David and Bathsheba

The triumph of David, a shepherd boy, over the giant Goliath in the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines is described in the Old Testament and is also represented in art. After David succeeded Saul as king of Israel he met Bathsheba, the beautiful wife of his general, Uriah. David saw Bathsheba while she was bathing. He had her brought to the palace and made love to her. When David learned that Bathsheba was with child, he ensured Uriah’s death by sending him out to the front lines of battle and married her. She bore a son, but he only survived a few days, and David subsequently realized and did penance for his sin. David and Bathsheba conceived a second son, Solomon, who succeeded his father. The scene of Bathsheba bathing has featured regularly in art since the Middle Ages. David is also a subject in his own right, and is depicted playing his harp. He was an ancestor of Mary and Joseph, and therefore of Jesus.

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