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Bathsheba: A Novel [Paperback]

Jill Smith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2011 The Wives of King David (Book 3)
Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her devout husband away fighting the king's wars for many months at a time, discontent and loneliness dog her steps--and make it frighteningly easy to succumb to King David's charm and attention. Though she immediately regrets her involvement with the powerful king, the pieces are set in motion that will destroy everything she holds dear. Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God--and David--forever?

With a historian's sharp eye for detail and a novelist's creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David's most famous--and infamous--wife. Smith uses her gentle hand to draw out the humanity in her characters, allowing readers to see themselves in the three-dimensional lives and minds of people who are often viewed in starkly moralistic terms. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba in the same way again.

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From the Back Cover

Can love triumph over treachery?

Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her husband away fighting the king's wars, she battles encroaching loneliness--which makes it all too easy to succumb to the advances of King David. Will one night of unbridled passion destroy everything she holds dear? Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God forever?

With a historian's sharp eye for detail and a novelist's creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David's most famous--and infamous--wife. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba the same way again.

"Thoroughly engrossing. Jill Eileen Smith receives my highest recommendation as an author of biblical fiction."--Kim Vogel Sawyer, award-winning author of My Heart Remembers

"Bathsheba is Jill Eileen Smith's finest work to date. It vividly portrays the devastation caused by selfish passion and betrayal, and the incredible blessing of repentance and restoration through God's grace."--Jill Stengl, award-winning author of Wisconsin Brides

"This well-researched and beautifully crafted story will resonate in your heart and mind long after you've read the final page. An excellent read with a message that transcends time."--Judith Miller, author of the Daughters of Amana series

Jill Eileen Smith's research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill is the author of the bestselling Michal and Abigail and lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

About the Author

Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill is the author of the bestselling Michal and Abigail and lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By christianfictionaddiction TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
One would not necessarily think that the story of David and Bathsheba would be an inspiring one, filled as it is with temptation and sin and murder. However, Jill Eileen Smith has breathed new life into a story recounted through the ages.

Bathsheba is a story rich in contrasts, from loneliness to love, from passion to grief, from the depths of despair to the healing hand of God. Smith has opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of David and Bathsheba's story. These Bible characters have been cloaked in all-too-human frailty, and it was difficult indeed to watch their downfall as displayed through the power of the author's pen. Yet what I truly admire about this book is that it is not one that wallows in the depths of our human condition, but instead rises through the power of God's grace as He forgives sin that should have been punishable by death. Adultery is a sin that, at the time, was to be punished by stoning. Yet although God does punish them through the loss of their son, he also restores what was lost and offers his tender mercy. In the past when contemplataing this Bible story, I had only ever considered how the loss of their first son was such a horrible punishment for their sin; however, I'd never considered that on the other hand there was an element of mercy, for a King's son born out of adultery would have been subject to the vilest of bullying and torment and would have never had a chance to fulfill God's purpose for his life. This book doesn't provide easy answers, but instead allows you to wrestle with the issues of their sin and the consequences. Although the story may be familiar to you, the book is entirely engaging and will keep you turning the pages.
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4.0 out of 5 stars BATHSHEBA April 24 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Baker Publishing Group| March 1, 2011| Trade Paperback| ISBN # 978-0-8007-3322-3

Story Description:

Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her devout husband away fighting the King's wars for many months at a time, discontent and loneliness dog her steps--and make it frighteningly easy to succumb to King David's charm and attention. Though she immediately regrets her involvement with the powerful King, the pieces are set in motion that will destroy everything she holds dear. Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God--and David--forever? With a historian's sharp eye for detail and a novelist's creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David's most famous--and infamous--wife. Smith uses her gentle hand to draw out the humanity in her characters, allowing readers to see themselves in the three-dimensional lives and minds of people who are often viewed in starkly moralistic terms. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba in the same way again.

My Review:

Jerusalem, 994 BC

Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah have been married for three years are trying to have a baby. They only had two more days together before, Uriah left again for many months. On the third night he would sleep in another room, refusing any intimate touch in preparation for war. This was something about him Bathsheba just couldn't understand. The days spent marching to the place of battle should give him plenty of time to become pure in thought. Why did he have to start before he even left her side?

Bathsheba couldn't sleep anymore so she went to the cooking room. Her servant, Tirzah heard her and came to join her.
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4.0 out of 5 stars BATHSHEBA March 26 2012
By Ashley
Format:Paperback
what can I say loved this book. Very detailed. It shows how life is like behind King David's Palace. How Bathsheba deals with the loss of her first child and her husband.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  112 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical Characters Come Alive Feb. 28 2011
By Tamera Lynn Kraft - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One thing I love about Jill Eileen Smith's novels about the wives of David is how the characters who were real human beings come alive. "Bathsheba" is no exception. In this novel, my heart aches, not only for Bathsheba, but for David who has gotten himself into a mess (as we often do) and can't bring himself to do the only thing that will fix it (confess before God & face the consequences). It shows David at his worst but also at his best when he humbly confesses his sin with great remorse and goes about working to restore his relationship with God. In this novel, Bathsheba also deals with her part in this. Both are restored and forgiven.

I love the research in this novel. While Smith does bring conjecture into the story, she doesn't defiate from the true Biblical facts that we do know or the historical culture. I disagree with her assumption that Bathsheba had a choice in the affair. The way I see the story, Bathsheba was a victim of David's abuse of power. But the story that Smith weaves could be the way it happened, and it does show that David's guilt both as an abuser of his position and a murderer was greater than Bathsheba's. I guess we won't know who's right until we get to Heaven.

One scene, where Nathan confronts David, is so emotional and piognant, I read it a number of times. I could feel what David must have felt. It was that real. I also have imagined the scene many times when reading the scripture, and Smith's version seemed very similar to mine. It's the way I could imagine it happening. Another emotional scene that also touched me was when David heard that Absolom had killed all of his sons. Again Smith brought me into David's emotions. Overall I loved this novel and highly recommend it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smooth and Subtle Seduction June 22 2012
By Clare Chu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bathsheba's seduction has been written throughout the ages in many different ways, from outright violent rape to a temptress bent on trapping the saintly king. Smith takes an innocent approach, giving both of her characters plenty of excuses--loneliness, grief, boredom, the need for a friend. Yet, if David was so in need of a friend, why couldn't he revisit his love with Michal, whom Smith has redeemed into an angelic being, foster mother of Abigail's daughter? Smith's Michal is a calm, pleasant and cooperative woman who bears no resentment toward David's other wives. She would have been the perfect friend and companion for the aged king. Unfortunately, David's lustful eyes fell on the bathing nude and the rest is history.

The book starts out innocently enough with Bathsheba a teenybopper and her friend Chava giddy with excitement at being invited to dine with the handsome king. While Chava provided all the hysterics, Bathsheba admired David from a distance. Soon enough, she is married to Uriah, the loyal warrior. She grows restless with her husband's frequent absence and wonders if she'd ever have a normal family, including children. When she meets the old king wandering on his wall, they flirt and talk about music, their common interest. Talk is soon not enough, and on a hot, restless night, the king wanders out on his wall and decides to take the next step. Oh... he's a smooth devil, that one, he strums her heart with his fingers, singing her life with his words, killing her softly... Not until it's too late does Bathsheba realize the snare... "You have reason to resent your king." as he traces a line up her arm, "I'm sorry to cause you such pain and loneliness." and turns her face to kiss her. "Will you stay and accept my love as a token of my apology?" ... dropping her robe and caressing her silkily. Very subtle and very smooth.

Bathsheba tells the story of David's later years through the eyes of a young wife--one who was outcast and befriended only by Michal. It is a sad story, as she never really had the normal family she would have wanted. Yet she made the best of it by ensuring her son Solomon was elevated to the throne. Perhaps David's biggest failing after the way he treated his wife, Michal, was his lack of training for his sons. Absalom's rebellion is depicted with its tragic result, and Solomon continues the downward spiral toward outright idol worship in his latter years.

Smith has done a fairly good job of taking this sordid chapter of David's life and smoothing it out into a December-May romance.
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lackluster conclusion to the trilogy March 14 2011
By Michele - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I wasn't particularly "wowed" by the previous two books in this trilogy, I was looking forward to this one, interested to see what Jill Eileen Smith would do with the story of Bathsheba, the most notorious of David's wives. While the overall quality of the writing of Bathsheba is on par with the prior two books, it has neither the strong ending of Michal nor the sympathetic and engaging heroine of Abigail; as a result, I found the book to be lackluster and the weakest installment in the trilogy.

Unlike Michal and Abigail, scripture gives no indication of Bathsheba's personality or character: not even the barest hint. We are told she was beautiful, and that is it. For an author this leaves the door wide open to endless possibilities; however, it also presents a challenge for the author to flesh out Bathsheba in a way that is credible and that today's readers can connect with.

I was disappointed in the way that Smith interpreted Bathsheba, and, in fact, I had difficulty figuring out just where Bathsheba was coming from most of the time. In the first part of the book, when she is married to Uriah, the plot consists mainly of Uriah preparing to go to battle (while King David stayed home), Bathsheba coping with the disappointment and loneliness, then Uriah returning home and being reunited with his wife. This scenario was repeated several times and I couldn't see the necessity of the repetition; surely one such scenario could have adequately conveyed the challenges that Bathsheba dealt with as an Old Testament "military wife?" During this first part I couldn't, as I mentioned above, ever really figure out where Bathsheba stood. She wavered between loving (or perhaps just lusting?) her husband, and seeming to be bored/unhappy with him. At the same time she had an on-and-off, eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room attraction to King David. It wasn't so much her emotional wavering that bothered me -- after all, that is often how life is and we don't always stand on solid emotional footing. But somehow it just never came into clear, conclusive focus. Rather than a woman struggling with warring attractions and feelings, Bathsheba's conflicting feelings felt immature and girlish, like that of a discontented and bored young wife unworthy of her honest, hardworking, heroic husband -- not something to endear her to readers (or this reader, anyway). And in fact, the protracted attraction between David and Bathsheba, beginning years before their actual act of adultery, which I suspect was intended to build up the "romance" between them, in fact actually weakened the story overall. It cheapened the characters of David and Bathsheba and made their attraction feel overworked.

Once the adultery had been committed, and Bathsheba found herself in the dire predicament of being pregnant by the king while her husband was off at war, I still couldn't connect with her. Any sympathy I might have felt was essentially killed by her displaced anger at the king, her placing of the blame entirely on him. She conveniently forgot that she was a willing participant (David never forced her) who had been driven by her own lust.

Although Smith did a slightly better job with David this time -- at least he didn't come across as a cad like in Abigail -- still he wasn't all that interesting. Uriah was the only character who elicited my sympathy -- not surprising, since he was the innocent party, far more honorable than either David or Bathsheba.

The last part of the book, after Bathsheba was established as David's wife, was slow and drawn out, and frankly didn't add anything to the story. The book would have been better ended at the birth of Solomon.

But my biggest disappointment with this book was that the author chose to depict the story of David and Bathsheba as a romance between two starry-eyed lovers. There is one thing the story of David and Bathsheba is not, and that is a romance. It is a story of lust, betrayal, adultery and murder. And perhaps even rape -- although authors all seem to interpret the David/Bathsheba story in much the same way, with a strong mutual attraction between the two, there is absolutely nothing in the Biblical account to hint at Bathsheba's feelings about the matter, and in fact I believe it is sugar-coating what really happened. Yes, theirs is also a story of repentance, restoration and the incredible grace and mercy of God, which is why I believe it is included in the Bible. And perhaps David and Bathsheba did come to truly love each other, we don't really know. But if they did, it was a hard-won love bought at a terrible price. Smith did include all the relevant aspects of the story as recorded in scripture, but somehow her version just comes across as too dreamy, too much of a soft-focus romance lacking any strong feeling or emotional turmoil. For me, it turned the story of David and Bathsheba into a disappointing soap opera.

I have decided to pull my other book about Bathsheba -- Unspoken by Francine Rivers -- off the shelf and give it a re-read. It's been 10 years since I read it, and it will be interesting to see how her interpretation of the story compares to this one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy conclusion to a fascinating trilogy! March 20 2011
By Ruth Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For the concluding volume in The Wives of King David trilogy, author Jill Eileen Smith breathes life into the story of David's most infamous wife, Bathsheba - a woman who came into his life through adultery, who in spite of her scandal-ridden past would come to have the honor of being named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Like the previous two wives Smith brought to life (Michal and Abigail), Bathsheba's past is again strikingly different from theirs, and her life intersects with a David who is the established, beloved - and prideful? - King of Israel. The Bible gives perhaps even less insight into Bathsheba's character and personality than it does Michal and Abigail, leaving Smith a veritable blank canvas with which to recreate the events leading up to, and the consequences of, one of history's most famous affairs. Using the Biblical text as her framework, Smith weaves an engrossing tale of the events and struggles that would lead David, a man after God's own heart, mighty and favored beyond imagination, to claim another man's wife as his own. And she brings to colorful life Bathsheba, the woman whose beauty would threaten the security of a kingdom, and who's one night of forbidden passion with a king would bring about devastating repercussions, redeemable only by the grace of a merciful God.

For the first third of this novel, Smith introduces readers to Bathsheba's life prior to her fateful night with David. A daughter of privilege, born into a family with close ties to David's royal house, she was given in marriage to Uriah, a Hittite who adopted the faith of Israel and gained honor and position as one of the Thirty, David's select group of warriors. At times I really struggled to connect with Bathsheba and Uriah - she never seemed satisfied, always questioning and doubting her husband's love since wars kept him away from her months at a time, while he was so pragmatic and dedicated to the letter of the law that he had no sympathy for or inkling of how to handle Bathsheba's emotional volatility. However Uriah, perhaps one of the most tragically wronged individuals in the Bible, is fully realized as an honorable, loyal innocent caught up in events not of his own making or desire. Though it is never specified in the Bible that Bathsheba and David met prior to the night he sent for her in 2 Samuel 11, Smith conjectures - reasonably, I think - that due to Bathsheba's family heritage and her husband's position in David's royal guard, that it's possible they met earlier. Such a meeting plants the seeds of curiosity and desire in each of them, sparks that flame into a full-blown obsession when David witnesses Bathsheba's ritual purification bath from the palace rooftop. Smith does a superb job of creating emotional tension between David and Bathsheba, and the fallout from their passion and attempts to hide their sin is positively wrenching to witness.

One of the aspects I've really appreciated about this trilogy is Smith's ability to bring to life David's most famous wives, and make them living and breathing, relatable, fallible humans. The scripture seems to imply that Bathsheba was a willing partner in adultery by the omission of any words to the contrary - and while Smith's retelling doesn't shy away from Bathsheba's possible complicity, she also explores her fall with a perspective I'd not imagined before. The social and cultural structure that Bathsheba operated within - that made her wholly subject to the dictates of the men in her life - make it easier to understand how her society would have conditioned her to obey men, whether father, husband, or king, without question. The consequences of David's callous selfishness in claiming Bathsheba when he had no right is heartbreaking to watch unfold. David and Bathsheba's shared guilt provides Smith with the springboard for crafting a powerful illustration of God's redemptive grace in the face of unfathomable sorrow. Bathsheba is a story of second chances, and God's ability to bring beauty from the ashes of seemingly irredeemable mistakes, when a broken soul seeks and accepts forgiveness.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it. Dec 10 2012
By carol p mcqueen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really hate to write a negative review, but I never made it past page 100. It was overwritten and poor Bathsheba was overwrought on all levels of meaning. Too much Harlequin romance and not enough Orson Scott Card Women of the Old Testament.
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