Rembrandt’s Bathsheba with King David’s Letter (Louvre, Paris)
Bathsheba with David’s Letter (1654) by Rembrandt; Louvre, Paris (public domain photo)
Who was Bathsheba? What letter is that?
“It happened toward evening when [King] David had risen from his couch and was strolling on the palace roof, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David made inquiries about this woman and was told: ‘Why, that is Bathsheba…the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers and had her brought. She came to him and he slept with her…The woman conceived and sent word to David, ‘I am with child.’” (2 Samuel, verse 11, 2)
A nice letter—a summons from the King, who was up to no good. He later arranged things so that Bathsheba’s husband would be killed.
Here is the painting of a Bible prophet in another predicament.
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife by Guido Reni; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (public domain photo)
Potiphar the Egyptian is one of Pharoah’s chief officials. His wife keeps asking Joseph to sleep with her. He refuses this time as always but she pulls off his cloak and uses it as a corpus delicti.
“Now Joseph was well built and handsome, and it happened some time later that his master’s wife looked desirously at him and said, ‘Sleep with me.’ But he refused…Although she spoke to Joseph day after day he would not agree to sleep with her and surrender to her…
“But one day…the woman caught hold of him by his tunic and said, ‘Sleep with me.’ But he left the tunic in her hand and ran out of the house…She called her servants and said to them, ‘Look at this!…He came to me to sleep with me, but I screamed, and when he heard me scream and shout he left his tunic beside me and ran out of the house.’” (Genesis 39, 7)
Here are two other illustrations of this famous story:
Gentilleschi and Cignani both give more details of just what Potiphar’s wife was offering.
Joseph and Potiphar’s wife by Orazio Gentilleschi (British Royal Collection page )
Joseph and Potiphar’s wife by Carlo Cignani Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (public domain photo)
Joseph was arrested and thrown into prison.