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Tamar and Amnon

Tamar was a daughter of King David and Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3, 13:1). Absalom was Tamar's full brother, he was also a son of David and Maacah. Amnon was King David's firstborn son, born to Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Chronicles 3:1, 2 Samuel 3:2); Tamar and Absalom, and their half-brother Amnon, all had the same father, King David, but different mothers.

King David was a great man of God, a key chosen ancestor of Jesus Christ, but David's family situation, particularly the headstrong and cutthroat-competitive behavior of his many children, caused him much trouble and grief. One of the most despicable incidents of that was when Amnon found himself in a state of lustful infatuation with his young half-sister Tamar, and after she consistently rejected his advances, he brutally ravished her. Thereafter his "love" for her immediately turned to loathing and contempt, manifesting the very-common human trait of someone hating a person they have injured or wronged, a warped psychological maneuver in an attempt to soothe a guilty conscience. After David found out about it, although furious, he did nothing, except to keep it quiet, but Absalom did not allow Amnon's crime to go unpunished. He patiently bided his time, and when the opportunity for justice came, Absalom avenged his sister Tamar by having their elder brother Amnon killed.

Tamar and Amnon

Jerusalem The incident:

"Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar; and after a time Amnon, David's son, loved her."

"And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her."

"But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, "O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?"

"Amnon said to him, "I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."

"Jonadab said to him, "Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, 'Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it from her hand.'"

"So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, "Pray let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand."

"Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, "Go to your brother Amnon's house, and prepare food for him." So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house, where he was lying down. And she took dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, "Send out every one from me." So every one went out from him."

"Then Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand." And Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, "Come, lie with me, my sister."

"She answered him, "No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this wanton folly. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the wanton fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you." But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her."

"Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred; so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Arise, be gone."

"But she said to him, "No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other which you did to me." But he would not listen to her."

"He called the young man who served him and said, "Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her." Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for thus were the virgin daughters of the king clad of old. So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent the long robe which she wore; and she laid her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went." (2 Samuel 13:1-19 RSV)

The aftermath:

"And her brother Absalom said to her, "Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart." So Tamar dwelt, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house."

"When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar."

"After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baalhazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. And Absalom came to the king, and said, "Behold, your servant has sheepshearers; pray let the king and his servants go with your servant."

"But the king said to Absalom, "No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you." He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing."

"Then Absalom said, "If not, pray let my brother Amnon go with us."

"And the king said to him, "Why should he go with you?"

"But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. Then Absalom commanded his servants, "Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, 'Strike Amnon,' then kill him. Fear not; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant." So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded." (2 Samuel 13:20-29 RSV)

Fact Finder: How did Absalom later attempt to overthrow his father David as King of Israel?
See Absalom

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