Handout #24: Bat-Sheba, Eliam, Uriah, Mikveh, immersion, ritual purity, sin, repentance, yezer-ha-tov, parallelism in Hebrew poetry, Jesus’ psaltery, Psalms 32, 51 July 2014
In the Bible, cover-ups appear very early. Adam and Eve sought to cover their nakedness and to hide from God, not realizing their efforts betrayed their sin and guilt. Our lesson from 2 Samuel 11 is one of great cover-up attempts and it fails.
Bathsheba (Hebrew: בת שבע, Bat Sheva, “daughter of the oath”) was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. She is most known for the Bible story in which King David took her to sleep with him.
Bathsheba was a daughter of Eliam, one of David’s “thirty” (2 Sam. 23:34; cf 1 Chr. 3:5); Eliam, son of Ahitophel, was one of David’s chief advisors. Bathsheba was from David’s own tribe and the granddaughter of one of David’s closest advisors (2 Sam.15:12).” She was the mother of Solomon, who succeeded David as king, making her the Queen Mother.
The story of David’s seduction of Bathsheba, told in 2 Samuel 11, is omitted in Chronicles. While walking on the roof of his palace, he saw Bathsheba, then Uriah’s wife, having a bath. He desired her, later had child by her. In an effort to conceal his sin, David summoned Uriah from the army (with whom he was on campaign) in the hope that Uriah would re-consummate his marriage and think that the child was his. Uriah was unwilling to violate the ancient kingdom rule applying to warriors in active service.] He preferred to remain with the palace troops.
It seems likely that David and Uriah are hardly strangers, but that they know each other, to some degree at least. Uriah is listed among the mighty warriors of David (2 Samuel 23:39; 1 Chronicles 11:41). Some of the “mighty men” came to David early, while he was in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1-2), and we suspect that among them were Joab, Abishai, and Asahel, the three brothers who were mighty men (see 2 Samuel 23:18, 24; 1 Chronicles 11:26).39 We do not know when and where Uriah joined with David, but since his military career ends in 2 Samuel 12, his military feats must have been done earlier. It seems very unlikely that David and Uriah are strangers; rather, it would seem these two men know each other from fighting together, and perhaps even from fleeing Saul together.
David finally gave the order to his general, Joab, to put Uriah in the most dangerous location in battle. David had Uriah himself carry the message that ordered his death. After Uriah was dead, David made the now widowed Bathsheba his wife.
David’s sin of adultery with Bat-sheba involves her being seen by David during the Hebrew ritual of washing and cleansing following her menses.
Today the chief use of the mikveh is for women, prior to marriage, following niddut (separation from husband) and following the birth of a child, since the laws of ritual impurity no longer apply after the destruction of the Temple.
Mikveh (Hebrew: מִקְוֶה/) is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. The word “mikveh”, as used in the Hebrew Bible, literally means a “collection” – generally, a collection of water. Immersion in the mikveh is still practiced by various groups as an aid to spirituality, particularly on the eve of the Shabbat and festivals, especially Yom Kippur, and the custom still obtains, in accordance with Numbers 31: 22–23 to immerse new vessels and utensils purchased from non-Jews.
Several biblical regulations specify that full immersion in water is required to regain ritual purity after ritually impure incidents have occurred. A person was required to be ritually pure in order to enter the Temple. A woman is required to immerse in a mikveh after her menstrual period or childbirth before she and her husband can resume marital relations.
According to Jewish law, full ritual purity of the type needed to enter or serve in the Temple is not attainable today – we are all considered ritually impure by virtue of exposure to those who have died. That kind of ritual purity can only be obtained when the Jewish people have a Red heifer – whose ashes were used for purification during the Temple period.
We must remember the Restoration is still not complete. There are rabbinic suggestions of expected heaven-sent visitors that include a latter-day Messiah, Ben-Joseph, who will receive the keys of the gathering of Israel and restore temple worship. This was referred to by the Chief Rabbi Abraham HaCohen (the priest) Kook when he explained that the Temple could not be built right away because there was no priesthood. A latter-day David is expected (implied at almost every Bar Mitzvah as the congregants sing “David King of Israel” to the young lad). Their expectation is of a David who will emerge from obscurity to be a great king or leader in these last days. “
But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” (Jeremiah 30:9)
There is a tradition to anticipate the expected latter-day David. This is done in joyful singing at a Bar Mitzvah celebration when a boy is twelve/ thirteen years old.
That is the age Jews traditionalize the ancient David was chosen and ordained by the Prophet Samuel to be the King of Israel
Sin and Repentance: “The very fact that Judaism has a doctrine of mitzvoth (commandments) means that it must also take sin into consideration. Performing a mitzvah is doing God’s will; sin is doing something against God’s will. In biblical Hebrew there are about 20 different words which denote sin which range from a deliberate act in defiance of what God has forbidden to accidental, unwilling transgression. The Bible is therefore very much aware of sin.”
Repentance Causes Some Good to Come from Bad: “It is interesting that in an absolute monarchy such as David’s, Nathan was able to publicly criticize the king without being killed immediately; what is even more
remarkable is that David apparently realized his transgression, and repented his act. Nathan subsequently became a partisan of Bath-Sheba, and prophesied that her son Solomon would become king.” (2Sam7:12-16)
Judaism is strong in its standard for Jews and non-Jews. Since there is an inclination for sinful drives, a purposeful effort to replace them is necessary. “Feelings of hatred, envy, self indulgence, sexual drives, greed are woven into man’s nature as God created him. But these impulses can be re-directed by the yezer ha-tov (inclination to do good), guided and disciplined by the laws of the Torah, so that instead of destructive forces they become creative powers for good.
A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. Prophet Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 69.
Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry:
Most distinctive quality of Hebrew poetry. An idea from first line is continued onto second line. Repetition of thought. Four types:
1. Repeats same idea as line 1 in different words
2. Contrasts opposing idea to line 1
3. Completes the idea in line 1
4. Repeats line 1 ideas in reverse order
EX: 1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
EX 2: For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Ex 3: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Ex. 4: Chiasmus pattern:
We have escape as a bird, from the snares of the fowlers. The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our Savior was immersed in the poetic traditions of his people. He used the parallelism in some of his utterances.
See Matt 7:2, 7:7, 27, Mark 12, Luke 10, 118, 91, 22 (on the cross).
Psalm discusses his self-sacrifice on our behalf.
See these also in reference to Christ:
God’s only begotten son (2, 110)
Christ’s supreme kingship (2, 45, 72)
Role as the suffering servant (28, 55, 102)
Healing ministry (107)
Quelling of the raging sea (65, 107)
Hated without cause (35, 109), None of his bones broken (34)
His atoning work (69, 72) His ascension (24, 47)
That he is judge over the earth (50)
Psalm 32 (by David) King James Version (KJV)
Psalm 32 is well-known for its pointed expression of the experience of guilt, its humble confession, and its joyful expression of peace that comes through being pardoned. David wrote this prior to writing Psalm 51.
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
Verse 8: I will lend thee the eyes of my mind: or I will be to thee instead of eyes, (see Numbers 10:31,) to advise, direct, and caution thee. I will guide thee, as the rider doth his horse, (to which the person guided is compared Psalm 32:9,) or as a master doth his scholar, or as a guide doth him who knows not the right way.
Verse 9 is chiastic in structure. This declaration urges its audience to make a choice. Like the wicked, one can deny sin and experience its negative consequences. Or, like those who trust in the Lord, one can be surrounded by the Lord’s active covenant loyalty (hesed).
The JST 2 Sam 12:13 says: “ The Lord also hath not put away thy sin.”
David did not achieve resurrection at the time of the Savior’s resurrection. Prophet Joseph Smith said David got a promise that his soul should not be left in Hell.
PSALM 51: To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had “gone in” to Bath-sheba.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Hebrew Literary Styles
Psalms is included in that part of the Old
Testament known as the wisdom literature or the
poetic books. The books usually included in this
classification are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
and the Song of Solomon. (Joseph Smith
indicated that “the Song of Solomon is not inspired).
There are whole passages of poetic songs
in the historical books. (See the song of
Moses in Exodus 15, song of Deborah and
Barak in Judges 5). The prophetic writings, especially
Isaiah, are also replete with passages of poetic quality
and form. While this Hebrew literature is as commonly
spoken of as poetry, this name is misleading, for it
is greatly different from Western poetry, whether
rhyming verse or blank verse. It is beneficial to the
study of Psalms for one to understand some of the
basic elements of the ancient Israelite literary styles
before studying the actual writings. Four important
characteristics are of note: parallelism, chiasmus,
figurative imagery, and dualism.
One difficult aspect of Hebrew literature is the
frequency with which certain writers use figures or
images or write of things that have a dual meaning.
Such dualism is similar to esoteric language, which is
“designed for or understood by the specially initiated
alone,” that is, language “restricted to a small group” The same technique was often used in Old Testament writings. Special messages of spiritual importance were placed in apparently mundane or
spiritually insignificant passages. But to the spiritually
initiated, the spiritually sensitive, the second and
more important meaning leaps out clearly.
Prophecies concerning Zion provide another example of dualism. Zion was a common title for the city of Jerusalem, and by extension, the covenant
people. Most scholars interpret Zion references as referring to ancient Israel,and undoubtedly they did. But to Latter-day Saints, Zion has modern implications, which give deeper significance to such passages (see Isaiah 2:1–4). Old Jerusalem (Zion) has again been set up in the tops of the mountains of Israel, and many Jews from all over the world have flowed unto it. But the establishment of the restored Church in Salt Lake City and in other places in the tops of the mountains has also fulfilled this prophecy. So here is another classic example of prophetic and literary dualism. Still another example is the prophecies concerning
the scattering and gathering of Israel. These prophecies have been fulfilled several times in different ways. The Jews were carried away captive by Babylon and returned seventy years later. They were scattered
again by the Romans and are now returning to the land of their forefathers. The Lamanites, another branch of Israel, have been scattered and are now returning to the Church. Israelites from all over the world are gathering to the true Church.
This psalm is the most eminent of the penitential psalms, and most expressive of the cares and desires of a repenting sinner. It is a pity indeed that in our devout addresses to God we should have any thing else to do than to praise God, for that is the work of heaven; but we make other work for ourselves by our own sins and follies: we must come to the throne of grace in the posture of penitents, to confess our sins and sue for the grace of God.
Marlena Tanya Muchnick