In 2 Sam 11.1-27 the Ammonites who are under siege in Rabbah, and it discusses the sins of David in the Bathsheba affair. He will try to conceal his sin by laying a scheme to kill her husband Uriah the Hittite, using the Ammonites. He then will marry Bathsheba after Uriah is dead because she will be with child.
Israel went out to besiege Rabbah in the spring. The rains have stopped and it is a good time to go out to battle, especially in a siege situation. The Ammonites are trapped inside Rabbah, and a siege could last a long time, so David as king stayed in Jerusalem, which was a common practice (2 Sam 12.26-31). A king like David could not afford to be away from business too long. Once the city was ready to fall they will summon David.
So, when the sun began to go down in the afternoon, David arose from his bed and walked around the roof of the king’s house. He saw a woman “bathing” and the word there is “rachatz” which means “washing” (more on that later). This is not “tevilah” meaning “immersion.” So David asked who it was, and they told him her name was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his “givorim” (“mighty men”) Uriah the Hittite. Uriah was from the land that was possessed by the Hittites, but he was most likely an Israelite. She is the daughter of Eliam, the son of Ahitophel, and one of David’s “givorim” (2 Sam 23.34). He is also called Ammiel, and Bathsheba is called Bathshua in 1 Chr 3.5. Ahitophel was David’s counselor and the grandfather of Bathsheba, so David knew her (2 Sam 23.34).
As we have said, Uriah was one of the “givorim” or mighty men (2 Sam 23.39) and one of his generals, and they stayed around David’s house when in Jerusalem. David sent messengers and he “lay with her” because she had purified herself from her uncleanness (menstrual cycle-Lev 15.19) and could now have sexual relations. She returned to her house after being with David (2 Sam 11.4). These verses here are very misunderstood.
The reason she was “washing” (rachatz) in her house was because she was obeying the Torah. At that time, people did not have mikva’ot in their houses, especially on the rooftops for full immersions (tevilah). Those did not come along for another 800 years (second century BC). No mikva’ot (immersion baths) before then have ever been found. That means sprinkling was done for ritual uncleanness. You could immerse if there was a river, lake or ocean around, but many places did not have those places available. If you want more information on this subject, see our teaching called “Tevilah (immersion) and Rachatz (washing)” on this website. We have several sources listed where you can get more information.
Many have criticized Bathsheba for being “immodest” here but they are ignorant of the Torah and the methods of ritual cleansing. She was not “taking a bath” as some believe but she was a Torah observant woman who was performing a ritual cleansing after her menstrual cycle so that normal husband and wife relations could proceed. If she didn’t, then she nor her husband could enter the Sanctuary in a state of ritual uncleanness (Lev 15.19-24). There is nothing in this story that suggests that she was being immodest. We don’t know where Bathsheba was and we should assume that she was in the privacy of her home and David could look down or over and see her, possibly through a window. We should not jump to conclusions and believe that she was doing this out in the open.
Bathsheba had purified herself from her menstrual uncleanness, so we know she wasn’t pregnant already when David saw her. That is an important aspect to this story. David sends for her, and again she has been criticized for going to David. However, David is the king and he had the power of life and death. She simply did not have a right to refuse the king. He had relations with her and she returned to her house (v 4). She conceived and then told David (v 5). He immediately sends for Uriah. He plots to cover her pregnancy by having Uriah come home. Now, Uriah was possibly an Israelite who had lived in Hittite territory, or he was a Hittite who followed the God of Israel and the Torah as it applied to him. He was one of David’s “mighty men” and as we said, and they lived around David’s house.
There are several military terms we need to bring out here. We know about the “Givorim” and we also have the word “Avadim” which is translated as “servants” (11.8). These were warriors in the royal bodyguard. We will also have the “Ne’arim” which is translated as “young men” and these were elite troops, like the Navy Seals or Special Forces. A “Mishpocha” was a thousand troops, and the captain of a thousand was called the “Sar Aluph.” A group of fifty was called a “Chamushim.”
So Uriah comes home and David asked him about the welfare of the troops. Being a siege, morale can be a problem because they could be long. Then David sends Uriah home to see his wife, you know, hoping he would get a soldier’s welcome by his lonely wife, and David sends gifts over to the house. But Uriah slept at the door of David’s house and did not go home. Being an honorable man, Uriah did not think it was proper to enjoy his own home when his men and the ark were in tents (temporary dwellings or “sukkahs”). The Ark was in a tent (“ohel”) in Jerusalem so many think he is referring to the ephod with the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the Lord. But the sense is that the term temporary shelters meant just that, sukkahs or tents, something to live in while in the field (v 11).
So David tries something else. He wants Uriah to stay in Jerusalem for a few days, and has dinner with him and tries to get Uriah drunk. But Uriah did not forget his oath in v 11, and did not go home. He slept with the “servants” (Avadim) or the royal bodyguard (v 13). David realizes that his tricks to get Uriah home and have relations with his wife was not going to work, so he devises another plan.
David writes a letter to his commander in chief Joab. He tells him to place Uriah in the heat of the battle, then withdraw from him, leaving him alone and vulnerable, with no protection. By doing this, Uriah will be killed. So David put the letter into Uriah’s hand and he took it to Joab, not knowing it was his death sentence. All of this is a picture of Yeshua. Like Uriah, he renounces the comforts of home (heaven) to be a servant to the king (the Father). All of this is part of God’s plan.
Uriah carried the written word of the king concerning his own death, just like Yeshua carried the written word about his death (the Scriptures). Joab and the soldiers were obeying orders, just like the Roman soldiers did with Yeshua. Others died along with Uriah, just like the two thieves died with Yeshua. Uriah’s name means “Light of God” and when Uriah died, the “light of God” was extinguished. Yeshua is the “light of God” and when he died the “light of God” was extinguished also.
Joab sends a message to David telling him about the events of the siege. He tells him that he sent soldiers to the wall to fight and there were casualties. When David gets angry and says, “Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall?” The messenger was then to tell David, “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” Once David knew that Uriah was dead, he tells Joab by the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab, ‘Do not let this thing displease you for the sword devours one as well as another; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it; and so encourage him.'” Even though Joab is the nephew of David, he now has something on David.
This story tells us about our own spiritual warfare. We have all heard the verse in 2 Cor 10.4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” In battle or siege, those who got close to a city wall were called “sappers.” They would get close to the wall and try to pull stones out of the wall or dig at the foundation of the wall so that it would fall down. This was a very dangerous job, and you did not put your best warriors there. Usually it was whoever was expendable.
In Judges 9.53 we learn about a woman who threw an upper millstone from the wall on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. It was not a safe job to have in a siege. You did not want to get close to the walls. So the “pulling down” of strongholds is a dangerous job to have in a spiritual battle also, and there will be casualties. People like to quote this verse, but living this verse in a real battle is a different matter.
When Bathsheba heard that Uriah was dead, she mourned for him. After the period of mourning was over, David sent for Bathsheba and married her. According to the Torah, both of them should have been put to death if it ever got out (Lev 20.10). She will bear a son, but this story is not over by a long shot as we shall soon see. The conscience of the David in this story is a far cry from the David who felt bad for merely cutting the tzitzit off of the robe of King Saul.
The death of Uriah will also be at the core of why Ahitophel will turn against David and side with Absalom in his rebellion against his father. Ahitophel never got over the bitterness against David because of the death of his grandaughter’s husband. Because of this sin, David and Bathsheba will pay a dear price as we shall soon see.
God forgave David and David went on to accomplish many great things for the kingdom of God. In addition, God used this relationship to produce Solomon, who would succeed David and build the Temple of God. And it is through Solomon that the line of Joseph, the husband of Miriam, would come (Matt 1.6). But Yeshua could not be king through Joseph because of the curse in Jer 22.28-30. So, they would also produce Nathan, the third of four sons born to them (2 Sam 5.14; 1 Chr 3.5, 14.4) and it is through Nathan that Miriam and Yeshua would come, giving Yeshua the right to the throne through her (Luke 3.31).
We will pick up here in Part 11.