Did David Rape Bathsheba?

"If I were asked this question, and I have been asked this question in the past, I would respond with a very qualified, 'I’m not sure.'" - John Ellis

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Bert Perry's picture

GN, quite frankly, I sense no humility whatsoever in your comments.  Let's be blunt about the matter; I led off by conceding the point that what I'm about to say is not the standard interpretation, and then offered a Biblical analysis of why I felt that the usual story was incorrect.  You then posted a theory that, quite frankly, is more extreme than any of the commentaries I've seen, and then proceeded to absolutely refuse to engage on any of those points outside of pointing to the commentaries that I'd already conceded would likely not take that position.

This was mixed with insults, quite frankly, starting with the notion that I was pushing a narrative (I was presenting arguments for a position), and continuing to claim that I am somehow "arrogant" for having the "gall" to suggest that we might discuss the evidence rather than the commentaries.  Moreover, when I pointed out the inherent limitations of commentaries, you ignored that, and...ahem....kept pushing the same narrative.

On what planet is that humility, GN?  You are doing the same thing that Rome does; you define a certain range of theological positions that you will consider based on favored commentaries (vs. the Magisterium of the Pope), and when someone comes to a different conclusion, you proceed to insult the bearer instead of addressing the evidence.

You want to see someone pushing a narrative, and who has a problem with humility?  Shave. 

Really, sincehe natural response of a Christian to a Biblical argument ought to be to appeal to Scripture, there is another horrendous issue with what you're doing.  If you do in your church what you have done to me here, you are training congregants to ignore Scripture and just adopt the party line.  You are training them to be spiritually immature.

Moreover, 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, I'm grateful that you're at least trying to respond.  That said, you need to start abstaining from simply calling things "speculation" when you disagree.  Is it required when fundamentalists debate for us to insult each other?  What is going on here is called "inference", and it's the same process used by the commentators.    

1.  Regarding Nathan's story, it is of course a metaphor, and I've personally noted that prior to this.  It is of course not narrative, and Rajesh's question asking "who was the guest?" is a diversion at best.  The usual way of saying this would be that (as I've mentioned before in another thread) that the guest is a "placeholder" to set up the story.  You could, however, argue that the guest is also analogous to a "spirit of sin".  Either way, it's obvious how it fits.  Turning Bathsheba into a sheep is also necessary; it's how Nathan sets it up so that David doesn't anticipate the conclusion.  

Now, how do we address the apparent killing, cooking, and eating of the lamb?  Do we have an obvious reason that it would be such a placeholder, or do we have evidence that the author of hundreds of songs would infer an obvious point there?  The latter is more likely.  David didn't get to be the greatest poet of his day by missing obvious metaphors, after all. 

2.  The comparison to Luther et al is to point out that if you're insisting that one keep his theological views only within a range suggested by a number of approved commentaries, you are doing the exact same thing that Leo X did to Luther via his surrogates at the Diet of Worms.  Whether I am right or wrong in my analysis, I refuse to be bound by such a neo-Romish infringement on Sola Scriptura.  And that's exactly what GN was trying to do.  

3.  Regarding the word for evening, yes, correct.  It can refer to pretty much anytime between sundown and dawn.  But you know what?  My point was that the lexicological definition of the word precludes GN's hypothesis of Bathsheba being a daytime seductress.

4.  Regarding the question of whether one could know when David would arise from his bed, what on earth are you saying?  Is it predictable when people arise from their naps?  Of course not!  Did the ancients have clocks that worked after sundown, even if David's naps had been that predictable, Bathsheba still has no way of "timing" exhibitionism even if she'd desired to do so.

5.  Yes, the text does not say specifically that there was huge significance to the fact that multiple people were sent to fetch Bathsheba.  That noted, it's a well known intimidation tactic; what do you instinctively think when you see multiple police cars on the roadside, for example?  You infer that it's a drug bust or other more difficult arrest, of course.  Same basic principle here.

6.  It is striking that you dismiss the significance of the fact that Bathsheba is performing a religious ritual when she is seen.  By that logic, we would infer that a well-used church baptismal would function as an informal singles bar.  Is it so hard to concede that those performing religious obligations just might not be ready to enter into grievous sin?

7.  You display an impressive lack of curiosity as to why Ahitophel would risk death by trying to get David killed.  If he merely wants out of David's administration, he gets to resign.  His son and adult granddaughter will take care of him at that age.  It could theoretically be another offense of David's, but the big one we know of is his granddaughter. 

8.  If Bathsheba actually desired David and seduced him, as GN claims, yes, it would be surprising for her to mourn her husband in a meaningful way.  People can tell when someone's mourning isn't entirely sincere.

9.  Regarding commentaries, you could argue that "oh they didn't think it was significant", but the point remains that what we know is that in a mere 2-3 paragraphs, it wasn't noted.  

10. More on commentaries: here's an example from Matthew Henry that ought to make us shudder.  No, because it's in an esteemed commentary does not mean it's Biblically grounded.  He guesses that he might have taken her to wife if she were unmarried, but to leave her alone if not.  He claims David might have pleased himself with just her company and conversation.  He claims Bathsheba easily consented due to David's status.  You want speculation?  There you go.  Ironic that some of the worst speculation we've seen here is on the part of the commentaries that are supposed to "bound" our discussion.

When he saw her, lust immediately conceived, and, (1.) He enquired who she was (v. 3), perhaps intending only, if she were unmarried, to take her to wife, as he had taken several; but, if she were a wife, having no design upon her. (2.) The corrupt desire growing more violent, though he was told she was a wife, and whose wife she was, yet he sent messengers for her, and then, it may be, intended only to please himself with her company and conversation. But, (3.) When she came he lay with her, she too easily consenting, because he was a great man, and famed for his goodness, too.

11.  2 Samuel 21:17 comes ten chapters and a couple of decades later in David's life.    (Absalom's story is at least a decade)  You're basically trying to compare the difficulties a ~70 year old had in battle with who the man had been decades before.  As the list of world records for the 1500 meter run vs. age group illustrates, there is a world of difference between a 50 year old and a 70 year old.  The author doesn't mention it because it's irrelevant.

12.  Regarding the claim that what I've written is the work of others, nope.  I've not even read Denhollander's book yet, though I should.  If we believe in the perspicuity of Scripture, why would we be surprised when different people come up with similar conclusions?  Nice slam, though.

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Bert,
After corresponding with you early in this discussion (the other thread I think) I realized that you are emotional about this for some reason and thus not likely to be convinced. You are accusing some of insulting you but I would suggest you step back and look at some of your own comments. Suggesting others have a neo-romish view is insulting and incendiary language (say hi to Tetzel?) that you should refrain from using.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

1.  Regarding Nathan's story, it is of course a metaphor, and I've personally noted that prior to this.  It is of course not narrative, and Rajesh's question asking "who was the guest?" is a diversion at best.  The usual way of saying this would be that (as I've mentioned before in another thread) that the guest is a "placeholder" to set up the story.  You could, however, argue that the guest is also analogous to a "spirit of sin".  Either way, it's obvious how it fits.  Turning Bathsheba into a sheep is also necessary; it's how Nathan sets it up so that David doesn't anticipate the conclusion.  

Now, how do we address the apparent killing, cooking, and eating of the lamb?  Do we have an obvious reason that it would be such a placeholder, or do we have evidence that the author of hundreds of songs would infer an obvious point there?  The latter is more likely.  David didn't get to be the greatest poet of his day by missing obvious metaphors, after all. 

Of course, the details of what the parable says that do not support your interpretation are merely "placeholders" because the text has to be made to support your view.
 

You could, however, argue that the guest is also analogous to a "spirit of sin".

If this is the way that contents of a parable are supposed to be handled correctly, parables can be made to say anything that anyone wants them to say to support whatever view they want to promote.

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

Bert,
After corresponding with you early in this discussion (the other thread I think) I realized that you are emotional about this for some reason and thus not likely to be convinced. You are accusing some of insulting you but I would suggest you step back and look at some of your own comments. Suggesting others have a neo-romish view is insulting and incendiary language (say hi to Tetzel?) that you should refrain from using.

I am supposed to withhold emotion when I'm being insulted, Josh?  Seriously?  That when I'm presenting evidence, but am being accused of mere "speculation" (it's in reality the same kind of evidence that the commentaries use), and of having an "axe to grind", and the like?  When I'm accused of lacking humilty by someone who flat out refuses to engage with actual arguments?  For that matter, your own "you're getting emotional" is an avoidance tactic designed to belittle others.  So one side gets to throw bombs at will, but the other side is not allowed to object without being accused of "emotionality"?  

Nice try, but it's not flying.  You want to discuss the evidence, you are free to discuss the ~18 or so points that I've raised, the number of points that Denhollander raises, or the larger number of points that the academic article raises.  You want to throw bombs and accuse those who object of being emotional?  Suffice it to say you deepen a common view of fundamentalism that maybe, just maybe, you might want to jettison.

And yes, in light of GN's pattern of emphasizing commentaries and refusing to engage the actual points I made, that is at its core the establishment of a fundagelical Magisterium.  The Tetzel comment is merely to illustrate that point, and that point is further emphasized by the apparent circling the wagons around the "usual hypothesis" by some here.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

RajeshG wrote:

< my comment snipped>

 

Of course, the details of what the parable says that do not support your interpretation are merely "placeholders" because the text has to be made to support your view.
 

You could, however, argue that the guest is also analogous to a "spirit of sin".

If this is the way that contents of a parable are supposed to be handled correctly, parables can be made to say anything that anyone wants them to say to support whatever view they want to promote.

That's a profound analysis, Rajesh.  Is that what you learned to do with that PhD in New Testament Interpretation from BJU?  Sometimes people respond to arguments with counter-arguments, but if that's the kind of thing you learned there....

Reality here is that we know a priori that there is limited freedom to "truncate" the impact of his metaphor.  Nathan uses it for his reasons--perhaps because he knows that just making the accusation to David will get him nowhere and he's got to access David's heart--and when the trap is sprung, David does indeed see himself in the story.  So our question going in is how much of the story David sees himself in.  It is, rather, "which parts are moral metaphors, and which parts are simply necessary to make the story work?"  In my view, the "not easily fitting" parts are the guest, the "daughter" vs. wife, and perhaps the consumption of the lamb.

The guest and the daughter bit are fairly simple to explain; if you make the story much closer to reality, David will catch on and his conscience/heart (there are those emotions again, horribly bad, right?) will not be pricked.  So instead of seduction, it's about hospitality.  There's your guest.  Not a romantic relationship?  That's obvious, too; if he's sleeping with the sheep, David sees bestiality and he wants the owner of the lamb killed, not himself.

Now the bit about killing, butchering, cooking, and eating the lamb is harder to set aside.  It's at that point in the story where David knows that this is something that cannot be undone--the man has eaten his neighbor's pet.  It's where David's heart is pricked, and he threatens the man with death, not the mere Torah compensation of four sheep.  He clearly understands that this is a bigger deal than just the theft of livestock.  This is central to the story; the question is simply what that cruelty is; Bathsheba's rape, Uriah's murder, or some of both.

And when you consider that Bathsheba's role is played by the lamb, as well as the other evidence indicating she wasn't willing, you've got to assume that a portion of what Nathan was saying is a description of David's cruelty to her.  This is backed up by Nathan's own words "you have taken his wife to be your own wife."  It doesn't say he ran off with her, but that he "took" her.  If she must be "taken", we can infer that she probably wasn't willing.

So no, if you admit the reality that people will choose figurative language over literal for a reason, there really isn't that much room for interpretation here.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Larry, I'm grateful that you're at least trying to respond.  That said, you need to start abstaining from simply calling things "speculation" when you disagree. 

Thanks, but I wasn’t “trying to respond.” I actually responded. And I didn’t call it speculation because I disagreed. I called it speculation because it is speculation, meaning it is not in the text and can't be exegeted from the text. I didn’t insult you, though you seem to have tried to insult me. An inference, in theology and biblical studies, isn’t really what is going on here. An inference is taking something the text says, and inferring something from it, that is, from the text. It is not randomly associating other things outside the text.

I won’t respond to all of this because this whole conversation is a bit bizarre to me. It seems an exercise in explaining why God didn’t say what people think he meant, and why God instead chose to say something different. It’s almost as if God wasn’t woke enough to know what he should have said and so people are taking the liberty of helping God out. But let me hit just a few points.

The usual way of saying this would be that (as I've mentioned before in another thread) that the guest is a "placeholder" to set up the story.  You could, however, argue that the guest is also analogous to a "spirit of sin".

Herein lies a major problem, namely, the interpretation of parables. You call something a "placeholder" because it doesn't fit your interpretation. But that seems random to me. The point is that a parable has a point and the details are not to be allegorized. You don't interpret parables by assigning meaning to every single part of them.

2.  The comparison to Luther et al is to point out that if you're insisting that one keep his theological views only within a range suggested by a number of approved commentaries, you are doing the exact same thing that Leo X did to Luther via his surrogates at the Diet of Worms.  Whether I am right or wrong in my analysis, I refuse to be bound by such a neo-Romish infringement on Sola Scriptura.  And that's exactly what GN was trying to do.

I don't think Greg was trying to do that at all. And I think the point is wrong. It is not about keeping within a range of commentaries but about dealing with the text. Commentaries typically do that.

4.  Regarding the question of whether one could know when David would arise from his bed, what on earth are you saying? 

I thought I was clear when I said that "There is no evidence in the text that this is true." I am not sure how that is confusing but let me clarify: The text doesn't say whether or not David was rising from his bed at some odd hour. We can infer that it was sometime around sundown.

5.  Yes, the text does not say specifically that there was huge significance to the fact that multiple people were sent to fetch Bathsheba.  That noted, it's a well known intimidation tactic; what do you instinctively think when you see multiple police cars on the roadside, for example?  You infer that it's a drug bust or other more difficult arrest, of course.  Same basic principle here.

Again, the text doesn't say this. When I see multiple police cars I most often think accident. I next think training. Only certain other factors lead to me think it is a different issue, factors such as someone in handcuffs or a car being searched. But again, the text is the issue. What does the text say? And why isn't that enough?

6.  It is striking that you dismiss the significance of the fact that Bathsheba is performing a religious ritual when she is seen.  By that logic, we would infer that a well-used church baptismal would function as an informal singles bar.  Is it so hard to concede that those performing religious obligations just might not be ready to enter into grievous sin?

I didn't dismiss any significance of it. And you clearly don't understand my logic. What I said was that the text does not tell us the relevance of this, and there is some debate about it. And yes, lot's of people who perform religious obligations are quite willing to enter into sin. For evidence look at the many Christians who attend church weekly and live in open sin.

7.  You display an impressive lack of curiosity as to why Ahitophel would risk death by trying to get David killed.  If he merely wants out of David's administration, he gets to resign.  His son and adult granddaughter will take care of him at that age.  It could theoretically be another offense of David's, but the big one we know of is his granddaughter. 

No lack of curiosity at all. The point is that the text doesn't say. If the text is the authority, then we can't say. When I taught this, I suggested it might be revenge. But there were a lot of people who defected to Absalom who had no such motive. The only thing we can say from the text with authority is that Ahithophel defected to Absalom at Absalom's request and became his counselor. There is no indication from the text that there was any particular cause to it. It may simply have been the anticipation that a new king was coming and it would be best to get on the new king's side. The text doesn't say.

8.  If Bathsheba actually desired David and seduced him, as GN claims, yes, it would be surprising for her to mourn her husband in a meaningful way.  People can tell when someone's mourning isn't entirely sincere.

Not at all surprising. I have counseled people who are willfully and consistently engaging in adultery who mourn over the spouse they are leaving and mourn when that spouse turns to someone else. I have seen people who willing divorced their spouse who cry at their death. But none of that is the issue here. Again, what does the text say? That she mourned.

9.  Regarding commentaries, you could argue that "oh they didn't think it was significant", but the point remains that what we know is that in a mere 2-3 paragraphs, it wasn't noted.  

Perhaps it wasn't noted because it isn't significant to the text. 

10. More on commentaries: here's an example from Matthew Henry that ought to make us shudder.

I am not sure I would call Matthew Henry an esteemed commentary, but is what he says possible? Has anyone ever been persuaded by power and trust? Is it possible that David, at the beginning, intended no immorality and it progressed? I know plenty of people who have done that--just having lunch and talking, and then it turns to something else. 

11.  2 Samuel 21:17 comes ten chapters and a couple of decades later in David's life.  

Not necessarily. Your distaste for commentaries works against you here. Biblical narrative is not always chronological. It might be late in his life. It might not be. Personally, I think David was not where he should have been. But that is not an "open and shut" case. There are reasons to believe it might have been different.

12.  Regarding the claim that what I've written is the work of others, nope. 

So you independently determined the meaning of 'ereb? I find that hard to believe. And your arguments parallel arguments that have been made by others prior to your posting them here. Perhaps you are an expert linguist and lexicographer and theologian and came up with that all on your own.

Is it required when fundamentalists debate for us to insult each other? 

Have you considered your last two posts, in particular, in light of this? Your posting history is pretty sharp-tongued and it frequently uses what seems like insult and disdain for all who disagree with you. I think you need to reconsider your tactics. It is frequently unpleasant to interact with you. Your dogmatism is not warranted by your positions and your arguments.

Personally, my sympathies lie with the side that believes that Bathsheba was probably a victim of power and lust, not that she was the pursuer or even a willing participant. But the issue is what does the text say? And it doesn't say that.

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