"the Scriptural story of David and Bathsheba"
David and Bathsheba (1562)
Public DomainDavid and Bathsheba (1562) - Credit: Jan Massys

According to 2 Samuel 11, King David spies the arrestingly beautiful Bathsheba bathing whilst he is walking on the roof of the royal palace, and desires her immediately. In order to seduce her, he sends her husband, Uriah the Hittite, off to war. When she becomes pregnant, he summons his rival back to sleep with Bathsheba again, hoping that he will believe the child to be his. When Uriah refuses to desert the army, David sends him to the front lines of battle where he inevitably meets his death. Her husband gone, Bathsheba marries the orchestrator of his demise.

This tapestry, with its evocations of seduction and betrayal, acts as both a reflection of Dimmesdale's conscience and a further torment to it.