II Samuel – Chapter 12

David is Found Out

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d sent the prophet Nathan to see David. Nathan told David about an incident that ostensibly occurred in his kingdom:

A rich man and a poor man were neighbors. The rich man had many sheep and cattle; the poor man had one little lamb that he loved like a child. The rich man had a guest and didn’t feel like using any of his own flocks for food, so he took the poor man’s sheep and served it to the guest. How would David rule in such a case?

David was livid. “A person who would do such a thing deserves to die!” he said. Nathan replied, “That man is you!” David, as king, had many wives and concubines; there was no need for him to deprive Uriah of his one wife. As punishment for having Uriah killed, David’s descendants would be plagued by bloodshed. As punishment for taking another man’s wife, his wives will be taken – and not privately, as David had done, but in full view of the public.

Unlike Shaul, who, when confronted with his sins by Shmuel (Samuel), protested his pure motivations as mitigating factors, David humbly achnowledged the fact that he was simply wrong. Because of this, his own life was spared, but the baby resulting from the union would die. (A full discussion of the theological implications of babies dying is clearly beyond the scope of this synopsis.)

The baby was born and became sick. David prayed and fasted and slept on the floor. His advisors tried to get him to eat, but he wouldn’t give in. On the seventh day (presumably the seventh day of the baby’s life, not the seventh day of his illness), the baby died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him, but he saw them whispering and figured it out. His reaction was surprising: he got up, washed, changed his clothes, and sat down for a meal. They asked why he was acting so normally. He replied that when the baby was alive, there was a chance he could pertsuade G-d to spare him, but now that the baby was dead, fasting would accomplish nothing. Poignantly, David added, “I will be going to him; he won’t be coming back to me.”

Later, David and Batsheva had another son, whom they named Shlomo (Solomon). He was also called “Yedidiah” (“Loved by G-d”) because G-d sent word through Nathan that He was especially fond of Solomon.

Yoav, general of David’s army, was completing a siege on Ammon. He sent word to David that he should come and personally lead his troops to victory. He did, and acquired a very large ceremonial crown. (In fact, it was so large that certain commentators, such as the Radak, suggest that it was purely decorative and not actually worn.) The Navi tells us that David punished the inhabitants of the conquered city with iron tools, such as saws and axes. What is unclear from the verse is whether he killed them with these instruments, or perhaps merely put them to work with them.

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