2 Kings xii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Unto him, after the birth of the child. A whole year had nearly elapsed, and David continued blind and impenitent. The spirit of prophecy had left him; and, though he was clear-sighted, and equitable enough to punish the faults of others, he could not discern his own picture, till Nathan had removed the veil. The prophet acted with the utmost prudence, and did not condemn the king till he had pronounced sentence on himself. It is commonly supposed that the interview was private. St. Chrysostom believes that the chief lords of the court were present; which would enhance the discretion of Nathan, as well as David’s humility. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Daughter. All these expressions tended to shew the affection of the owner for this pet lamb. (Haydock) — In Arabia, one of the finest is commonly fed in the house along with the children. (Bochart, Anim. T. i. B. ii. 46.) — It is not necessary that every word of this parable should have been verified in Bethsabee. (Calmet) — Many things are usually added for ornament. (Menochius)

Ver. 4. To him. This wanton cruelty caused David to pronounce him deserving of death; as simple theft was punished with only a four-fold restitution, Exodus xxii. 1. Judges sometimes diminish, and at other times increase, the severity of the law, according to the dispositions of the offenders, which lawgivers could not exactly foresee. (Calmet)

Ver. 6. Fold. Septuagint, “seven-fold,” which Grabe corrects by the Hebrew. (Haydock) — David lost four of his sons; the first born of Bethsabee, Amnon, Absalon, and Adonias: and saw his daughter Thamar, (Calmet) and his ten inferior wives, dishonoured, in punishment of his crime. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. The man, against whom thou hast pronounced sentence, and who has treated thy neighbour with still less pity. (Haydock)

—–Mutato nomine de te

Fabula narratur.—– (Horace)

Ver. 8. Wives. We know of none that David married. But, as king, he enjoyed alone that privilege. (Grotius) (Chap. iii. 7., and xvi. 21.) — Unto thee. Hebrew, “I would have given thee such and such.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, “I will moreover give thee like unto these;” a continuation of prosperity. (Haydock) — This singular love, which God was still disposed to manifest unto David, touched his heart with peculiar force. (Salien)

Ver. 10. House. What a dismal scene opens itself to our view during the remaining part of David’s reign! (Haydock) — Scarcely one of his successors was free from war; even Solomon was disturbed by the rebellion of Jeroboam, &c., and many of David’s family and descendants came to an untimely end, ver. 6. (Calmet) — Six sons of Josaphat, all Joram’s, except one, Josias, the children of Sedecias, &c., 4 Kings xxv., &c. (Worthington)

Ver. 11. I will raise, &c. All these evils, inasmuch as they were punishments, came upon Daivd by a just judgment of God, for his sin; and therefore God says, I will raise, &c. But inasmuch as they were sins, on the part of Absalom and his associates, God was not the author of them, but only permitted them. (Challoner) — God permitted the wicked prince to succeed for some time, that he might punish David. (Calmet) — Neighbour, most dearly beloved. To be treated ill by such a one, is doubly severe, Psalm liv. 15. (Menochius)

Ver. 12. Sun, publicly, chap. xvi. 22. How abominable soever this conduct of an unnatural son must have been to God, he says, I will do this; because, when he might have prevented it by a more powerful grace, or by the death of the delinquent, he suffered him to carry his infernal project into execution. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Sinned. His confession was sincere, and very different from that of Saul, 1 Kings xv. 24. “The expression was the same; but God saw the difference of the heart.” (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 27.) — Sin. He has remitted the fault and the eternal punishment, and he has greatly diminished the temporal chastisement, and will not inflict instant death, as he seemed to have threatened, ver. 10. (Calmet) — “The speedy remission shewed the greatness of the king’s repentance.” (St. Ambrose, Apol. 2.)

Ver. 14. Occasion. Literally, “made” almost, in the same sense, as God threatened to do, what was effected by Absalom, ver. 12. David did not co-operate with the malice of infidels; but he was responsible for it: in as much as he had committed an unlawful action, which gave them occasion to blaspheme God, as if he had not been able to foresee this scandalous transaction. Thus God and religion are often vilified, on account of the misconduct of those who have the happiness to be well informed, but do not live up to their profession: but this mode of argumentation is very fallacious and uncandid. It ought, however, to be a caution to the servants of the true God, never to do any thing which may have such fatal consequences; and alienate the minds of weak men from the truth. — Die. Thus infidels would see, that God did not suffer David to pass quite unpunished. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. Of. Hebrew, “it was sick” (Calmet) of a fever.

Ver. 16. A fast, (jejunavit jejunio) denotes, with more than ordinary rigour. (Salien) — By himself. Hebrew, “he went in, and lay all night upon the ground.” (Haydock)

Ver. 18. Day. After his birth, when he had received circumcision; (Salien) or on the 7th day since the commencement of his malady. (Calmet; Menochius)

Ver. 23. To me. No instance of any one being raised from the dead had yet occurred; though David did not disbelieve its possibility. (Menochius)

Ver. 24. Wife. She had partaken in his affliction and repentance. The Jews say that David told her the divine oracle, which is mentioned [in] 3 Kings i. 13, 17., that her next son should succeed to the throne. Salien (the year of the world 3000) supposes that he was conceived in May, two months after the death of Bethsabee’s first-born, and came into the world about the time of the Passover. — Solomon, “the pacific.” See 1 Paralipomenon xxii. 9. (Menochius)

Ver. 25. Amiable to the Lord. Or beloved of the Lord. In Hebrew, Yedideya. (Challoner) — Loved him, is not expressed in Hebrew, “because of the Lord.” (Haydock) — Theodotion, “in the word, or agreeably to, the order of the Lord.” Solomon never went by the name which God here gives him, (Calmet) except in this place. (Menochius) — It shews the gratuitous predilection which God had for him; but affords no proof of his predestination to glory, of which there is too much reason to doubt. (Calmet)

Ver. 27. The city of waters. Rabbath, the royal city of the Ammonites, was called the city of waters, from being encompassed with waters. (Challoner) See chap. v. 8. — The Hebrew in the preceding verse seems to insinuate, (Haydock) that “he had taken the royal city.” But he was only on the point of doing it, or had, perhaps, made himself master of some part of it. Here the Hebrew, “I have taken,” may be explained in the same sense, unless the city of waters were the lower part of Rabbath, lying on the Jaboc. Junius translates, “He cut off the waters, which entered the city;” and Josephus favours this explanation. It seems the siege lasted about two years. (Calmet) — Antiochus took this city, by depriving the inhabitants of water. (Polybius v.)

Ver. 28. Take it. The higher, and more impregnable part; which honour Joab reserved for David.

Ver. 30. King. Hebrew, Malcam, “their king.” Moloc, “king,” or the chief idol of the Ammonites. It was forbidden to use the ornaments of the idols on Chanaan, but not of other nations. This crown might be worth a talent, on account of the gold and precious stones; (1 Paralipomenon xx. 2.; Sanchez; Bochart,) or it might weigh so much as almost 87 pounds, (Calmet) or above 113 pounds English. (Haydock) — Such immence crowns were sometimes suspended for ornament, over the throne; as Benjamin of Tudela says was done by the emperor Commenes. Pliny describes one of nine pounds; and Athenĉus (v. 8,) another of 80 cubits, or 40 yards (Haydock) in circumference. (Calmet) — The idol, or the king of Ammon, (Menochius) might have one of the like nature, suspended. The Rabbins say David caused it to hand in the air by means of a load-stone; as if it would attract gold! (Calmet)

Ver. 31. Sawed. Hebrew, “he put them under saws, and under rollers of iron, and under knives,” &c. (Haydock) — The Jews say that Isaias was killed by being sawed asunder; to which punishment St. Paul alludes, Hebrews xi. 37. (Menochius) — Brick-kilns, or furnaces, Psalm xx. 10. (Muis) — Daniel and his companions were thrown into the fiery furnace, Daniel iii. 6, 11., and Esther xiii. 7. (Calmet) — Some condemn David of excessive cruelty on this occasion. (Tirinus; Sanctius) — But the Scripture represents his conduct as irreproachable, except in the affair of Urias; (3 Kings xv. 5,) and at this distance of time, we know not the motives which might have actuated him to treat his enemy with such severity. The Ammonites had probably exercised similar cruelties on his subjects. See 1 Kings xi. 2., and Amos i. 13. (Calmet) — They had shamefully violated the law of nations, and had stirred up various kings against David. (Menochius) — Salien blames Joab for what may seem too cruel. But, though he was barbarous and vindictive, we need not condemn him on this occasion, no more than his master; as we are not to judge of former times by our own manners. (Haydock) — War was then carried on with great cruelty. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Nathan’s parable. David confesseth his sin, and is forgiven: yet so as to be sentenced to most severe temporal punishments. The death of the child. The birth of Solomon. The taking of Rabbath.

1 And *the Lord sent Nathan to David: and when he was come to him, he said unto him: There were two men in one city, the one rich, and the other poor.

2 The rich man had exceeding many sheep, and oxen.

3 But the poor man had nothing at all but one little ewe-lamb, which he had bought and nourished up, and which had grown up in his house, together with his children, eating of his bread, and drinking of his cup, and sleeping in his bosom: and it was unto him as a daughter.

4 And when a certain stranger was come to the rich man, he spared to take of his own sheep and oxen, to make a feast for that stranger, who was come to him; but took the poor man’s ewe, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

5 And David’s anger being exceedingly kindled against that man, he said to Nathan: As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this is a child of death.

6 *He shall restore the ewe four-fold, because he did this thing, and had no pity.

7 And Nathan said to David: Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee from the hand of Saul,

8 And gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and Juda: and if these things be little, I shall add far greater things unto thee.

9 Why therefore hast thou despised the word of the Lord, to do evil in my sight? Thou hast killed Urias, the Hethite, with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

10 Therefore, the sword shall never depart from thy house, because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Urias, the Hethite, to be thy wife.

11 Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before thy eyes, *and give them to thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing in the sight of all Israel, and in the sight of the sun.

13 And David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: *The Lord also hath taken away thy sin: thou shalt not die.

14 Nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee, shall surely die.

15 And Nathan returned to his house. The Lord also struck the child which the wife of Urias had borne to David, and his life was despaired of.

16 And David besought the Lord for the child: and David kept a fast, and going in by himself, lay upon the ground.

17 And the ancients of his house came to make him rise from the ground: but he would not, neither did he eat meat with them.

18 And it came to pass on the seventh day that the child died: and the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead. For they said: Behold, when the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he would not hearken to our voice: how much more will he afflict himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?

19 But when David saw his servants whispering, he understood that the child was dead: and he said to his servants: Is the child dead? They answered him: He is dead.

20 Then David arose from the ground, and washed and anointed himself: and when he had changed his apparel, he went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped; and then he came into his own house, and he called for bread, and ate.

21 And his servants said to him: What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive: but after the child was dead, thou didst rise up and eat bread.

22 And he said: While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept for him: for I said: Who knoweth whether the Lord may not give him to me, and the child may live?

23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Shall I be able to bring him back any more? I shall go to him rather: but he shall not return to me.

24 And David comforted Bethsabee, his wife, and went in unto her, and slept with her: *and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon, and the Lord loved him.

25 And he sent, by the hand of Nathan, the prophet, and called his name, Amiable to the Lord, because the Lord loved him.

26 *And Joab fought against Rabbath, of the children of Ammon, and laid close siege to the royal city.

27 And Joab sent messengers to David, saying: I have fought against Rabbath, and the city of waters is about to be taken.

28 Now, therefore, gather thou the rest of the people together, and besiege the city and take it: lest, when the city shall be wasted by me, the victory be ascribed to my name.

29 Then David gathered all the people together, and went out against Rabbath: and after fighting, he took it.

30 And he took the crown of their king from his head, the weight of which was a talent of gold, set with most precious stones; and it was put upon David’s head, and the spoils of the city, which were very great, he carried away.

31 And bringing forth the people thereof, he sawed them, and drove over them chariots armed with iron: and divided them with knives, and made them pass through brick-kilns: so did he to all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David returned with all the army to Jerusalem.



1: Year of the World 2970, Year before Christ 1034.

6: Exodus xxii. 1.

11: 2 Kings xvi. 21.

13: Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 13.

24: Year of the World 2971, Year before Christ 1033.

26: 1 Paralipomenon xx. 1.