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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Batsheva and King David, "Takes Two to Tango," Said The Busdriver

One of the things so very different here in Israel is that here the bus drivers are "peers," meaning "regular people," the sort who can be neighbors, friends, fellow Tanach, Bible aficionados.

There are Arab bus drivers, too, as I wrote about here, but they are the exceptions. Unlike the American Jewish society in which I was raised, here in Israel Jews aren't pushed into only the "clean" white color professions. Everyone knows that the plumbers live better than clerks, and police is a civil service job. So, back to the story...

I can't exactly remember how we got onto the subject, but as has been my custom since reaching a certain exalted age, I was sitting in the front seat on the bus, and the veteran driver is known as friendly, very knowledgable and the sort of person who could easily be a neighbor.

If I'm not mistaken, we got onto the subject, because there had been talk of someone taking the blame or responsibility for something, and I brought up one of my favorite Bible topics, of which my opinion is far from the the classic/standard commentary.

In my reading/comprehension of the straight text, I see Batsheva as seducing/tempting King David, and the atypical and most important result of the entire sordid story is that totally unlike the first human male, Adam who quickly blames Eve for everything:
"It's all her fault; she made me do it." Adam tells Gd.
King David consistently takes full blame and tries to legitimize his relationship with Batsheva, and they do marry. Remember that during that early narrative, there is no word from Batsheva except for when she sends David a message that she's pregnant, and then she's silent again.

The busdriver and I discussed the textual description of the beginning of Batsheva and King David's relationship. He davka used the phrase "it takes two to tango," very certain that the  Bible would have mentioned if Batsheva had protested King David's advances if there had been any. Later on we do read of Tamar's reactions to Amnon's attack. And if the David-Batsheva scandal is raised to show that even David can be immoral and sin, then we would need to hear protest and sorrow from Batsheva. The driver agreed that Batsheva may very possibly have had seduced David by intentionally bathing in his view.

After the death of their first son, they have another, Shlomo, Solomon. II Samuel Chapter 11,
Chapter 12.  
24And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and he came to her, and he lay with her: and she bore a son, and she called his name Solomon*; and the Lord loved him.כדוַיְנַחֵם דָּוִד אֵת בַּת שֶׁבַע אִשְׁתּוֹ וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ וַיִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא (כתיב וַיִּקְרָא) אֶת שְׁמוֹ שְׁלֹמֹה* וַיהֹוָה אֲהֵבוֹ:
*And shouldn't we consider it significant that Batsheva named her baby son Shlomo, Solomon, which in Hebrew means "complete?" For her, the mission/quest to have a son with King David was a success! This was her plan!!

We hear nothing more about Batsheva until  The Prophet Natan confers/conspires with her in I Kings Chapter 1:
13Go and come to king David, and you shall say to him, 'Surely, you, my lord the king, did swear to your maid saying that, 'Solomon your son will reign after me and he shall sit upon my throne,' Now why did Adoniahu reign?"יגלְכִי וּבֹאִי | אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד וְאָמַרְתְּ אֵלָיו הֲלֹא אַתָּה אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲמָתְךָ לֵאמֹר כִּי שְׁלֹמֹה בְנֵךְ יִמְלֹךְ אַחֲרַי וְהוּא יֵשֵׁב עַל כִּסְאִי וּמַדּוּעַ מָלַךְ אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ:
There is no such conversation recorded in the Bible. What there is in the Bible are a number of other determined women to seduce, marry, have children with men of this Davidic and Messianic line. Remember that the Messiah is to be a descendant of King David. They are Leah, Tamar, Ruth-Naomi and Batsheva.

I'm glad that I had gotten into this conversation with the busdriver, since the route was too long and convoluted for me, but as we spoke I began to hope that it would take even more time, at least until we came to a satisfying conclusion.

Traveling in Biblical landscape can be amazingly inspiring 

5 comments:

OnlineCommentingGuy said...

Interesting.
My take has always been that David was the initiator. That neither agreement nor protest are recorded on Bat Sheva's part always struck me as odd too, though. My assumption has been that this is a king, an old-timey head-choppy king. David was a moral man, but few citizens know him personally. The letter of the law states that disobeying the king brings the death penalty. So I always figured she was basically terrified into submission by default, even if David did not have such intentions.
As for the idea that Bat Sheva was basically a schemer, I find it a little hard to take. Leaving aside technical considerations, if Bat Sheva had intentionally committed adultery, I can't accept that their union, and their son, would be acceptable before G-d.
(I will grant that's it's bothered me that in a city with a palace rising up above the rooftops of residential buildings, why a modest woman would consider it "safe" to bathe on her roof. Anybody on the upper floors of the palace, from the king to the soldier on guard duty to the janitor can see her.)

Batya Medad said...

Considering the very few words Batsheva is reported as saying... my theory does make some sense.
I wasn't raised on all the standard commentaries and midrashim. Some version of this may be true.

Anonymous said...

Solomon was not the product of the first union of David & Batsheva.
Our Sages tell us that that first child died.
After David & Batsheva married, Solomon was born.

Batya Medad said...

That's right. But it's not the sages who say; it's clearly in the text.

Mr. Cohen said...

Since we are talking about Tanach :-) :-)

How intermarriage harms Jewish
sovereignty over the Land of Israel
:


http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/11/guest-post-joshua-chapter-23-verse-12.html

How Shabbat-desecration harms
Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem:


https://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/12/guest-post-jeremiah-chapter-17.html

http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/05/guest-post-shabbat-praised.html

http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/04/guest-post-shabat-table-derech-eretz.html

http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2016/05/guest-post-lessons-learned-from-tragedy.html