Shmuel 2-Chapter 12: Dovid is chastised for his sin

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Chapter 12: Dovid is chastised for his sin

1. The curse of Nassan the prophet:

  • G-d sends Nassan the prophet to chastise Dovid using a fabricated case of judgment: [In response to the sin,] Hashem sent Nassan the prophet to visit Dovid [and chastise him]. Nassan [did so using a metaphor and] arrived to Dovid and told him as follows: In a certain city there lived a poor and rich man. The rich man owned an abundance of flock and cattle, while the poor man was destitute and owned nothing other than a small lamb which he purchased and raised and it lived together with him and his children. The lamb would eat from his bread and drink from his cup and would lie in his chest and was to him like a daughter. A guest arrived by the home of the wealthy man, and the wealthy host felt stingy in taking from his own flock and cattle to make a meat meal for his guest that arrived and thus [instead of taking from his own herd,] he stole the poor man’s sheep and used it to make the meat meal for his guest. [The purpose of this fable, was so Dovid give his own ruling on his own crime, and be judged accordingly.[1]]
  • Dovid becomes infuriated and passes judgment on the fictitious rich man which really refers to him: Dovid became infuriated at the wealthy man, and he responded to Nassan saying that the wealthy man who did this is liable for death, and he should pay 40 sheep to the poor man in exchange for the sheep that he stole. All this should happen to the man due to him having done this and over the fact that he did not have mercy on the poor man.
  • Nathan reveals to Dovid the true identity of the wealthy man as non other than him: Nassan then turned to Dovid and told him, “You are the [wealthy] man [in the story, and all that he said will happen to him[2] and he will lose four sons in exchange for the 40 sheep[3]]. So said Hashem the G-d of Israel, “I have anointed you king over the Jewish people, and I have saved you from the hand of Shaul. I have granted you the palace of your master, and the wives of your master [i.e. Michal the daughter of Shaul[4]] I have placed in your chest, and I have given you the house of Israel and Judea and if this is too little I will add to you more and more. Now, why have you belittled the word of Hashem to perform evil in His eyes through arranging the death of Uriah Hachiti to die by the sword, and to take his wife for yourself as a wife, and him you have killed by the sword of the nation of Amon [which adds insult to the arranged death as you arranged for him to die through the enemies of Israel[5]]. Now, you will receive the following curses: Battle will never cease from within your family, due to that you have belittled Me and taken the wife of Uriah Hachiti to be for you as a wife. So says G-d: I will arouse evil upon you from amongst your own home [i.e. Avshalom your son[6]], and I will take your wives from before your eyes and give them to your friend [i.e. Avshalom, your son, who was also a king at the time[7]], and he will sleep with your wives in the open opposite the eyes of the sun. While you did your sin in secret, I will do all the above in face of the public eye, in front of all Israel and opposite the sun.”
  • Dovid expresses remorse for his sins: Dovid replied to Nassan, “I have sinned to G-d.” Nassan replied to Dovid that also G-d had forgiven his sin and that he will not die. “However, since you have angered G-d with this matter, and caused that the enemies of G-d will use this against him to blaspheme Him, therefore the child that will be born to will die.”

2. The son of Dovid and Batsheva dies:

  • Nassan returned home and Hashem smote with an illness the child that was born to Dovid from the wife of Uriah, and he became sick on the ground.
  • Dovid pleads for the life of the child and practices mortification of his body: Dovid pleaded to Hashem on behalf of the child, and he fasted for his speedy recovery. Dovid went and laid and slept on the ground and could not be lifted. The elders of his household got up and tried to lift him from the ground, but he would not listen and he did not eat bread with them [for a period of seven days].
  • The child dies on the seventh day: It was on the seventh day, that the child died and the servants of Dovid feared telling him of the child’s death, as they said to themselves that if when the child was alive when we spoke to him Dovid refused to listen to us, how can we tell him that the child has died, and he will do evil to himself [i.e. commit suicide[8]].
  • Dovid discovers the death: Dovid saw that his servants were speaking discreetly amongst each other and thus Dovid understood that indeed the child had died. So Dovid asked his servants if the child had died, and they answered him that indeed he had died.
  • Dovid rises from his state of mortification: Dovid arose from the ground and washed and anointed his body and changed his clothing and he arrived to the house of G-d and prostrated himself [to bless G-d for the evil just as he would bless him for the good[9]]. He arrived home and asked [for food] and so a meal was prepared for him, and he ate.
  • Dovid servants question his behavior: Dovid’s servants asked him as to an explanation behind his behavior, as how is it that when the child was alive, he fasted and cried [acting in a state of mourning] and when the child died, he got up and ate bread [and did not mourn the child as one is supposed to do after a death]? Dovid answered them as follows, “So long as the child was alive, I fasted and cried as I said to myself, who knows, perhaps G-d will have mercy and let the child live. But now that the child has died why should I continue fasting? Am I able to revive him? I can go to him [i.e. die and join him in the grave[10]], but he will not return to me.”

3. Shlomo is born:

  • [After the death,] Dovid consoled Batsheva his wife, and he was intimate with her a number of times [until she became pregnant, and only after having managed to convince her to continue to be intimate with him[11]] and she had a son which he and she named Shlomo, and G-d loved him.
  • Nassan the prophet calls him Yedidyah: G-d sent through the hand of Nassan the prophet for his name to be called Yedidyah, for the sake of G-d. [Meaning, that since G-d loved Shlomo so much He wanted to call him a name which represented that friendship and love, as the name Yedidyah means friend of G-d.]

4. The war against Amon:

  • Yoav captures the capital city of Rabah: Yoav waged war against the territory of Rabah which was inhabited by people of Amon and he captured the capital of the monarchy.
  • Dovid is asked to send back up troops: Yoav sent messengers to Dovid to inform him that he had waged war against Raba and that he had captured the city of water. “Now I will gather the remainder of the nation and encamp upon the city [of Raba] and capture it, lest I capture the city alone and it will be called by my name [and diminish in your honor].” So Dovid gathered all of the nation and they went towards Rabah and they waged war against it and captured it.
  • The crown of the king of Raba: He took the crown of their king [i.e. idol called Malkum[12]] from his head and it weighed one Kikar of gold and contained a precious stone and it was placed onto the head of Dovid.
  • The booty and the torture and putting to death of the people of Amon: The booty that they captured from the city was an abundance amount. The people of the city were removed from it and tortured using metal swords that contain painful grooves, and using axes, and other torture vessels [in order to publicize this to the surrounding nations so they fear waging war against the Jewish people[13]]. He then put them to death in a brick furnace. So was done to all of the cities of the people of Amon.
  • Dovid and all of the people settled in Jerusalem.


[1] Metzudos Dovid 12:1

[2] Metzudos Dovid 12:1

[3] Rashi 12:6; Ralbag 12:6

[4] Rashi 12:8

[5] See Metzudos Dovid 12:9

[6] Metzudos Dovid 12:11

[7] Metzudos Dovid ibid

[8] See Metzudos Dovid 12:20

[9] Metzudos Dovid 12:20

[10] Metzudos Dovid 12:23

[11] Radak 12:24; At first, Batsheva resisted being intimate with Dovid, fearing punishment for their original sin and that her children, even if they were to survive, would be forever scorned. Dovid, however, assured her that Hashem told him that his sin was forgiven, and that she would give birth to the child who would reign after him. [Radak ibid]

[12] Rashi 12:30

[13] See Ralbag 12:31

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