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David and Bathsheba

11 In the spring of the year,[a] when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

David Arranges for Uriah’s Death

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

Nathan Rebukes David

12 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

David Confesses His Guilt

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord[e] by doing this, your child will die.”

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[f] and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and David[g] named him Solomon. The Lord loved the child 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the Lord”), as the Lord had commanded.[h]

David Captures Rabbah

26 Meanwhile, Joab was fighting against Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, and he captured the royal fortifications.[i] 27 Joab sent messengers to tell David, “I have fought against Rabbah and captured its water supply.[j] 28 Now bring the rest of the army and capture the city. Otherwise, I will capture it and get credit for the victory.”

29 So David gathered the rest of the army and went to Rabbah, and he fought against it and captured it. 30 David removed the crown from the king’s head,[k] and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and it weighed seventy-five pounds.[l] David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. 31 He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with[m] saws, iron picks, and iron axes, and to work in the brick kilns.[n] That is how he dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.

The Rape of Tamar

13 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her.

But Amnon had a very crafty friend—his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea.[o] One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?”

So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and cook my favorite dish[p] as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.

When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him. But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Amnon told his servants. So they all left.

10 Then he said to Tamar, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. 11 But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. 13 Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.”

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.

16 “No, no!” Tamar cried. “Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He shouted for his servant and demanded, “Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!”

18 So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,[q] as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. 19 But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.

20 Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, “Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he’s your brother. Don’t you worry about it.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.[r] 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.

Absalom’s Revenge on Amnon

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast. 24 He went to the king and said, “My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?”

25 The king replied, “No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you.” Absalom pressed him, but the king would not come, though he gave Absalom his blessing.

26 “Well, then,” Absalom said, “if you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?”

“Why Amnon?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon. So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king.[s]

28 Absalom told his men, “Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!” 29 So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.

30 As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one is left alive!” 31 The king got up, tore his robe, and threw himself on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow.

32 But just then Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimea, arrived and said, “No, don’t believe that all the king’s sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 No, my lord the king, your sons aren’t all dead! It was only Amnon.” 34 Meanwhile Absalom escaped.

Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming down the hill on the road from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.”[t]

35 “Look!” Jonadab told the king. “There they are now! The king’s sons are coming, just as I said.”

36 They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and all his servants wept bitterly with them. 37 And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.

Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38 He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39 And King David,[u] now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.[v]

Footnotes

  1. 11:1 Hebrew At the turn of the year. The first day of the year in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in March or April.
  2. 11:8 Hebrew and wash your feet, an expression that may also have a connotation of ritualistic washing.
  3. 11:11 Or at Succoth.
  4. 11:21 Hebrew son of Jerub-besheth. Jerub-besheth is a variation on the name Jerub-baal, which is another name for Gideon; see Judg 6:32.
  5. 12:14 As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads the enemies of the Lord.
  6. 12:20 Hebrew anointed himself.
  7. 12:24 Hebrew he; an alternate Hebrew reading and some Hebrew manuscripts read she.
  8. 12:25 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads because of the Lord.
  9. 12:26 Or the royal city.
  10. 12:27 Or captured the city of water.
  11. 12:30a Or from the head of Milcom (as in Greek version). Milcom, also called Molech, was the god of the Ammonites.
  12. 12:30b Hebrew 1 talent [34 kilograms].
  13. 12:31a Hebrew He also brought out the people [of Rabbah] and put them under.
  14. 12:31b Hebrew and he made them pass through the brick kilns.
  15. 13:3 Hebrew Shimeah (also in 13:32), a variant spelling of Shimea; compare 1 Chr 2:13.
  16. 13:6 Or a couple of cakes; also in 13:8, 10.
  17. 13:18 Or a robe with sleeves, or an ornamented robe. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  18. 13:21 Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version add But he did not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.
  19. 13:27 As in Greek and Latin versions (compare also Dead Sea Scrolls); the Hebrew text lacks this sentence.
  20. 13:34 As in Greek version; Hebrew lacks this sentence.
  21. 13:39a Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version read And the spirit of the king.
  22. 13:39b Or no longer felt a need to go out after Absalom.

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