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

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) Since this pericope never mentions God or much of anything even remotely relating to God or godliness, we are left to search for a theological focal point. It might be in David's acting on his will to get hold of Bathsheba, but that characteristic is short lived when God's will would never disrespect anyone as David did to Bathsheba. Next we might be tempted to find in Uriah's fidelity for the condition his troops face in battle, reminds us of God's faithfulness to us as we struggle with such challenges in daily life. Still, these attempts seem to fall short of being true "theological" centers of the passage. The major points include David and his Kingly will on which he acts, yet inconsiderately at best. Perhaps Uriah's concern for his fellow soldiers and/or Joab's obedience to David represent some worthy elements in this lection. These observations leave for the minor factors to include Bathsheba and, possibly Uriah's wife, unnamed and never mentioned.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 It happened in the turning of the seasons of the year when kings go out to war, that David sent away Joab and his servants and with him all Israel and they went and destroyed the sons of Ammon and they besieged Rabbath while David remained in Jerusalem. 2 And it happened in the evening that David arose from his couch/bed and walked about on the housetop of the King's palace and he saw/observed from the roof a woman bathing and the woman was in appearance exceedingly beautiful. 3 And David sent away and he inquired of the woman, "Is this not Bathsheba the daughter of Eliam the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" 4 And David sent away messengers and he took/acquired/fetched her and she came to him and he lay with her and she cleansed herself from religious/ethical/sexual uncleanness and she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived and she sent to David and told him, "I am pregnant." 6 And David sent word unto Joab, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 And Uriah came unto him and asked David of the peace/well fare of Joab and of the peace/well fare of the people and of the peace/well fare of the war. 8 And David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash your feet. Uriah went out from the King's house and went out with him a gift from the King. 9 However, Uriah ay down at the opening/doorway/entrance of the King's palace with all the servants of his lord and he did go down to his house. 10 And they told David saying that he did not go down to his house and David said David to Uriah, "Didn't you (emphatic) come from a long distance/way/journey and are you not going down to your house?" 11 And Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in booths/thickets and my Lord Joab and the servants/slaves of my lord are camping on the face of a field and I (emphatic) go down to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? No way, as you live and your spirit lives, I shall never do this thing. 12 And David said to Uriah, "Remain another day and tomorrow you shall go forth." And Uriah stayed in Jerusalem on that day on to the morrow. 13 And David called out to him and he ate in his face and he drank and he became drunk and he went out in the evening to lie down on his couch/bed with the servants of his Lord and to his house he did not go again. 14 And it happened in the morning that David wrote a note to Joab and sent it in the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the note saying, "Put Uriah in the front/strongest lines of the war/battle and then withdraw and let him get hit him and it will kill him.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Hertzberg (OTL) might put it best in perspective: "The story of David and Bathsheba has long aroused both dismay and astonishment; dismay that King David, with his manifest piety, could stoop to such an act, and astonishment that the Bible narrates it with such unrelenting openness, although the person involved is David, the great and celebrated king, the type of Messiah. It is significant that Chronicles, which follows the text of Samuel chapter by chapter throughout, omits this incident, almost certainly because of the serious blemish it leaves on David's reputation. On the other hand, its presence not only shows how the ancient texts have no tendency to whitewash, but stress that God's cause is advanced not through blameless persons, but by God himself, despite the sinfulness of his best people."

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