People in Bathsheba’s story
Bathsheba, granddaughter of the King’s counselor, daughter of a high ranking soldier, wife of another high-ranking soldier; beautiful, intelligent, very much a political animal. Good at getting what she wants.
Basic facts about Bathsheba
- she was born into a high ranking family: her grandfather was a trusted counselor of the leader/petty king of Jerusalem before is was conquered by David. He was clever enough to be accepted by David, the new ruler, as his own counselor
- she married a high-ranking military officer at a young age – no doubt an arranged marriage
- she had no children by her husband Uriah – why? was it because they were only married for a brief time? or because he was away fighting much of the time?
- she was beautiful
- she seems to have been politically astute, as her grandfather was
- she gambled to raise her social position
- she was shrewd enough to be able to put her son on the throne when David died, even though he was a younger son and not expected to rule
Who was David?
David was a powerful, charismatic king. Politically clever, but often governed by his emotions, especially when it came to family matters. Unscrupulous with women. An erratic parent, favoring one child over the others.
Basic facts about David
- he is the most complex character in the Bible, a pragmatist (read how he reacts to the death of his child in 2 Samuel 12:15-23) and yet able to charm people into loving him
- for much of his reign he is fighting to maintain his hold on power, but at the time of his seduction of Bathsheba, he is secure enough in his position as king to be able to stay at home in Jerusalem while his army is fighting
- confident to the point of stupidity: he must have known that seducing Bathsheba would lead to great trouble, yet he follows his impulse to have her
- pitiable in his old age, when he has become impotent and is manipulated by his clever wife
Who was Uriah?
Uriah, noble but luckless husband of Bathsheba, who certainly knows about her infidelity with David but is powerless to do anything about it.
Betrayed by his king David, murdered on the battlefield so that David can marry Bathsheba.
Basic facts about Uriah
- he is probably aware of Bathsheba’s infidelity from the start; it would have been common knowledge among the soldiers at the palace – Bathsheba had to pass through the guarded gateway to reach David’s quarters
- even drunk, he will not take part in David’s plan to cover up the reason for Bathsheba’s pregnancy; does this mean he is honorable, or stupid?
Who was Solomon?
Solomon, son of Bathsheba and David. One of many sons, but eventually after a number of convenient deaths of older brothers, he becomes heir to the throne.
Basic facts about Solomon
- noted in later ages for his wisdom (or is is shrewdness?), he shows this by allowing Bathsheba to orchestrate the murder of his older brother Adonijah (the story is at 1 Kings 2:13-25).
- he will later prove to be a brilliant administrator and ruler, but the reader must keep in mind that Solomon’s story is based on records written by his own court officials, who naturally presented Solomon in the best possible light.
Who was Adonijah?
Adonijah, popular son of David, expected to be king after David, but out-maneuvered by the political party led by Bathsheba and Nathan, and executed by Solomon.
Who was Nathan?
Nathan was probably a native of Jerusalem who was kept on as an astute adviser by David after he makes Jerusalem his capital.
Nathan held a special position described nowadays as ‘prophet’, where he was able to advise the king in a frank manner that was not permitted to other courtiers and advisers.
Who was Abishag?
Abishag, an exceptionally beautiful young woman whose naked body, it was hoped, would arouse David from impotence.
In ancient times a king’s sexual impotence was seen as a portent of danger for the whole kingdom, possibly even as a sign of future famine in the land.