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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 11

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

At the time when kings go forth to battle. The return of spring was the usual time of commencing military operations. This expedition took place the year following the war against the Syrians; and it was entered upon because the disaster of the former campaign having fallen chiefly upon the Syrian mercenaries, the Ammonites had not been punished for their insult to the ambassadors.

David sent Joab, and his servants ... they destroyed the children of Ammon. The powerful army that Josh commanded ravaged the Ammonite country, and committed great havoc both on the people and their property, until, having reached the capital, they besieged Rabbah. "Rabbah" denotes a great city. This metropolis of the Ammonites was situated in the mountainous tract of Gilead, not far from the source of the Arnon. Extensive ruins are still found on its site.

But David tarried still at Jerusalem, [ yowsheeb (H3427), sat still; Septuagint, ekathisen]. At the time when kings go forth to battle, king David remained at home, from indolence or self-indulgence. The latter supposition is generally adopted, as affording the true solution, the key to the crime he perpetrated.

`Quaeritur AEgisthus, qua re esset factus adulter; In promptu res est; desidiosus erat.'

Verse 2

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

In an evening-tide, that David arose from off his bed. The Hebrews, like other Orientals, rose at day-break, and always took a nap during the heat of the day, and afterward they lounged in the cool of the evening on their flat-roofed terraces. It is probable that, since the climate of Palestine in spring is exceedingly mild and balmy, the custom may have obtained among the Hebrews, as is still universal in Persia and other Eastern countries, of sleeping on the house-top. The repose in the open air is much more refreshing than in the confinement of a room (see Morier's 'Second Journey to Persia'). Most of the people in modern Palestine sleep there in warm weather still.

Verse 3

And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?

One said - literally, he said to himself.

Is not this Bath-sheba ..., [ Bat-Sheba` (H1339), daughter of the oath; or Bath-shua (1 Chronicles 3:5); Septuagint, Beersabee.] She seems to have been a celebrated beauty, whose renown had already reached the ears of David, as happens in the East, from reports carried by the women from harem to harem.

Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam - or Ammiel (1 Chronicles 3:5), one of David's worthies (2 Samuel 23:34), and son of Ahithophel.

Verse 4

And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

David sent messengers, and took her. The despotic kings of the East, when they take a fancy for a woman, send an officer to the house where she lives, who announces it to be the royal pleasure she should remove to the palace. An apartment is there assigned to her, and if she is chosen queen, the monarch orders the announcement to he made that he has taken her to be his chief wife. Many instances in modern Oriental history show the ease and despatch with which such secondary marriages are contracted, and a new beauty added to the royal seraglio. But David had to make a promise, or rather an express stipulation, to Bath-sheba, before she complied with the royal will (1 Kings 1:13; 1 Kings 1:15; 1 Kings 1:17; 1 Kings 1:28); for, in addition to her transcendent beauty, she appears to have been a woman of superior talents and address in obtaining the object of her ambition; and in her securing that her son should succeed on the throne-in her promptitude to give notice of her pregnancy-in her activity in defeating Adonijah's natural expectation of succeeding to the crown-in her dignity as king's mother-we see very strong indications of the ascendancy she gained and maintained over David, who perhaps had ample leisure and opportunity to discover the punishment of this unhappy connection in more ways than one (Taylor's 'Calmet').

Verse 5

And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

The woman conceived, and sent and told David. Some immediate measures of concealing their sin were necessary, as well for the king's honour as for her safety, because death was the punishment of an adulteress (Leviticus 20:10), and therefore Uriah was ordered home from the war.

Verses 6-7

And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.

Go down to thy house. This sudden recall, the manner of the king, his frivolous questions (2 Samuel 11:7), and his urgency for Uriah to sleep in his own house, probably awakened suspicions of the cause of this procedure.

There followed him a mess of meat from the king. A portion of meat from the royal table, sent to one's own house or lodging, is one of the greatest compliments which an Eastern prince can pay.

Verse 9

But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.

But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house. It is customary for servants, especially the porters or doorkeepers, to sleep in the parch or long gallery outside the doors-sometimes on a stone bench, sometimes on a form made of palm-fronds, and very often, indeed for the most part, on the ground, having nothing but a stone for a pillow; and the guards of the Hebrew king did the same. Whatever his secret suspicions might have been, Uriah's refusal to indulge in the enjoyment of domestic pleasure, and his determination to sleep "at the door of the king's house," arose (2 Samuel 11:11) from a high and honourable sense of military duty and property.

Verse 10

And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.

Israel, and Judah, abide in tents, [ bacukowt (H5521)] - properly in booths. Its use, however, in this passage to signify tents, overturns one of the favourite objections of Coleso (see the notes at Exodus 12:37). But, doubtless, the resolution of Uriah was overruled by that Providence which brings good out of evil, and which has recorded this sad episode for the warning of the Church.

Verses 12-13

And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

David wrote a letter to Joab ...

Verse 15

And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

Set ye Uriah in the fore front of the hottest battle. The various arts and stratagems by which the king tried to cajole Uriah, until at last he resorted to the horrid crime of murder, the cold-blooded cruelty of despatching the letter by the hands of the gallant but much-wronged soldier himself, the enlistment of Joab to be a partaker of his sin, the heartless affectation of mourning, and the indecent haste of his marriage with Bath-sheba, have left an indelible stain upon the character of David, and exhibit a painfully humiliating proof of the awful lengths to which the best of men may go when they want the restraining grace of God.

Verses 16-17

And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 18

Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;

Then Joab sent and told David ... The report needs no comment. It is sufficient to say that it was worthy of the quarter from which it came; and in possessing so terrible a secret as the premeditated murder of Uriah, the wily Joab perceived his advantage, not only for an understanding on account of say military errors he might have committed, but for all other delinquencies.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-11.html. 1871-8.
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