For the town in Barbados, see Bathsheba, Barbados.
"David and Bathsheba" redirects here. For the film, see David and Bathsheba (film).
Queen of Israel

Bathsheba holding king David's letter by Willem Drost, 1654, Louvre Museum
Queen of Israel
Spouse Uriah the Hittite
King David
Issue Unnamed son
House House of David
Father Eliam
Mother unknown
Religion Judaism

According to the Hebrew Bible, "Bat Sheva," more commonly known by the anglicized name Bathsheba (/bæθˈʃbə/ or /ˈbæθʃɪbə/;[1] Hebrew: בַּת שֶׁ֫בַע, Baṯ-šeḇa‘, "daughter of the oath"; Arabic: بثشبع, "ابنة القسم") was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. She is most known for the Bible story in which she was summoned by King David who had seen her bathing and lusted after her.

Bathsheba was a daughter of Eliam, one of David's "thirty" (2 Sam. 23:34; cf 1 Chr. 3:5); Eliam was the son of Ahitophel, one of David's chief advisors. Ahitophel was from Giloh (Josh. 15:51;cf 2 Sam. 15:12), a city of Judah, and thus Bathsheba was from David's own tribe and the granddaughter of one of David's closest advisors (2 Sam.15:12)."[2] She was the mother of Solomon, who succeeded David as king, making her the Queen Mother.

Biblical narrative

David seducing Bathsheba

Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam (2 Samuel 11:3, who is called Ammiel in 1 Chronicles 3:5). Her father is identified by some scholars with Eliam mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:34 as the son of Ahithophel, who is described as the Gilonite. (See King David's Warriors.)

Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and afterward of David, by whom she gave birth to Solomon, who succeeded David as king. (United Kingdom of Israel and Judah).

Jean-Léon Gérôme's depiction of Bathsheba bathing as viewed from David's perspective. Although David had got up at night when he saw her, this is portrayed as if in daytime.

David's seduction of Bathsheba, told in 2 Samuel 11, is omitted in the Books of Chronicles. The story is told that David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, having a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.

In an effort to conceal his sin, and save Bathsheba from punishment for adultery, David summoned Uriah from the army (with whom he was on campaign) in the hope that Uriah would re-consummate his marriage and think that the child was his. Uriah was unwilling to violate the ancient kingdom rule applying to warriors in active service.[3] Rather than go home to his own bed, he preferred to remain with the palace troops.

After repeated efforts to convince Uriah to have sex with Bathsheba, the king gave the order to his general, Joab, that Uriah should be placed on the front lines of the battle, where it was the most dangerous, and left to the hands of the enemy (where he was more likely to die). David had Uriah himself carry the message that ordered his death. After Uriah was dead, David made the now widowed Bathsheba his wife.

David's action was displeasing to the Lord, who accordingly sent Nathan the prophet to reprove the king.

After relating the parable of the rich man who took away the one little ewe lamb of his poor neighbor (2 Samuel 12:1–6), and exciting the king's anger against the unrighteous act, the prophet applied the case directly to David's action with regard to Bathsheba.

The king at once confessed his sin and expressed sincere repentance. Bathsheba's child by David was struck with a severe illness and died a few days after birth, which the king accepted as his punishment.

William Blake's painting "Bathsheba at the Bath" currently held by Tate Britain.[4]

Nathan also noted that David's house would be punished in revenge of this murder. This came to pass years later when one of David's much-loved sons, Absalom, led an insurrection that plunged the kingdom into civil war. Moreover, to manifest his claim to be the new king, Absalom had sexual intercourse in public with ten of his father's concubines, which could be considered a direct, tenfold divine retribution for David's taking the woman of another man. (2 Samuel 16:20–23)

In David's old age, Bathsheba secured the succession to the throne of her son Solomon, according to David's earlier promise, instead of David's eldest surviving son Adonijah. (1 Kings 1:11–31).

The story of David's adultery sets up the context for the penitential Psalm 51 (50), also known as "Miserere" ("Have mercy on me, O God").

In rabbinical literature

Bathsheba was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David's famous counselor. The Haggadah states that Ahithophel, was misled by his knowledge of astrology into believing himself destined to become king of Israel. He therefore induced Absalom to commit an unpardonable crime (2 Sam. 16:21), which sooner or later would have brought with it, according to Jewish law, the penalty of death; the motive for this advice being to remove Absalom, and thus to make a way for himself to the throne. His astrological information had been, however, misunderstood by him; for in reality it only predicted that his granddaughter, Bathsheba, the daughter of his son Eliam, would become queen (Sanh. 101b, YalḲ. Sam. § 150).[5]

The Midrash portrays the influence of Satan bringing about the sinful relation of David and Bathsheba as follows: Bathsheba was bathing, perhaps behind a screen of wickerwork. Satan is depicted as coming in the disguise of a bird. David, shooting at the bird, strikes the screen, splitting it; thus Bathsheba is revealed in her beauty to David (Sanhedrin 107a).


In Matthew 1:6, "the wife of Uriah" is mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus.


In Islam David is considered to be a prophet, and some Islamic tradition views the Bible story as incompatible with the principle of infallibility (Ismah) of the prophets. A hadith quoted in Tafsir al-Kabir and Majma' al-Bayan expresses that Ali bin Abi Talib said: "Whoever says that David, has married Uriah's wife as the legends are narrate, I will punish him twice: one for qazf (falsely accusing someone of adultery) and the other for desecrating the prophethood (defamation of prophet David)".[6]

Another hadith narrated from Shia scholars states that Ali Al-Ridha, during the discussions with the scholars of other religions about prophets' infallibility, asked one of them, "What do you say about David?" he said "David was praying, when a beautiful bird appeared in front of him, and David left his prayer and went after the bird. While David was walking on the roof of his palace, he saw Bathsheba having a bath... so David placed her husband in the front lines of the battlefield, in order to get killed, so that he could marry Bathsheba." Ali Al-Ridha got upset and said: "Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un, you assign sluggishness in prayer to the prophet of God, and then accuse him of unchastity, and then charge him with the murder of an innocent man!" He asked "so what is the story of Uriah?" and Ali Al-Ridha said "At that time, women whose husbands passed away or got killed in the war would never get married again (and this was the source of many evils). David was the first person to break this tradition. So after Uriah was incidentally killed in the war, David married his wife, but people could hardly accept this anomalous marriage (and subsequently legends were made about this marriage.)[7]

Critical view

Bathsheba with David's messenger, as the king watches from his roof, 1562 Jan Massys

Bathsheba's name, which perhaps means "daughter of the oath", is in 1 Chronicles 3:5 spelled "Bath-shua", the form becomes merely a variant reading of "Bath-sheba". The passages in which Bath-sheba is mentioned are 2 Samuel 11:2–12:24, and I Kings 1:2—both of which are parts of the oldest stratum of the books of Samuel and Kings. It is part of that court history of David, written by someone who stood very near the events and who did not idealize David. The material contained in it is of higher historical value than that in the later strata of these books. Budde would connect it with the J document of the Hexateuch.

The only interpolations in it which concern the story of Bathsheba are some verses in the early part of the twelfth chapter, that heighten the moral tone of Nathan's rebuke of David; according to Karl Budde ("S. B. O. T."), the interpolated portion is 12: 7, 8, and 10–12; according to Friedrich Schwally (Stade's "Zeitschrift," xii. 154 et seq.) and H. P. Smith ("Samuel," in "International Critical Commentary"), the whole of 12: 1–15a is an interpolation, and 12:. 15b should be joined directly to 11: 27. This does not directly affect the narrative concerning Bathsheba herself. Chronicles omits all reference to the way in which Bathsheba became David's wife, and gives only the names of her children: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon.

The father of Bathsheba was Eliam (spelled "Ammiel" in 1 Chronicles 3:5). As this was also the name of a son of Ahithophel, one of David's heroes (2 Samuel 23:34), it has been conjectured that Bathsheba was a granddaughter of Ahithophel and that the latter's desertion of David at the time of Absalom's rebellion was in revenge for David's conduct toward Bathsheba.

The faulting of David is made clear in the text from the very beginning. "It was springtime, the time when kings go forth to war... but David remained in Jerusalem" (2 Samuel 11:1). If David had been out at war, the incident would not have taken place.[8] After the incident, of course, there is Nathan's rebuke in 2 Samuel 12 and the events that followed.

The Bathsheba incident, then, begins a shift in the book's perspective. David "is largely at the mercy of events rather than directing them."[9] He is no longer able to control his family and ends up being overthrown by Absalom. In 2 Samuel 13 there is another way the text blames David. In the story of David's son Amnon's rape of his sister Tamar. The placement of the rape so soon after the incident of Bathsheba seems to draw a parallel between sexual misconduct of father and son.[10]

Cultural references

Art – Bathsheba in her bath

Bathsheba at her Bath is the formal name for the subject in art showing Bathsheba bathing, watched by King David. In art the subject is one of the most commonly shown in the Power of Women topos. As an opportunity to feature a large female nude as the focus of a history painting, the subject was popular from the Renaissance onwards. Sometimes Bathsheba's maids, or the "messengers" sent by David are shown, and often a distant David watching from his roof. The messengers are sometimes confused with David himself, but most artists follow the Bible in keeping David at a distance in this episode.

Paintings with articles include:



Bathsheba has been portrayed in the US movies David and Bathsheba (1951) by Susan Hayward and King David (1985) by Alice Krige.


See also


  1. "Bathsheba". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  2. Peter J. Leithart, A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel, p.217, Canon Press (2003)
  3. Robertson Smith, "Religion of the Semites," pp. 455, 488.
  4. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (eds.). "Bathsheba at the Bath, object 1 (Butlin 390) "Bathsheba at the Bath"". William Blake Archive. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  5. "Ahitophel", Jewish Encyclopedia
  6. "عن سعيد بن المسيب أن علي بن أبي طالب كرم اللّه تعالى وجهه قال: «من حدثكم بحديث داود على ما يرويه القصّاص جلدته مائة و ستين(جلّدته مائة جلدة مضاعفا) و هو حد الفرية على الأنبياء»" (Tafsir al-Kabir, al-Razi, vol 26, p 379; Ruh al-Ma'ani, vol 12, p 178; Tafsir al-Muraghi, vol 23, p 111.)
    "روي عن أمير المؤمنين (ع) أنه قال لا أوتى برجل يزعم أن داود تزوج امرأة أوريا إلا جلدته حدين حدا للنبوة و حدا للإسلام" (Tafsir Majma' al-Bayan, vol 8, p 736.) "لأنّ المزاعم المذكورة تتّهم من جهة إنسانا مؤمنا بارتكاب عمل محرّم، و من جهة اخرى تنتهك حرمة مقام النبوّة، و من هنا حكم الإمام بجلد من يفتري عليه عليه السّلام مرّتين (كلّ مرّة 80 سوطا)"(Tafsir Nemooneh, vol 19, p 257.)
  7. Tafsir Nemooneh, vol 19, p 257; Oyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol 1, p 154; Amali Saduq, p 91.
  8. Coogan, Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pg. 210
  9. Coogan, Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pg. 208
  10. Coogan, Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pg. 212
  11. Brooks, Geraldine. The Secret Chord. New York: Viking. ISBN 9780670025770.
  12. "The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall". BBC. 1 November 2008.
  13. 2 Sam 11:2
  14. Song lyrics for Dead at



External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bathsheba.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/22/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.