Violence in David's family: Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom
Amnon disgraces Tamar
1David had a beautiful daughter named Tamar, who was the sister of Absalom. She was also the half-sister of Amnon,13.1 Tamar…Absalom…Amnon: David was their father, but Amnon had a different mother. who fell in love with her. 2But Tamar was a virgin, and Amnon could not think of a way to be alone with her. He was so upset about it that he made himself sick.
3Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, who was the son of David's brother Shimeah. Jonadab always knew how to get what he wanted, 4and he said to Amnon, “What's the matter? You're the king's son! You shouldn't have to go around feeling sorry for yourself every morning.”
Amnon said, “I'm in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.”
5Jonadab told him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. When your father comes to see you, ask him to send Tamar, so you can watch her cook something for you. Then she can serve you the food.”
6So Amnon went to bed and pretended to be sick. When the king came to see him, Amnon said, “Please, ask Tamar to come over. She can make some special bread13.6 special bread: Or “heart-shaped bread” or “dumplings”. while I watch, and then she can serve me the bread.”
7David told Tamar, “Go over to Amnon's house and prepare him some food.” 8When she got there, he was lying in bed. She mixed the dough, made the loaves, and baked them while he watched. 9Then she took the bread out of the pan and put it on his plate, but he refused to eat it.
Amnon said, “Send the servants out of the house.” After they had gone, 10he said to Tamar, “Serve the food in my bedroom.”
Tamar picked up the bread that she had made and brought it into Amnon's bedroom. 11But as she was taking it over to him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me!”
12She answered, “No! Please don't force me! This sort of thing isn't done in Israel. It's too disgusting! 13Think of me. I'll be disgraced for ever! And think of yourself. Everyone in Israel will say you're nothing but a load of rubbish! Just ask the king, and he will let you marry me.”
14But Amnon would not listen to what she said. He was stronger than she was, so he overpowered her and raped her. 15Then Amnon hated her even more than he had loved her before. So he told her, “Get up and get out!”
16She said, “Don't send me away! That would be worse than what you have already done.”
But Amnon would not listen. 17He called in his servant and said, “Throw this woman out and lock the door!”
18The servant made her leave, and he locked the door behind her.
The king's unmarried daughters used to wear long robes with sleeves.13.18 long…sleeves: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. 19Tamar tore the robe she was wearing and put ashes on her head. Then she covered her face with her hands and cried loudly as she walked away.
Absalom kills Amnon
20Tamar's brother Absalom said to her, “How could Amnon have done such a terrible thing to you! But since he's your brother, don't tell anyone what happened. Just try not to think about it.”
Tamar soon moved into Absalom's house, but she was always sad and lonely. 21When David heard what had happened to Tamar, he was very angry. But Amnon was his eldest son and also his favourite, and David would not do anything to make Amnon unhappy.13.21 But Amnon…unhappy: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; these words are not in the Standard Hebrew Text.
22Absalom treated Amnon as though nothing had happened, but he hated Amnon for what he had done to his sister Tamar.
23Two years later, Absalom's servants were cutting wool from his sheep in Baal-Hazor near the town of Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons to be there.13.23 invited…there: Cutting the wool from sheep was a time for celebrating as well as working. 24Then he went to David and said, “My servants are cutting the wool from my sheep. Please come and join us!”
25David answered, “No, my son, we won't go. It would be too expensive for you.” Absalom tried to get him to change his mind, but David did not want to go. He only said that he hoped they would have a good time.
26Absalom said, “If you won't go, at least let my brother Amnon come with us.”
David asked, “Why should he go with you?” 27But Absalom kept on insisting, and finally David let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king.13.27 Absalom prepared…king: One ancient translation; these words are not in the Hebrew text. 28But he told his servants, “Keep an eye on Amnon. When he gets a little drunk from the wine and is feeling good, I'll give the signal. Then kill him! I've commanded you to do it, so don't be afraid. Be strong and brave.”
29Absalom's servants killed Amnon, just as Absalom had told them. The rest of the king's sons quickly rode away on their mules to escape from Absalom.
30While they were on their way to Jerusalem, someone told David, “Absalom has killed all your sons! Not even one is left.” 31David got up, and in his sorrow he tore his clothes and lay down on the ground. His servants remained standing, but they tore their clothes too.
32Then David's nephew13.32 David's nephew: The Hebrew text has “the son of David's brother Shimeah”. Jonadab said, “Your Majesty, not all your sons were killed! Only Amnon is dead. On the day that Amnon raped Tamar, Absalom decided to kill him. 33Don't worry about the report that all your sons were killed. Only Amnon is dead, 34and Absalom has run away.”
One of the guards noticed a lot of people coming along the hillside on the road to Horonaim.13.34 the road to Horonaim: Or “the road behind him” or “the road to the west”. He went and told the king, “I saw some men coming along Horonaim Road.”13.34 He…Road: One ancient translation; these words are not in the Hebrew text.
35Jonadab said, “Your Majesty, look! Here come your sons now, just as I told you.”
36No sooner had he said it, than David's sons came in. They were weeping out loud, and David and all his officials cried just as loudly. 37-38David was sad for a long time because Amnon was dead.13.37: 2 S 3.3.
David lets Absalom come home
Absalom had run away to Geshur, where he stayed for three years with King Talmai13.37,38 King Talmai: Absalom's grandfather (see 3.3). the son of Ammihud. 39David still felt so sad over the loss of Amnon that he wanted to take his army there and capture Absalom.13.39 David…Absalom: Or “David was comforted over the loss of Amnon, and he no longer wanted to take his army there to capture Absalom.”
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