Anda di halaman 1dari 36

Davids Wives and Sons

(and Tamar)

John R. Neal, Sr.
OT9316A Text 1 & 2 Samuel
Spring 2014




I. Abbreviations . ii-iii
II. Charts iv-v
III. Davids Wives .. 1-22

A. Introduction .. 1-2
B. Literary Structure of David Narrative .. 3-4
C. Royal Women in ANE . 4-13
1. Role of Women/Wives in Royal Court .. 4-7
2. Who Are the Royal Women of the Hebrew Bible .. 7-9
3. Use of Title q|i|:I .. 9-11
4. Mother of Wife of Daughter of . 12-13

D. David and His Household 13-23
1. David: Husband and Father 13-14
2. Davids Wives . 14-21
3. Davids Children . 22-24

IV. Conclusion .. 24-25
V. Bibliography .... 26-27


Abbreviations of Old Testament Books

Book Abbreviation
Genesis Gen.
Exodus Exod.
Leviticus Lev.
Numbers Num.
Deuteronomy Deut.
Joshua Josh.
Judges Judg.
Ruth Ruth
1 Samuel 1 Sam.
2 Samuel 2 Sam.
1 Kings 1 Kings
2 Kings 2 Kings
1 Chronicles 1 Chron.
2 Chronicles 2 Chron.
Ezra Ezra
Nehemiah Neh.
Esther Esth.
Job Job
Psalms Ps.
Proverbs Prov.
Ecclesiastes Eccles.
Song of Solomon Song
Isaiah Isa.
Jeremiah Jer.
Lamentations Lam.
Ezekiel Ezek.
Daniel Dan.
Hosea Hos.
Joel Joel
Amos Amos
Obadiah Obad.

Don Meredith, Supplement to Turabian 8
Edition (Memphis: Harding School of Theology, 2013). Accessed March 24, 2014.


Jonah Jon.
Micah Mic.
Nahum Nah.
Habakkuk Hab.
Zephaniah Zeph.
Haggai Hag.
Zechariah Zech.
Malachi Mal.


Davids Wives and Sons (and daughters)

#3 Abigail

(2 Sam 3:2-5)

#9 Other Wives
*Elishua or
*Bleeida or
*Eliphelet or
*Other sons and
(2 Sam 5:14; 1
Chron 3:6-8;

#2 Ahinoham

(1 Chron 3:1)

#8 Bathsheba

*Shimea or
(2 Sam 5:14; 1
Chron 3:5)

#6 Abital

Shephati (1
Chron 3:3)
#5 Haggith

Adonijah (1
Chron 3:2)
#4 Macaah

Absolam (1
Chron 3:2)
Tamar (only

#10 Abishag
concubine to
keep David warm
(1 Kgs 1-
Adonijah asked
for her after
Davids death &
Solomon put him
to death)
#1 Michal
No children

#7 Eglath or
Ithream (1
Chron 3:3)





Davids Wives and Sons
(and Tamar)


In 2 Sam. 5:13, the inspired writer tells us about the number of wives that King David
took into his royal family. And David took again concubines and wives from Jerusalem after he
entered from Hebron, and they were born again to David sons and daughters.
David had a total
of nine different named wives and/or concubines plus a tenth category of an undetermined
number of wives and concubines. Let us examine each of these wives individually.
First, we read of Michal, daughter of Saul (1 Sam. 18:27). They had no children between
them. Second is Ahinoham (1 Sam. 25:43), who gave birth to his son Amnon (1 Chron. 3:1).
Third is his wife Abigail, the widow of Nabal (1 Sam. 25:42) who gave birth to a Daniel (1 Chr.
3:1) or Chileab (2 Sam. 3:2-5). Fourth is his wife Maacah (1 Chron. 3:2), who is the mother of
Absalom (1 Chr. 3:2) and his only named daughter Tamar. Fifth is his wife Haggith (1 Chron.
3:2) who is the mother of Adonijah (1 Chron. 3:2). Sixth is his wife Abital (1 Chron. 3:3),
mother of Shephatiah (1 Chron. 3:3). Seventh is his wife Eglath or Eglah (1 Chr. 3:3), who gave
birth to Ithream (1 Chron. 3:3). Eighth is probably his most famous wife, Bathsheba or Bath-
shua (1 Chron. 3:5), who gave birth to Shimea/Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon (2 Sam.
5:14; 1 Chron. 3:5). There is a ninth group or category of other wives and concubines who
gave birth to Ibhar, Elishua/Elishama, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beelida/Eliada,

K. Elliger and W. Rudolph, Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensia. (Stuttgart, Germany: German Bible Society,
1987), 512. Translation mine.


Eliphelet/Elpelet, and also others (2 Sam. 5:14; 1 Chron. 3:6-8; 14:4-7).
The tenth wife is his
concubine Abishag, who was given to David to keep him warm in his old age (1 Kings 1). He
had no children by her, but Adonijah asked for her hand after his fathers death and was killed by

According to 2 Sam. 3:2-5 and 1 Chron. 3:1-4, there were six sons born to David at
Hebron: Amnon, Chileab/Daniel, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, and Ithream. There were
thirteen named sons born to David at Jerusalem, and fourteen if the baby who dies from the
sexual union between David and Bathsheba is not included in this list. According to 2 Sam.
5:14; 1 Chron. 3:5-9; 14:4-7 the ones born at Jerusalem are: Shammua/Shimea, Shobab, Nathan,
Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua/Elishama, Eliphelet/Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishma,
Sliada/Beeliada, and Eliphelet.

How are we to understand all of these wives and sons of David? Is this all about a mans
desire as king to have as many sexual unions as he can acquire? Is there more to the narrative
than a king having sexual relations with ten plus wives and concubines? The purpose of this
paper will be to look at the literary structure of David as king in relation to his home life (as
father, husband, his wives and children). Second, this paper will examine the role of the royal
women/wives in the Ancient Near Eastern setting. Third, we will examine some of the nuances
going on in the David and Bathsehba narrative. Finally, there will be some concluding remarks
about David and how he serves as a paradigm for Solomons later amassing 1000 wives and
concubines. These kings of Israel must be viewed in the light of their counterparts in Egypt,
Mesopotamia, and the Hittite kings.

J.M. Myers, David, in The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, A-D, Ed. George Arthur Buttrick (New
York/Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962): 772.




Literary Structure of Davidic Narrative
The work of David Gunn in 1978 examined the Davidic narratives by focusing upon two
main themes in the books of Samuel: as king and as a man. In Davids role as king, he is
able to acquire the kingdom and is able to assure his tenure in office (the accounts about
David and Saul, the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba) and founds a dynasty (the birth of
Solomon, the rebellion of Adonijah, the elimination of other contenders and factions). The
narratives in 1 and 2 Samuel are also intermixed with David as a husband (to Michal, daughter of
Saul, and Bathsheba), as a father (of Amnon, Absalom, Solomon, and Adonijah). These
accounts of Davids role as husband and father are overlaid with themes of sexuality and
political intrigue. There is the motif of sexuality in the narrative of his sexual encounter with
Bathsheba, the refusal by Uriah to sleep with his wife, the subsequent death of that baby son
from that union, Amnons raped of his sister Tamar, the competition for the fathers bedmate
Abishag, Absaloms seizure of his fathers concubines, and the childlessness of Sauls
daughter Michal.

The themes of both violence and political intrigue are scattered throughout the various
battles/wars of King David. There are numerous attempts on the life of David by then King
Saul. There is also the record of Joabs violence and his brothers, Davids murder of Uriah,
the fratricide among Davids sons,
the killing of helpless Absalom, and Davids plans for the
deaths of his enemies after his own death.
In keeping with this theme of death, there is also the

Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Second Edition
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, 2006, AER Ed. 2009), 159.


Ibid., 159-60.


death of the baby born to Bathsheba that echoes the promise of the sword not departing from
Davids house (2 Samuel 12).
David is described in 2 Samuel 13-14 as being passive. He
allows himself to be manipulated by his children and servants. He is remote from public
events, unable or unwilling to discipline both Amnon and Absalom, and he is conspicuously
dry-eyed and reserved in his temporary reconciliation with Absalom (14:33).
The overarching
storyline is how David attains to the throne, then loses the throne temporarily to a rebellious
son, and finally regains his position only to finally lose his kingship at death. The life of
David is an intricate picture of human greatness and folly, of wisdom and sin, of faith and
faithfulness, of contrasting perspectives and conflicting desires.

Royal Women in the ANE
The Role of the Women/Wives in the Royal Court
The role of the royal wives (often referred to as the harem) and women in the Ancient
Near East is often misunderstood. These royal women functioned much more than mere sex toys
of the king, but they helped carry out the daily function of the royal house and also assisted in
international affairs. This is verified in the court records from both Egypt and Babylon (at both
Mari and Nineveh). One would expect the same to be true in the royal court of David.

Whether they are the mother, daughter, or even the wife of a king, they are often
collectively termed MES[h] s[h]a ekalli, or simply the women of the place or the house of

Joel Rosenberg, 1 and 2 Samuel, in The Literary Guide to the Bible, Ed. By Robert Alter and Frank
Kermode (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 136.


Longman and Dillard, 160.

Elna K. Solvang, A Womans Place is in the House: Royal Women of Judah and their Involvement in the
House of David, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 349, Ed. David J.A. Clines and
Philip R. Davies (New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), 51.


women. The modern equivalent of this Akkadian term is often the women of the harem, but
these women should not be considered as nothing more than for sexual pleasure.
to the document known as the Middle Assyrian Palace Decrees which date to the time of
Tiglath-Pileser (who reigned from 1114-1076 B.C.), this list refers to the goings on behind the
scenes in the palace. There were different groups of women who were part of the royal family
and staff. Even the mother of the king took on an important role.
There was also separate
living quarters in the palace specifically for the women and these residences seem to be based
upon gender, rank, and task.
Although the women may have been segregated to a particular
part of the palace, this does not mean that they were in exile or did not know the goings on in
the kingdom.

Whenever a king would die or be defeated in battle, those courtly women who were
previously under his care represent the surviving corps of the royal house. Neither the
activity nor their courtly identity ended with the passing of the king. Some of the
wives/women, or even all of them, would be received into the house of the new successor or
victor. This new ruler would take over the old royal harem, but not just for the purpose of
sexual relations.
Durand notes that when the Assyrian king Yasmah-Addu had to abdicate his
throne, he left behind his harem and Zimri-Lim took possession at Mari. Durand raises the
question as to why Yasmah-Addu would leave his royal women behind? Is this simply a
political strategy? Could one expect that Yasmah-Addu would be able to shelter and provide
for these women wherever he fled, and adding to the fact how useful would they be to him


Ibid., 54-55.

Ibid., 56.

Ibid., 57-58.

Ibid., 65.


without their various political and economic networks?
When Yasmah-Addu was ruler, he
had some 44 royal women listed on the oil rations lists. Then when Zimri-Lim took the
throne, that number of royal women increased to 232. This number of 232 courtly women
included women who were sexually connected to the king, such as wives of various ranks, plus
the unmarried daughters and sisters of the king, and any of the other women who have come
under his care and control through royal succession and military conquest.

The new rulers on the throne would make changes at the level of their first wives.
Even under the circumstances of an internal or external usurpation of the throne, the changes
would often include marring the former kings daughters. When Samsi Addu conquered the city
of Mari, he appointed his own son Yasmah-Addu as the ruler. Then the new ruler, Yasmah-
Addu, married the Mari royal princesses. Durand observes that through these marriages,
Yasmah-Addu would become part of the royal family and thus is the reason why Zimri-Lim
later considered him as one of his predecessors and not as a usurper.
A great example of this
is when Darius I (during the Persian Period), who followed Cyrus the Mede, although Darius
was not part of the royal house, still he married the former Persian kings courtly daughters
in order to ensure that his sons and their descendants would support his kingship rather than
contest it. This decisive action would preserve the continuity of the royal house as well as
provide king Darius with protection against the more immediate challenges to the legitimacy of
his rule.

When the royal son or crown prince took the throne in place of his father, the women
of the fathers house came under the sons care. The son would be responsible for providing for

Ibid., 66.

Ibid., 65.

Ibid., 66.



the physical needs as well as arrange marriages for any of the unmarried women of the
household so as to preserve and continue the dynasty.
The son would not marry his fathers
chief wife. Transference of the royal women from one generation to the next served as a
stabilizing factor in a potentially dangerous period of transition.

Who Are The Royal Women of the Hebrew Bible
The books of Samuel and Kings both connect the role of courtly women with the
monarchy of Judah. From the opening verses of the second chapter of 1 Samuel, the author
records a vision of the LORDs agenda for the nation and relationship to the king in Hannahs
prayer. In Hannahs role as mother, she is able to shape the future of her son who would
ultimately lead to the monarchy in Judah. Then at the end of Judahs history the king and the
queen mother, representing the royal house, head the march of exiles to Babylon (see 2 Kings
24:12). In the chapters that intervene between 1 Samuel 2 and 2 Kings 24, there are numerous
female characters major and minor, royal and non-royal that factor into the story of Judahs

Solvang points out that in the biblical account, the courtly women appear in two places
in which they do not appear in the historical materials. These two places are: first, in the
Kings lists or regnal reports which are located throughout the books of Kings, and secondly
in the narratives about the monarchy.
Solvang points out that when one compares the royal
women in the Bible (Judah/Israel), they resemble in many ways those counterparts in Assyria,



Ibid., 72.



Ugarit, the Hittites, and in Egypt. Even though Judah and Israel differ somewhat in both size and
ideology, yet the Judean court seems to have functioned just like all the other nations.

Like Judahs counterparts, her courtly women are mainly the mothers, wives and daughters of

The Bible does not always consistently apply the administrative titles to these Judean
courtly women just the same as one finds with Judahs neighbors. There is no female among
the Judean monarchy who wears the title of queen or malka. This Hebrew term is used only
in reference to the queen of Sheba (see reference 1 Kings 10:1, 4, 10, 13; 2 Chron. 9:1, 3, 9, 12).
The word for queen is used by the prophet Jeremiah to refer to the queen of heaven in Jer.
7:18; 44:17-19, 25. The same is found in the Song of Solomon in reference to a group of
unidentified queens (Song of Solomon 6:8, 9). The term queen is used to designate both
Vashti and Esther, Persian queens.
While the fact that Judahs neighbors also made use of
feminine royal titles does not explain the absence of the title in the Hebrew Bible, and should
caution one from concluding that this absence suggests a lack of activity, power, and
significance among the kings wives.

Slovang points out that this limited use of royal titles in the Bible applies to both men
and women. Even the Judean sons are not referred to as either prince or first-born. In fact,
the princely title sar is reserved for royal officials (see 1 Kings 4:2). The feminine noun sara
is found in the Hebrew Bible to refer to the queens of other nations (note that there is a parallel
between the sarot and the melakim in Isa. 49:23) as well as to King Solomons wives (1 Kings




Ibid., 72-73.


The total number of Solomons sarot was 700 along with an additional 300 pilagsim.
Solvang suggests that this word sarot may serve double duty in this passage in referencing their
heritage as princesses from foreign kingdoms and their status as royal women in Judah.

The Usage of the Title q|i|:I
The title which does appear in Scripture in reference to the royal women in Judah and
Israel is that of q|i|:I. The standard lexicons all agree that this term is a feminine noun from
the verb o||I, meaning to be strong or mighty (also related to the adjective OBiI, a
mighty man). The word refers to a lady or mistress, the mother of the king, thus the idea or
meaning of queen mother or great lady.
This word is a technical term referring to a woman
with servants, a lady or mistress. The Bible uses this term in reference to Sarai in the
Abraham narrative (Gen. 16:4, 8, 9) and in reference to the wife of Naaman (2 Kgs. 5:3). That
this great ladys status and her royal authority parallels that of a master or adon are found in
Ps. 123:2, Prov. 30:23, and in Isa. 24:2.
This parallelism is carried onto the political stage
where in Isa. 47:5, 7, the prophet represents the nation of Babylon as the mistress of the
nations (geberet mamlakot). The idea of the great lady also has a specific royal use. We
read where King Solomons adversary Hadad the Edomite marries the sister of Tahpenes, the

Ibid., 73.


F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon With an
appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 149-50. William L.
Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon Of The Old Testament, Based upon The Lexical Work of Ludwig
Koehler (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Repr. 1983), 53-54. H.W.F. Gesenius, Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to
the Old Testament, Trans. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979, Repr. 1988), 153-54. John N.
Oswalt, o||I, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol 1, ), Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer,
Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 148-49.

Solvang, 73.


q|i|:I (see 1 Kings 11:19). Since this great lady Tahpenes is an Egyptian pharaohs wife,
her status and function are as queen.

There are five instances in 1 and 2 Kings where the term q|i|:I is used (during the
period of the divided monarchy) to refer to the queen mother. The first occurrence comes
from 1 Kings 15, where the term refers to the mother of Judahs King, Asa. The king is
undertaking a series of national religious reforms and has to remove his mother, whose name is
Maacah, from being the q|i|:I because of something she made for the Asherah.
There is a
second time where Maacah wears this same title in the parallel account in 2 Chron. 15:16.

There is a third occurrence over in 2 Kings 10:13, where q|i|:I is used to depict a royal
woman. Jehu, king of Israel, meets the brothers Judahs King Ahaziah who claim to be
journeying to see the sons of the king and the sons of the gebira. Here the Old Testament
term for the great lady appears as a royal position parallel to melek.
These sons of the great
lady have a status comparable to the sons of the king. Here in this narrative from the tenth
chapter of second kings, the q|i|:I that is mentioned is probably Jezebel, widow of King
Ahab and mother of King Jehoram.
Is the term sons in this passage a metaphorical
depiction that refers to military officers or should the word be understood as brothers in the
physical sense? If the author of Samuel has the first meaning in mind, then perhaps the great
lady also had a contingent of military forces at her disposal.
Fourth, both the term for king
and great lady are prominent at the end of the Judean monarchy. Over in Jer. 13:18, the
prophet Jeremiah proclaims the end and downfall of the monarchy. The prophet proclaims, Say

Ibid., 73.




Ibid., 73-74.

Ibid., 74.


to the king and the gebira, Take a lowly seat, for your crown of splendor has come down from
your hands. Which king and great lady the prophet has in mind is not stated, but perhaps king
Jehoiachin and Nehushta (see 2 Kings 24:8-17) or perhaps even king Zedekiah and Hamutal (see
2 Kings 24:18-20). Fifth, when Jeremiah gives the details of the first deportation from
Jerusalem, he mentions that Jehoiachin and the gebira head the list of those sent to Babylon to
King Nebuchadnezzar (see Jer. 29:2-3).

When taking these combined references from 1 and 2 Kings and the prophet Jeremiah,
the title gebira was one recognized and applied through much of the Judean monarchy. This
term must have been understood by all so as not to need any explanation.
The ones who
wore the titles of king and great lady were known enough that attaching specific names were
not necessary. Since the kings mother seems to retain this title of gebira though successive
reigns (e.g., Jezebel through both Ahaziahs and Jehorams reign), both Judah and Israel appear
to be following the pattern of their neighbors allowing the mother of the king to keep her royal
status even after the death of her son.

What did the office of the q|i|:I entail? First, G.W. Ahlstrom suggests that this was
an office, since its occupant could be dismissed. Second, Neils Andreasen bases his
conclusion (on Bathsheba) that the main function of the queen mother in Jerusalem was that
of senior counselor to king and people.
If one compares the evidence of royal women from






Ugarit and the Hittite empire, then the role of the queen mother shows her to be the most
powerful female in the Judean royal family.

Mother of Wife of Daughter of
The Hebrew Bible refers to members of the royal family, as does their Ancient Near
Eastern counterparts, in relational terms. These specific terms or phrases serve as personal
titles, indicating the individuals position within the structure and functions of the royal family.
There is an example of this in 2 Sam. 13:18 (the description of the clothing worn by daughters
like Tamar), where the author refers to the clothing worn by the virgin daughters of the
This reference to the kings daughters must be a title or a position that is
comparable to a princess given the fact that no particular daughter or king is mentioned.

Even the terms mother or father in the Hebrew Scriptures refers not only to physical
relationship but also to positions of leadership and authority. David refers to King Saul as my
father (1 Sam. 24:12, MT) and Joash makes the same allusion to the prophet Elisha (2 Kings
13:14). The great prophetess and judge, Deborah, is called a mother in Israel (Jdgs. 5:7).

There is the kingship notice which announces and assesses the reign of each Judean king,
synchronizing it with that of his Israelite counterpart (see 2 Kimgs 8:25-27). When a king is
mentioned, he is identified as whose son he is (son of ) followed by the name of his father
(David the son of Jesse). Then there is the inclusion of his mothers information (such as, his
mothers name was ). The mothers name is supplied for each Judean king except Jehoram

Ibid., 75.

Ibid., 78.

Ibid., 79.



(2 Kings 8:16-18) and Ahaz (2 Kings 16:2-3). Since the biblical author normally includes the
names of all the other mothers and points to other sources such as annals that may have been
consulted in writing the book, there is little possibility that the names of the mothers not
included have been merely forgotten.

This biblical kingship record recording the mothers names in Judah/Israel is distinctive
when one compares the biblical record with the Sumerian king lists, which include epithets,
the name of the city where the king is from, information about his origin and information about
the character or occupation of the father, but no mention is made of the mother.
Women are
only recorded in the Sumerian lists who serve as rulers of Sumerian cities.
Perhaps the Bible
records the mothers name as a way to position her as the queen mother.

David and his Household
David: Husband and Father
One cannot understand the role of David in Samuel and Kings without understanding his
function as husband and father. According to Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, David has nine
named wives, as well as an unknown number of other unnamed wives/concubines (1 Sam. 18:27;
25:42-43; 2 Sam. 11:26-27; 1 Chron. 3:1-8; 14:4-7). David also possessed nineteen named sons,
one unnamed son who died at a week old, one named daughter, and other unnamed sons and
This shows that even David represented the ANE model of king in the sense of



Ibid., 79-80.

Ibid., 80.

Myers, 772. Nelsons Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts: Old and New Testaments (Nashville:
Thomas Nelson, 1993), 106.


multiple wives and children. David would serve as a model for Solomons multiple wives as
well (1 Kings 11:1-3). Unfortunately, Solomons women were pagan and turned his heart away
from serving the LORD God. There will be a further, more developed, description of Davids
role as a husband and father under the subject headings of wives and children given below.

Davids Wives
From the above evidence on the role of courtly women/wives in the ANE, the biblical
description of the wives and women in Samuel and Kings fits the overall historical context. This
goes against the idea of the Samuel and Kings narrative being made up or myths. The taking of
multiple wives as a king should be viewed as political posturing. Based on the biblical evidence,
David had nine known wives, not including the unknown number of others (1 Chron. 14:4-7).
David is first promised Sauls oldest daughter (for defeating Goliath), but she is given to
Adriel (1 Sam. 18:17-19). Saul does give David Michal for a dowry price of one hundred
Philistine foreskins (David brings back two hundred, 1 Sam. 18:20-29), but later she is given to
Paltiel and David demands she be returned to him (2 Sam. 3:12-19). David acquired Abigail (1
Sam. 25) after her foolish husband, Nabal, dies after being struck by the LORD. Some of
Davids wives and concubines were probably taken over from the royal harem of Saul. In 2
Sam. 12:8, Nathan reminds David that the LORD had given him Sauls house and his wives.
Some of these concubines may be part of the ten that David leaves behind to tend to his palace


when he flees from Absalom (2 Sam. 20:3). His last wife or concubine is Abishag, who is given
to him to keep the king warm in his old age (1 Kings 1).

The most well-known wife of David is that of Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11), whom he acquired
by less noble means. Here is an outline of the David and Bathsheba narrative:
I. David-Bathsheb adultery (vv. 2-5).
A. Scene set (vv. 2-3).
1. Temporal designation (2aa)
2. Actions of the king (2ab)
3. Introduction of the woman (2b)
a. description of her activity
b. description of her beauty
4. Identification of the woman
a. Actions of David
b. Query of David
i. speculation
ii. genealogy
(a) patronymic
(b) marital
B. Adultery (vs 4).
1. Davids actions
2. Her action
3. Their action sexual intercourse
4. Description of her condition
5. Her action
C. Consequence of adultery (vs. 5).
1. Pregnancy

David Firth, 1 and 2 Samuel, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, vol. 8. Series Ed. David W. Baker
and Gordon J. Wenham (Nottingham, England: Apollos/Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 348.


2. Notification of David by the woman
a. Her actions
b. Speech

Bailey states that this narrative opens up with the disjunctive iq:oe meaning and it
happened or and it came to pass.
This literary unit contains three clusters of verbs that
describe the action of either David or the woman. In vs. 2 there are the words that describe
how David got himself in this position: {|u|+oe (and he arose), ,Aoq:ti+oe (a hithpael
imperfect, and he walked about/to and fro), and ):o+oe (and he saw). Then in vs. 3 there
are three more verbs that serve to help further the plot by depicting Davids interest and
speculation about the woman observed.
They are: o:-i+oe (and he sent),
-o:oi+oe (and he sought), and c)o+oe (and he said). In the first three verses, David is
the subject all three verbs in each verse demonstrate that he is the only subject he initiated the
contact (if you will).
Then verse 5 fills out this unit with a cluster of three verbs after the
woman finds out she has become pregnant, oqoToe (and she conceived). They are:
o:-iToe (and she sent), oIoToe (and she declared), and c)oToe (and she said ).
Bailey notes here that both David and the female (Bathsheba) are accorded the same type of
syntactical presentation of a threefold verb complex followed by a quotation which affects the
narrative which follows.

In each of these verbal triplets there is a key term that ties this unit altogether. In
this first cluster of verbs, the key verb is the Hebrew verb hlk to walk. Here in vs. 2 the verb is

Randall C. Bailey, David In Love And War: The Pursuit of Power in 2 Samuel 10-12. Journal For the
Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), 84-85.

Ibid., 85.





in the Hithpael verb binyan stressing that he was walking or roaming about. Most often
this verb is used to refer to the LORD walking about or to people who walk with the LORD.
David has been walking about Judah and Israel in his various battles, but here he is walking
about on the roof top of his house.
Perhaps this usage of walk is meant to point out to the
reader that some questionable conduct is about to occur. Then in the second part (where we
read of Bathsheba) the key term in these triple verbs is - - to send. Both the male and female
characters in the story, who appear to carry similar weight in the narrative, are both the subjects
of this verb -. Richard Bowman argues that this use of send in this particular context
denotes the exercise of authority. He comes to this conclusion based upon the high frequency
of the usage of the verb - in 2 Sam. chapters 10-12, and also due to the fact that the objects
of this sending are Joab, the army, Uriah, Nathan (by Yahweh), and Bathsheba (sent for).

Perhaps this verse send signals that Bathsheba also has authority just like the king.
Besides this evidence from 2 Sam., nearly every time this verb is used in the historical books (by
the so-called Deuteronomic Historian), the subject of this verb are women of power and
influence. For example, this verb is used to depict Rahab who hides the spies (Josh. 2:21), to
the female judge Deborah who calls Barak into battle (Judg. 4:6), when Delilah summons for the
Philistines to come for Samson (Judg. 16:18), and finally for Jezebels plot against both Elijah (1
Kings 19:2) and Naboth (1 Kings 21:8). Thus Bathsheba falls among this list of highly selective
group of strong and powerful women (some who are good, some who are evil). The above
data not only supports Bowmans contention, but they would also raise the possibility that

Ibid., 86.



this unit, similar to the others just cited, is one of political importance in which a woman is a
prime mover.

There is a hint in the text to Bathshebas position of importance by the way she is
identified by the author, that is in terms of her family relationships. Bathsheba is identified
by patronymic relationship and her marital status (2 Sam. 11:3). Interestingly enough, her
patronymic relationship comes first in the text. Often a persons genealogy was used as a way
to show an individuals (or their families) rank in society. In order to show parallels to this in
the Old Testament, we find where Deborah is first identified as a prophetess and then secondly
as the wife of Lapidoth (see Judg. 4:4). Likewise in 2 Kings 22:14, Huldah is identified first
as a prophetess and secondly as the wife of Shallum. These two examples show how women
are identified in the various narratives is dictated by the importance of these data to the

How important is Bathsheba? She is identified in 2 Sam. 11:3 first as the daughter of
Eliam and then secondly as the wife of Uriah. The significance of being referred to as
Eliams daughter may be found in the fact that 2 Sam. 23:34 mentions an Eliam who is the son of
Ahithophel who served among those might men of valor under King David. If both of these
citations refer to the same person, then this would mean that Bathsheba came from a
politically influential family, since Ahithophel is noted as one of Davids key advisors, who
during the Absalom revolt shifted his allegiance to the latter (2 Sam. 16.23). Thus one would


Ibid., 87.


derive from Bathshebas genealogical information that she is a woman who is from an
important family.

Having made the argument above, Bailey makes the following suggestion: the author
presents King David observing from the roof a woman bathing and questions whether this is
Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, and by implication, the granddaughter of Ahithophel, the wife
of Uriah. Here in 2 Sam. 11 the author nay be pointing out that David is more concerned about
the womans political connections than her marital status.
Now that a connection is made
between Bathsheba and her important family, the reader should not be surprised that in 1
Sam.19, 25, and 2 Sam. 3:2-5, the narrator relates stories of how David is attracted to and
marries women of high social/patronymic status.
If Bailey is correct here in his assessment,
then we must rethink whether this unit is a narrative primarily concerned with sexual lust gone
awry or rather a story of political intrigue in which sex becomes the tool of politics. In other
words, is this not really a story of political marriage?

Even though David and Bathshebas sexual liaison is not told in graphic details, yet two
very important nuances appear in 2 Sam. 11:4. First, there is a pattern in which Davids
actions are paralleled by those of Bathsheba. But secondly, the text does not describe
Bathshebas actions by using the Hiphil binyan, in other words, the hiphil form would suggest
that she was being caused to act. Instead, the writer uses the Qal verb form (i.e., she comes,
or she returns.). Third, the exact wording for the sexual act in 11:4 is
H|Mi( |oK:-i+oe (and he lay down with her). According to Bailey, this demonstrates that



Ibid., 87-88.

Ibid., 88.


the narrator suggest that she is here as well as throughout a willing and equal partner to the
events which transpire.

This suggestion that both were equally culpable is based upon the use of the phrase in
vs. 4, H|t|):u=i tc-cAou:ti )iq:e (the KJV has for she was purified from her
uncleanness). Bailey points out that her activity has correctly been associated with the laws
regarding the menstrual cycle and purification according to Lev. 15:19-24. Even the Talmucid
tractate Niddah 31b notes the relationship between the menstrual cycle and conception.
Gressmann argues that the wording in this passage is to leave not doubt that David is the father
of this baby.
By implication, this man and women definitely knew the probable consequences
of their deed. This is clear from the fact that the clause is inserted between the statement of
intercourse and the womans return home (here in the end of vs. 4). Not only does the author
point the finger at David as being the father, but the writer also seems to stress that both David
and Bathsheba knew the danger of their actions would lead to pregnancy. Thus with this in
mind one question that is raised as to whether pregnancy is not the desired outcome. Could the
author here be suggesting that the carnal lying down here (|k-) has deliberate political
overtones and motivations?
While some may view this proposal as being far-fetched, yet the
narrator does not provide any indication of distress on Bathshebas part when she finds out she
is pregnant. Instead, immediately following the statement of her pregnancy, wthr, there is the
calculated triple verb construction, followed by the terse quotation hrh nky, Im pregnant.

Bailey suggests that what is going on here is Bathsheba has plans of her own she was
not an innocent victim but strategizing. He parallels this pregnancy narrative to two others that






involved illicit relations. First, he compares the 2 Sam. 11 account to that incestuous
relationship between Lot and his daughters in Gen. 19:29-38. Second, he also sees some
comparisons with the seduction of Judah by Tamar in Gen. 38:13-30. In both of these cases
from Genesis, the women were devising a plan to get pregnant and carrying out the plan
through entrapment.
This penchant for dealing-making in these pregnancy narratives is
also supported by the fact that later on (in 1 Kings 1:17) Bathsheba is wheeling and dealing
trying to procure the kingship for her son Solomon before David dies. Bailey raises the question:
could there be a hidden meaning behind the phrase, Im pregnant perhaps the message really
is that the deal has been consummated, that in fact there is a new heir to the throne on the
way, or so there will be once David can marry Bathsheba?

Bailey argues that the Ammonite War narrative is not necessarily in chronological order;
he argues that Absaloms revolt could have occurred first. Why would Ahithophel give such
advice to Absalom if one of Bathsehbas sons (since she in part of the kingly harem) is in line to
be king?
Perhaps Ahithophel is angry with David, blames him for all of these problems, and is
simply trying to procure for him and his family a place of prominence in the new administration
less they are put to death for their loyalty to David. Perhaps David has been a harsh ruler/king
and Ahithophel is simply throwing his lot with Absalom.

Ibid., 89.


Ibid., 89-90.

Ibid., 90.


David's Children
There is repetition in the David narrative of a leader who is successful as a leader of
Gods people, but an utter failure in leading his household. David is one of three fathers whose
children run wild in 1 and 2 Sam. Starting off with Elis worthless sons, continuing with
Samuels sons who were guilty of bribery ad perverting justice (1 Sam. 8:1-3), then finishing
with the misdeeds of Davids numerous children. David is an accomplished military general
and his conquest make him wealthy, but at the same time keeps him away from his family much
of the time. He knew about the art of war and diplomacy, but was unable to control his own
family. There is the case in 2 Sam. 13-14 where Amnon rapes his sister, Tamar, and then later
his brother (Absalom) kills him in revenge.
This is an example where David is passive in his
role as father of his household.
There is a hint of this passiveness in David found in 1 Kings
1:6 where the text states that David, at no time, reprimanded his son Adonijah who wanted to
appoint himself as king in waiting. There is also the possibility that the LXX and 4QSam

contain an alternate reading of 2 Sam. 13:21 (dealing with Davids response to Amnon raping
Tamar) where a proto-MT reading states that David would not punish Amnon because he was his
beloved firstborn. This reading, though minor, is also supported by the some of the Latin
Versions and the Syriac Peshitta.

Myers, David, 778.

Rosenberg, 1 and 2 Samuel, 136.

77 2 Samuel 13, Amnon Rapes Tamar; Absalom kills Amnon. Exegetical
Studies in Samuel Pp 6237-6238. Accessed March 23, 2014. Martin Abegg, Jr., Peter Flint, and
Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English
(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), 247. The Septuagint With Apocrypha: Greek And English, Sir Lancelot
C.L. Brenton (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 418.


The MT of 2 Sam. 13:21 reads:
When king
David heard all of these matters, then he burned to himself exceedingly.
The text from 4QSam
When King David] heard about [all these things, he was furious. But he would not inflict pain
on his son Amnons spirit, because he lo]ved him, since [he was his] fathers firstborn.

The text from the LXX reads:
, , .
And King David
heard all these words and he was angered very greatly; and he grieved not the spirit of Amnon
his son, because he loved him, because he was his firstborn.
The reading from 4Qsam
is as follows:
From both passages (1 Kings 1:5 and the parallel passage from 2 Sam. 13) suggest that David did
not discipline his children as he should. This narrative also shows the uncontrolled passion of
Amnon (that parallels his father with Bathsheba) that ended in tragedy (Absaloms honor
killing, in contrast to Davids dishonorable killing, murder, of Uriah).

The characterization of this king is of one if manipulation by both his children and
servants, remote from public events, ineffectual in his disciplining of both Amnon and Absalom,

Karl Elliger and Wilhem Rudolph, Ed. Biblica Hebraica Stutgartesia (Stuttgart: German Bible Society,
1967/77). Accessed March 25, 2014.

Abegg, Flint, and Ulrich, 247.

Alfred Rahlfs, Septuagint, 2
Revised Edition, Ed. Robery Hanhart (Stuttgart: German Bible Society,
2006). Accessed March 25, 2014.

Myers, 778.


and conspicuously dry-eyed and reserved when he reconciles later with Absalom (2 Samuel
The return of Absalom from exile and his subsequent reconciliation with his father
is a precursor to his later revolt (2 Sam. 15:1-19:8).
Davids flight from Jerusalem is a
highly weighted moment when King David is forced to leave by his son Absalom. As he
ascends the Mount of Olives, barefoot and with his head covered, and together with his exiled
entourage, the people weep as he passes by. David prays that Ahithopels counsel would be
thwarted (2 Sam. 15:3) and his prayer is answered (2 Sam. 17:1-14). Even when Absaloms
uprising is squashed and his beloved son is killed in battle, David mourns over his son
(Absalom, my son ) as he shows sorrow over the death of both Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam.

The purpose of this paper is to place King David and his royal house (multiple wives and
children) in the context of the overall Ancient Near Eastern royal houses, such as one would find
in Egypt, Babylon, or even the Hittite royalty. Having a large harem fits in with Israels wish of
having a king like the nations around them. There is obvious in-fighting and jealousy among the
children of the royal wives (Amnon raping Absaloms sister Tamar, Absalom taking over his
fathers concubines, and Adoniajah wanting to take his late fathers concubine). There is even
resentment when David forces Michal, Sauls daughter, to be returned to him after she had been
given to another. The David narrative sets the wheels in motion for the numerous wives and
concubines, numbering one thousand, during the reign of Solomon.

Rosenberg, 1 and 2 Samuel, 136.

Myers, 778-79.

Rosenberg, 136.


When one accepts the text of Samuel as being historically accurate and reliable, the
reader has no difficulty David and Solomon amassing all of this great wealth, large families, and
tremendous empire. One also sees the accomplishments and shortcomings in King David, and
many of these shortcomings arise in his childrens lives due to his inability to discipline them.
One would be hard pressed to argue for David being a minor, insignificant character in 10

century Israel, only to be used as the great poet, warrior, and king of Israel through whom the
Messiah would descend through his linage. The historical and archaeological background helps
us see David through the lenses of the 10
century world he reigned over. The biblical account
of Davids family life is not in contradiction to what we know is going on in the rest of the
Ancient Near East at this time. Hopefully this paper helps us better understand who David is not
only as Israels king, but more importantly his role as husband and father.


Abegg, Martin, Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest
Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English. San Francisco:
HarperSanFrancisco, 1999.
Bailey, Randall C. David In Love And War: The Pursuit of Power in 2 Samuel 10-12. Journal For
the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series. Sheffield, England: Sheffield
Academic Press, 1990.
Brenton, Sir Lancelot C.L. The Septuagint With Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.
Brown, F., S. Driver, and C. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Brggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
With an appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson
Publishers, 2008.
Ellinger, Karl and Wilhem Rudolph, Ed. Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensia. Stutgart, Germany:
German Bible Society, 1967/77.
stutgartensia-bhs/ (accessed March 24, 2014).
__________. Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensia. Stuttgart, Germany: German Bible Society, 1987.
"Exegetical Studies in Samuel." n.d. (accessed
March 23, 2014).
Firth, David. 1 and 2 Samuel. Apollos Old Testament Commentary. Edited by David W. Baker
and Gordon J. Wenham. Vol. 8. Nottingham, England/Downers Grove, IL:
Apollos/InverVarsity, 2009.
Gesenius, H.W.F. Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Translated by
Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979, Repr. 1988.
Google Images. www.googleimages/davefam. (Accessed March 30, 2014).
Holladay, William L. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon Of The Old Testament, Based
upon The Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Repr. 1983.
Longman, Tremper, III, and Raymond B. Dillard. An Introduciton to the Old Testament. Second
Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006, AER Ed. 2009.
Meredith, Don. Supplement to Turbian 8
Edition. Memphis: Harding School of Theology,
2013. (Accessed March
24, 2014).
Myers, J.M. "David." In The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, A-D, edited by George Arthur
Buttrick, 771-782. New York/Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962.


Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts: Old and New Testaments. Nashville: Thomas
Nelsom, 1993.
Oswalt, John N. "rabfG." In Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, vol. 1, )-m, edited by
R. Laird harris, Gleason L. Arche, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, 148-149. Chicago: Moody Press,
Rahlfs, Alfred. Septuagint, Ed. by Robert Hanhart. Stutgart, Germany: German Bible Society,
2006. (accessed March 24,
Rosenberg, Joel. "1 and 2 Samuel." In The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Robert Alter
and Frank Kermode, 122-145. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
Solvang, Elna K. A Woman's Place is in the House: Royal Women of Judah and their
Involvement in teh House of David. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Supplement Series 349. Edited by David J.A. CLines and Philip R. Davies. New York:
Sheffield Academic Press, 2003.