In the spring of the year the winter rains cease and the men are not burdened down with the essential task of securing a successful harvest, so it was the typical time when kings would use the improved weather and the available man power to engage in war. Just a few months before in 2 Samuel 10:1-4 the ambassadors that David had sent peacefully to the Ammonites to show kindness to the new King Hanun and to honor his father who had just died, King Nahash. But, David’s ambassador’s had been publicly mistreated. So, in the spring of this following year David’s troops, led by General Joab return to the east side of the Jordan to war with the Ammonites at their capital city of Rabbah. (Map here) The Ammonite’s allies to the north, the Arameans had already been defeated by David (2 Sam.8:1-6).
But, David stayed home from war. And on this particular fateful day it appears David’s afternoon nap had extended into the evening. The flat roofs were used as part of the living space. The location of the house on the terrain of the city and size of the house would make the living space on the roofs of other houses visible. The location of David’s palace as revealed by archaeology today makes this very apparent.
Bathsheba was using the nice evening weather to bath and purify herself with the ritual cleansing. This information lets the reader know that Bathsheba was not pregnant when she came to David.
Bathsheba is identified not only as the wife of Uriah the Hittite, but she is also said to be the daughter of Eliam. When we read 2 Samuel 23:34 we find out that Eliam is the son of Ahithophel. Ahithophel is one of David’s wise advisors and also Bathsheba’s grandfather. This detail and the events of this story may have been the motivation for Ahithophel’s betrayal of David when Ahithophel (or, Bathsheba’s grandfather) sided with Absolom’s rebellion against David and gave Absolom this advice in 2 Samuel 16:20-22:
“Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give us your advice. What should we do?'
Ahithophel answered, ‘Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.’
So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.”
So, on the very roof that David saw and sent for Bathsheba, her grandfather arranged for David’s son to sleep with David’s concubines as a sign that he had usurped his father’s throne.