The following spring, at the time of the year when kings usually go to war, David sent out Joab with his officers and the Israelite army; they defeated the Ammonites and besieged the city of Rabbah. But David himself stayed in Jerusalem.
2One day, late in the afternoon, David got up from his nap and went to the palace roof. As he walked about up there, he saw a woman having a bath. She was very beautiful. 3So he sent a messenger to find out who she was, and learnt that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. 4David sent messengers to fetch her; they brought her to him and he made love to her. (She had just finished her monthly ritual of purification.) Then she went back home. 5Afterwards she discovered that she was pregnant and sent a message to David to tell him.
6David then sent a message to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7When Uriah arrived, David asked him if Joab and the troops were well, and how the fighting was going. 8Then he said to Uriah, “Go home and rest a while.” Uriah left, and David sent a present to his home. 9But Uriah did not go home; instead he slept at the palace gate with the king's guards. 10When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he asked him, “You have just returned after a long absence; why didn't you go home?”
11Uriah answered, “The men of Israel and Judah are away at the war, and the Covenant Box is with them; my commander Joab and his officers are camping out in the open. How could I go home, eat and drink, and sleep with my wife? By all that's sacred, I swear that I could never do such a thing!”
12So David said, “Then stay here the rest of the day, and tomorrow I'll send you back.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13David invited him to supper and made him drunk. But again that night Uriah did not go home; instead he slept on his blanket11.13 blanket; or bunk. in the palace guardroom.
14The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. 15He wrote: “Put Uriah in the front line, where the fighting is heaviest, then retreat and let him be killed.” 16So while Joab was besieging the city, he sent Uriah to a place where he knew the enemy was strong. 17The enemy troops came out of the city and fought Joab's forces; some of David's officers were killed, and so was Uriah.
18Then Joab sent a report to David telling him about the battle, 19and he instructed the messenger, “After you have told the king all about the battle, 20he may get angry and ask you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight them? Didn't you realize that they would shoot arrows from the walls? 21
Don't you remember how Abimelech son of Gideon was killed? It was at Thebez, where a woman threw a millstone down from the wall and killed him. Why, then, did you go so near the wall?’ If the king asks you this, tell him, ‘Your officer Uriah was also killed.’ ”
22So the messenger went to David and told him what Joab had commanded him to say. 23He said, “Our enemies were stronger than we were and came out of the city to fight us in the open, but we drove them back to the city gate. 24Then they shot arrows at us from the wall, and some of Your Majesty's officers were killed; your officer Uriah was also killed.”
25David said to the messenger, “Encourage Joab and tell him not to be upset, since you never can tell who will die in battle. Tell him to launch a stronger attack on the city and capture it.”
26When Bathsheba heard that her husband had been killed, she mourned for him. 27When the time of mourning was over, David sent for her to come to the palace; she became his wife and bore him a son. But the LORD was not pleased with what David had done.
The LORD sent the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan went to him and said, “There were two men who lived in the same town; one was rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had many cattle and sheep, 3while the poor man had only one lamb, which he had bought. He took care of it, and it grew up in his home with his children. He would feed it with some of his own food, let it drink from his cup, and hold it in his lap. The lamb was like a daughter to him. 4One day a visitor arrived at the rich man's home. The rich man didn't want to kill one of his own animals to prepare a meal for him; instead, he took the poor man's lamb and cooked a meal for his guest.”
5David was very angry with the rich man and said, “I swear by the living LORD that the man who did this ought to die! 6For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took.”
7“You are that man,” Nathan said to David. “And this is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I made you king of Israel and rescued you from Saul. 8I gave you his kingdom and his wives; I made you king over Israel and Judah. If this had not been enough, I would have given you twice as much. 9Why, then, have you disobeyed my commands? Why did you do this evil thing? You had Uriah killed in battle; you let the Ammonites kill him, and then you took his wife! 10Now, in every generation some of your descendants will die a violent death because you have disobeyed me and have taken Uriah's wife. 11
I swear to you that I will cause someone from your own family to bring trouble on you. You will see it when I take your wives from you and give them to another man; and he will have intercourse with them in broad daylight. 12You sinned in secret, but I will make this happen in broad daylight for all Israel to see.’ ”
13“I have sinned against the LORD,” David said.
Nathan replied, “The LORD forgives you; you will not die. 14But because you have shown such contempt for the LORD in doing this, your child will die.” 15Then Nathan went home.
The LORD caused the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David to become very ill. 16David prayed to God that the child would get well. He refused to eat anything, and every night he went into his room and spent the night lying on the floor. 17His court officials went to him and tried to make him get up, but he refused and would not eat anything with them. 18A week later the child died, and David's officials were afraid to tell him the news. They said, “While the child was living, David wouldn't answer us when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that his child is dead? He might do himself some harm!”
19When David noticed them whispering to each other, he realized that the child had died. So he asked them, “Is the child dead?”
“Yes, he is,” they answered.
20David got up from the floor, had a bath, combed his hair, and changed his clothes. Then he went and worshipped in the house of the LORD. When he returned to the palace, he asked for food and ate it as soon as it was served. 21“We don't understand this,” his officials said to him. “While the child was alive, you wept for him and would not eat; but as soon as he died, you got up and ate!”
22“Yes,” David answered, “I did fast and weep while he was still alive. I thought that the LORD might be merciful to me and not let the child die. 23But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Could I bring the child back to life? I will some day go to where he is, but he can never come back to me.”
24Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba. He had intercourse with her, and she bore a son, whom David named Solomon. The LORD loved the boy 25and commanded the prophet Nathan to name the boy Jedidiah,12.25 Jedidiah: This name in Hebrew means “Beloved of the LORD”. because the LORD loved him.
26Meanwhile Joab continued his campaign against Rabbah, the capital city of Ammon, and was about to capture it. 27He sent messengers to David to report: “I have attacked Rabbah and have captured its water supply. 28Now gather the rest of your forces, attack the city and take it yourself. I don't want to get the credit for capturing it.” 29So David gathered his forces, went to Rabbah, attacked it, and conquered it. 30From the head of the idol of the Ammonite god Molech12.30 idol of the Ammonite god Molech; or Ammonite king. David took a gold crown which weighed about 35 kilogrammes and had a jewel in it. David took the jewel and put it in his own crown.12.30 jewel… crown; or crown and put it on his own head. He also took a large amount of loot from the city 31and put its people to work with saws, iron hoes, and iron axes, and forced them to work at12.31 Probable text (see 1 Chr 20.3) work at; Hebrew pass through. making bricks. He did the same to the people of all the other towns of Ammon. Then he and his men returned to Jerusalem.
131David's son Absalom had a beautiful unmarried sister named Tamar. Amnon, another of David's sons, fell in love with her. 2He was so much in love with her that he became ill, because it seemed impossible for him to have her; as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men. 3But he had a friend, a very shrewd man named Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah. 4Jonadab said to Amnon, “You are the king's son, yet day after day I see you looking sad. What's the matter?”
“I'm in love with Tamar, the sister of my half-brother Absalom,” he answered.
5Jonadab said to him, “Pretend that you are ill and go to bed. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please ask my sister Tamar to come and feed me. I want her to prepare the food here where I can see her, and then serve it to me herself.’ ” 6So Amnon pretended that he was ill and went to bed.
King David went to see him, and Amnon said to him, “Please let Tamar come and make a few cakes here where I can see her, and then serve them to me herself.”
7So David sent word to Tamar in the palace: “Go to Amnon's house and prepare some food for him.” 8She went there and found him in bed. She took some dough, prepared it, and made some cakes there where he could see her. Then she baked the cakes 9and emptied them out of the pan for him to eat, but he wouldn't. He said, “Send everyone away” — and they all left. 10Then he said to her, “Bring the cakes here to my bed and serve them to me yourself.” She took the cakes and went over to him. 11As she offered them to him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me!”
12“No,” she said. “Don't force me to do such a degrading thing! That's awful! 13How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you — you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I'm sure that he will give me to you.” 14But he would not listen to her; and since he was stronger than she was, he overpowered her and raped her.
15Then Amnon was filled with a deep hatred for her; he hated her now even more than he had loved her before. He said to her, “Get out!”
16“No,” she answered. “To send me away like this is a greater crime13.16 Probable text To send me… crime; Hebrew unclear. than what you just did!”
But Amnon would not listen to her; 17he called in his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight! Throw her out and lock the door!” 18The servant put her out and locked the door.
Tamar was wearing a long robe with full sleeves,13.18 long robe with full sleeves; or decorated robe (see Gen 37.3). the usual clothing for an unmarried princess in those days.13.18 Probable text in those days; Hebrew garments. 19She sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying. 20When her brother Absalom saw her, he asked, “Has Amnon molested you? Please, sister, don't let it upset you so much. He is your half-brother, so don't tell anyone about it.” So Tamar lived in Absalom's house, sad and lonely.
21When King David heard what had happened, he was furious. 22And Absalom hated Amnon so much for having raped his sister Tamar that he would no longer even speak to him.
23Two years later Absalom was having his sheep sheared at Baal Hazor, near the town of Ephraim, and he invited all the king's sons to be there. 24He went to King David and said, “Your Majesty, I am having my sheep sheared. Will you and your officials come and take part in the festivities?”
25“No, my son,” the king answered. “It would be too much trouble for you if we all went.” Absalom insisted, but the king would not give in, and he asked Absalom to leave.
26But Absalom said, “Well, then, will you at least let my brother Amnon come?”
“Why should he?” the king asked. 27But Absalom kept on insisting until David finally let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king13.27 Some ancient translations Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king; Hebrew does not have these words. 28and instructed his servants: “Notice when Amnon has had too much to drink, and then when I give the order, kill him. Don't be afraid. I will take the responsibility myself. Be brave and don't hesitate!” 29So the servants followed Absalom's instructions and killed Amnon. All the rest of David's sons mounted their mules and fled.
30While they were on their way home, David was told: “Absalom has killed all your sons — not one of them is left!” 31The king stood up, tore his clothes in sorrow, and threw himself to the ground. The servants who were there with him tore their clothes also. 32But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah, said, “Your Majesty, they haven't killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. You could tell by looking at Absalom that he had made up his mind to do this from the time that Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33So don't believe the news that all your sons are dead; only Amnon was killed.”
34In the meantime Absalom had fled.
Just then the soldier on sentry duty saw a large crowd coming down the hill on the road from Horonaim.13.34 Probable text from Horonaim; Hebrew behind him. He went to the king and reported what he had seen.13.34 One ancient translation He went… had seen; Hebrew does not have these words. 35Jonadab said to David, “Those are your sons coming, just as I said they would.” 36As soon as he finished saying this, David's sons came in; they started crying, and David and his officials also wept bitterly.
Absalom fled and went to the king of Geshur, Talmai son of Ammihud, and stayed there three years. David mourned a long time for his son Amnon; 39but when he got over Amnon's death, he was filled with longing for his son Absalom.