Uri’ah (light of Jehovah).
1. One of the thirty commanders of the thirty bands into which the Israelite army of David was divided. 1 Chron. 11:41; 2 Sam. 23:39. Like others of David’s officers he was a foreigner—a Hittite. His name, however, and his manner of speech, 2 Sam. 11:11, indicate that he had adopted the Jewish religion. He married Bath-sheba, a woman of extraordinary beauty, the daughter of Eliam—possibly the same as the son of Ahithophel, and one of his brother officers, 2 Sam. 23:34, and hence, perhaps, Uriah’s first acquaintance with Bath-sheba. It may be inferred from Nathan’s parable, 2 Sam. 12:3, that he was passionately devoted to his wife, and that their union was celebrated in Jerusalem as one of peculiar tenderness. In the first war with Ammon, b.c. 1035, he followed Joab to the siege, and with him remained encamped in the open field. 2 Sam. 12:11. He returned to Jerusalem, at an order from the king on the pretext of asking news of the war—really in the hope that his return to his wife might cover the shame of his own crime. The king met with an unexpected obstacle in the austere, soldier-like spirit which guided all Uriah’s conduct, and which gives us a high notion of the character and discipline of David’s officers. On the morning of the third day David sent him back to the camp with a letter containing the command to Joab to cause his destruction in the battle. The device of Joab was to observe the part of the wall of Rabbath-ammon where the greatest force of the besieged was congregated, and thither, as a kind of forlorn hope, to send Uriah. A sally took place. Uriah and the officers with him advanced as far as the gate of the city, and were there shot down by the archers on the wall. Just as Joab had forewarned the messenger, the king broke into a furious passion on hearing of the loss. The messenger, as instructed by Joab, calmly continued, and ended the story with the words, “Thy servant also, Uriah the Hittite, is dead.” In a moment David’s anger is appeased. It is one of the touching parts of the story that Uriah falls unconscious of his wife’s dishonor.