Did David rape Bathsheba?

"If reasonable arguments can be made exegetically then perhaps we ought not to anathematize people who believe differently than we do on issues such as this. Perhaps someone can believe that David and Bathsheba committed adultery and still support the #metoo and #churchtoo moments." - Dave Miller

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T Howard's picture

If you believe the rhetoric coming from #MeToo advocates, this sexual encounter between David and Bathsheba could never be a consensual relationship because of the power dynamics involved. In fact, David's marriage to her afterwards was probably nothing more than forced sexual slavery.

TylerR's picture

Editor

What a silly, anachronistic question. Do people really not have better things to do?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

One thing to note for starters is that the Twitter debate, in which I did not participate but which I did read a bit, did not get ugly because one side was anathematizing the other.  It got ugly because participants, including Jayson York, accused Mrs. Denhollander of inserting her emotions and experience into the text.  Sort of a semi-polite way of accusing her of thinking with her ovaries.  Moreover, given the nature of what really happened between David and Bathsheba, I actually think that she probably understates the case about what David did.

(blame my testicles, of course?)

How does it go?  Well, the argument that it was rape does not merely depend on the near-certainty that Bathsheba could not say no without risking her life and that of her family, but also hangs on Nathan and Bathsheba's responses to the situation.

(and let's start by noting that Bathsheba knows that she can't refuse David without imperiling the lives of her husband, children, and possibly other family members....it's not as simple as "well I can die and not sin" here)

If it were adultery, for starters, Nathan owes Bathsheba a rebuke, too.  None is found in Scripture; Nathan appears to regard Bathsheba as a rape victim.  Moreover, the first recorded communication with Bathsheba after the initial incident is over a month later, when she knows she is pregnant.  She has missed her period and starts experiencing morning sickness--usually 5-6 weeks into pregnancy.  She may have access to the palace to talk to her uncle Ahitophel, and presumably to inquire about the progress of the war, but stays at home.  It's not the behavior of the lovelorn, to put it mildly.

So I would argue that this is rape even beyond the modern definition of "had no other reasonable choice"; it's a simple case where if she had, per Moses, "cried out", the judge was the one who wanted her.  

A side note is that one might wonder whether this sort of situation is exactly why God prohibited kings from collecting wives in Deut. 17:17, and why God told men who might want to have multiple wives that they couldn't diminish the food, clothing, or....loving to any other wife when they took a new one.  Suffice it to say that I remember some squabbles among Jacob's wives over that one, no?  Something about mandrakes, if I remember right.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

One wonders whether a king could marry anyone once he is declared king given the power dynamics involved. I guess women are incapable of making informed, self-directed decisions when they interact with men unless they share equal authority and power with men.

Mark_Smith's picture

TylerR wrote:

What a silly, anachronistic question. Do people really not have better things to do?

Tyler,

I appreciate your sentiment, but this did not start in the twitterverse. It started with Rachel Denhollander pushing this hard at the ERLC Care summit. She then doubled down on a facebook (or twitter) post of a person talking about sin the Bible.

So, it isn't "the twitterverse" doing this. It is the #metoo camp pushing this.

Bert Perry's picture

T Howard wrote:

One wonders whether a king could marry anyone once he is declared king given the power dynamics involved. I guess women are incapable of making informed, self-directed decisions when they interact with men unless they share equal authority and power with men.

Historically, royalty married royalty for this very reason--it gave the girl some protection because her father was perfectly capable of waging war against her boyfriend/husband if he misbehaved.  Many/most of Solomon's wives were in this category.  If both participants are royalty, the power differential mostly disappears.  You'll see a lot of the same dynamics in wealthy families preferring or insisting that their children court and marry from their own social class--no sense squandering family wealth on a gold-digger, after all. 

And along the same lines, process the Torah's restraint on polygamy (Exodus 21:10) and kings (Deut. 17:17) in this light.  If a gold-digger came for a date with the king or prince, they should have come to a palace that didn't have much gold.  Yes, we're talking about you, Solomon. Moreover, the king should have had difficulty feeding a harem, and even if he could (ignoring the "gold" part of Deut. 17:17) feed and clothe them, he was still constrained to give them adequate affection (difficult for David with at least 7 wives plus Saul's harem, impossible for Solomon), and was prohibited from maintaining a harem like other kings.

So even apart from the question of whether David raped Bathsheba (again, clear and convincing evidence he did IMO), and even apart from the prohibition of adultery, you've got a number of Torah prohibitions that ought to have persuaded David to say "gotta do my best to win that war and get Uriah back so he can enjoy that beautiful wife of his!", prohibitions that will tend to reduce the likelihood of women being taken advantage of.

Finally, one more reason to suggest it was rape; what did Ahitophel, Bathsheba's uncle grandfather, do when he had a chance to cross David when Absalom rebelled?  He took steps with Absalom that, had Absalom listened, would have gotten David killed.  You didn't cross a king like that unless you had a very good reason--like your niece granddaughter got raped by the man.  When his advice wasn't taken, he want home and took his life--he knew David would know exactly what he was about.  Many of these things are not said explicitly, but if you understand Middle Eastern culture, you've got a very strong likelihood that you know what really happened.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

CT has an article on it, with some good links. I believe the question is not trivial, but I don't believe it's answerable with a high level of certainty. So, with the writer of the blog post above, I would say people should settle down about it.

Still, some perspective worthy of thought...

Why It’s Easier to Accept David as a Murderer than a Rapist

Jay's picture

I think the article that SI linked to is actually a very good recap and discussion of the entire debate.  As the writer noted, it kicked off when Rachael Denhollander replied to Matt Smedhurst and escalated from there.  I was one of the people that asked for textual evidence to support the position that Bathsheba was raped or at least given "an offer she couldn't refuse", as I have seen this theory but never heard support for it.  Given some of the articles and grammatical study, I think that one can make the case that it was rape fairly conclusively.  The journal article by Davidson is a great place to start studying for those so inclined.  I've read Abasili as well and continue to research the text.

That being said, I want to circle back to something TylerR said.  It absolutely does matter, I think, how you interpret this text.  It's important that we exegete the Word properly.  It's important that this kind of abuse of power by David is clearly called out.  It's important that women know that (at a very minimum) the King of Israel forced a woman into a situation where she had no real options, whether or not she wanted to commit adultery or not, as many women face that kind of dynamic at work, in stores, and yes, even in churches and "christian" ministries, as we have seen repeatedly in the news lately.

But for me, the most depressing realizations of all of this are the following:

  1. There is a lot of casual misogyny thrown at women like Rachael simply because she is a woman or she raised this topic. Others claim that that she can't clearly able to think or exegete because of her experiences.  These kinds of things so easily bandied about on Twitter should have been met with a slap in the face or a punch from her husband.  But because they're said online, under a veneer of anonymity, they are liked and retweeted as "standing on or for truth" regardless of whether or not they followed Eph. 4:29 or Eph. 5:3-5.  It is disgusting and reprehensible.  I was embarrassed for those, some of whom are fairly high profile, that seemingly decided to exempt themselves from Christian orthopraxy simply for cheap shots.
     
  2. The vitriol directed at Rachael within the SBC and even some quarters of Baptist fundamentalism is utterly out of control, and what I used to think of as biblical complementarianism seems to be morphing into something far more ugly and misogynistic.  I remember and believe/support John Piper's definition of Biblical Masculinity (see page 29) from the mid to late 90's, when I was first exposed to it.  Some of what is coming out of Baptist quarters lately, however, is a far cry from that, and I would join with others in expressing my concern not in complementarianism per se, but in what the doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son and especially "biblical patriarchy" is doing to both the men who are buying into it and also the women and children they will be responsible for.  I'm also increasingly concerned that certain ideas or concepts are elevated to levels of importance that they simply shouldn't have (cf. 2 Timothy 2:22-24).
     
  3. As the article that Aaron linked to noted, we are all certainly uncomfortable dealing with the fact that David abused his power to perpetuate a sexual encounter with another woman, one who was married to one of his thirty Mighty Men, the son of one of his Thirty Mighty Men, and the granddaughter of his advisor.  In most of the journal articles and defenses of the adultery position, all of them freely admit that David used his power and authority to exploit Bathsheba. So why, then, is it so difficult to swing over from 'abuse of power by sexual intercourse' to 'rape'?  One of the more ridiculous arguments I've seen is that because David isn't recorded as physically overpowering her and forcibly entering her body over protests (as described in Deut. 22), then we can't really call it "rape" (I've been tempted to mock this position by calling it "rape-rape" after Whoopi Goldberg's infamous speech).  No, it just proves that David "carried on an affair" despite no textual support that Bathsheba was looking for sex with the king and, as the CT article notes, no recorded blame of her within the Scripture itself.  Even in 1 Kings 15:5, David is described as "For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite."  Is that really the type of pastoral counsel that we should be giving?  Sorry, what happened to you isn't "biblical rape"?
     
  4. If a woman who were trapped and forced into sex with someone like Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey came to you and admitted that they were coerced into having sex with them in exchange for whatever reason, we could (and should) define it as rape.  So why is it so hard to say that when the exact same dynamics occured in David's home that it couldn't possibly have been that?  As one journal author noted - "If a woman is crying out for help in the King's own bedchamber, who is going to go in it to stop him?" 

All of this to say, yes, it does matter, and we need to be especially careful that we are driven by solid exegesis and fact instead of ideas, theories, or deeply-cherished but possibly inaccurate ideas.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

At least some of the vitriol is because when someone like Denhollander makes a statement about David that implies that if we don't agree with her take on it (i.e David absolutely raped her), that we are misogynistic.  We can't ask questions or do exegesis.  We must accept.  Any vitriol she gets for that is well-deserved, IMNSHO.

This quote from the article at the top of this thread pretty much covers it:

"A debate has raged on Twitter in recent days that strains credulity – not that the topic is being debated but the force with which it is being argued. The question is whether David’s sin with Bathsheba was adultery or did it constitute rape. Did David rape Bathsheba? That is a valid discussion, but as is often the case, social media has turned it into a free-for-all. If you do not share my opinion on the topic your biblical bona fides are called into question. If you believe that David raped, you are putting your emotion ahead of biblical exegesis and don’t really love God’s word. If you don’t believe that Bathsheba was raped, you are an opponent of the protection of women and are supporting abusers."

Either side described there deserves the criticism that comes their way, and that included Denhollander.  Her experiences are important, but they don't give her the authority to not be questioned or criticized.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Dave, if that were true, yes.  But it's not. Here's Jacob Denhollander's (Rachael's husband's) response:

https://twitter.com/JJ_Denhollander/status/1182346899266899971

To quote:  It's not misogyny to disagree on the interpretation of Scripture.  It is evidence of misogyny when you immediately react to a woman's interpretation of Scripture by assuming she is emotional, reading her experience into the text, & pushing a political agenda.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Dave, if that were true, yes.  But it's not.   

Here's her exact statement: "David raped. It is important that we get that right."  She even takes the kindergarten teacher, 1st-person plural voice "we" that teachers use to talk down to students in an instructional tone that's meant to brook no disagreement.  Her opinion, like those of others, is subject to criticism, and if the opinion can't stand up to criticism, then its worth is self-evident.

It's easy for her husband to claim that disagreement with her is not misogynistic, but her tone leaves no question that disagreement is agreement with abusers.  I'm sorry, but we don't need to be lectured to by her or anyone else with her experiences, and when that tone is used, those using it should expect some pushback.  I don't care whether she was emotional or not, and the motivation for her comment has no bearing on my disagreement with its attempt to claim "right because I say it is."

(And, though I shouldn't have to say it, I also disagree with those who claim she's wrong because she's emotional, etc.  That argument is just as stupid.)

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

My thoughts:

  1. OC law sees rape as being done by physical force.
  2. Our modern understanding of rape, from secular law, is more broad and could, in some way, cover implicit coercion.
  3. To apply these more nuanced understandings to an OC context is anachronistic
  4. David was not rebuked for his sexual sin with the woman. He was rebuked for murder.

Let's not put something in the text that isn't there.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

let's parse out what she actually said in that first comment.  Anything on misogyny?  Nope.  It merely says that it's important that we get what happened right.

Like I said, the allegations of misogyny follow well behind.  It's important we get this right.  Moreover, when you basically say she deserved it because of being unduly emphatic or in a "kindergarten teacher voice", what are you saying there?  Think about it a moment.  Note as well that when you follow the thread, she does--unlike most of her detractors--actually offer arguments for that position.  Most of the detractors simply shout "eisegesis", falsely allege a liberal agenda, and yes, assert that she's speaking from her emotions and experience.

Now we can quibble over whether it's overt misogyny or just extremely poor handling of a debate by people who (if their Twitter handles/bios are indicative) ought to know better, but let's not pretend that she "deserved it".  If she does, everybody on this forum deserves the same kind of blanket party for doing the exact same kind of thing.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

...everybody on this forum deserves the same kind of blanket party for doing the exact same kind of thing.  

I'll agree with this much -- if I use poor argumentation or insult people with the tone I use in my arguments, I deserve to be called on it, and I would expect some degree of vitriol.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

I really don't want to get into a rehash of the debate, but you really, really ought to read the replies to her tweet or corresponding internet commentary rather than insisting that it's her fault.  There was a LOT of pushing back based on her gender and her experiences. 

As for this:

She even takes the kindergarten teacher, 1st-person plural voice "we" that teachers use to talk down to students in an instructional tone that's meant to brook no disagreement.  Her opinion, like those of others, is subject to criticism, and if the opinion can't stand up to criticism, then its worth is self-evident.

It's easy for her husband to claim that disagreement with her is not misogynistic, but her tone leaves no question that disagreement is agreement with abusers.  I'm sorry, but we don't need to be lectured to by her or anyone else with her experiences, and when that tone is used, those using it should expect some pushback.  I don't care whether she was emotional or not, and the motivation for her comment has no bearing on my disagreement with its attempt to claim "right because I say it is."

Why is it hard to understand that "we" is likely used as an all inclusive term and avoid reading all sorts of malicious and nasty intent into what she said?  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay wrote:

There was a LOT of pushing back based on her gender and her experiences.

Jay, I already have stated that I agree that that was stupid, and it is also not called-for.  I don't think that lets her original statement off the hook, however.

Quote:

Why is it hard to understand that "we" is likely used as an all inclusive term and avoid reading all sorts of malicious and nasty intent into what she said?  

Personally, I suspect you're ignoring the tone because you either agree with her or respect her because of what she had to suffer.  Be that as it may, the tone in her statement is quite clear to anyone not predisposed to ignore it.  (Which, by the way, is quite likely why it ignited a fire rather than a more civil discussion.)  Again, I'm not going to give any credit to those attacking her emotions or gender, or saying it only comes from her experiences.  But I think she knew exactly what she was doing when she stated things the way she did, and as a result, should expect some pushback, just as I expected some for my disagreement with her statement as written.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

A Twitter user named "GeekyGuyJay" asked Mrs. Denhollander point blank about how she established that position, and she (and others) answered politely.  So to argue that she "brooks no dissent" really ignores what one would see if one, ahem, read through the thread.  Sorry, Dave, but you misread that in a big way.

Really, on a broader note, there are all kinds of cases where we fundagelicals in general are too sensitive to the "tone" others use, especially when the person is not a pastor or others "authorized" to speak that way.  And let's be honest; would we say anything if most pastors said "It's important that we get this right?"  Of course not; it's standard in sermons.  No surprise that many would point out that this point of view is objecting to the messenger, not really the tone of the message.

This is an especially important thing to note when you're working with those who have been sexually assaulted; we're talking about a level of trauma that puts many in counseling for decades, and leads others to take their own lives.  You're going to hear a level of vehemence (and some f-bombs and the like) that aren't part of a typical fundagelical church.  News flash: if you want to minister to them (possibly 25% of the young ladies your church might minister to), get used to it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

A Twitter user named "GeekyGuyJay" asked Mrs. Denhollander point blank about how she established that position, and she (and others) answered politely.  So to argue that she "brooks no dissent" really ignores what one would see if one, ahem, read through the thread.  Sorry, Dave, but you misread that in a big way.

I didn't say she had no support for her position (even though I disagree).  It was the way her statement came off.  I realize you think I misread it, but I think the reaction shows that I'm not that far off.

Quote:

Really, on a broader note, there are all kinds of cases where we fundagelicals in general are too sensitive to the "tone" others use, especially when the person is not a pastor or others "authorized" to speak that way.  And let's be honest; would we say anything if most pastors said "It's important that we get this right?"  Of course not; it's standard in sermons.  No surprise that many would point out that this point of view is objecting to the messenger, not really the tone of the message.

I'm probably just a grumpy old guy, but I object to that form of address after a controversial statement even when used by pastors (and I realize it's common today).  And I don't accept condescension (or at least I stop really paying attention) in tone from my pastor or anyone else for that matter.  If a pastor would say something like "Those who are pre-trib are wrong.  It's important that we get this right," something is clearly intended by the 2nd sentence of that structure, and it's not a good thing.

I won't even disagree that for some it might be the messenger more than the message.  And yet, I know it's not always the case, and I stand by my assertion that she likely knew what kind of reaction her statement would generate.

Quote:

You're going to hear a level of vehemence (and some f-bombs and the like) that aren't part of a typical fundagelical church.  News flash: if you want to minister to them (possibly 25% of the young ladies your church might minister to), get used to it.

Yeah, I think I would avoid most interactions where I'm going to be considered "privileged," "racist," "misogynistic," etc. when I'm not willing to buy the micro-aggression of the week.

I didn't (and wouldn't generally) get involved in discussions like the one Jay references and participated in.  I usually just ignore them.  As you said, we can be oversensitive.  But I sometimes respond to those who decry the reaction to something when they generally didn't pay attention to what it sounded like in the first place.  I get that some who have experienced something unjust often feel justified in their use of anger to those of us they think aren't listening.  Maybe they think it will provoke someone to "do right."  What they don't get is that it will just make many of us tune them out.

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

This whole discussion should be a good reminder of the authority of Scripture and how much modern evangelicalism and fundamentalism are devoid of it. The text does not tell us the specifics. Therefore, all this speculation about the events and the dynamics of it are the assertion of authority apart from the Scripture. The Bible had no problem telling us that Dinah was raped or that Tamar was raped. So why is it silent on that here? It might be because God has no intention of us making a point of that here. No matter how we read the text, whatever the dynamics of Bathsheba's situation was is not the point.

One of the most common things you hear in complaint about fundamentalism is speaking where Scripture has not spoken to try to make a cultural application. And here we have some who have no problem doing exactly that--speaking where Scripture is silent to try to make a cultural application. And is it not unnoticed that one of the most vocal proponents of (a very misguided notion of) "sola scriptura" has no problem going beyond "sola scriptura" here.

Rape is wrong. Abuse of power is wrong. Coercion from positions of authority is wrong. We don't need David and Bathsheba to know that. But if we will have authority with the Scripture, we must say what Scripture says, even if it is not what we might like to say. If we say something other than or more than what Scripture says, we have made ourselves the authority.

Better to stick with the text and make the point the text does.

Bert Perry's picture

TylerR wrote:

My thoughts:

  1. OC law sees rape as being done by physical force.
  2. Our modern understanding of rape, from secular law, is more broad and could, in some way, cover implicit coercion.
  3. To apply these more nuanced understandings to an OC context is anachronistic
  4. David was not rebuked for his sexual sin with the woman. He was rebuked for murder.

Let's not put something in the text that isn't there.

Let's be a little bit more specific here; the Torah speaks  to "forcing" a woman, not "raping" her, specifically.  For that matter, the word "rape" originally meant to "force" in English, and has only acquired the nearly exclusive connotation of sexual assault relatively recently.  That does not, however, mean that the ancients were not concerned with sexual assaults that did not involve direct force.  

In this case, Nathan clearly accuses David of "stealing the lamb", meaning in context stealing the sexual affections of Bathsheba from her husband.  Nathan also uses the metaphor of "dressing" (killing, cooking, and eating) the lamb for David's enjoyment; in other words, the brutal treatment of Bathsheba.  Yes, Nathan does indeed rebuke David for a sexual assault here.  Uriah is, again, analogous to the lamb's owner, not the lamb.

Elsewhere in Scripture, read Exodus 21:10; if men were not prone to obtaining multiple wives by fraud and abusing them, why would this be in the Torah?  You've got the same thing with Deuteronomy 17:17, and amplified because of the power of the king.  You also have Song of Songs 8:9, which notes that families would take actions to protect their daughters from a premature marriage--what we'd call "statutory rape".  

In other words, the ancients did have a concept of sexual assault that is remarkably close to our own.  To argue otherwise, what you've generally got to do is to say that the examples of powerful/rich men who ignored what the Torah said about polygamy override what we know from the Torah, Nathan's rebuke, the Song of Songs, and a lot more.  

Now why, per Denhollander's original tweet, is it so important to get this right?  We might argue that events of 3000 years back are not that important to us, but for one thing; if we fail to recognize the signs of sexual assault in this case, and suggest that it was somehow consensual, we are going to miss the hints that someone in our lives, in our churches, is being sexually assaulted today.    That's pretty darned important, and worth an emphatic tone.   I'd further argue we feel like kindergartners precisely because we've been missing these obvious hints for decades and claiming this was consensual.

Regarding the claim that it was consensual, it more or less boils down to the assumption that Bathsheba was a slut.  Either she was trying to attract David's attention during a religious Mitzvah (while everybody else on their roof could watch moreover), or she decided she was willing at the palace without compulsion in the space of a few minutes.  That's hard to square with the reality that the family had allocated resources to build their own ritual bath (Mikveh), and used it routinely.  It was likely on the roof because most of David's city is above the Gihon spring, and it (a) had to be a permanent part of a building (not portable) and (b) had to be filled with rain or spring/river water without using jars and other containers to carry it.  Hence you put it on the roof to collect runoff, where (bonus) the sun warms it, too.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

GregH's picture

I don't know if Bathsheba was raped or not. But I do feel that the way evangelicals are treating Rachel right now on Twitter and elsewhere is beyond the pale.

I am curious as to why there is such pushback on her and in (often) a very nasty way. It would seem she is trying to do a good thing. There is clearly an abuse problem in our culture and she is trying to fix it. She is gracious even when attacked. She is articulate and knowledgeable which is more than you can say for many that attack her.

What gives? Why do (generally speaking) older, male evangelicals have such a problem with her? Is it that she comes across as preachy and know-it-all? Do they associate her with liberalism? Do they not like being lectured by a woman? Do they all know men that have been (in their view) falsely accused? Are they jealous of the attention she gets?

Bert Perry's picture

Scripture does not say that the MIkveh was on the roof, but rather only that it was visible from the roof.  The rest about the sun warming the water, etc., would still hold.  If, as the text indicates, she was carrying out a Mitzvah, the reason she's doing it at dusk is because that's the start of the day in Hebrew culture.  She is becoming ritually clean as quickly as she can, which again militates against the notion that she's "looking for love in all the wrong places".  

Really, as fans of Pastor Steven Anderson know too well, there are a number of Hebrew cultural habits, including doing all kinds of things on the roof and against the wall, which are "not exactly how we do it today."  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

There continues to be a lack of Scripture in Bert's argument about 2 Samuel 11. For someone who claims to believe in sola scriptura, you sure don't mind ignoring it. The better option here is to stay silent on things Scripture is silent about. There is no need for 2 Sam 11 to be rape. It might be. It might not be. God didn't say. So why do we feel the need to fill in what God, in his wisdom, did not fill in? Why the need to speak where God hasn't spoken?

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, what I'm doing, and what you should have learned during your time at 4th Baptist, is simply to apply what we know of the cultural and historic norms of the time to the situation.  It is what every decent teacher of the Word does.   Literarily, it's known colloquially as "reading between the lines" and more clearly as "understanding the subtext."  There is no coherent Sola Scriptura without an application of knowledge of the culture and history, which is why, when you read Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, and a host of others, they're doing the exact same thing as I am.  

Regarding 1 Samuel 11, I guess you could suggest that a woman carrying out religious obligations was eager to become part of a harem, that she was flirting with David in full sight of everyone else who was also on their roof, that she was rebuked without the rebuke being mentioned in Scripture, that either she was happy to be separated from a lover for months or saw him at other times before she knew she was pregnant, that her note "I'm pregnant" had nothing to do with the fact that this fact would likely get her killed for adultery, that Nathan's characterization of David's sin as theft and "dressing" the lamb had nothing to do with the character and severity of his crimes, and that Ahitophel's attempt to get David killed had nothing to do with a crime against his granddaughter--just did it on a lark, I suppose.

(and all of these points count as a "lack of Scripture"?  Excuse me, but I'm the one bringing Scripture in, not you, Larry)

That said, Ockham's Razor suggests we do better to accept the clear implications of all these things: Bathsheba was raped.  Really, your approach to Scripture--not being willing to accept strong hints of something to come to a likely (if not airtight) conclusion is one that really doesn't allow one to infer the Trinity, or most of the Baptist distinctives.  

So you're welcome to debate my points, but if you want to just take potshots, I'll thank you to back away from the keyboard. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

The “Bathsheba was raped” argument is largely built on over-applying the details of an analogy which is a common exegetical error that has caused many to come to terrible conclusions elsewhere. It is not proper hermeneutics to try and draw a parallel between every detail of an analogy or parable. It is intended to teach one truth. Church history shows us the gravity of the error here. The fact is the passage does not say and there is not enough to go on, in Nathan’s rebuke at least, to conclude that she was. I would be interested if any commentators in history have come to this conclusion. If no one saw this passage correctly until the #metoo movement came along, I’m even more skeptical.

TylerR's picture

Editor

The kind of allegorical interpretation that sees the David/Bathsheba story as one about rape is the same one that sees Mk 6:45-52 as being about Jesus being with you through the storms of life ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

The “Bathsheba was raped” argument is largely built on over-applying the details of an analogy which is a common exegetical error that has caused many to come to terrible conclusions elsewhere. It is not proper hermeneutics to try and draw a parallel between every detail of an analogy or parable. It is intended to teach one truth. Church history shows us the gravity of the error here. The fact is the passage does not say and there is not enough to go on, in Nathan’s rebuke at least, to conclude that she was. I would be interested if any commentators in history have come to this conclusion. If no one saw this passage correctly until the #metoo movement came along, I’m even more skeptical.

First of all, John Piper made the argument back in 2008, so it's at least that old, well older than #MeToo. Regarding where to take the analogy, it's worth noting that there are only two places where Nathan's story clearly does not have a link to reality are (a) the presence of the guest and (b) the owner treating her as a daughter instead of a wife.  (a) is necessary to set up the slaughter of the lamb, and (b) is necessary because David won't be persuaded to take the side of a man who was committing bestiality.  There is no such reason to treat the "dressing" of the lamb differently, especially in light of the fact that (e.g. "Rape of the Sabine Women" in Roman mythology) a lot of the ancients would have assumed the theft meant a rape as well.  

Airtight case?  No, not even when you list the other factors indicating a rape--and let's add to that the fact that David does not even recognize her, but must ask who she is.  But what we have at the end of the day is a number of factors suggesting sexual assault, vs. none suggesting otherwise.  Ockham's Razor tells us to go to the most likely conclusion.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Bert, Piper does not have a commentary on that passage that I’m familiar with. Also 2008 may not have been post #metoo but I think most would agree that we were seeing at least its antecedents.

You are still reading into the passage something that it does not say. Additionally, Roman mythology is anachronistic in the extreme since it was hundreds of years later and from a different culture.

Bert Perry's picture

Josh, if I'm reading into the passage something that is not there, prove it.  What's the better interpretation?   Why should I believe that Nathan's analogy stops mid-sentence?  Keep in mind here that the other two deviations from reality--the insertion of the guest and the description of the lamb as daughter rather than wife/lover, have some very clear reasons.  

Along with the other bunch of factors I've mentioned, of course.  To be honest, the argument "well it wasn't so" doesn't really go much further than "well it wasn't so", "you're reading into the passage", potshots, etc..  Why not an alternative hypothesis?  Give it a try.

And really, what's the resistance to going from what we know--that David was clearly violating his power, not to mention Deuteronomy 17:17 and Exodus 21:10--to asserting that, while it wasn't classic forcible stranger rape, it was indeed sexual assault?  We do indeed have a lot of hints that it was, and none that it wasn't.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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