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  • Torah and Jewish Thought

David Hamelekh & Uria

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Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tevet 20, 5781
Question
Can we say David Hamelekh had some slight relation to killing Uria? Why? It is like wanting a woman so much while knowing she has been in relation with somebody else, and your lust and desire is blinding you. We know that the hardest test is by being tested by sexual desires. My question is about inner motives and not the outer. We know David Hamelekh did not commit any sin on paper, but there are also unwritten laws.
Answer
ב"ה Shalom The issue of David and Bat Sheva is one of the most complex in the Tenach. Many essays have been written on this issue, however, I cannot refer to any particular one in English that I am familiar with. It is an issue too complex to give an encompassing answer within the scope of this corner of the website. So' I will try to be concise, but you should know there is a lot more to more to be learned. On the one hand, it seems from reading the story in the book of Shmuel II, chap. 11, that David Hamelech sinned . However, the Rabbis in the Talmud take thing to a different level, and have a different perception of things. Even in the Talmud, there seem to be conflicting sources of how to view things. The same Rav Shmuel Bar Nachmani (Shabbat 56 a) who says that " whoever says that King David sinned is mistaken" also says (Avoda Zara 5a) that King David is the one who set an example of an individual who does Teshuva. We can reconcile the two ideas as the Talmud itself does in Shabbat 56a , by explaining that King David was held accountable even for the thought of the possibility of committing a sin,, although one had not actually been done. Again, just to express briefly the dialectics of explaining this affair, we can refer to the commentaries of the Abarbanel and the Malbim on Shmuel , chapter 11. Wherever the Abarbanel found fault with King David's actions, the Malbim brings in his support quotes from the Rabbis in the Talmud who clear him from wrongdoing. One very important underlying thought we must bear in mind, when we deal a character from the Tenach, especially a prophet. According to the Talmud, King David was a prophet. (Sota 48b). The Rambam in hilchot Yesodei Hatora , chapter 7 discusses the virtues of a prophet. "Prophecy can only be upon a wise man, eminent in wisdom, of sterling character, never subdued by worldly passion, but conquering it by an ever-present will-power…" This was the level of King David, to whom we cannot attribute any type of character which is in contradiction to the above. All the best
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