This essay examines the literary and compositional inclusion of the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Sam 11–12, in the stretch of narrative concerning David's court in 2 Samuel, particularly in light of current debates surrounding the so-called Succession Narrative. I argue that the sex-and-murder scandal of 2 Sam 11–12 functions within a Judahite ideology of kingship to legitimize and strengthen the power of the Davidic dynasty and was inserted in rejection of northern notions of a monarchy legitimized through popular support and agency. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt and recent studies on sex scandals in politics, I highlight three ways in which the insertion of the scandal in 2 Sam 11–12 is an effective way of transforming the monarchic ideology of 2 Sam 13–20 and casting the narrative favorably for the Davidic kings: the location of the transgression in an incontestable space, analogous to Arendt's notion of the private realm; the salaciousness of the narrative effecting enjoyment in the audience; and the distinction between scandal and corruption, where David's transgression is a single aberration, compared to the northern kingdom portrayed as systemically corrupt.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.