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Beauty, Bath and Beyond: Framing Bathsheba as a Royal Fantasy in 2 Sam 11,1-5

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This paper investigates the function of beauty in David and Bathsheba’s encounter in 2 Sam 11,1-5. It argues that the female bather’s pleasant appearance, rather than simply kindling king David’s desire, focalizes the woman as sexually available (and vulnerable) and wraps the whole episode in a royal fantasy of shared intimacy. The focus on Bathsheba’s beautiful body—her wash, her motion towards the king, her self-sanctification and her pregnancy—frames the episode in a very erotic way, suggesting adultery. It conceals the sexual violence committed by the king who sends, takes and sleeps with the woman. David’s violent entitlement to Bathsheba reveals the beauty politics at play in his royal House.
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Keywords: 2 Samuel; Bathsheba; Beauty; David; royal ideology; violence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Religion, Temple University, 5031 Hazel Avenue, 3rd floor, Philadelphia, PA, 19143

Publication date: January 2, 2018

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