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The Death of David’s Son by Bathsheba (II Sam 12:13-25): A Narrative in Context

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image of Vetus Testamentum

AbstractThe episode of David’s sin and his punishment (II Sam 11-12) represents a turning point in the description of David’s reign. While this dramatic episode has received extensive attention in biblical exegesis, the final section of the narrative, recording the death of Bathsheba’s son, has been largely neglected, with little attention to its contribution to the story.In this article I propose that the main contribution of the story is its exposure of his inner world following the revelation of his sin by the prophet Nathan. The biblical narrative conveys its ideas in an indirect manner, through various literary devices. By means of analogies, discrepancies between descriptions, and secondary characters, the text hints at David’s process of repentance for his sin. We might say that David undergoes a process in two stages: Initially, immediately after the speech by the prophet Nathan, he demonstrates a repentance that is quick and spontaneous, but only partial. Thereafter he undergoes a process of slow and gradual repentance, in which he repairs all the levels of his sin.

Affiliations: 1: Department of BibleBar Ilan


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