Right eyes & sin

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body one thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29).

These words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount have some intriguing connections with 2 Samuel 11 – the incident with David and Bathsheba.

The obvious connection is David’s own adultery. But less obvious is the link to the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 11 begins with the battle against the Ammonites and it is the war against Ammonites which frames chapters 10-12. It was the death of Nahash, the king of the Ammonites which sets it all going. What is intriguing is that Saul’s first victory since he had been anointed was against Nahash the Ammonite. And we read Nahash make this threat back in 1 Samuel 11:2: “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” Ammonites and ‘right eyes’ go together.

The other small curiosity is that it was through getting their father drunk that the younger daughter of Lot became pregnant and so bore a son named Ben-ammi, who became the father of the Ammonites (Genesis 19:34-38). The actions of Uriah the Hittite in 2 Samuel 11 are a stark contrast. Uriah is ‘made drunk’ through feasting at David’s table but he does not lie with his wife. He remains the faithful servant of the king (2 Samuel 11:10-13).

I’m not aware of any other ‘right eye’ references apart from this one in Zechariah 11:17

“Woe to my worthless shepherd,
    who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm
    and his right eye!
Let his arm be wholly withered,
    his right eye utterly blinded!”

More research could be done on the Ammonites by looking at the account of Jephthah’s defeat of them in Judges 11. Always agonising to read of that tragic account. But in light of the ‘adultery’ theme, it is noteworthy that Jephthah was himself ‘the son of a prostitute’ (Judges 11:1).

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