Did David Rape Bathsheba?

One of the perennial exegetical debates surrounding 2 Samuel 11 is whether David’s actions toward Bathsheba amount to rape. Sometimes popular discussions of the question founder on ideological concerns imposed upon the text rather than focusing on what the biblical text actually says.

On a recent episode of the 9Marks “Bible Talk” podcast, Jim Hamilton argues that the author of 2 Samuel does not portray David’s relationship with Bathsheba as rape. Nor does the author portray Bathsheba as a temptress. Rather, the author highlights David’s lechery and blameworthiness in the whole affair. Nevertheless, the author does not depict David’s actions as “rape.” You can listen to the argument below. It begins at 12:49.

It is a compelling presentation that gives a better account of the biblical author’s intention than alternative interpretations. It tracks pretty closely with Alexander Abasili’s interpretation, which appeared about 12 years ago in Vetus Testamentum. I highly recommend that article as well:

Alexander Izuchukwu Abasili, “Was It Rape?: The David and Bathsheba Pericope Re-Examined,” Vetus Testamentum 61, no. 1 (2011): 1–15.

But if you don’t have time for the article, listen to the case that Jim Hamilton makes in the podcast. Very compelling.

About 15 years ago, Jim Hamilton preached a message in Southern Seminary’s chapel on this text. It’s also worth a listen: