Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Year. Hebrew, "at the end of the year," (Chaldean; Syriac) which may be explained either of the year after the preceding engagement, or at the end of the civil year, in the autumnal equinox, (Calmet) or of the sacred year, which begins in the spring, (Haydock) when kings more commonly go to battle, about the month of March. (Menochius) --- In hot countries they make a campaign also in autumn. --- Ammon. They had not been sufficiently chastised, as they had saved themselves within their strong cities. They had added to their other crimes, that of stirring up the Syrians against David. (Calmet) --- Rabba, the capital of Ammon, which Polybius calls "Rabatamana." See chap. v. 8. (Haydock)
Noon. He had been reposing, according to custom, chap. iv. 7. (Calmet) --- But the devil was not idle. He was meditating a temptation and crime, which involved a great part of the remainder of David's life in misery. (Haydock) --- He had reigned 18 years, and lived 48, almost without blame. (Salien, the year of the world 2998.) --- His house, as the Hebrew explains it. The Vulgate might insinuate that the woman was upon "the roof of her house." But she was probably in her garden, as the Jews have their baths in the open air. They are frequently obliged to purify themselves. (Calmet) --- The house must have been very near David's palace. (Salien)
Eliam. By a transposition of letters, he is called Ammiel, in 1 Paralipomenon iii. 5. Both words signify "my people is God's." This son of Achitophel (chap. xxiii. 34,) was one of David's valiant men, as well as Urias, who is styled the Hethite, being born at Eth; (St. Jerome; Salien) or on account of his extraction, or because he or his ancestors (Haydock) had performed some great exploit against that nation; as Germanicus, Africanus, &c., received those titles among the Romans, for conquering the Germans, &c. (Calmet) --- Eth was a place near Hebron. (Adrichomius 128.) (Menochius) --- The name of Bethsabee is also different in Paralipomenon; the last b in Hebrew being changed into v. Both-shua, both-al-i-am; instead of Both-shoba, both-am-i-al. (Haydock) (Kennicott) --- The grandfather of Bethsabee is supposed to have revolted against David, to revenge the wrong done to her. (Tirinus; Cornelius a Lapide) "Let the weak tremble at the fall of the strong." (St. Augustine, in Psalm l.)
Purified. Literally, "sanctified." Hebrew and Septuagint, "for she was, " &c. (Haydock) --- Hoc ideo additum ne miraremur illico eam concepisse. (Grotius; Aristotle, Anim. vii. 20. --- Women were obliged to bathe after such actions, Leviticus xv. 18.
Feet. As they did not wear stockings, this practice was very common after a journey. David thus insinuated that Urias might take his rest, and go to his wife, that so he might suppose that the child was his own, and the crime of Bethsabee might be concealed. (Calmet) --- King, as a mark of honour, but in reality that he might be more excited to indulge his pleasures. (Abulensis) (Menochius)
House, in the court, for the guards. See Atheneus v. 2., &c.
Journey, of thirty hours' length. (Adrichomius)
Ark. Most people suppose that the ark and the priests were before Rabba, as they seem to have been present in all expeditions of consequence. (Menochius) (Calmet) --- but, at any rate, the ark was covered with skins or veils, even in the tabernacle at Gabaon, or at Sion. (Haydock) --- Thing. He binds himself by an oath not to gratify his natural inclinations, that the king might desist from pressing him any farther. (Salien) --- But David resolves to endeavour to make him forget his oath, during the moments of intoxication. The valour and temperance of Urias, and divine Providence, render all his craft useless; and a concatenation of crimes cannot hide the original offence. (Haydock)
Couch. It seems he was one of the guards. Josephus says he was Joab's armour-bearer, (Antiquities vii. 7.) and one of David's heroes, chap. xxiii. 39.
Morning of the fourth day, as Urias staid three nights at Jerusalem. It is not clear that he was intoxicated the last of them. On that night David permitted him to act as he should think proper; and finding that he obstinately persisted in the resolution of not going to sleep with his wife, he had recourse to the last and most barbarous expedient of making way for his own marriage with the woman, as he saw this was the only method left for him to save her honour. The utmost expedition was requisition, as many days must have elapsed before she perceived her situation; (Haydock) and if many more should pass over, it would be manifest to the world that she had been guilty of adultery, and must either be stoned, or, if David spared her, he must bear the blame. (Salien) --- Urias. The fable of Bellerophon being sent by Prœtus to Jobates, king of Syria, with a letter, desiring the king to put the bearer to death, seems to have been copied from this history. Their letters have become proverbial. (St. Chrysostom)Aha Bellerophontem jam tuus me fecit filius,
Egomet tabellas detuli ut vincirer. (Plaut. Bacchide.)
Die. We no longer behold the genius of that David who would not hurt his persecutor. What a change does a shameful passion introduce in the whole conduct of a man! and how does one false step conduct from one abyss to another! Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem læseris. (Tacitus) --- David could no longer bear the sight of a man whom he had injured so grievously. (Calmet)
Also. Hence David prays with reason; Deliver me from blood (sanguinibus) of many slain. He was answerable for all (Cajetan)
Jerobaal? Hebrews write Jeroboseth, to avoid the mention of Baal, as they also do with respect to the name of Isboseth, who was probably called Isbaal. (Calmet) See Judges, ix. 57. --- Joab supposed that David might probably adduce this instance, to shew the danger of approaching too near the wall, as it had proved destructive to part of his army, and had been fatal to Abimelech. But it seems the messenger did not allow him time to express any resentment, before he told him the agreeable news, which he desired so much to hear, ver. 24. (Haydock)
For him. We may apply to her tears those words of Lucan:-----Lachrymas non sponte cadentes
Effudit, gemitusque expressit pectore læto.
"None affected more sorrow for the death of Germanicus, than those who rejoiced the most at that event." (Tacitus, An. ii.) --- The mourning for the dead usually lasted seven days; (Ecclesiasticus xxii. 13.) and after that period, David seems to have married Bethsabee. (Abulensis, q. 21.)
Lord; not that David had married the woman, but on account of his former conduct towards her and her husband. (Menochius) --- The canon law forbids the marriages of those who have been accomplices in the death of their former partner; and some have thought that this marriage of David was null. But this is inaccurate; and the fruits of it were (Calmet) all deeded legitimate. See 1 Paralipomenon iii. 5. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins even pretend that David was guilty of no sin in marrying Bethsabee during the life-time of Urias; as the latter, they say, must have given her a bill of divorce when he went to war. (Grotius) --- But why should we excuse an action which was so severely condemned and punished by God? (Chap. xii. 1., &c., and Psalm l.) (Calmet) --- In David's conduct, we here behold a complication of the basest passions of lust and cruelty; which make David neglect the sanctity of an oath, (ver. 11) and attempt to ruin, by drunkenness, the soul of one to whom he was much indebted; and, afterwards, to expose him to an untimely death, perhaps without repentance; if indeed Urias exceeded the bounds of moderation. This however is not certain; as the word drunk is often used to denote a degree of blameless conviviality, Genesis xliii. 34. Yet the design of David was equally criminal. How soon may the man according to God's own heart, fall from his elevated station into the depth of the abyss! Wherefore let him that thinketh himself to stand, take heed lest he fall, 1 Corinthians x. 12. (Haydock)