David Saw a Bathing Beauty

Wikimedia Commons File:Salviati_David_Bathseba.JPG

Bathsheba Goes to King David

In the spring, when kings went out to war, David sent his men to destroy his foes while he stayed at home to lounge. One evening he got up from his couch and walked around on the roof of his house. From there, he came to see a woman bathing in a pool; she was very beautiful.

Is naked beautiful? He asked himself. Was she beautiful to him because a beautiful soul had shown through the sight of her flesh. “Don’t deceive yourself.” Was it that she was truly very beautiful? Or could it really be that the nakedness he saw was at the root of the attraction fuelling perception.

Perhaps his idleness had created an ill that made some things salient and desirable to deal with; attractive to touch even. Maybe his hormones were just speaking. And he had the power to answer their call for the woman for whom they stirred, so he moved the more to their music.

(The story ends this way: he impregnated her, tried to get her husband to sleep with her in order to make him seem to have paternity, but failed. He then killed her husband by the sword of his foes. Later, the child of his adultery died soon after birth. A tragedy.)

Did David Confuse beauty with physical appeal. Maybe not, he was a poet and must surely could tell between the two. Regardless, he meant what he felt (said) to himself: “she is very beautiful; I want her.”

Would he have wanted her had he seen her in the humble clothing of his day? Maybe. He was a poet, an aesthete, and he could see more than his eyes would see: he had x-ray vision without the radiation.

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, File:Salviati_David_Bathseba.jpg)