Amnon Rapes Tamar
13 Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and David’s son Amnon was infatuated with her. 2 Amnon was frustrated to the point of making himself sick over his sister Tamar because she was a virgin, but it seemed impossible to do anything to her. 3 Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, a son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very shrewd man, 4 and he asked Amnon, “Why are you, the king’s son, so miserable every morning? Won’t you tell me?”
Amnon replied, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare a meal in my presence so I can watch and eat from her hand.’”
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my presence so I can eat from her hand.”
7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare a meal for him.”
8 Then Tamar went to his house while Amnon was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his presence, and baked them. 9 She brought the pan and set it down in front of him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Everyone leave me!” And everyone left him. 10 “Bring the meal to the bedroom,” Amnon told Tamar, “so I can eat from your hand.” Tamar took the cakes she had made and went to her brother Amnon’s bedroom. 11 When she brought them to him to eat, he grabbed her and said,[a] “Come sleep with me, my sister!”
12 “Don’t, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t disgrace me, for such a thing should never be done in Israel. Don’t commit this outrage! 13 Where could I ever go with my humiliation? And you—you would be like one of the outrageous fools in Israel! Please, speak to the king, for he won’t keep me from you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and because he was stronger than she was, he disgraced her by raping her.
15 So Amnon hated Tamar with such intensity that the hatred he hated her with was greater than the love he had loved her with. “Get out of here!” he said.
16 “No,” she cried,[b] “sending me away is much worse than the great wrong you’ve already done to me!”
But he refused to listen to her. 17 Instead, he called to the servant who waited on him, “Get this away from me, throw her out, and bolt the door behind her!” 18 Amnon’s servant threw her out and bolted the door behind her. Now Tamar was wearing a long-sleeved[c] robe, because this is what the king’s virgin daughters wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away crying out.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister. He is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in the house of her brother Absalom.
Absalom Murders Amnon
21 When King David heard about all these things, he was furious.[d] 22 Absalom didn’t say anything to Amnon, either good or bad, because he hated Amnon since he disgraced his sister Tamar.
23 Two years later, Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Then he went to the king and said, “Your servant has just hired sheepshearers. Will the king and his servants please come with your servant?”
25 The king replied to Absalom, “No, my son, we should not all go, or we would be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he wasn’t willing to go, though he did bless him.
26 “If not,” Absalom said, “please let my brother Amnon go with us.”
The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons.[e]
28 Now Absalom commanded his young men, “Watch Amnon until he is in a good mood from the wine. When I order you to strike Amnon, then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Am I not the one who has commanded you? Be strong and valiant!” 29 So Absalom’s young men did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded. Then all the rest of the king’s sons got up, and each fled on his mule.
30 While they were on the way, a report reached David: “Absalom struck down all the king’s sons; not even one of them survived!” 31 In response the king stood up, tore his clothes, and lay down on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn.
32 But Jonadab, son of David’s brother Shimeah, spoke up: “My lord must not think they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, because only Amnon is dead. In fact, Absalom has planned this[f] ever since the day Amnon disgraced his sister Tamar. 33 So now, my lord the king, don’t take seriously the report that says all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled. When the young man who was standing watch looked up, there were many people coming from the road west of him from the side of the mountain.[g] 35 Jonadab said to the king, “Look, the king’s sons have come! It’s exactly like your servant said.” 36 Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons entered and wept loudly. Then the king and all his servants also wept very bitterly. 37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son[h] every day.
38 After Absalom had fled to Geshur and had been there three years, 39 King David[i] longed to go to Absalom, for David had finished grieving over Amnon’s death.
Absalom Restored to David
14 Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king’s mind was on Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to bring a wise woman from there. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning: dress in mourning clothes and don’t put on any oil. Act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for a long time. 3 Go to the king and speak these words to him.” Then Joab told her exactly what to say.[j]
4 When the woman from Tekoa came[k] to the king, she fell facedown to the ground, paid homage, and said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
5 “What’s the matter?” the king asked her.
“Sadly, I am a widow; my husband died,” she said. 6 “Your servant had two sons. They were fighting in the field with no one to separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant and said, ‘Hand over the one who killed his brother so we may put him to death for the life of the brother he murdered. We will eliminate the heir!’ They would extinguish my one remaining ember by not preserving my husband’s name or posterity on earth.”
8 The king told the woman, “Go home. I will issue a command on your behalf.”
9 Then the woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord the king, may any blame be on me and my father’s family, and may the king and his throne be innocent.”
10 “Whoever speaks to you,” the king said, “bring him to me. He will not trouble you again!”
11 She replied, “Please, may the king invoke the Lord your God, so that the avenger of blood will not increase the loss, and they will not eliminate my son!”
“As the Lord lives,” he vowed, “not a hair of your son will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please, may your servant speak a word to my lord the king?”
“Speak,” he replied.
13 The woman asked, “Why have you devised something similar against the people of God? When the king spoke as he did about this matter, he has pronounced his own guilt. The king has not brought back his own banished one. 14 We will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can’t be recovered. But God would not take away a life; he would devise plans so that the one banished from him does not remain banished.
15 “Now therefore, I’ve come to present this matter to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought: I must speak to the king. Perhaps the king will grant his servant’s request. 16 The king will surely listen in order to keep his servant from the grasp of this man who would eliminate both me and my son from God’s inheritance. 17 Your servant thought: May the word of my lord the king bring relief, for my lord the king is able to discern the good and the bad like the angel of God. May the Lord your God be with you.”
18 Then the king answered the woman, “I’m going to ask you something; don’t conceal it from me!”
“Let my lord the king speak,” the woman replied.
19 The king asked, “Did Joab put you up to[l] all this?”
The woman answered. “As you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or left from all my lord the king says. Yes, your servant Joab is the one who gave orders to me; he told your servant exactly what to say.[m] 20 Joab your servant has done this to address the issue indirectly,[n] but my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God, knowing everything on earth.”
21 Then the king said to Joab, “I hereby grant this request. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
22 Joab fell with his face to the ground in homage and blessed the king. “Today,” Joab said, “your servant knows I have found favor with you, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant.”
23 So Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 However, the king added, “He may return to his house, but he may not see my face.” So Absalom returned to his house, but he did not see the king.[o]
25 No man in all Israel was as handsome and highly praised as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the top of his head, he did not have a single flaw. 26 When he shaved his head—he shaved it at the end of every year because his hair got so heavy for him that he had to shave it off—he would weigh the hair from his head and it would be five pounds[p] according to the royal standard.
27 Three sons were born to Absalom, and a daughter named Tamar, who was a beautiful woman. 28 Absalom resided in Jerusalem two years but never saw the king. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab was unwilling to come to him. So he sent again, a second time, but he still would not come. 30 Then Absalom said to his servants, “See, Joab has a field right next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set fire to it!” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.[q]
31 Then Joab came to Absalom’s house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
32 “Look,” Absalom explained to Joab, “I sent for you and said, ‘Come here. I want to send you to the king to ask: Why have I come back from Geshur? I’d be better off if I were still there.’ So now, let me see the king. If I am guilty, let him kill me.”
33 Joab went to the king and told him. So David summoned Absalom, who came to the king and paid homage with his face to the ground before him. Then the king kissed Absalom.
15 After this, Absalom got himself a chariot, horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2 He would get up early and stand beside the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone had a grievance to bring before the king for settlement, Absalom called out to him and asked, “What city are you from?” If he replied, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel,” 3 Absalom said to him, “Look, your claims are good and right, but the king does not have anyone to listen to you.” 4 He added, “If only someone would appoint me judge in the land. Then anyone who had a grievance or dispute could come to me, and I would make sure he received justice.” 5 When a person approached to pay homage to him, Absalom reached out his hand, took hold of him, and kissed him. 6 Absalom did this to all the Israelites who came to the king for a settlement. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 When four[r] years had passed, Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron to fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. 8 For your servant made a vow when I lived in Geshur of Aram, saying, ‘If the Lord really brings me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’”[s]
9 “Go in peace,” the king said to him. So he went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent agents throughout the tribes of Israel with this message: “When you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, you are to say, ‘Absalom has become king in Hebron!’”
11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom. They had been invited and were going innocently, for they did not know the whole situation. 12 While he was offering the sacrifices, Absalom sent for David’s adviser Ahithophel the Gilonite, from his city of Giloh. So the conspiracy grew strong, and the people supporting Absalom continued to increase.
13 Then an informer came to David and reported, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”
14 David said to all the servants with him in Jerusalem, “Get up. We have to flee, or we will not escape from Absalom! Leave quickly, or he will overtake us quickly, heap disaster on us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
15 The king’s servants said to the king, “Whatever my lord the king decides, we are your servants.” 16 Then the king set out, and his entire household followed him. But he left behind ten concubines to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, and all the people followed him. They stopped at the last house 18 while all his servants marched past him. Then all the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and the people of Gath—six hundred men who came with him from there—marched past the king.
19 The king said to Ittai of Gath, “Why are you also going with us? Go back and stay with the new king since you’re both a foreigner and an exile from your homeland. 20 Besides, you only arrived yesterday; should I make you wander around with us today while I go wherever I can? Go back and take your brothers with you. May the Lord show you[t] kindness and faithfulness.”
21 But in response, Ittai vowed to the king, “As the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether it means life or death, your servant will be there!”
22 “March on,” David replied to Ittai. So Ittai of Gath marched past with all his men and the dependents who were with him. 23 Everyone in the countryside was weeping loudly while all the people were marching out of the city. As the king was crossing the Kidron Valley, all the people were marching past on the road that leads to the wilderness.
24 Zadok was also there, and all the Levites with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set the ark of God down, and Abiathar offered sacrifices[u] until the people had finished marching past. 25 Then the king instructed Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor with the Lord, he will bring me back and allow me to see both it and its[v] dwelling place. 26 However, if he should say, ‘I do not delight in you,’ then here I am—he can do with me whatever pleases him.”[w]
27 The king also said to the priest Zadok, “Look,[x] return to the city in peace and your two sons with you: your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. 28 Remember, I’ll wait at the fords[y] of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and stayed there.
30 David was climbing the slope of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he ascended. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All of the people with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they ascended.
31 Then someone reported to David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.”
“Lord,” David pleaded, “please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”
32 When David came to the summit where he used to worship God, Hushai the Archite was there to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go away with me, you’ll be a burden to me, 34 but if you return to the city and tell Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, Your Majesty! Previously, I was your father’s servant, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can counteract Ahithophel’s counsel for me. 35 Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Report everything you hear from the palace to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. 36 Take note: their two sons are there with them—Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. Send them to tell me everything you hear.” 37 So Hushai, David’s personal adviser, entered Jerusalem just as Absalom was entering the city.
Justice is a beautiful thing. Something that can’t really be explained perfectly or in detail, yet something that humanity as a whole sees as something to build civilization upon.
In today’s reading, we see injustice to Tamar. What follows is up for interpretation as to whether justice was carried out or not.
Absalom feels he carried out justice and should be praised by taking justice into his own hands. However, I believe we can see, David saw justice could have been carried out another way. Or maybe David was at such a loss that this happened and failed to act in any way.
In whatever case, there was a wedge driven between Absalom and David over justice.
In further reading, we see there is no reconciliation between the two. The grudge grows between them.
This should not be how Christians act. We can not be grudge holders.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 explicitly tells us that God himself charges us to the ministry of reconciliation. If David and Absalom had offered grace to one another and reconciled instead of paying wrong from more wrong, imagine how this story could have ended.
We’ll read the end of Absalom in a couple of days. Destruction is what lies ahead when there is no reconciliation.