Here’s a link to a blog post written by a feminist who believes that that David raped Bathsheba. While reading it, the first thing I thought was “this author is probably a feminist”; lo and behold, when I read the mini biography she provided, she stated that she is interested in “queer, feminist/womanist, and liberation theologies”. Ok then.
In a completely unscientific analysis, I googled “the rape of Bathsheba” and found a good number of articles and material arguing that Bathsheba was indeed the victim of rape. Funny thing was that a good amount of these articles were written by feminists. Interesting. The two articles I read on the subject provided next to no analysis on the subject and simply conclude that Bathsheba was raped because David was all powerful and would kill her if she refused. Or they point to the difference between two different commentaries and pick the one most fitting for their point as the correct interpretation. Hmmm… OK. I’ve written way too much about reading the Bible in the proper cultural and historical in order to really understand what is going on. So I won’t repeat that here. For now, let’s just see what happens when we read this story with knowledge of the proper context.
“In the spring of the year, at the time when kings normally conduct wars, David sent out Joab with his officers 3 and the entire Israelite army. They defeated the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. Now this woman was very attractive.” – 2 Samuel 11:1-2 (NET Bible)
There is so much going on in this passage alone, but we’ll zero in on the second verse. It starts with “one evening David got up from his bed”. Notice that David had just gotten up from his bed, heavily implying that he had just been sleeping or at least trying sleep and failing. When do people go to sleep? At night… when it’s dark. Keep this in mind as it will be very important for our analysis
The next sentence states that David saw a woman bathing from where he was standing. Now, woman don’t bathe in places where they could be seen publicly. This is true now as it was in the ancient world. Furthermore, we have to remember that it was dark. People did not use electricity nor did the streets have lights… that is if there even were streets. That said, it would have been impossible for David to see Bathsheba bathing unless she had provided sufficient light to be seen from the roof of David’s palace. Hmm… curiouser and curiouser.
Now, we might posit that Bathsheba simply wasn’t aware that she could be seen from the palace. Scholars Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien beg to differ:
“In antiquity, people were cognizant of their proximity to the seat of power. Even today ,White House offices are ranked by their distance from the Oval Office. We would be unlikely to believe a White House aid who said, “I just stepped out in the hallway to talk. I didn’t realize the president of the United States walked down this hallway every day at this time!” Likewise, we would be skeptical if Bathseba asserted, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was the king’s balcony.” We think the story is told in a way to imply that she intended to be seen by the king. Her plan works”. p. 122 “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes“
So, now we get to the root of the matter. Bathsheba intended to be seen by David. But she was already married to Uriah, why would she cheat on him. Well, that isn’t as hard a question to answer as you might think. I’ll just let Rollo Tomassi answer that question for you:
Hypergamy is a woman’s natural (which is to say, genetically wired) preference for a higher status male–that is, higher status than herself and also higher status than the other men in her field of vision and also perhaps higher status than men she has known in the past.
I’ll make it easy for the reader to understand. King David was a high-status man. He was king of Israel and had the reputation of a warrior; he did kill the giant Goliath after all. What is interesting is that verse four tells us that at the time Bathseba “was in the process of purifying herself from her menstrual uncleanness”. In other words, she was ripe for conception. What higher-status male could Bathsheba get to impregnate her other than King David?
While this might sound like I am reading far too much into the text, keep in mind that the author of the text would have assumed that his audience would know all this. I’ve written before about the way the Bible was written and it is extremely important that we do not lose sight of that.
Despite what feminist bloggers might think, there was no rape. The text drops some pretty big hints that Bathsheba intended to be seen by David and planned the ordeal to some extent and though there is more that is going on in the story, I’ll stop here for now. I only wanted to set the record straight and show what is really going on in the “rape” of Bathsheba. The rest of the story can wait for another time.
I find it hilarious that anytime a woman might be culpable for some crime or wrong; feminists are so quick to blame everyone other than the woman herself. What will they do next, abolish prison for women? Oh wait, they are actually trying… thank you, Dalrock for the pointer.