Bathsheba is One of the Most Beguiling Characters in the Bible

Wife, mother, queen, object of royal lust.

By SHARE
  • Women of the Bible
  • Daughters of Eve
  • Old Testament

    • Eve: The First Rebel
    • Sarah and Hagar: Dueling Mothers
    • Zipporah: The Woman Who Stood Up to God
    • Bathsheba: Wife, Mother, Queen, Object of Royal Lust
    • Jezebel: The Reigning Icon of Womanly Evil
    • Esther: A Clever Heroine
    • Ruth: Mixed Message
    • Dirty Rotten Men
    • Delilah: One Fiesty Femme
    • Deborah: Facing Down ‘900 Chariots of Iron’
    • Whether or not theirs is a classic love story, David and Bathsheba share a powerful bond, and Bathsheba has three more children with David. As David lies on his deathbed, a man ruined by family strife, one of his sons, Adonijah, has already claimed the throne. Should Adonijah succeed David, his rival Solomon would find himself in great danger.

      As David's power wanes, Bathsheba's grows. She reminds David of an oath he once may or may not have made to her that Solomon would inherit the crown. Even if he is being tricked, the king reproclaims Solomon his heir. In David's "house of intrigue," as Kirsch puts it, Bathsheba has learned how to manipulate the outcome in her favor.

      As queen mother, Bathsheba occupies one of the most important positions in the land. Her transformation from a silent object of lust to a politically astute—and vocal—queen, is striking, yet understandable. As an older woman, she displays the wisdom gained from a lifetime as a politician's consort.

      Yet, it is as a bathing beauty, and not as a power-player, that Bathsheba is best known. She sits at the head of a long line of sympathetic literary adulteresses: Emma Bovary, Hester Prynne, and Anna Karenina each owe something to the wife of David and the mother of Solomon. But perhaps Bathsheba is best honored by the 31st Proverb, which some traditions hold that she recited to Solomon on the day of his marriage: "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."