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2 Samuel: Chapter 12

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But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD, 1and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” 5Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan said to David, “Now the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, a Gk See 1 Kings 11.5, 33 : Heb their kings the child that is born to you shall die.” 15Then Nathan went to his house.

The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became very ill. 16David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17The elders of his house stood beside him, urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “While the child was still alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we tell him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, he perceived that the child was dead; and David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.”

20Then David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes. He went into the house of the LORD, and worshiped; he then went to his own house; and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate. 21Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.” 22He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

24Then David consoled his wife Bath‐sheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The LORD loved him, 25and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, b Heb and poured because of the LORD.

26Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites, and took the royal city. 27Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the water city. 28Now, then, gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it; or I myself will take the city, and it will be called by my name.” 29So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, and fought against it and took it. 30He took the crown of Milcom c Cn Compare Gk Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain from his head; the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David's head. He also brought forth the spoil of the city, a very great amount. 31He brought out the people who were in it, and set them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, or sent them to the brickworks. Thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.


c Gk See 1 Kings 11.5, 33 : Heb their kings

a Heb and poured

b Cn Compare Gk Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

12.1–25 : David's punishment.


: Nathan couches his parable as a legal case to get David to pronounce judgment on himself. As king he was responsible for protecting the rights of the poor. Fourfold (v. 6 ), as prescribed in Ex 22.1 ; other textual witnesses have “sevenfold.”


: There is some textual support for reading “daughter(s)” (Heb “bet”) instead of house (Heb “bayit”) in this verse. “Daughter(s)” would fit the point of the verse better—that David had many women as wives and concubines, but like the rich man in Nathan's parable, he stole what belonged to his poor neighbor. Your master's wives, David took over Saul's harem.


: The sword, a metaphor for violence, alluding to the events in chs 13–20 .


: An allusion to Absalom's revolt, specifically his deed in 16.20–23 .


: David's sin is transferred (not put away) to his newborn son, who dies because of it. This is the clearest indication in the Hebrew Bible of the application of intergenerational punishment by God (see Ex 20.5; 34.7; Deut 5.9 ), where the sin is perceived as property that may be inherited.


: House of the LORD , an anachronism, since the Temple in Jerusalem had not yet been built.


: Solomon means “his replacement”; he was a replacement for the dead child. Jedidiah (“beloved of Yahweh”), which does not occur elsewhere for Solomon, hints that he will replace David (whose name means “beloved”) as king.

12.26–31 : The conclusion of the Ammonite war.


: Joab captured the citadel and the water supply of Rabbah, the Ammonite capital, so that conquering the rest of the city was fairly simple. This Joab left for David, as the king, to complete.


: Milcom, the national Ammonite god. A talent, about 34 kg (75 lb).

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