בני שמואל חטאו אינו אלא טועה שנאמר ויהי (כי זקן שמואל ובניו לא הלכו) בדרכיו בדרכיו הוא דלא הלכו מיחטא נמי לא חטאו
that the sons of Samuel sinned is nothing other than mistaken, as it is stated: “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…And his sons walked not in his ways but sought after unjust gain, and took bribes, and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:1–3). By inference: In his ways they did not walk, however, they did not sin either. They were not the equals of their father, but they were not sinners.
אלא מה אני מקיים ויטו אחרי הבצע שלא עשו כמעשה אביהם שהיה שמואל הצדיק מחזר בכל מקומות ישראל ודן אותם בעריהם שנאמר והלך מדי שנה בשנה וסבב בית אל והגלגל והמצפה ושפט את ישראל והם לא עשו כן אלא ישבו בעריהם כדי להרבות שכר לחזניהן ולסופריהן
However, how then do I establish the meaning of the verse: “And they sought after unjust gain,” indicating that they were sinners? It means that they did not conduct themselves in accordance with the actions of their father. As Samuel the righteous would travel to all places where the people of Israel were located and sit in judgment in their towns, as it is stated: “And he went from year to year in circuit from Beth-El, and Gilgal, and Mitzpa, and judged Israel in all those places” (I Samuel 7:16). And, however, they did not do so and travel from place to place. Rather, they sat in their own cities in order to enhance the fees collected by their attendants and scribes. Therefore, the verse ascribes to them liability as if they sinned by seeking ill-gotten gains and bribes.
כתנאי ויטו אחרי הבצע רבי מאיר אומר חלקם שאלו בפיהם רבי יהודה אומר מלאי הטילו על בעלי בתים רבי עקיבא אומר קופה יתירה של מעשר נטלו בזרוע רבי יוסי אומר מתנות נטלו בזרוע:
The Gemara notes that this matter is parallel to a dispute between tanna’im. As it was taught in a baraita that the verse states: “And they sought after unjust gain.” Rabbi Meir says: This means that they vocally demanded their portions of the tithe due them as Levites, abusing their position to the detriment of other Levites. Rabbi Yehuda says: They imposed upon local homeowners to sell their merchandise and support them. Rabbi Akiva says: They took an extra basket of tithes, beyond that which was their due, by force. Rabbi Yosei says: They took only the gifts due them; however, they took them by force. They acted improperly, as a Levite is required to wait until he is given his gifts and may not take them.
אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן כל האומר דוד חטא אינו אלא טועה שנאמר ויהי דוד לכל דרכיו משכיל וה׳ עמו וגו׳ אפשר חטא בא לידו ושכינה עמו
Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Anyone who says that David sinned with Bathsheba is nothing other than mistaken, as it is stated: “And David succeeded in all his ways; and the Lord was with him” (I Samuel 18:14). Is it possible that sin came to his hand and nevertheless the Divine Presence was with him?
אלא מה אני מקיים מדוע בזית את דבר ה׳ לעשות הרע שביקש לעשות ולא עשה
However, how then do I establish the meaning of the rebuke of the prophet Nathan: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do that which is evil in My sight? Uriah the Hittite you have smitten with the sword, and his wife you have taken to be your wife, and him you have slain with the sword of the children of Ammon” (II Samuel 12:9), indicating that David sinned? The Gemara answers: David sought to do evil and have relations with Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah but did not do so.
אמר רב רבי דאתי מדוד מהפך ודריש בזכותיה דדוד מדוע בזית את דבר ה׳ לעשות הרע רבי אומר משונה רעה זו מכל רעות שבתורה שכל רעות שבתורה כתיב בהו ויעש וכאן כתיב לעשות שביקש לעשות ולא עשה
Rav said: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who descends from the house of David, seeks to teach the verse in favor of David. With regard to that which is written: “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil,” Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: This evil mentioned with regard to David is different from all other evils in the Torah; as with regard to all other evils in the Torah, it is written: And he did evil, and here it is written: To do evil. This unique phrase indicates that David sought to do evil but did not actually do so. His intentions were improper; however, his actions were proper.
את אוריה החתי הכית בחרב שהיה לך לדונו בסנהדרין ולא דנת ואת אשתו לקחת לך לאשה ליקוחין יש לך בה
That which is written: “Uriah the Hittite you have smitten with the sword,” means that you could have judged him before the Sanhedrin as one guilty of treason against the throne, and you did not judge him in that manner. Instead, you had him executed in a manner that deviated from the generally accepted principles of judgment. With regard to that which is written: “And his wife you have taken to be your wife”; it means that you have rights of marriage with her, as by law Bathsheba was already divorced from Uriah.
דאמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן כל היוצא למלחמת בית דוד כותב גט כריתות לאשתו שנאמר ואת עשרת חריצי החלב האלה תביא לשר האלף ואת אחיך תפקד לשלום ואת ערבתם תקח
As Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Anyone who goes to a war waged by the royal house of David writes a conditional bill of divorce to his wife. That was done to prevent a situation in which the soldier’s wife would be unable to remarry because the soldier did not return from battle and there were no witnesses to his fate. The conditional bill of divorce accorded her the status of a divorcee and freed her to remarry. As it is stated: “And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and to your brothers bring greetings and take their pledge [arubatam]” (I Samuel 17:18).
מאי ערבתם תני רב יוסף דברים המעורבים בינו לבינה
What is the meaning of arubatam? Rav Yosef taught: It refers to matters that are shared [hame’oravim] between him, the husband, and her, the wife, i.e., marriage. The verse should be read: Take the bill of divorce that determines the status of the relationship between husband and wife. As, apparently, it was customary for men at war to send their wives a conditional divorce, since Uriah later died, Bathsheba retroactively assumed divorced status from the time that he set out to war. She was not forbidden to David.
ואתו הרגת בחרב בני עמון מה חרב בני עמון אי אתה נענש עליו אף אוריה החתי אי אתה נענש עליו
With regard to that which is written: “And him you have slain with the sword of the children of Ammon,” it means: Just as you are not punished for soldiers killed by the sword of the children of Ammon in the course of the war, so too you are not punished for the death of Uriah the Hittite.
מאי טעמא מורד במלכות הוה דאמר ליה ואדני יואב ועבדי אדני על פני השדה חנים
What is the reason that David was not liable for the death of Uriah? Because Uriah was a traitor against the throne. As he said to David: “And my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields” (II Samuel 11:11). In the presence of the king, one may not refer to another as his lord. Doing so is treason.
אמר רב כי מעיינת ביה בדוד לא משכחת ביה בר מדאוריה דכתיב רק בדבר אוריה החתי
Rav said: When you analyze the matter of David, no sin that he committed is found in his lifetime, except for that involving Uriah. As it is written: “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (I Kings 15:5).
אביי קשישא רמי דרב אדרב מי אמר רב הכי והאמר רב קיבל דוד לשון הרע קשיא
Abaye the Elder raised a contradiction between one statement of Rav and another statement of Rav: Did Rav actually say this? Didn’t Rav say: David accepted a slanderous report? Just as it is prohibited to relate a slanderous report, it is similarly prohibited to accept it. This contradiction remains unresolved, and it is difficult.
גופא רב אמר קיבל דוד לשון הרע דכתיב ויאמר לו המלך איפוא הוא ויאמר ציבא אל המלך הנה הוא בית מכיר בן עמיאל (בלא) דבר וכתיב וישלח המלך ויקחהו מבית מכיר בן עמיאל (מלא) דבר
The Gemara now examines the matter itself with regard to Rav’s statement cited in the course of the previous discussion. Rav said: David accepted a slanderous report, as it is written with regard to David’s search for a surviving son of Jonathan: “And the king said to him, to Ziba, Saul’s slave: Where is he? And Ziba said to the king: Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lo-Devar [belo devar]” (II Samuel 9:4). Ziba indicated to David that Jonathan’s son was inconsequential, lacking any matter [lo devar] of Torah. And it is written: “Then King David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lo-Devar [milo devar]” (II Samuel 9:5). That verse can be read that after sending for him, David found him filled with matters [melo devar] of Torah.
מכדי חזייה דשקרא הוא כי הדר אלשין עילויה מאי טעמא קיבלה מיניה דכתיב ויאמר המלך (אל ציבא איה) בן אדוניך ויאמר ציבא אל המלך הנה (הוא) יושב בירושלים וגו׳ ומנא לן דקיבל מיניה דכתיב ויאמר המלך הנה לך כל אשר למפיבושת ויאמר ציבא השתחויתי אמצא חן (בעיני) המלך
Now, after David saw that Ziba was a liar, when Ziba once again slandered Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, why did David accept his report? As it is written that when David fled from Absalom, he met Ziba: “And the king said: And where is your master’s son? And Ziba said to the king: Behold, he is staying in Jerusalem, as he said: Today shall the house of Israel restore to me the kingdom of my father” (II Samuel 16:3). And from where do we derive that David accepted Ziba’s slanderous report? As it is written: “Then said the king to Ziba: Behold, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours. And Ziba said: I humbly beseech you that I may find favor in your sight, my lord, O king” (II Samuel 16:4).
ושמואל אמר לא קיבל דוד לשון הרע דברים הניכרים חזא ביה דכתיב ומפיבושת בן שאול ירד (לפני) המלך ולא עשה רגליו ולא עשה שפמו ואת בגדיו לא כבס וגו׳ וכתיב ויהי כי בא ירושלים לקראת המלך ויאמר לו המלך למה לא הלכת עמי מפיבושת ויאמר אדני המלך עבדי רמני כי אמר עבדך אחבשה לי החמור וארכב עליה ואלך את המלך כי פסח
And Shmuel said: David did not accept Ziba’s slanderous report without substantiation. Rather, he himself saw conspicuous matters in Mephibosheth that indicated that Ziba was right. As it is written: “And Mephibosheth, the son of Saul, came down to meet the king, and he had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes from the day the king departed until the day he came back in peace” (II Samuel 19:25). David thought that he was mourning the fact that he had returned in peace. And it is written: “And it came to pass, when he came to Jerusalem to meet the king, and the king said to him: Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered: My lord, O king, my servant deceived me; for your servant said: I will saddle me a donkey, and I will ride on it, and go to the king; because lame is