By December 10, 2008 Read More →

Nathan before King David, Rembrandt (1606-1669).

Nathan (1)



David, king of Israel, had committed egregious crimes. He had coveted the wife of his loyal servant Uriah the Hittite, taken her to his royal chambers, impregnated her and sent her beloved husband to his death. He had stopped at nothing to cover his tracks and to conceal his felonies. But even the high and mighty king could not escape the scrutiny of the Lord. ‘The Lord was displeased with what David had done’ and He hurled His word against him through Nathan the prophet-

And Nathan said to David, ‘That man is you! …Why then have you flouted the command of the Lord and done what displeases Him? You have put Uriah the Hittite to the sword; you took his wife and made her your wife and had him killed by the sword of the Ammonites. Therefore the sword shall never depart from your House.’ (2 Samuel 12-7-10)

In his two renditions of Nathan before King David, Rembrandt has captured two distinct moments of the tale. In the first drawing David attentively listens to the parable of the poor man’s ewe, little knowing that he will be revealed as the guilty party. In the second, Nathan’s facial expression indicates rebuke and David’s reveals shock and horror upon realizing that Nathan is really speaking about him.

Copyright Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy

Photos courtesy of Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin.

Posted in: Exodus

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