The Sanctified ‘Adultress’ and Her Circumstantial Clause: Bathsheba’s Bath and Self-Consecration in 2 Samuel 11

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Arts and Humanities | Biblical Studies | Classical Archaeology and Art History | History of Religion | Jewish Studies | Reading and Language | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Women's History | Women's Studies


Bathsheba's actions in 2 Sam. 11.2-4 identify crucial aspects of her character. Past commentators interpret these words in connection with menstrual purification, stressing the certain paternity of David's adulterine child. This article demonstrates that the participles rōheset and mitqaddesšet and the noun mittum'ātāh do not denote menstrual cleansing. Bathsheba's washing is an innocent bath. She is the only individual human to self-sanctify, placing her in the company of the Israelite deity. The syntax of the verse necessitates that her action of self-sanctifying occurs simultaneously as David lies with her. The three focal terms highlight the important legitimacy of Bathsheba before the Israelite deity, her identity as a non-Israelite, her role as queen mother of the Solomonic line, and her full participation in the narrative.

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© 2011 SAGE Publications