2 Samuel 13
Some time later, this happened: Absalom, David’s son, had a sister who was very attractive. Her name was Tamar. Amnon, also David’s son, was in love with her. Amnon was obsessed with his sister Tamar to the point of making himself sick over her. She was a virgin, so he couldn’t see how he could get his hands on her. Amnon had a good friend, Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was exceptionally streetwise. He said to Amnon, “Why are you moping around like this, day after day—you, the son of the king! Tell me what’s eating at you.”
“In a word, Tamar,” said Amnon. “My brother Absalom’s sister. I’m in love with her.”
“Here’s what you do,” said Jonadab. “Go to bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to visit you, say, ‘Have my sister Tamar come and prepare some supper for me here where I can watch her and she can feed me.’”
So Amnon took to his bed and acted sick. When the king came to visit, Amnon said, “Would you do me a favor? Have my sister Tamar come and make some nourishing dumplings here where I can watch her and be fed by her.”
David sent word to Tamar who was home at the time: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare a meal for him.”
So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house. She took dough, kneaded it, formed it into dumplings, and cooked them while he watched from his bed. But when she took the cooking pot and served him, he wouldn’t eat.
Amnon said, “Clear everyone out of the house,” and they all cleared out. Then he said to Tamar, “Bring the food into my bedroom, where we can eat in privacy.” She took the nourishing dumplings she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she got ready to feed him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, sister!”
“No, brother!” she said, “Don’t hurt me! This kind of thing isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this terrible thing! Where could I ever show my face? And you—you’ll be out on the street in disgrace. Oh, please! Speak to the king—he’ll let you marry me.”
But he wouldn’t listen. Being much stronger than she, he raped her.
No sooner had Amnon raped her than he hated her—an immense hatred. The hatred that he felt for her was greater than the love he’d had for her. “Get up,” he said, “and get out!”
“Oh no, brother,” she said. “Please! This is an even worse evil than what you just did to me!”
But he wouldn’t listen to her. He called for his valet. “Get rid of this woman. Get her out of my sight! And lock the door after her.” The valet threw her out and locked the door behind her.
She was wearing a long-sleeved gown. (That’s how virgin princesses used to dress from early adolescence on.) Tamar poured ashes on her head, then she ripped the long-sleeved gown, held her head in her hands, and walked away, sobbing as she went.
Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon had his way with you? Now, my dear sister, let’s keep it quiet—a family matter. He is, after all, your brother. Don’t take this so hard.” Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s home, bitter and desolate.
King David heard the whole story and was enraged, but he didn’t discipline Amnon. David doted on him because he was his firstborn. Absalom quit speaking to Amnon—not a word, whether good or bad—because he hated him for violating his sister Tamar.
Two years went by. One day Absalom threw a sheep-shearing party in Baal Hazor in the vicinity of Ephraim and invited all the king’s sons. He also went to the king and invited him. “Look, I’m throwing a sheep-shearing party. Come, and bring your servants.”
But the king said, “No, son—not this time, and not the whole household. We’d just be a burden to you.” Absalom pushed, but David wouldn’t budge. But he did give him his blessing.
Then Absalom said, “Well, if you won’t come, at least let my brother Amnon come.”
“And why,” said the king, “should he go with you?” But Absalom was so insistent that he gave in and let Amnon and all the rest of the king’s sons go.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. Then he instructed his servants, “Look sharp, now. When Amnon is well into the sauce and feeling no pain, and I give the order ‘Strike Amnon,’ kill him. And don’t be afraid—I’m the one giving the command. Courage! You can do it!”
Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what their master ordered. All the king’s sons got out as fast as they could, jumped on their mules, and rode off. While they were still on the road, a rumor came to the king: “Absalom just killed all the king’s sons—not one is left!” The king stood up, ripped his clothes to shreds, and threw himself on the floor. All his servants who were standing around at the time did the same.
Just then, Jonadab, his brother Shimeah’s son, stepped up. “My master must not think that all the young men, the king’s sons, are dead. Only Amnon is dead. This happened because of Absalom’s outrage since the day that Amnon violated his sister Tamar. So my master, the king, mustn’t make things worse than they are, thinking that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
Just then the sentry on duty looked up and saw a cloud of dust on the road from Horonaim alongside the mountain. He came and told the king, “I’ve just seen a bunch of men on the Horonaim road, coming around the mountain.”
Then Jonadab exclaimed to the king, “See! It’s the king’s sons coming, just as I said!” He had no sooner said the words than the king’s sons burst in—loud laments and weeping! The king joined in, along with all the servants—loud weeping, many tears. David mourned the death of his son a long time.
When Absalom fled, he went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. He was there three years. The king finally gave up trying to get back at Absalom. He had come to terms with Amnon’s death.