Thursday, July 23, 2015

"You saw her bathing on the roof..."

Bathsheba was the daughter of one of King David’s advisors and the wife of Uriah, a Hittite. She is not named directly in Matthew's genelogy of Jesus, but it is pointed out that Solomon is the son of the woman who had been Uriah's wife. One night David saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof of the palace. This bath was most likely a post-menstrual mikvah, meaning 1. she was not already pregnant and 2. she was in her most fertile time of the month.  David pursued his lust of Bathsheba. They slept together and she became pregnant. To try to cover up the affair, David called Uriah home from the army hoping that it would appear that the child was Uriah’s. However, Uriah followed the protocol for active-duty soldiers and stayed in the palace barracks instead of reuniting with his wife. Unable to convince Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba, David sent Uriah to the front lines, where he would surely die. After Uriah died, David married the widowed Bathsheba. [2 Samuel 11]

God sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David’s actions. David confessed his sins and repented. He and Bathsheba’s child died shortly after birth. Later, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon, who would succeed his father. Bathsheba helped secure the throne for Solomon, even though he had an older brother. She also served as one of his advisors. [1 Kings 1:28] She became the first woman in Israel’s history to hold the title Queen Mother. This is foreshadowing of Mary’s title Queen of Heaven.

The story of Bathsheba really focuses on the faults of David. He remained home when his men were at war, he stole a friend’s wife, he tried to cover up his sin, and he sent his friend to an assured death. While there is debate about who seduced whom (was Bathsheba displaying herself on the roof or was David a peeping Tom), it is generally agreed that both parties participated in the affair willingly. Bathsheba went to the king when he called for her, without any mention of trying to get out of the situation. Both are guilty. Unlike other women like Tamar or Rahab who do questionable things for good reasons/good faith, Bathsheba cheats on her husbands, maybe for lust, maybe for political ambitions, but certainly not for any noble reason. While David is usually heralded as Israel’s great king, this event is the low point of his morality. And yet, from his low point of sin arises the lineage through which Jesus arrives.

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