Why did Bathsheba commit adultery with King David?

Bathsheba is sometimes misrepresented as the woman who committed adultery with King David, although from the story in 2 Samuel 11-12 it appears that David either seduced her or even raped her. In the original Hebrew, the phrase in 2 Sam 11:4 makes clear that David was the active subject and Bathsheba was the object of his actions. He sent his messengers to bring Bathsheba to him and then “he went into her,” (the Hebrew euphemism for intercourse). In the original text, there is absolutely no connotation of Bathsheba seducing the king. In those days, a woman who had very little social status and whose husband was an employee of the king could have done little to protest the desires of that all-powerful king, and would have had no recourse should he violate her. After Bathsheba conceived, David plotted successfully to have her husband Uriah killed before Uriah found out about the pregnancy. The writer of 2 Samuel blamed the sin on David, not Bathsheba, and the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to call him to accountability. The famous Psalm 51, read during Lent, is a psalm of confession and repentance often associated with King David repenting for his sin against Bathsheba.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.