuel 12:12 tn Heb “and before the sun.”
- 2 Samuel 12:13 tn Heb “removed.”
- 2 Samuel 12:14 tc The MT has here “because you have caused the enemies of the Lord to treat the Lord with such contempt.” This is one of the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.” According to this ancient tradition, the scribes changed the text in order to soften somewhat the negative light in which David was presented. If that is the case, the MT reflects the altered text. The present translation departs from the MT here. Elsewhere the Piel stem of this verb means “treat with contempt,” but never “cause someone to treat with contempt.”
- 2 Samuel 12:15 tn Heb “and the Lord struck the child…and he was ill.” It is necessary to repeat “the child” in the translation to make clear who became ill, since “the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became very ill” could be understood to mean that David himself became ill.
- 2 Samuel 12:16 tn Heb “sought” or “searched for.”
- 2 Samuel 12:16 tn Heb “and David fasted.”
- 2 Samuel 12:16 tn The three Hebrew verbs that follow in this verse are perfects with prefixed vav. They may describe repeated past actions or actions which accompanied David’s praying and fasting.
- 2 Samuel 12:18 tn Heb “to our voice.”
- 2 Samuel 12:18 tn Heb “he will do harm.” The object is not stated in the Hebrew text. The statement may be intentionally vague, meaning that he might harm himself or them!
- 2 Samuel 12:19 tn Heb “David.” The name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.
- 2 Samuel 12:21 tc For the MT בַּעֲבוּר (baʿavur, “for the sake of”) we should probably read בְּעוֹד (beʿod, “while”). See the Lucianic Greek recension, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Targum.
- 2 Samuel 12:22 tn Heb “said.”
- 2 Samuel 12:22 tn Heb “Who knows?”
- 2 Samuel 12:24 tn The combination of the verb בּוֹא (boʾ; “to come, enter”) and the preposition אֶל (ʾel; “to”) means “to approach, to come to” (HALOT 1:113). This common expression is also used as a euphemism for coming together for sexual relations. Although some take the phrase to be a graphic depiction of a man actions in sexual relations with a woman, certain factors clarify that it is a euphemism. First, the phrase also describes a woman approaching a man for sexual relations (2 Sam 11:4), a situation where this phrase cannot be explicitly descriptive. Second, the phrase is paired here with שָׁכַב (shakhav), “to lie down,” which only makes sense if the two are complementary (compare also Gen 19:33-34 which uses both verbs of Lot’s daughters, but without the preposition). The verb שָׁכַב can imply lying down for sleep or for sexual relations. When בּוֹא אֶל (boʾ ʾel) is used with שָׁכַב (shakhav), they state the natural progression of approaching and then lying with. Hebrew can use the two together, or either separately, as a euphemism for sexual relations. But if the phrase בּוֹא אֶל were already an explicit depiction of sex, then the latter phrase with שָׁכַב, “to lie with,” would be pointless. So 2 Sam 11:4 and 2 Sam 12:24 are important evidence for how this phrase really works, and it is appropriate to also use euphemisms in translation.
- 2 Samuel 12:24 tn Heb “and he lay with her.” The phrase is a euphemism for sexual relations.
- 2 Samuel 12:24 tc The Kethiv reads “he named” while the Qere reads “she named.”tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity. While some translations render the pronoun as third person plural (“they”), implying that both David and Bathsheba together named the child, it is likely that the name “Solomon,” which is related to the Hebrew word for “peace” (and may be derived from it) had special significance for David, who would have regarded the birth of a second child to Bathsheba as a confirming sign that God had forgiven his sin and was at peace with him.
- 2 Samuel 12:24 tn Heb “him,” referring to the child.
- 2 Samuel 12:25 sn The name Jedidiah means “loved by the Lord.”
- 2 Samuel 12:26 sn Here the narrative resumes the battle story that began in 11:1 (see 11:25). The author has interrupted that story to give the related account of David’s sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. He now returns to the earlier story and brings it to a conclusion.
- 2 Samuel 12:27 sn The expression translated the water supply of the city (Heb “the city of the waters”) apparently refers to that part of the fortified city that guarded the water supply of the entire city. Joab had already captured this part of the city, but he now defers to King David for the capture of the rest of the city. In this way the king will receive the credit for this achievement.
- 2 Samuel 12:28 tn Heb “people.” So also in vv. 29, 31.
- 2 Samuel 12:30 tn Part of the Greek tradition wrongly understands Hebrew מַלְכָּם (malkam, “their king”) as a proper name (“Milcom”). Some English versions follow the Greek here, rendering the phrase “the crown of Milcom” (so NRSV; cf. also NAB, CEV). TEV takes this as a reference not to the Ammonite king but to “the idol of the Ammonite god Molech.”
- 2 Samuel 12:30 tn Heb “and its weight [was] a talent of gold.” The weight of this ornamental crown was approximately 75 lbs (34 kg). See P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 313.
- 2 Samuel 12:31 tn Heb “brought out.”
- 2 Samuel 12:31 tnHeb “to pass through.”
- 2 Samuel 12:31 tn Heb “and so he would do.”