|IN DEFENSE OF BIBLICAL BAD GALS
From the first, I have to admit that Jezebel is not defensible. She was an idolater, she tried to murder
God's prophets, she fed hundreds of false prophets, and she led a conspiracy that murdered a righteous
man in order to steal his property. She deserved the condemnation of the Lord. (1 Kings 16:28-33; 18:15-
20,38-46; 21; 2 Kings 9).
Bathsheba, who reputedly lured King David to sin, on the other hand, was exonerated and even
compensated by God. She is the easiest "bad gal" to defend. This is how it happened.
Israel was in a war with the children of Ammon, but King David remained in Jerusalem. Bathsheba, wife of
Uriah, one of David's mighty men, was childless. Her husband's position provided enough money for a
servant, and she had little to do in the evenings because most of her neighbors shut up their houses at
dark and went to bed. Some mornings she would have her servant fill the tub on the roof of her house so
that the sun would heat the water. Then she would go up on the roof after dark and bathe in the water,
while it was still warm.
One night, King David saw her by moonlight. "And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose
from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman
washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the
woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And
David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him... " (2 Sam. 11:2-4).
When she arrived, Bathsheba told David that she was a faithful wife, and demanded to be returned to her
house. Seen close up, she was even more beautiful. She said she was unwilling, but she blushed when
she looked at him. David, accustomed to women vying for his notice, was enchanted. He seduced her
with soft words and gentle touches, "and he lay with her." (2 Sam. 11:4). He kept her with him beyond all
hope of secrecy.
In the morning, Bathsheba was distressed and tearful. She reminded David that her husband had been
gone to the war for months. If she were with child, she would be stoned as an adulteress. David
embraced her and promised her his protection. He asked her to inform him at once if she was with child.
"And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. And David sent to Joab,
saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him,
David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David
said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house..." (2
The palace was full of gossip about David, Bathsheba and the child they expected. Friends of Uriah told
him what had taken place in his absence. He refused to go home and accept responsibility for the
"But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his
house. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah,
Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? And Uriah said
unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord,
are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my
wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to
day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And
when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went
out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house." (2 Sam. 11:9-13).
As Uriah avoided all David's attempts to send him home to Bathsheba, David understood that Uriah was
too angry to be reconciled with her. David believed that Uriah would have his revenge on Bathsheba, he
or his friends would denounce her when the pregnancy showed and she would be stoned.
"And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab (his battle commander), and sent it
by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle,
and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city,
that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went
out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the
Hittite died also." (2 Sam. 11:14-17).
Because the scandal was common knowledge, David further protected Bathsheba by making her his wife.
"And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And
when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and
bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." (2 Sam. 11:26,27).
"And the Lord sent Nathan (the prophet) unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There
were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and
herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up:
and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own
cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man,
and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come
unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’s
anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath
done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and
because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man..." (2 Sam. 12:1-7).
David admitted his guilt. "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said
unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou
hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee
shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare
unto David, and it was very sick. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died... And David
comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called
his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him." (2 Sam. 12:13-15,18,24).
Bathsheba's first child was the first of four of David's sons that died. The Lord also took Ammon, who
raped his half sister Tamar. Her brother Absalom had Ammon killed for revenge. (2 Sam. 13). Absalom
rebelled against David, and he died also at the hands of the army defending David. (See 2 Sam. 15 to 18.)
David was greatly grieved by Absalom's death. "And the king was much moved, and went up to the
chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son
Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33). The Lord did not
repent of His decision to take four of David's sons in payment for the theft of Bathsheba, but He took the
life of the fourth after David died.
As David lay dying, Absalom's brother, Adonijah, had himself anointed king of Israel. (1 Kings 1:5-10).
Because of their mutual troubles, a deep and honest relationship existed between David and Bathsheba.
Further, their son Solomon was the most gifted of David's sons. David had promised Bathsheba that
Solomon would be his successor.
"Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that
Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? Now therefore come, let me, I
pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. Go
and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine
handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why
then doth Adonijah reign? Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee,
and confirm thy words. And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber... And she said unto him,
My lord, thou swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall
reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne. And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the
king, thou knowest it not... And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou
shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it shall come to
pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted
offenders. And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in." (1 Kings 1:11-
Nathan confirmed Bathsheba's words. "Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she
came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. And the king sware, and said, As the Lord
liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of
Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my
stead; even so will I certainly do this day. Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did
reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever. And king David said, Call me Zadok
the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. The
king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride
upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet
anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. Then ye
shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I
have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah." (1 Kings 1:28-35).
"So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. Then sat Solomon upon the throne of
David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly. And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to
Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably. And
he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag
the Shunammite (king David's last wife whose marriage was never consummated) to wife. And Bathsheba
said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king. Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak
unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on
his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand. And she said,
Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife. And king Solomon answered and
said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the
kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son
of Zeruiah. Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah
have not spoken this word against his own life. Now therefore, as the Lord liveth, which hath established
me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised,
Adonijah shall be put to death this day. And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of
Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died." (1 Kings 2:10,12,13,17-19,21-25).
So Solomon had his brother Adonijah, who conspired to steal his throne, put to death. Thus David
restored fourfold the theft of Bathsheba from Uriah with the death of four of David's sons. But God also
judged Bathsheba, and His judgment shows that He held her innocent of David's sin. He gave her four
sons to replace the baby that He took from her in His judgment of David. Their names were "Shimea, and
Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon." (1 Chron. 3:5).
Delilah is more difficult to defend, but things look different from her point of view. She was very
beautiful, young, intelligent and charming. She lived well on the good will offerings of men hungry for her
Sampson was brawny, mature, bold-eyed and cocky. He was the world's best fighter when the Spirit of
God came upon him and the people of Israel sought him out to arbitrate their disputes. They met in the
marketplace. The attraction was immediate. Delilah changed her plans and took him home. "And it came
to pass afterward, that he (Sampson) loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah."
Delilah was pleased with Sampson. She went to brag about her new lover to two friends. He was
handsome and virile and generous, the kind of man she hoped to marry, one she could easily love. She
was interrupted by her friend's servant, a former harlot. "Then you could be burned like his first wife."
The friends listened in amazement while the servant recounted Sampson's history. He married a woman
in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. When he lost a bet to thirty Philistine men, he killed
another thirty men and stole their clothes to make payment. Because his wife had helped the thirty men
win their bet, Sampson was estranged from her and her father gave her to another man. (Judges 14).
When Sampson tried to reconcile with his wife, he found that she had been given to another man, so he
burned up the grain crops and the vineyards and the olive trees of the Philistines and slaughtered many.
The Philistines sent an army to capture him and he killed a thousand of them. (Judges 15).
Delilah considered these things and regretfully decided that Sampson was too dangerous to know. When
he returned she would tell him that she had married the son of a rich merchant. Then the Philistines
came. She assured them that she would no longer see Sampson, they forbid her to stop. They told her
that she must find the source of his strength. They left spies in her house, and told her that if she warned
Sampson they would kill her.
"And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his
great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him:
and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver." (Judges 16:5).
Delilah chose survival and wealth. So when he returned, "Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee,
wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee. And Samson said
unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as
another man. Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been
dried, and she bound him with them. Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber.
And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow
is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known." (Judges 16:6-9).
In leaving, Sampson killed several Philistines. The Philistines blamed Delilah and threatened to harm her.
When Sampson returned, "Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now
tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with
new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man. Delilah therefore took
new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there
were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread." (Judges 16:
Once more, in breaking through the men in and around Delilah's house, Sampson killed some of them.
Again, in his absence, the Philistines threatened and blamed Delilah. So when Sampson returned,
"Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou
mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. And
she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out
of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web." (Judges 16:13,14).
Sampson killed more Philistines as he left and the Philistines were furious. They told Delilah that if
Sampson left again without revealing his true secret, they would kill her. Delilah was determined to find
Sampson's secret, she enticed him to stay day after day. "And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I
love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me
wherein thy great strength lieth. And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and
urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; that he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There
hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I
be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And
when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines,
saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up
unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a
man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his
strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his
sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was
departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and
bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house." (Judges 16:15-21).
Sampson recovered his strength and was avenged on his enemies. "Howbeit the hair of his head began
to grow again after he was shaven. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a
great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our
enemy into our hand. And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson,
that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport:
and they set him between the pillars. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the
Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld
while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray
thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the
Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood,
and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson
said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the
lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than
they which he slew in his life." (Judges 16:22,23,25,27,29,30).
Delilah prospered. Her beauty and her blood money were irresistible to a rich merchant and he married
her. But sometimes at night as she lay beside her fat snoring husband, she remembered the hopes of
that first perfect day with Sampson, and she cried.
In defense of Delilah, I would point out that the men of Judah also betrayed Sampson, delivering him
bound and unarmed to an army of Philistines. (Judges 15:9-20). Further, Delilah was not Sampson's wife,
she did not owe him loyalty. Also, he left her, as he had left his wife years before, undefended among the
Finally, the moral of the story, Sampson should have stopped walking on the wild side and breaking his
mother's heart. He should have brought home a nice Jewish girl. If he had done so, he would no doubt
have survived to die peacefully in his old age, instead of being the subject of four chapters of the Bible
and a biblical legend in his strength and in his downfall.
Eve is even harder to defend. I suspect only women can see her point of view. Here, for those of you
who missed childhood Bible school, is the story.
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the
man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant
to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge
of good and evil. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest
freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be
alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and
he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord
God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now
bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be
one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Now the serpent was
more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea,
hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We
may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the
garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said
unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes
shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree
was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she
took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Gen. 2:7-
God subsequently punished Adam and Eve, but that is not relevant to this article. The question is, should
the full blame fall on Eve? The answer is, No! Adam himself knew that a man should cleave to his wife, as
he said, "... a man... shall cleave unto his wife." Instead, he wandered away that morning, following a large
green lizard. That allowed the serpent to approach Eve and lie to her and tempt her. "Ye shall not surely
die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as
gods, knowing good and evil."
Any woman could see that Adam's leaving Eve would cause trouble. After all, babies, best friends,
shopping and soap operas had not yet been invented. Just ask a weekend golf widow, Adam should
accept at least half the blame.
Amo Paul Bishop Roden