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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Uriah

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(Heb. Uriyah', אוּרַיָּה light, [or fire] of Jehovah; occasionally [in Jeremiah only] in the prolonged form Uriya'hu, אוּרַיָּהוּ ; Sept. usually Οπιναχ , and so the New Test. and Josephus; A.V. in some cases "Urijah" [q.v.]), the name of several Hebrews.

1. The last named of the principal thirty warriors of David's army (1 Chronicles 11:41; 2 Samuel 23:39). Like others of David's officers (Ittai of Gath; Ishbosheth the Canaanite, 2 Samuel 23:8, Sept.; Zelek the Ammonite, 2 Samuel 23:37), he was a foreigner-a Hittite. His name, however, and his manner of speech (2 Samuel 11:11) indicate that he had adopted the Jewish religion. He married Bathsheba, a woman of extraordinary beauty, the daughter of Eliam possibly the same as the son of Ahithophel, and one of his brother officers, (2 Samuel 23:34); and hence, perhaps, as professor Blunt conjectures (Coincidences, 1, 10), Uriah's first acquaintance with Bathsheba. It may be inferred from Nathan's parable (2 Samuel 12:3) that he was passionately devoted to his wife, and-that their union, was celebrated in Jerusalem as one of peculiar tenderness. He had a house at Jerusalem underneath the palace (11:2). In the first war with Ammon (B.C. 1035), he followed Joab to the siege, and with him remained encamped in the open field (2 Samuel 12:11). He returned to Jerusalem, at an order from the king, on the pretext of asking news of the war; really in the hope that his return to his wife might cover the shame of David's crime. The king met with an unexpected obstacle in the austere, soldier-like spirit which guided all Uriah's conduct, and which gives us a high notion of the character and discipline of David's officers. He steadily refused to go home, or partake of any of the indulgences of domestic life, while the ark and the host were in booths and his comrades lying in the open: air. He partook of the royal hospitality, but slept always, at the gate of the palace till the last night, when the king at a feast vainly endeavored to entrap him by intoxication. The soldier was overcome by the debauch, but still retained his sense of duty sufficiently to insist on sleeping at the palace.

On the morning of the third, day, David sent him back to the camp with a letter (as in the story of Bellerophon) containing the command to Joab to cause his destruction in the battle. Josephus (Ant. 7, 7, 1) adds that he gave as a reason an imaginary offence of Uriah. None such appears in the actual letter. Probably, to an unscrupulous soldier like Joab the absolute will of the king was sufficient. The device of Joab was to observe the part of the wall of Rabbath-Ammon where the greatest force of the besieged was-congregated, and thither, as a kind of forlorn hope, to send Uriah. A sally took place. Uriah and the officers with him advanced as, far as the gate, of the city, and were there shot down by the archers on the wall. It seems as if it had been an established maxim of Israelitish warfare not to approach the wall of a besieged city; and one instance of the fatal result was always, quoted as if proverbially, against it the sudden and ignominious death of Abimelech at Thebez, which cut short the hopes of the then rising monarchy. This appears from the fact (as given in the Sept.) that Joab exactly anticipates what the king will say when he hears of the disaster. Just as Joab had forewarned the messenger, the king broke into a furious passion on hearing-of the-loss, and cited, almost in the very words, which Joab had predicted, the case of Abimelech. (The only variation is the mission of the name of the grandfather of Abimelech, which, in the Sept., is Ner instead of Joash.) The messenger, as instructed by Joab, calmly continued and ended the story with the words "Thy servant also, Uriah the Hittite, is dead." In a moment David's anger is appeased. He sends an encouraging message to Joab on the unavoidable chances of war, and urges him to continue the siege. It is one of the touching parts of the story that Uriah falls unconscious of his wife's dishonor. She hears of her husband's death. The narrative gives no hint as to her shame or remorse. She "mourned" with the usual signs of grief as a widow, and then became the wife of David (2 Samuel 11:27). (See DAVID).

2. A priest during the reign of Ahaz (B.C. cir. 738), whom Isaiah took as a witness to his prophecy concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz, with Zechariah, the son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2). He is probably the same as Urijah the priest, who built the altar for Ah'az (2 Kings 16:10). If this be so, the prophet summoned him as a witness probably on account of his official position, not on account of his personal qualities; though, as the incident occurred at the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, Uriah's irreligious subserviency may not yet have manifested itself. When Ahaz, after his deliverance from Rezin and Pekah by Tiglath-pileser, went to wait upon his new master at Damascus, lie saw there an altar which pleased, him, and sent the pattern of it, to Uriah at Jerusalem, with orders to have one made like it, against the king's return. Uriah zealously executed the idolatrous, command, and when Ahaz returned, not, only allowed him to offer sacrifices upon it, but basely complied with all his impious directions. The new altar was accordingly set in the court of the Temple, to the east of where the brazen altar used to stand; and the daily sacrifices, and the burnt- offerings of the king and people, were offered upon it; while the brazen altar; having been removed from its place and set to the north of the Syrian altar, was reserved as a private altar for the king to inquire by. It is likely, to that Uriah's compliances did not end here, but that he was a consenting party to the other idolatrous and sacrilegious acts of Ahaz (see 2 Kings 16:17-18; 2 Kings 23; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chronicles 28:23-25).

Uriah or Urijah was apparently the high-priest at the time, but of his parentage we know nothing positive. He probably succeeded Azariah, who was high-priest in the reign of Uzziah (or else Amariah III, otherwise called Jothan), and was succeeded by that Azariah who was high-priest in the reign of Hezekiah. Hence it is probable-that he was son of the former and father of the latter, it being by no means uncommon among the Hebrews, among the Greeks, for the grandchild to have the grandfather's name. Probably, too, he may have been descended from that Azariah who must have been high-priest in the reign of Asa. But he has no record in the sacerdotal genealogy (1 Chronicles 6:4-15), in which there is a great gap between Amariah in 1 Chronicles 6:11, and Shallum, the father of Hilkiah, in 1 Chronicles 6:13. Josephus, however, says that he was the son of Jothan and the father of Neriah (Ant. 10:8, 6). (See HIGH-PRIEST).

3. Urijah, the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim; he prophesied in the days of Jehoiakim concerning the land and the city, just as Jeremiah had done, and the king sought to put him to death; but he escaped, and tied into Egypt. His retreat was soon discovered Elnathan and his men brought him- up out of Egypt, and Jehoiakim slew him with the sword, and cast his body forth among the graves of the common people (Jeremiah 26:20-23). B.C. 608. The story of Shemaiah appears to be quoted by the enemies of Jeremiah as a reason for putting him to death, and as a reply to the instance of Micah the Morasthite, which Jeremiah's friends gave as a reason why his words should be listened to and his life spared. Such, at least, is the view adopted by Rashi.

4. One of the priests (being of the family of Hakkoz, A.V. "Koz")' who stood at Ezra's right hand when he read the law to the people ("Urijah," Nehemiah 8:4). B.C. 458. He is probably the same with the father of Meremoth, one of the priests who aided Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Ezra 8:33; Nehemiah 3:4; Nehemiah 3:21).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Uriah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/u/uriah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Monday, June 1st, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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