Reflection on the Lectionary: 2 Samuel 11:1-15
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: 2 Samuel 11:1-15
(July 26, 2009)

This passage describes King David’s affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, which resulted in Bathsheba’s pregnancy. In order to allow Bathsheba to be his wife, King David has Uriah killed in battle by commanding Uriah to be placed at the battlefront and then having the troops withdraw, leaving Uriah exposed and defenseless.
Throughout Jewish history, David has been a highly regarded king. Yet his adulterous affair reflected an abuse of power, and the subsequent murder of Uriah was heinous. Does power always corrupt?
We all have desires that can entice us to harm innocent individuals, such as a desire for domination, for sensual pleasure, and for a sense of security. Power imbalances leave many individuals vulnerable to abuse, including women vis-à-vis men, children vis-à-vis adults, and animals vis-à-vis nearly everyone. Often, people are taught that these power imbalances, and the abuses that typically accompany them, are “natural” or ordained by God. Such justifications are most readily accepted by those who stand to benefit. Indeed, the perpetrators and patrons of great evil often believe that their actions are good and just.
How do we build a just society, in which people don’t justify abuse based on such arbitrary criteria as gender, ethnicity, or distinctions between pet and livestock species? I will offer some thoughts on this question next week.

Go on to: Essay: The Golden Rule, part 1
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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