1 At the turn of the year, the season when kings go out [to battle], David sent Yoav with his officers and all Yisrael with him, and they devastated Ammon and besieged Rabbah; David remained in Yerushalayim.
2 Late one afternoon, David rose from his couch and strolled on the roof of the royal palace; and from the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,
ב וַיְהִי לְעֵת הָעֶרֶב וַיָּקָם דָּוִד מֵעַל מִשְׁכָּבוֹ וַיִּתְהַלֵּךְ עַל־גַּג בֵּית־הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיַּרְא אִשָּׁה רֹחֶצֶת מֵעַל הַגָּג וְהָאִשָּׁה טוֹבַת מַרְאֶה מְאֹד׃
3 and the king sent someone to make inquiries about the woman. He reported, “She is Batsheva daughter of Eliam [and] wife of Uriya the Hittite.”
ג וַיִּשְׁלַח דָּוִד וַיִּדְרֹשׁ לָאִשָּׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הֲלוֹא־זֹאת בַּת־שֶׁבַע בַּת־אֱלִיעָם אֵשֶׁת אוּרִיָּה הַחִתִּי׃
4 David sent messengers to fetch her; she came to him and he lay with her—she had just purified herself after her period—and she went back home.
va-yish-LAKH da-VID mal-a-KHEEM va-yi-ka-KHE-ha va-ta-VO ay-LAV va-yish-KAV i-MAH v’-HEE mit-ka-DE-shet mi-tum-a-TAH va-TA-shov el bay-TAH
ד וַיִּשְׁלַח דָּוִד מַלְאָכִים וַיִּקָּחֶהָ וַתָּבוֹא אֵלָיו וַיִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ וְהִיא מִתְקַדֶּשֶׁת מִטֻּמְאָתָהּ וַתָּשָׁב אֶל־בֵּיתָהּ׃
11:4 David sent messengers to fetch her
The incident of David and Batsheva is quite difficult to understand. How could such a righteous king seemingly succumb to such behavior? The Sages of the Talmud (Shabbat 56a) teach that while his actions were wrong, technically speaking, King David did not commit adultery. The soldiers of ancient Israel’s army were accustomed to grant their wives a conditional bill of divorce prior to going to battle, so that if they were captured or went missing, their wives could remarry. Therefore, at the time of the sin, Batsheva was technically not married. Yet, despite this technicality, the prophet Natan tells King David he has sinned, and King David indeed repents. We are all expected to rise above what may be technically permitted, and live completely moral lives.3 comments
5 The woman conceived, and she sent word to David, “I am pregnant.”
ה וַתַּהַר הָאִשָּׁה וַתִּשְׁלַח וַתַּגֵּד לְדָוִד וַתֹּאמֶר הָרָה אָנֹכִי׃
8 Then David said to Uriya, “Go down to your house and bathe your feet.” When Uriya left the royal palace, a present from the king followed him.
ח וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד לְאוּרִיָּה רֵד לְבֵיתְךָ וּרְחַץ רַגְלֶיךָ וַיֵּצֵא אוּרִיָּה מִבֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ וַתֵּצֵא אַחֲרָיו מַשְׂאַת הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
9 But Uriya slept at the entrance of the royal palace, along with the other officers of his lord, and did not go down to his house.
ט וַיִּשְׁכַּב אוּרִיָּה פֶּתַח בֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵת כָּל־עַבְדֵי אֲדֹנָיו וְלֹא יָרַד אֶל־בֵּיתוֹ׃
10 When David was told that Uriya had not gone down to his house, he said to Uriya, “You just came from a journey; why didn’t you go down to your house?”
י וַיַּגִּדוּ לְדָוִד לֵאמֹר לֹא־יָרַד אוּרִיָּה אֶל־בֵּיתוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־אוּרִיָּה הֲלוֹא מִדֶּרֶךְ אַתָּה בָא מַדּוּעַ לֹא־יָרַדְתָּ אֶל־בֵּיתֶךָ׃
11 Uriya answered David, “The Aron and Yisrael and Yehuda are located at Succoth, and my master Yoav and Your Majesty’s men are camped in the open; how can I go home and eat and drink and sleep with my wife? As you live, by your very life, I will not do this!”
יב וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל־אוּרִיָּה שֵׁב בָּזֶה גַּם־הַיּוֹם וּמָחָר אֲשַׁלְּחֶךָּ וַיֵּשֶׁב אוּרִיָּה בִירוּשָׁלִַם בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וּמִמָּחֳרָת׃
13 David summoned him, and he ate and drank with him until he got him drunk; but in the evening, [Uriya] went out to sleep in the same place, with his lord’s officers; he did not go down to his home.
יג וַיִּקְרָא־לוֹ דָוִד וַיֹּאכַל לְפָנָיו וַיֵּשְׁתְּ וַיְשַׁכְּרֵהוּ וַיֵּצֵא בָעֶרֶב לִשְׁכַּב בְּמִשְׁכָּבוֹ עִם־עַבְדֵי אֲדֹנָיו וְאֶל־בֵּיתוֹ לֹא יָרָד׃
15 He wrote in the letter as follows: “Place Uriya in the front line where the fighting is fiercest; then fall back so that he may be killed.”
טו וַיִּכְתֹּב בַּסֵּפֶר לֵאמֹר הָבוּ אֶת־אוּרִיָּה אֶל־מוּל פְּנֵי הַמִּלְחָמָה הַחֲזָקָה וְשַׁבְתֶּם מֵאַחֲרָיו וְנִכָּה וָמֵת׃
16 So when Yoav was besieging the city, he stationed Uriya at the point where he knew that there were able warriors.
טז וַיְהִי בִּשְׁמוֹר יוֹאָב אֶל־הָעִיר וַיִּתֵּן אֶת־אוּרִיָּה אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יָדַע כִּי אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל שָׁם׃
יז וַיֵּצְאוּ אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר וַיִּלָּחֲמוּ אֶת־יוֹאָב וַיִּפֹּל מִן־הָעָם מֵעַבְדֵי דָוִד וַיָּמָת גַּם אוּרִיָּה הַחִתִּי׃
יח וַיִּשְׁלַח יוֹאָב וַיַּגֵּד לְדָוִד אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַמִּלְחָמָה׃
19 He instructed the messenger as follows: “When you finish reporting to the king all about the battle,
יט וַיְצַו אֶת־הַמַּלְאָךְ לֵאמֹר כְּכַלּוֹתְךָ אֵת כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַמִּלְחָמָה לְדַבֵּר אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ׃
20 the king may get angry and say to you, ‘Why did you come so close to the city to attack it? Didn’t you know that they would shoot from the wall?
כ וְהָיָה אִם־תַּעֲלֶה חֲמַת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאָמַר לְךָ מַדּוּעַ נִגַּשְׁתֶּם אֶל־הָעִיר לְהִלָּחֵם הֲלוֹא יְדַעְתֶּם אֵת אֲשֶׁר־יֹרוּ מֵעַל הַחוֹמָה׃
21 Who struck down Avimelech son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who dropped an upper millstone on him from the wall at Thebez, from which he died? Why did you come so close to the wall?’ Then say: ‘Your servant Uriya the Hittite was among those killed.’”
כא מִי־הִכָּה אֶת־אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בֶּן־יְרֻבֶּשֶׁת הֲלוֹא־אִשָּׁה הִשְׁלִיכָה עָלָיו פֶּלַח רֶכֶב מֵעַל הַחוֹמָה וַיָּמָת בְּתֵבֵץ לָמָּה נִגַּשְׁתֶּם אֶל־הַחוֹמָה וְאָמַרְתָּ גַּם עַבְדְּךָ אוּרִיָּה הַחִתִּי מֵת׃
כב וַיֵּלֶךְ הַמַּלְאָךְ וַיָּבֹא וַיַּגֵּד לְדָוִד אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ יוֹאָב׃
23 The messenger said to David, “First the men prevailed against us and sallied out against us into the open; then we drove them back up to the entrance to the gate.
כג וַיֹּאמֶר הַמַּלְאָךְ אֶל־דָּוִד כִּי־גָבְרוּ עָלֵינוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים וַיֵּצְאוּ אֵלֵינוּ הַשָּׂדֶה וַנִּהְיֶה עֲלֵיהֶם עַד־פֶּתַח הַשָּׁעַר׃
24 But the archers shot at your men from the wall and some of Your Majesty’s men fell; your servant Uriya the Hittite also fell.”
כד ויראו [וַיֹּרוּ] המוראים [הַמּוֹרִים] אֶל־עֲבָדֶךָ מֵעַל הַחוֹמָה וַיָּמוּתוּ מֵעַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְגַם עַבְדְּךָ אוּרִיָּה הַחִתִּי מֵת׃
25 Whereupon David said to the messenger, “Give Yoav this message: ‘Do not be distressed about the matter. The sword always takes its toll. Press your attack on the city and destroy it!’ Encourage him!”
26 When Uriya‘s wife heard that her husband Uriya was dead, she lamented over her husband.
כו וַתִּשְׁמַע אֵשֶׁת אוּרִיָּה כִּי־מֵת אוּרִיָּה אִישָׁהּ וַתִּסְפֹּד עַל־בַּעְלָהּ׃