Lectionary Year B
July 27, 2003
II Samuel 11:1-15

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) Nestle-Aland's NTG cites Luke 14:32, where Jesus is describing the priorities for serving as a disciple faithful to His standards, as alluding (at least) to II Samuel 11:7, where David asks about how the war and his troops are fairing in the heat of battle. David, the King of Israel, is listed in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew 1:6 and 17 and Luke 3:31. Jesus is referred to as the Son of David in Mark 10:47f, 12:35, Matthew 9:27 and 12:23 and Luke 18:38f and 20:41. David is the "ancestor of the Messiah in Mt 22:42. The Messianic Kingdom described as Kingdom of David in Mark 11:10; his political kingdom the fallen tabernacle of David in Acts 15:16. The Messiah has the key, i.e. sovereignty of David in Revelation 3:7" say Arndt and Gingrich. None of these NT passages refers to David's indiscretions with Uriah or Bathsheba, understandably, one might suppose. Of course, Paul has some things to say against ethical/moral indecencies and/or disrespect; e.g., Philippians 4:8, generally and more specifically, Galatians 5:15-21 lists sins of the flesh, especially referring to "fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissentions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these," as the NRSV translates them.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Leviticus 20:10 prescribes death for both the perpetrator and the victim of one having sexual intercourse with another's wife. Leviticus 15:19-24 stipulates purification from a woman's menstrual period and Genesis 18:4, 9:2 and 34:32 illustrate feet washing after journeying, which "may also be a euphemism for preparing for sexual intercourse, in view of David's secret plan (v. 11)," according to the NRSV footnotes. Psalms 32 and 51 have been traditionally thought to refer to David's need for contrition and repenting. And, from the first century CE we read in the lives of the Prophets 17, "Nathan, David's prophet, was from Gaba, and it was he who taught him the law of the Lord. And he saw that David would transgress in the Bathsheba (affair); and while he was hastening to go tell him, Beliar hindered him, for by the road he found a dead man who had been murdered lying naked; and he remained there, and that night he knew that (David) had committed the sin. And he returned weeping, and when (David) killed her husband, the Lord sent (him) to rebuke him."

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These aristocrats might get embarrassed at David's sinfulness. They might be tempted to use the same kind of prestige he used to mistreat both victims of his conceit. They could surely identify with David's staying out of the war by remaining safely at home in a palace. What would they do with David's strategy to get rid of Uriah? Would they compliment his cleverness and suffer with his decision-making and the resultant consequences? Surely they would applaud Uriah's faithfulness to support his troops in the battlefield and his disciplining himself to refrain from going home while on furlough.

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