Who was Uriah the Hittite in the Bible?Uriah the Hittite was one of David's "mighty men," or elite warriors, a group of men who distinguished themselves with achievements on the battlefield (2 Samuel 23:8–39). However, Uriah is best known for being the man David commanded to be killed in order to cover up the fact that David impregnated Uriah's wife, Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11—12).
While Uriah was known as "the Hittite," he was obviously loyal to David and the Israelites instead of identifying with his own people who were enemies of Israel. In order to be listed as a "Mighty Man," a man had to have shown both great skill and loyalty in battle. We can assume that Uriah was strong, brave, and a trusted warrior in combat. His wife Bathsheba was "the daughter of Eliam" (2 Samuel 11:3), another of David's mighty men (2 Samuel 23:34). Uriah must have been a well-respected man among his fellow warriors to be entrusted with Eliam's daughter's hand in marriage.
While Uriah and the Israelite army were out fighting, David stayed behind in Jerusalem where he saw Bathsheba and wanted her for himself. "So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her" (2 Samuel 11:4). Upon discovering that she had conceived during this encounter, David devised a plan to bring Uriah home from battle and return him to his wife so that the baby would be believed to be Uriah's.
When summoned, Uriah obediently left the battlefield and reported to David in Jerusalem where he gave him an account of how the war was progressing. David then sent Uriah home to his wife with a personal gift. But Uriah felt such loyalty to his fellow soldiers that he refused to indulge in the comforts of home while the army was still enduring the hardships of war. The next day, David enticed Uriah to get drunk, seemingly hoping that drunkenness would weaken Uriah's sense of morals. However, even in his drunkenness Uriah "did not go down to his house" (2 Samuel 11:13). His commitment to doing what he considered to be the right thing was in stark contrast to David's willingness to engage in sin even without any mitigating circumstances.
When David saw that his plan did not work, he resolved to have Uriah killed in battle so he could then marry Bathsheba and make the pregnancy look legitimate. David wrote instructions for the army commander to place Uriah "in the forefront of the hardest fighting and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die" (2 Samuel 11:15). The fact that David needed the army to be commanded to draw back from Uriah shows once again what an accomplished warrior Uriah must have been, to have to be abandoned in the hardest fighting in order to ensure his death. Ironically, David entrusted Uriah with this letter that commanded his death. Uriah was a trustworthy and honest man, for he carried this letter, unopened, to his commander. Uriah then obediently and valiantly followed his commander's orders and died in battle (2 Samuel 11:16–17).
David then completed his plan and married Bathsheba. "But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. And the LORD sent Nathan to David" (2 Samuel 11:27—12:1). Nathan confronted David about these sins by telling him a story of a rich man who took a poor man's lamb, that "was like a daughter to him" (2 Samuel 12:3), to prepare as food for a traveler rather than kill a lamb from his own flock. David was angry at the rich man in the story, saying that man "deserves to die" (2 Samuel 12:5). Nathan replied, "You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). He then shared with David what the Lord said about the gifts He had given David, David's sins, and its consequences (2 Samuel 12:1–15). David confessed and repented (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51). However, negative consequences remained, including the death of the son Bathsheba had borne and continued strife and violence within David's household (2 Samuel 12:10–12, 14–23).
Despite David's huge missteps of adultery and murder, the Bible summarizes his life by saying, "David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5). God promised that a ruling Messiah would come through David's descendants (2 Samuel 7:16) and that promise was passed down to David and Bathsheba's next son, Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12–15; 12:24–25). In the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew 1:6 the ancestors listed include, "Jesse the father of David the King. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah." So even though he is not genetically connected to the Messiah, Uriah the Hittite is still given an honorable mention in Jesus' genealogy. Taking into account his love for and loyalty to the Israelite people, his bravery and impeccable character, it is easy to see why Uriah is given this honor.
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