Did David Rape Bathsheba?

In 2 Samuel 11:4, it says that King David sent for Bathsheba and that she came to him, and he laid with her. She was not his wife, but was the wife of Uriah. So the question is, “Did David rape Bathsheba?” We cannot say for sure because we do not know if Bathsheba consented or not. But before we look at this further, we need to define rape. A modern definition can be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

“unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.”

So, did David rape Bathsheba?

2 Samuel 11:4, “David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.”

The text does not say that Bathsheba consented or did not consent to have sexual intercourse with David – and that is key. Without that knowledge, we can’t say whether she was raped or not. Nevertheless, let’s consider something.

In the culture, David’s prominence and stature would undoubtedly have been intimidating to her. After all, he had killed Goliath and had been appointed by God as the leader of Israel. So when she was summoned to the palace, she undoubtedly would have been intimidated. So, in that situation, she probably would not have wanted to lay with David. But, perhaps because of his great stature and his pressure on her, she freely chose to lay with him even though she knew it would be wrong. This makes more sense than to say that David physically forced her – which just doesn’t seem to be the case.

Nevertheless, could it be that his great stature as King intimidated her sufficiently that she felt pressured into sexual relations with him? Perhaps. It could also be true that she submitted to relations with him because of his position in Israel. We just can’t say. It comes down to her volition, and the text does not say if she was forced or not. Therefore, we cannot say that David raped Bathsheba in a forcible, intimidating manner. Furthermore, there is something in the Old Testament relevant here.

Deuteronomy 22:23–24, “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.“

This is to show that a woman was supposed to cry out. There is no record of Bathsheba crying out. So, the implication is that she consented.

Matt Slick

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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