Did king David murder Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba?

David attempted to murder Uriah, to cover up his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. So David did commit the mortal sin of murder. However, according to the account of these events in Sacred Scripture, David’s order to murder Uriah was not carried out.

[2 Samuel]
{11:14} Therefore, when morning arrived, David wrote a letter to Joab. And he sent it by the hand of Uriah,
{11:15} writing in the letter: “Place Uriah opposite the warfare, where the battle is the strongest, and then abandon him, so that, having been wounded, he may die.”
{11:16} And so, when Joab was besieging the city, he positioned Uriah in the place where he knew the strongest men to be.
{11:17} And the men, departing from the city, made war against Joab. And some of the people among the servants of David fell, and Uriah the Hittite also died.

David ordered Joab to place Uriah where the fighting was most fierce, and then abandon him, pulling back all the other men, so that he would surely die. This order was essentially that Joab should murder Uriah.

Now when Joab attacked the enemy, he did place Uriah where the battle was most difficult. That order in itself is not murder. Soldiers have a duty to fight the enemy, and many a soldier would prefer to be where the battle is thickest. However, Joab failed to give the murderous order, to pull back all the other men, leaving Uriah to die. Instead, it so happened that Uriah fell in battle with some of the other soldiers.

David was guilty of murder for giving the order. Joab was not guilty of murder, since he refused to carry out the portion of the order that constituted murder.

I would like to write more Bible commentary and some articles on problems with modern Bible translations and interpretations, but I don’t see much interest among my fellow Catholics.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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3 Responses to Did king David murder Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba?

  1. Martin Greene says:

    Would love to see more from you on Bible Commentary. I really enjoy it. Thank you.

  2. jbbt9 says:

    Ron. The one or two items from you which drop into my inbox each day are the most eagerly anticipated each day. I read all of maybe 95% of everything you post. You have mostly taught me about obedience to the Magisterium. I am sure it can be very discouraging at times when you feel posts disappear into vacant darkness with no response. Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina that abandonment was his greatest suffering. Offer your feelings to Him and ask for His strength. God bless. Keep up Gods work.

  3. Evan Brown says:

    I would like to read more of your Bible commentaries. There are many things in the Bible that puzzle me. I have been reading your blog for some time now and it has been very helpful and informative.

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