David in the Islamic Sources: A Defense of the Prophet from Sam Shamoun’s Slander and Poor Research
Originally posted on the Quran and Bible Blog
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“And David gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing (in prostration), and turned (to Allah in repentance). So We forgave him this (lapse): he enjoyed, indeed, a Near Approach to Us, and a beautiful place of (Final) Return.”
– The Quran, Surah Sad, 38:25
Before we begin, I would like to thank brothers stewjo004 and Sharif Abu Laith for their insights, suggestions, and help with research. Jazak Allah Khair for your efforts!
In the article The Biblical Story of David: A Critical Examination and Comparison with the Quranic Story, we had compared the Biblical and Quranic narratives about the prophet David (peace be upon him). This discussion inevitably led to a confrontation with the Biblical story of David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, though only the book of Samuel mentioned this story, while Chronicles omitted it. In the article, we had noted that the Quran does not mention what the prophet David’s “sin” was (Surah Sad: 38:21-25), only that he had admitted his error and sought forgiveness. We had also noted that early Muslims, such as Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), rejected the Biblical charge of adultery and threatened anyone who narrated it with flogging. Well, the loudmouth Christian apologist Sam Shamoun also has an opinion on this matter (what a shock). In short, Shamoun insists that the “earliest” Islamic commentators believed that David (peace be upon him) had committed a major sin in sleeping with Bathsheba and causing the death of Uriah. Thus, he argues, Muslims should believe this story as well. In this article, we will debunk this claim and further expose Shamoun’s poor research and deliberate twisting of the scholarly sources, insha’Allah. We will see once again that Shamoun is high on noise but low on substance.
Part 1 – Silly Arguments
Before we get into the meat of the problem, let us deal with some of Shamoun’s illogical arguments. One such argument is his claim that the Quranic story of the two “disputants” (Surah Sad, 38:21-25) was based on Nathan’s parable in 2 Samuel 12. Shamoun claims that the Quran turned what was originally a parable into an actual historical event and that this is “evidence showing how the author of the Quran doesn’t really have a sense of what is historical”. But this claim is silly because it assumes that the account in 2 Samuel 11 is historical. The author of Chronicles would beg to differ. Indeed, in Chronicles, Bathsheba is mentioned by name only once (1 Chronicles 3:5) as the mother of four of David’s sons (including Solomon), though her name is given as “Bathshua”. This glaring omission by a supposedly “inspired” author shows how the Biblical authors made changes to the many legends as they saw fit. Omitting the Bathsheba episode was a deliberate decision by the Chronicler. As in other later Jewish sources, David is “represented as completely purified of all sins.” So, Shamoun is simply putting the cart before the horse. This sort of circular argumentation is rightly criticized by scholars such as Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman since “…the biblical text serves as the primary evidence that its own historical reportage is true”.
Besides the deliberate omissions by the author of Chronicles (in fact, he omitted many of the more sordid events in the life of David), there are other reasons to question the historicity of the Bathsheba story. First and foremost is the question of authorship and date of composition of the books of Samuel. Contrary to popular opinion among many Jews and Christians, there is no logical reason to assume that Samuel was the author of the books that bear his name. It has been acknowledged by scholars that the final version of the book (originally 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were considered one book) was the result of a “Deuteronomistic editor”. Dr. Richard Lederman summarizes the origin of Samuel as follows:
“The book of Samuel forms part of the Deuteronomistic History or DtrH (Joshua-Kings). Although an early version of this history was probably first put together during the time of King Josiah (DtrH1), and reflected an optimistic attitude towards the king and Israel’s future, the book was extensively revised after the destruction of the Temple (DtrH2) and, in my view, well into the Second Temple Period.”
Referring to the Second Temple period, Lederman notes that Judea was:
“…dominated by high priests and (non-Davidic) governors. The revised Deuteronomistic History (DtrH2) is overwhelmingly negative in its evaluation of kings and monarchy, and it is into this framework that the story of King David is embedded.”
Even Christian scholars admit this, though they try to downplay the significance. For example, Herbert M. Wolf and Robert D. Holmstedt stated:
“[p]erhaps the historian who finalized 1-2 Samuel made use of several earlier sources, although it must be stressed both that most such theories are all but impossible to prove and that it matters little for the interpretation of the final form, the received biblical book.”
Similarly, they attempted to downplay the date of composition, basically assuming that the “later editor” left the “earlier sources…largely intact”. Of course, no evidence exists to prove such a statement. Nevertheless, they also stated that (emphasis ours):
“…it is only logical that the received form of 1–2 Samuel took shape some four hundred years removed from David.”
There is also internal evidence from the text itself that proves without a doubt that Samuel was not the author of the books that bear his name, namely that it refers to his death (1 Samuel 25), as well as the conjuring of his spirit by the witch of Endor during the reign of Saul (1 Samuel 28:3ff)! As Christian scholar David Malick notes:
“The Talmud names Samuel as the author, but this is hardly probable since he dies in chapter 25. The naming probably relates to the role he played in the first 25 chapters of this history.”
However, Malick, like most conservative scholars, leaves open the possibility that Samuel wrote chapters 1–25, while the rest of the book was completed by the prophets Gad and Nathan. As usual, there is no evidence for this. Choosing to take the cautionary route, Malick admits that “…with the current evidence one cannot affirm without reservation who wrote the book”. As for the date, like most conservative scholars, Malick states that “it seems best to place the writing of Samuel sometime after the divided monarchy (931 B.C.) to before the fall of Samaria (722/21 B.C.).” Thus, as with many books of the Bible, the identity of the author(s) of the book of Samuel remains a mystery. He/they remain anonymous. The date of composition also remains a mystery.
As for the David/Bathsheba story itself, some scholars have observed an inconsistency that seems to indicate that it was added to the text at a later time. Referring to 2 Samuel 11–12, Steven L. McKenzie observes that (emphasis ours):
“…while they contain allusions to events in subsequent chapters (12:11-12), the later stories never refer back to the Bathsheba event. Moreover, the presence of the Bathsheba material completely alters the way in which the subsequent material is read. Absalom’s revolt, which has its own cause apart from the Bathsheba story in Amnon’s rape of Tamar (ch. 13), now becomes an extension of the punishment leveled against David because of sin. Thus, the Bathsheba story is not part of the apology for David but part of the literary development of Samuel at a later stage.”
In addition, McKenzie questions how “history may have been forfeited to or shaped by authorial interest.” Of course, even if it was based on a “historical” event, it would be impossible to separate the historical parts from the fictional parts. In the view of Lederman, the “final form” of the “Succession Narrative” (2 Samuel 11 to 1 Kings 2):
“…is a late, post-exilic composition that forms part of a layer of the David story that is both anti-monarchical and anti-Davidic.”
One reason Lederman gives for this assessment is the “high level of Greek influence in the David narrative”, which means that it can be dated to the 5th and 4th centuries BCE (e.g., David’s use of mercenaries is reminiscent of Persian kings using Greek mercenaries). At most, we could push the date to the 7th century BCE, as Greek mercenaries were used at the time in Palestine, but no further than that.
Echoing this scholarly consensus in her PhD dissertation at John Hopkins University, Erin E. Fleming states:
“…I regard 2 Samuel 11:2-12:25 as relatively later than the other texts that explicitly mention sexual relations. This narrative is connected literarily to 2 Samuel 13:1-22 and 2 Samuel 16:20-23, particularly through Nathan’s oracle against David (2 Sam 12:1-15). In 2 Samuel 11:2-12:25 we have yet another example of “revision through introduction,” which frames the long account of Absalom’s revolt against David in an entirely different light. The earlier revolt narrative stresses David’s mildness and paternal love for his sons and presents Amnon and Absalom as disappointing sons who exploit their father’s good nature…
The story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah stands in marked contrast to the general presentation of David up to this point in the narrative of Samuel, which defends any possible wrongdoing on David’s part by explaining his innocence or providing insight into his intentions or feelings. Instead, 2 Samuel 11:2-12:25 presents David’s actions without any attempt at explanation or apology. Yet, despite the portrayal of David’s illicit actions, the narrative does not delegitimatize him as king.”
So, the reality is that there is simply no way to verify the events mentioned in the book of Samuel. Christians and Jews may take the historicity of the books of Samuel as a given based on faith, but there is no logical reason for this assumption. Thus, Shamoun’s attempts to give precedence to the Bathsheba story as told in the Bible is based on his own bias rather than on any substantive arguments.
Even if we ignore the extensive history of editing in the Bible, Shamoun must prove that the Bible, including 2 Samuel, is a reliable source for historical information. This would be an uphill task as there is plenty of evidence of historical errors in the Bible (e.g., exaggerations on the number of Israelites that left Egypt during the Exodus).
Moving on, Shamoun tried to be clever and attempted to deconstruct the Quranic story based on his ignorance and poor logic. He claimed that:
“[o]bviously, two people would think twice before breaking into the chamber of the king to resolve an issue, especially when they are two disputants!”
Actually, what is “obvious” is Shamoun’s inconsistency and intellectual dishonesty. While heavily emphasizing how the “earliest” commentators interpreted the story vis a vis David’s unknown error (which will be debunked later), Shamoun mysteriously chose to ignore what these same commentators said about the identity of the “disputants”. Here are what some of the tafsirs (the same ones Shamoun uses all too often) say about the identity of the two disputants:
Tafsir Al-Jalalayn: “[t]hese two were angels who had come in the form of two disputants between whom there was supposed to have occurred the situation mentioned…”
Tafsir Ibn Abbas: “They) i.e. the two angels who entered in on David (said: Be not afraid (We are) two litigants…”
This is also mentioned by Muhammad Asad (whom Shamoun appealed to in his rant) as well. Asad stated that:
“[a]ccording to most of the commentators, the two “litigants” who suddenly appeared before David were angels sent to bring home to him his sin. It is possible, however, to see in their appearance an allegory of David’s own realization of having sinned: voices of his own conscience which at last “surmounted the walls” of the passion that had blinded him for a time.”
Examples of some of the “earlier” commentaries that identified the disputants as angels are those of Hud ibn Muhakkam and Muqatil in Sulayman. In these commentaries, the angels were sent to “…rescue [David] from his sin…”
So, since the disputants were most likely angels according to the same commentators that Shamoun relied on when they suit his purpose, there is no reason to wonder how they were able to enter upon David’s private chambers despite it being heavily guarded. It seems that Shamoun is the one who needs a “healthy dose of common sense”, not to mention a healthy dose of consistency and honesty. Nevertheless, we will briefly revisit this issue later in the article (see Appendix A) to further discuss the identity of the disputants, insha’Allah.
Part 2 – Shamoun’s Evidence
Let us now analyze Shamoun’s evidence the early Muslims believed in the Biblical story. He began with the following comment:
“…it may surprise our readers to know that the early Muslim expositors had no problem admitting that this Quranic story refers to David and Bathsheba.”
Actually, it is not surprising at all as this was already noted in the original article. However, as we will shortly see (see Part 3), the “earliest” commentators did not actually completely agree with the Biblical story. They simply referred to it in different versions but with one major omission.
Shamoun then preceded to quote a lengthy narrative from The History of Al-Tabari, but this version clearly shows that David (peace be upon him) did NOT have sexual intercourse with Bathsheba, but only married her after Uriah’s death:
“David married Uriah’s wife. When she came to him, she had been with him only a short time when God sent two angels, in human form, who requested admission to his presence.”
Notice also how Tabari’s version also refutes Shamoun’s puerile analysis of how the disputants (whom he assumed were humans) were able to enter David’s private chamber (i.e., Tabari’s version indicates that they were angels).
But it gets worse for Shamoun. After years of appealing to Tabari’s History (and knowing full well that Muslims regard the stories mentioned therein to be unreliable), Shamoun must have realized that there are two works for which Tabari is famous for: his History, but also his tafsir! Mysteriously, Shamoun did not mention the latter at all! So, what did Tabari say about the story of David/Bathsheba/Uriah in his tafsir? When discussing the story, Tabari used the term “qila” or “it is said”, which Al-Hafiz al-Iraqi (d. 806/1403) explained was used:
“…to relate a report that is either weak or wherein there is doubt…”
Khaleel Mohammed explains that this phrase is:
“…known among hadith specialists as sighat al-tamrid (structure of deficiency).”
So, when Tabari mentioned the story in his commentary, he was indicating that it was doubtful.
But it gets even worse for Shamoun! Let us return to his appeal to Tabari’s History, because even that fails for the exact same reason. In the History, Tabari began the story of David with “[i]t is mentioned…” Thus, by using the “structure of deficiency”, Tabari was indicating that the story was doubtful! Furthermore, Syed Maududi cited Tabari as relating the following from Ibn Abbas:
“[t]he only thing that the Prophet David did was that he expressed his desire before the woman’s husband that he should give up his wife for him.”
Thus, Tabari did not actually believe in the different stories about David, Bathsheba, and Uriah.
But we’re still not done yet! There are also other differences between Tabari’s version (besides the omission of the adultery charge) and the Biblical version (of course, it is not surprising that the Bible has numerous plot holes). First, the latter does not mention Satan coming in the form of a golden dove. The bird version of the story is found in the Talmud, except in this version, David shot the bird with an arrow (whereas in Tabari’s version, David tried to catch the bird but failed). The Talmud states that:
“Bathsheba was shampooing her head behind a beehive, which concealed her from sight. Satan came and appeared to David as a bird. David shot an arrow at the bird, the arrow severed the beehive, Bathsheba was exposed, and David saw her.”
Another problem is that Tabari’s version from the History directly contradicts the Quran. Here they are side by side for comparison (emphasis ours):
“Indeed this, my brother, has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe; so he said, ‘Entrust her to me,’ and he overpowered me in speech.” [David] said, “He has certainly wronged you in demanding your ewe [in addition] to his ewes. And indeed, many associates oppress one another, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they.” And David became certain that We had tried him, and he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah].”
|Tabari’s History –
“David said, “Tell me your story.” One of them said: “Lo! This brother of mine has ninety-nine ewes while I have one ewe. He wants to take my ewe to round out his to one hundred.”
David then said to the other one, “What do you have to say?” The other replied, “I have ninety-nine ewes, and this brother of mine has one ewe, and I want to take it from him to complete my ewes to one hundred.””
While the Quran states that David failed to listen to both disputants before making a judgment (i.e., he made a hasty judgment after hearing the view of the first disputant), Tabari’s story has him listen to both. Based on this contradiction alone, we can immediately reject the version given by Tabari. End of story!
The same problems emerge in the version given by Al-Kisa’i. Again, here are the versions side by side (emphasis ours):
“[David] said, “He has certainly wronged you in demanding your ewe [in addition] to his ewes. And indeed, many associates oppress one another, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they.” And David became certain that We had tried him, and he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah].””
“David grew angry and said, ” Verily he hath wronged thee in demanding thine ewe as an addition to his own sheep: and many of them who are concerned together in business wrong one another, as your brother has wronged you” (38:25).
“O prophet of God,” said Michael, “you have not given a just decision, for he may do wrong who is in no partnership.”
David grew furious at these words and, taking a rod in his hand, said, “I shall lash you with this rod.”
But the rod cried out from David’s hand, saying, “If this be your sentence upon a transgressor, then you are a transgressor, O David!”
Michael smiled and said, “You deserve the rod more than I do, O David, for you decide for the plaintiff before you hear the defendant.” So saying, the two of them lept up, and crashing through the roof, departed as they had entered. And David perceived that we had tried him by this parable, and he asked pardon of his Lord: and he fell down and bowed himself, and repented (38:25).”
Like Tabari’s version, Al-Kisa’i’s version also failed to mention that David slept with Bathsheba while Uriah was still alive. He only did so after Uriah was killed. Second, Al-Kisa’i also identified the disputants as angels, specifically Gabriel and Michael. The only difference between the versions of Al-Kisa’i and Tabari was that the former does not contradict the Quran vis a vis David’s hasty judgment between the two disputants. However, it DOES contradict the Quran in another way. Whereas the Quran says that David immediately realized his mistake, the version of Al-Kisa’i states that David became angry at the second disputant and threatened to lash him after he complained! So just like Tabari’s version, we can reject Al-Kisa’i’s version because it contradicts the Quran.
Shamoun then appealed to the “Tafsir of Ibn Abbas”, which states that verses 21-25 in Surah Sad refer to the Bathsheba incident. But as Shamoun himself notes, the tafsir has only been “ascribed to Ibn Abbas” and there is no evidence that Ibn Abbas actually said this. Moreover, as with the other tafsirs, this one also does not mention any adulterous action on the part of David (peace be upon him).
As for the tafsir for Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:38, as ascribed to Ibn Abbas, it clearly states that there were different views (though it seems to indicate that the second view was weak due to the use of the “structure of deficiency”) as to what was being referenced (emphasis ours):
“…the reference here is to David and his marriage to the wife of Uriya; and it is also said that this refers to the marriage of Solomon with Balqis (and the commandment of Allah is certain destiny) the decree of Allah must necessarily take place.”
So, even in this source there was a difference of opinion among the commentators, with some equating the verse to the story of David and Bathsheba (which is actually not explicitly mentioned at all in the Quran), while others equated it with Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, whose story is found in the Quran. There was no uniformity in these interpretations, and just because one source associated the verse with the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba does not mean Muslims are obligated to believe in it. Moreover, it again must be emphasized that the “tafsir of Ibn Abbas” cannot always be attributed to him. In fact, we have authentic statements from Ibn Abbas that prove that Muslims should not rely on the Bible or any other Jewish/Christian stories:
“Narrated Ubaidullah: Ibn `Abbas said, “Why do you ask the people of the scripture about anything while your Book (Qur’an) which has been revealed to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) is newer and the latest? You read it pure, undistorted and unchanged, and Allah has told you that the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) changed their scripture and distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their own hands and said, ‘It is from Allah,’ to sell it for a little gain. Does not the knowledge which has come to you prevent you from asking them about anything? No, by Allah, we have never seen any man from them asking you regarding what has been revealed to you!””
Also, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi related in his commentary on Surah Sad a saying of Ibn Abbas from Hakim’s Mustadrak “with sound chains of authority”. Ibn Abbas specifically mentioned that David’s mistake was in his “self-congratulatory statement” that not a moment went by in his house that someone in his family was not engaged in worshiping Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He), even though Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) reminded him that this was due to His favor. When the disputants barged in on David (peace be upon him), he was forced to interrupt the worship of Allah. Thus, he realized his mistake in boasting about the righteousness of his family.
Shamoun then appealed to the Tafsir Al-Jalalayn. But once again, it says nothing about David committing adultery, only that he had desired another man’s wife and had married her himself. The alleged error, then, was not in committing adultery, but taking a woman in lawful marriage, but who was already previously married to someone else. Moreover, the tafsir says nothing about Uriah or Bathsheba, or the former’s murder.
Next, Shamoun quoted from Muhammad Asad’s commentary, which actually provides the strongest evidence against him. Shamoun shoots himself in the foot because Asad never said that David (peace be upon him) committed adultery. In fact, Asad clearly stated that Muslims have always rejected the allegation of adultery:
“…[t]his story agrees more or less with the Old Testament, which gives the woman’s name as Bathsheba (2 Samuel xi), barring the biblical allegation that David committed adultery with her before Uriah’s death (ibid. xi. 4-5) – an allegation which has always been rejected by Muslims as highly offensive and slanderous…”
Asad also pointed out that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) threatened to flog any person who narrated this story. Shamoun again tried to be clever and twisted what was said to his liking but failed miserably once again. He stated:
“[n]ow a Muslim may claim that according to Asad, Ali swore to flog anyone who passed this story on, which indicates that the first Muslims rejected such stories. On the contrary, Asad doesn’t say that Ali rejected the story wholesale, but simply rejected the story as narrated by the story-tellers.”
This is another example of how Shamoun changes the meaning based on his whims. We have seen this behavior previously in the Al-Isra series. First, the story “as narrated by the story-tellers” was precisely that David had committed a major sin which included having Uriah killed and then marrying his wife. The threat also applied to anyone who accused David of adultery. As a matter of fact, since Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) threatened to flog anyone who narrated the story, it is strong proof that early Muslims completely rejected the story. As Asad pointed out, the threat of flogging was (emphasis ours):
“…indirectly recalling the Qur’anic ordinance, in 24:4, which stipulates flogging with eighty stripes for accusing ordinary persons of adultery without legal proof.”
Moreover, as the scholar Ali Ibn Omar al-Batnuni explained further, it was the entire story (including the bird incident, David’s plot against Uriah, and his marriage to Bathsheba) that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) banned. After relating that story, al-Batnuni related the narration from Sai’d Ibn al-Musayyab that Ali threatened anyone who told the story.
Furthermore, Dr. Ali M. Sallabi explained in his biography of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that (emphasis ours):
“[t]he innovation of the storytellers appeared during the time of’ Ali, and it was denounced by the Companions and the Tabi’oon. Muhammad ibn Waddah narrated that Moosa ibn Mu’awiyah said: “Ibn Mahdi narrated to us from Sufyan from Ubaydullah ibn Nafi that he said: ‘Stories were not told at the time of the Prophet (g) or the time of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. The first time stories were told was during the turmoil (the murder of ‘Uthman).”‘
The storytellers were preachers who held gatherings for preaching in competition with the gatherings of knowledge. They exhorted the people by telling stories, tales narrated from Jewish sources, and so on which had no basis or were fabricated, or were beyond the comprehension of the masses. Amir al-Mu’mineen ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib banned them because they started telling the people about weird things and ambiguous matters, and things that were beyond their comprehension and of which they had no knowledge.”
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the following hadith related by the famous scholar Ibn al-Jawzi (emphasis ours):
“Umar b. al-Khattab once took some excerpts from the Torah to the Prophet whereupon the latter responded: “Rid yourself of them, Umar, especially in view of the ridiculous things that are known in Judaism such as their teachings that David sent Uriah out in order that he might be killed… [and] some people who introduced into religion that which did not belong there told stories.”
A similar narration was narrated by Imam Ahmad except that the part about David and Uriah was omitted:
“It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) with some written material he had got from one of the people of the Book. He read it to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and he got angry and said: “Are you confused (about your religion), O son of al-Khattaab? By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I have brought it (the message of Islam) to you clear and pure. Do not ask them about anything, lest they tell you something true and you disbelieve it, or they tell you something false and you believe it. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Moosa were alive, he would have no option but to follow me.””
Thus, since the first generation of Muslims did not allow this and other Isra’iliyat stories, whether from the Torah or any other source, to be told in any form, and rejected them as fabrications, it refutes what any later scholars said, including the “earliest” commentators. Shamoun’s incomplete research causes him to crash and burn yet again. Nevertheless, for completeness, let us analyze the “earliest expositors” and how they related the story.
Part 3 – David’s Error and the “Earliest” Commentators
It is certainly true that some of the “earliest” commentators did refer to one version or another of the David-Bathsheba story. However, they all omitted the adultery charge, though some mentioned in one way or another that he deliberately put Uriah in the frontlines so he could be killed. But even in the case of Uriah, there was no uniformity. As Isaac Hasson explains (emphasis ours):
“Other versions of the story maintain that Bathsheba was divorced or widowed and Uriah was resurrected for a moment to tell David that he forgave him, not for sending him to his death, but for marrying his widow.”
So, even in this case, the “earliest” commentators did not believe in the Biblical story per se, though they believed that David had committed a major sin (i.e., the murder of Uriah and desiring his wife). In fact, the sources that these commentators relied on did not usually include the Bible itself, but rather the midrash (interpretations of the Bible) and haggada (“pious Jewish legends”). This explains the similarity of the story of David in the early commentaries to the version in the Talmud (i.e., David chasing a bird). As Hasson observes (emphasis ours):
“Muslim story-tellers (qussas, sing. qass) accepted these legends and rejected the older image of David from the Book of Samuel and Kings, where he is charged with adultery and murder.”
Also, it is important to note that none of the versions in the commentaries originated with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As Khaleel Mohammed notes in his book David in the Muslim Tradition: The Bathsheba Affair, the tafsirs from this “formative period”:
“…often consisted of views ascribed to older authorities, although, in its earliest stage, the time of the Prophet and his Companions, Muhammad is not provided as provenance for much of the material.”
So, as it turns out, Shamoun’s boast that the “earliest Quranic expositors” believed that “David did sleep with Bathsheba [note: this is incorrect] and that Uriah was murdered at the orders of David” is just more fluff from a man who is all too happy to pat himself on the back and seems to really enjoy the sound of his own voice! The reality is that these “earliest” commentators simply repeated the Isra’iliyat stories in different versions, none of which carried the authority of being related by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or his Companions. Moreover, they still did NOT relate the story as found in the Bible anyway. Let us have a moment of silence for the untimely demise of another one of Shamoun’s pathetic pet theories. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
Part 4 – Other Commentaries
Let us look at what other commentaries have said on this subject. We have seen that many of the “earliest” ones mentioned the story of Bathsheba, with the caveat that there was no adultery involved, which is clearly at odds with the Biblical version. Thus, even the “earliest” commentators did not agree with the Bible, which refutes the claim that they had no problems using the Bible or any other Jewish or Christian source for their information. They obviously did. So, let us now look at what some of the more well-known commentaries said on the matter.
Ibn Kathir –
In his commentary on the verses of the disputants in Surah Sad, Ibn Kathir stated (emphasis ours):
“…the scholars of Tafsir mention a story which is mostly based upon Isra’iliyat narrations. Nothing has been reported about this from the Infallible Prophet that we could accept as true. But Ibn Abi Hatim narrated a Hadith whose chain of narration cannot be regarded as Sahih because it is reported by Yazid Ar-Raqashi from Anas, may Allah be pleased with him. Although Yazid was one of the righteous, his Hadiths are regarded as weak by the Imams. So, it is better to speak briefly of this story and refer knowledge of it to Allah, may He be exalted. For the Qur’an is true and what it contains is also true.”
So, the story of David/Bathsheba/Uriah as related by some of the commentators was simply not reliable, as it was based Jewish and Christian stories and did NOT originate from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Tabari also considered the story to be unreliable.
Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani –
In his commentary on the story of the disputants, Mufti Usmani states that (emphasis ours):
“[t]he Holy Qur’an has not mentioned the nature of [David’s] mistake. There are many different versions of this event given by different exegetes. The story mentioned in the Bible that Dawud had committed adultery with the wife of his army chief [note – the Bible does not state that Uriah was the army chief] is too absurd to be believable. […] It appears that Allah Ta’ala has not deemed it proper for the high station of a prophet to disclose the nature of his mistake in express terms after he has duly repented on it. […] The lesson to be learnt from the story is that, instead of being adamant on one’s mistake one should accept it and repent for it, even though he is a king or a prophet. This lesson is enough for the purpose of seeking guidance from the Holy Qur’an rather than being involved in discovering untold details of the story.”
Mufti Muhammad Madani –
In his commentary, Mufti Madani explains that:
“Allah began the…discussion with the words, ‘Be patient with all they say and remember our slave David.’ This denotes that the incident of Sayyidina Dawud is one in which patience was required. Therefore, an analysis of the incident should reveal aspects of patience. The ahadith provide no further details of the incident to highlight such aspects. However, judging from the Qur’anic verses, it becomes evident that the two persons came to Sayyidina Dawud during a time that he was engaged in Ibadah (worship). It was not a time for hearing cases. In addition to this, they entered his sanctuary in a most unusual manner… […]
Sayyidina Dawud listened only to the plea of the plaintiff. He did not ask the defendant for his side of the story, which is contrary to the practice of law, and seems to denote bias.”
When referring specifically to the Bathsheba story, Mufti Madani described it as “defamatory to the high status of the Prophet [David]” and a “fallacious lie, which is from the narrations of the Bani Isra’il (Isra’iliyat).
Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi –
In his commentary, Maulana Shafi stated that:
“…some investigative and cautious commentators have said in their explanation that Allah Ta’ala has not given a detailed description of this slip and test relating to this great prophet of His due to some particular wise consideration. Hence, we too should not go about pursuing it, and whatever has been mentioned in the noble Qur’an should be precisely what we should believe in.”
Referring to the Bathsheba story, Maulana Shafi stated that it was a “vulgar yarn”. He also noted that the Muslim commentators who related it still cut-out the adultery charge against David (peace be upon him):
“It appears that someone looked at the Judaic narrative, took out the allegation of adultery, and did an edit-copy-paste job while explaining the above mentioned verses of the noble Qur’an – although, this book of Samuel itself is inherently baseless, while this narrative has the status of absolute lie and fabrication. For this reason, all authentic commentators have sternly rejected it.”
He then proceeded to list several scholars who rejected the story completely. These include (among many others):
- Ibn Kathir
- Ibn Jawzi
- Abu Saud
- Qadi Iyad
- Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi
- Ibn Hazm
- Ahmad Ibn Nasr
- Abu Tammam
And when we consider that the “earliest expositors” did not believe in the Biblical story anyway (since they omitted the adultery charge), there is no evidence for any source from any period of Islamic history that would force Muslims to believe in the Biblical slander against David (peace be upon him).
Finally, Maulana Shafi also noted regarding whether the story of the disputants was real or hypothetical that:
“[i]t has been unanimously agreed upon in these explanations that this litigation was not hypothetical. In fact, it was real and the form of the litigation had nothing to do with the test or slip of Sayyidina Dawud. Contrary to this, many commentators have explained it in a manner that postulates that parties to this dispute were not human beings. Rather, they were angels, and Allah Ta’ala had sent them to present such a simulated form of litigation as would alert Sayyidina Dawud to his slip.”
For a brief discussion on the merits of the identification of the disputants as either “humans” or “angels”, see Appendix A.
Part 5 – Answers to Shamoun’s Questions
After presenting his poor case for David’s sins in the Islamic sources, Shamoun again tried to be clever by posing “two” questions (he actually posed three questions) to Muslims (it is assumed that Shamoun hoped to catch unsuspecting Muslims off-guard):
- What was the reason for David repenting after his encounter with two disputants?
- How does their story affect David’s moral standing before God?
- Since the Quran agrees that Solomon is David’s son, who then is Solomon’s mother?
Let us now answer these questions, insha’Allah.
What was the reason for David repenting after his encounter with two disputants?
The answer depends on whether the questioner has an a priori assumption that David must have sinned vis a vis Bathsheba and Uriah, which obviously is Shamoun’s intention. Of course, we have already shown that this assumption is unwarranted. By looking at the immediate context of Surah Sad, verses 21–25, we can come up with an easy answer: David (peace be upon him) was repenting of making a hasty judgement in the case of the two disputants. This is evident from verses 22-24 (emphasis ours):
“When they entered upon David and he was alarmed by them? They said, “Fear not. [We are] two adversaries, one of whom has wronged the other, so judge between us with truth and do not exceed [it] and guide us to the sound path.
Indeed this, my brother, has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe; so he said, ‘Entrust her to me,’ and he overpowered me in speech.”
[David] said, “He has certainly wronged you in demanding your ewe [in addition] to his ewes. And indeed, many associates oppress one another, except for those who believe and do righteous deeds – and few are they.” And David became certain that We had tried him, and he asked forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing [in prostration] and turned in repentance [to Allah].”
As we can see, David (peace be upon him) immediately issued a judgment without hearing both sides despite being warned to do so. After the weaker man gave his side of the story, David (peace be upon him) pronounced a judgement instead of listening to the other man’s side of the dispute. In fact, verse 26 recalls Allah’s (Glorified and Exalted be He) guidance to David (peace be upon him) to “judge between the people in truth”:
“[We said], “O David, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah.” Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account.”
If the sin had something to do with taking Bathsheba as his wife by having Uriah killed in battle, it wouldn’t make sense for verse 26 to state that David should “judge between the people in truth”, since David would not have been the judge but one of the disputants. Moreover, verse 23 proves that there was a disagreement between the disputants, which was won by the stronger of the two via his “speech” (emphasis ours):
“Indeed this, my brother, has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe; so he said, ‘Entrust her to me,’ and he overpowered me in speech.””
In the translation of A.J. Arberry, the last part is rendered “and he overcame me in the argument”. Again, this would not make sense in light of the Bathsheba story, either as the Bible told it or as the “earliest expositors” told it. In both stories, the dispute between David and Uriah ended with the killing of the latter. But the Quran says that the dispute was won by one person overpowering the other in “speech” or “argument”. This could mean that the man used his status to force the weaker man to give up his claim. Even if we assume that this was just a parable for David and Uriah’s dispute concerning Bathsheba, the context of the verse would simply show that David used his status as king to persuade Uriah, a lowly soldier, to give up Bathsheba. This was the view of scholars like Abu Bakr Al-Jassas, Tabari, and others. According to this view, there was no adultery and no killing; only a powerful ruler using his political clout to make a demand from one of his subjects. Either way, it doesn’t look good for Shamoun and his Biblical slander against David (peace be upon him).
How does their story affect David’s moral standing before God?
This question is also very easy to answer. As Surah Sad, verse 24 states:
“So We forgave him that; and indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return.”
As Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) Himself states, David has been forgiven for his mistake, and his “moral standing” is one of “nearness” to Him.
Since the Quran agrees that Solomon is David’s son, who then is Solomon’s mother?
We see here Shamoun trying very hard to set the pieces to his liking, and then declaring victory. Unfortunately, this pathetic attempt is bound to fail, insha’Allah. The answer to the question is that it does not matter who Solomon’s mother was. Even if she was Bathsheba, we have already seen that in Islamic sources, including the “earliest expositors” (whom Shamoun seems to have a man-crush on), there was no adultery involved. And when we consider the immediate context of Surah Sad, verses 21–25, even if the Uriah episode had any historical basis, the Quran shows that it amounted to nothing more than a verbal dispute between David and Uriah as to who would marry Bathsheba. Again, no acts of adultery or murder need to be assumed a priori.
Of course, Shamoun unsurprisingly attempted to use his patented infantile logic to try to box Muslims in. He offers the following nugget of pure genius (we use that term lightly):
“By acknowledging that Solomon is David’s son, the Quran has no choice but to agree with the biblical account that Bathsheba was his mother. That is unless, of course, Muslims want to claim that Solomon had no mother! Either that or the Muslims must claim that Bathsheba wasn’t Solomon’s mother, or that Bathsheba and David were legitimately married without having committed adultery. But to opt for the latter view, one must still answer question 1.”
So let’s dissect Shamoun’s premises. We have already seen that there is no problem in assuming that Solomon’s mother was a woman named Bathsheba. Muslims are under no obligation to believe this was the same Bathsheba as the one whom the Biblical David committed adultery with (or forced her to; see Appendix B).
Second, who said that the Biblical Bathsheba is the only possible option? Whatever the name of Solomon’s mother was, there is no evidence in the authentic Islamic sources that she had married Solomon’s father under criminal circumstances.
Third, the final option (that David and “Bathsheba/Bathshua”, or whatever her name was, were legitimately married) is indeed the most logical choice as there is no evidence from the authentic sources that the marriage was illegitimate. Even the “earliest expositors” denied any adulterous behavior, though they indicated that David wanted Uriah out of the way and so sent him on a dangerous military expedition. But this interpretation is unnecessary anyway since the context of the Quranic story does not support it.
Before closing this part, let us again demonstrate that Shamoun is a pseudoscholar who loves to pat himself on the back (undeservedly). He states that:
“[t]hese factors prove that the Quran is an incomplete and imperfect record.”
One cannot help but laugh at such silly polemics. What is Shamoun’s definition of a “complete” and “perfect” record? What is the standard? Is the Quran obligated to provide every single detail about a prophet’s life? Of course not. That would be like someone asking why the Bible (since it goes into such irrelevant detail about the lives of the prophets) does not tell us the name of Abraham or David’s mothers (peace be upon them). Or what is the name of the Gentile woman who begged Jesus (peace be upon him) to help her daughter? Better yet, what was Abraham’s favorite color? How tall was he? What color were his eyes? Why doesn’t the “inspired” word of God tell us?
What Shamoun fails to understand is that the moral of David’s story as told in the Quran is one of turning to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) in repentance, as He is the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate. He forgives all sins, from minor ones to the major ones (e.g., shirk). Whatever mistake David (peace be upon him) committed, he repented of it and was forgiven. What is certain is that he did not commit a horrible crime such as the one the Bible slanders him with, as there is no evidence for this from the authentic Islamic sources.
Also, the Biblical episode makes no sense as it shows a “God” who is inconsistent in dispensing justice. When the law required David’s execution for adultery and murder, God decided to forgo the requisite punishment and instead killed David’s innocent son. Such a miscarriage of justice is unbecoming of God’s justice. Ironically, after the death of the innocent child, David was permitted to have sexual intercourse with Bathsheba again!
We have analyzed Shamoun’s attempt to force the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba into the Islamic discourse and shown it to be untenable. We have seen that the appeal to the “earliest expositors” failed spectacularly since they did not even believe in the Biblical charge of adultery and related different versions of the rest of the story, none of which originated from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in authentic chains. Shamoun’s appeals to Tabari and Al-Kisa’i also failed to prove that Muslims must believe in the Biblical story. The versions given by Tabari and Al-Kisa’i, as those given by the likes of Muqatil ibn Sulayman and other commentators, are not based on authentic narrations, and more importantly, clearly contradict the Quran. We have also seen that there is nothing in the Quranic story of the disputants that fits in with the Biblical narrative. Even if we hypothetically assume a dispute between David (peace be upon him) and Uriah, the context of Surah Sad indicates that there was only a verbal dispute over Bathsheba, and there was no adultery and no murder involved. Finally, we have seen numerous examples of commentaries from respected scholars which demonstrate that the Biblical story is without any strong foundation and should be rejected by faithful Muslims. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
Appendix A – The Disputants: Angels or Humans?
In this section, we will briefly discuss the proposed identities of the two disputants in Surah Sad, verses 21–25. As mentioned above, the scholars of Islam proposed that they were either human beings or angels.
First, as The Study Quran observes:
“[i]t…appears to be as a result of the effort to connect this verse to the story of Bathsheba that the disputants are said to be angels in the form of human beings, since it would then constitute a message coming directly from God.”
Thus, by and large, the angel theory has been proposed in connection with the Bathsheba story. On the surface, that would appear to render this theory null and void, since the Bathsheba story is unreliable and does not fit into the context. However, that may not necessarily be the case. For example, if God wanted to test David’s patience and ability to judge fairly, He could have sent angels for that very reason. There is no logical reason to assume that the disputants could have been angels only if the point was to make David (peace be upon him) realize how horrible his dealings with Bathsheba and Uriah were.
For his part, Shamoun tried to establish using his typical childish logic that the disputants were humans, and then preceded to try to poke holes in the story. He claimed that:
“…two people would think twice before breaking into the chamber of the king to resolve an issue especially when they are two disputants! It is hard to imagine that the poor one could ever get the rich one to go to the king with him in the first place, even in a regular audience before the king, let alone breaking in illegally.”
But this pathetic attempt at criticizing the Quranic story once again exposes Shamoun’s bias and baseless assumptions. The reality is that whether these disputants were angels or humans, the context of the story in the Quran shows that they were sent to test David (peace be upon him). As Maulana Shafi observed in his commentary on verse 24 (“And David became certain that We had tried him”):
“[i]f the form of the litigation is taken to be a similitude of the slip of Sayyidina Dawud, then, the occurring of such a thought is fairly obvious. And if the form of the litigation has nothing to do with it, even then, the overall condition of the parties involved was enough to show that the two of them have been sent by way of a test.”
He also observes that:
“[t]he mysterious conduct of the two disputants was betraying that it was an event of some extraordinary nature. Sayyidina Dawud had no difficulty in seeing through it, that they had come as sent from Allah and their objective was to test him.”
While he seemed to favor the angel interpretation, Maulana Shafi ended the discussion by saying what any cautious and faithful commentator would say: “Allah knows best”.
So, when it comes to the question of the identity of the disputants, we will follow the example of our righteous scholars and say that Allah knows best.
Appendix B – Did the Biblical David Rape Bathsheba?
There is another issue we can take with the Biblical story. It is already bad enough that the Biblical David was able to escape the prescribed punishment for adultery (i.e., death by stoning) and murder and still allowed to keep Bathsheba as his wife and have another son with her, after the first son was unjustly stricken by God and died as a way to punish David.
In traditional Christian discussions on the story, Bathsheba has usually been accused of being a “co-conspirator or at least partly to blame” for the whole sordid affair. But according to Christian scholar Richard M. Davidson (Andrews University Theological Seminary), there is evidence in the text that Bathsheba was a victim of David’s “power rape”. For example, he notes that David had sent messengers to Bathsheba and essentially “took her”. Bathsheba’s response to the messengers was to obey the command of the king (2 Samuel 11:4 states that “she came to him”, just like Uriah also came to David upon request in 2 Samuel 11:7). There was no choice in the matter. Based on this and other evidence, Davidson concludes that Bathsheba was a victim of David’s “power, gender, and violence”.
If this interpretation is correct, it makes the ending of the story even more egregious. Bathsheba was victimized by the king, forced into having sexual intercourse with him, hearing of her husband’s death, being “harvested” by her rapist (Davidson’s translation), seeing her child die as a way of “punishing” her rapist, and being married to her rapist and the murderer of her husband! While the text seems to show that God squarely put the blame on David for the sins of rape, adultery, and murder, it also indicates that Bathsheba was not actually compensated or given a choice, besides being giving the “honor” of becoming the mother of the next king of Israel and the “progenitor of the Messiah” (one wonders why the first child could not have served that purpose). Was Bathsheba even given a choice in the matter? Did she even want to marry the king, the man who forced her into the situation she now found herself in? The Bible curiously leaves such details out. However, based on the evidence presented by Davidson, what we can glean from the story is that David committed three crimes: rape, adultery, and murder, and yet was conveniently spared the prescribed punishment for all three crimes: death. Instead, an innocent child was killed by God to punish his father, in violation of Deuteronomy 24:16:
“Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”
Ironically, David himself violated this law later in his reign, when he allowed the Gibeonites to execute Saul’s sons as vengeance for Saul’s alleged crimes against them (2 Samuel 21:1–14), and God even seemed to approve it (2 Samuel 21:14). It seems that the law only applied to everyone else, but not David! This further proves that the Bible cannot be the “inspired” word of God.
And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!
 Isaac Hasson, “David”, in Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Vol. 1, ed. Jane D. McAuliffe (Leiden: Brill, 2001), p. 496.
 Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (New York: FreePress, 2006), p. 94.
 Herbert M. Wolf and Robert D. Holmstedt, “1–2 Samuel”, in The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, eds. Gary M. Burge and Andrew E. Hill (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2012), p. 257.
 Ibid., p. 259.
 Ibid., p. 260.
 Steven L. McKenzie, Introduction to the Historical Books: Strategies for Reading (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), p. 88.
 Ibid., p. 90.
However, in an earlier book, McKenzie had surmised that despite being a “later addition”, the story “may be based on a historical event” (Steven L. McKenzie, King David: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 156).
Interestingly, Lederman also associates the fight between David and Goliath with Greek mythology, especially the Iliad, basing this on the description of Goliath’s armor. He states that Goliath’s armor:
“…more closely resembles the armor worn by Achilles in the Iliad than battle dress worn by Philistines as depicted on Egyptian monuments.”
Azzan Yadin confirms this parallel between later Greek and Mesopotamian armor and the armor of Goliath. He states:
“Archaeological evidence concerning the Philistines does not accord with the biblical description of Goliath. Goliath’s armor does not fit what is known of Philistine armor from other sources… the head gear is unlike the distinctive feathered helmets of the Egyptian reliefs at Medinet Habu; Goliath’s chain mail is Mesopotamian-Syrian; and the great shield, requiring a shield bearer, is unlike the small round shields of the Philistines portrayed in Egyptian reliefs. In light of this evidence, Galling concludes that the author of the episode does not provide a historically accurate portrayal of Philistine battle-gear, rather represents an electric combination of offensive and defensive gear drawn from various types of armor” (Azzan Yadin, “Goliath’s Armor and Israelite Collective Memory”, Vetus Testamentum, 14, no. 3 (2004), 375-376, https://berlinarchaeology.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/yadin-goliaths-armor.pdf).
Both Lederman and Yadin also note that Goliath’s death was attributed to another Israelite soldier (Elhanan) in 2 Samuel 21:9, an inconsistency in the Biblical narrative that we also noted in the original article on the Biblical and Quranic versions of David.
 Erin E. Fleming, “The Politics Of Sexuality In The Story Of King David.” PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 2013, pp. 261-262, https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/bitstream/handle/1774.2/37051/FLEMING-DISSERTATION-2013.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
 See Exodus 12:37, which claims that 600,000 Israelite men left Egypt. This would mean that there could have been 2 million people in total leaving Egypt. This is impossible, and the idea that 2 million people were marching across the desert is too preposterous to believe. Similar exaggerations are found throughout the Bible.
 Khaleel Mohammed, David in the Muslim Tradition: The Bathsheba Affair (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015), p. 41.
 Ibid., p. 57.
 Sanhedrin 107a, https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.107a.5?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en.
 Surah An-Naml, 27:22-44
 Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Ma’ariful Qur’an: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Qur’an, Vol. 7, trans. Muhammad Shamim (Karachi, Pakistan: Maktaba-e-Darul-‘Uloom, 2010), pp. 508.
 Ibid., pp. 507-508.
 This 5-part series showed how Shamoun tried to deliberately misquote both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars on the meaning of the Arabic word “masjid” and on the identification of Masjid Al-Aqsa as the Temple Mount compound in Surah Isra, 17:1.
See especially Part 3-C for examples of Shamoun’s reading comprehension problems and deliberate twisting of the scholarly sources I cited in the earlier articles.
 Ali Ibn Omar al-Batnuni, Women’s Deceit, trans. Mohammed Jiyad (Amman, Jordan: al-Karmal Publishing House, 2011), p. 53, https://www.mtholyoke.edu/projects/lrc/arabic/women_deceit/p37_p57.html.
Al-Thalabi related a similar narration, but from Al-Harit “the one-eyed” (Lives of the Prophets, trans. William M. Brinner [Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2002], p. 472).
 Dr. Ali M. Sallabi. ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Vol. 1, trans. Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: International Islamic Publishing House, 2010), p. 463.
 Mohammed, op. cit., p. 108.
As stated by IslamQA, this hadith was classed as “hasan” (good) by Al-Albaani.
 No doubt Shamoun will attempt to counter this, but thankfully, brother Bassam Zawadi has already refuted the Christians on whether the Prophet allowed the Muslims to relate stories from the Jews and Christians: https://www.call-to-monotheism.com/does_the_prophet_permitting_us_to_narrate_from_the_jews_mean_that_he_held_their_torah_to_be_authoritative_.
 Hasson, op. cit., pp. 496-497.
 Ibid., p. 496.
 Ibid., p. 497.
 Ibid., p. 41.
Mohammed’s contention in the book was that there was a general shift away from relying on Isra’iliyat traditions. In the “formative period”, many commentators related the stories of the prophets from Jewish and Christian folklore, but later scholars denounced such blind reliance. However, as already noted, even those Muslims who related the Isra’iliyat traditions vis a vis David and Bathsheba did not relate the exact same story as found in the Bible. Therefore, the “earliest expositors” do not present any real problem for Muslims in regards to the unverified and unreliable stories in the Bible.
 Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, The Meanings of the Noble Qur’an With Explanatory Notes (Karachi, Pakistan: Maktaba Ma’ariful Quran, 2010), pp. 841-842.
 Mufti Muhammad Aashiq Elahi Muhajir Madani, Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran: Tafsir Anwarul Bayan, Vol. 4 (Karachi, Pakistan: Darul-Ishaat, 2005), p. 376.
 Ibid., 378.
 Maulana Shafi, op. cit., p. 505.
 Ibid., p. 506.
 Qadi Iyad does mention the story that David (peace be upon him) had married Uriah’s wife, but he also stated that:
“…one only has recourse to what the traditionists have written about him which has been taken from the People of the Book who have altered and changed things. Allah does not give a text for any of it and it has not come down to us in any sound hadith” (https://sunnahonline.com/library/stories-of-the-prophets/769-the-story-of-daw-ud-david).
Furthermore, he noted that other scholars warned against believing in the Uriah story:
“Ad-Da’wudi has said that there is no confirmed report about the story of Da’wud and Uriah (Uriya’) and that it is not permissible to suppose that a Prophet would want to kill another Muslim.”
 Ibid., p. 508.
As for the “slip”, Maulana Shafi seemed to believe it was with regard to David’s hasty judgement (p. 507), though he also left open other “probabilities” (p. 509). As for the story of Uriah being killed, he dismissed it outright as “incorrect” (Ibid.).
 Syed Maududi cited a few scholars who held this view, including Tabari, Zamakshari, Abu Bakr al-Jassas, and Ibn al-Arabi (http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/38/index.html#sdfootnote28sym).
 The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (New York: HarperOne, 2015), p. 1106.
 Maulana Shafi, op. cit., pp. 512-513.
 Ibid., p. 513.
Indeed, the mysterious and unusual circumstances of the story seem to indicate that this was some sort of supernatural event. If the disputants were humans, we can compare their experiences to those of the “companions of the cave” in Surah Kahf. The young men were miraculously kept alive inside the cave for a long period of time by the will of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He). In the same way, the two disputants could have been miraculously brought to David’s private chamber to test the great prophet.
 In my opinion, it seems that the angel interpretation best fits the narrative. However, it is also possible that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) sent two men to test His prophet. But again, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best. The identity of the disputants makes no difference to the moral of the story.
 Richard M. Davidson, “Did King David Rape Bathsheba? A Case Study in Narrative Theology”, Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17, no. 2 (Autumn 2006): 81, https://www.academia.edu/19874056/Did_King_David_Rape_Bathsheba_A_Case_Study_in_Narrative_Theology.
 Ibid., p. 87.