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Monday, May 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 13

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Amnon's Crime

v. 1. And it came to pass after this that Absalom, the son of David, 2 Samuel 3:3, had a fair sister, a full sister to him, who was a very beautiful young woman, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon, the son of David, her half-brother by another of David's wives, loved her.

v. 2. And Amnon was so vexed, his passion preyed on him to such an extent, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her, literally, "it was difficult to accomplish in the eyes of Amnon," he found it impossible to gratify his passion because of Tamar's maidenly reserve and her inaccessibility in the harem.

v. 3. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, his own cousin; and Jonadab was a very subtle man, known for his craftiness.

v. 4. And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, in whose case there was no apparent reason for such a condition, lean from day to day? He looked more wretched from one morning to the next, since his nights were made sleepless by his torturing passion, Wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.

v. 5. And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed and make thyself sick, feigning illness; and when thy father cometh to see thee, to visit the son who had been reported sick, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come and give me meat, prepare food, and dress them eat in my sight, make ready some special dish for the sick, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand. He intimated that the sight of the food in such circumstances would give him an appetite. Evidently every wife of the king with her children occupied her own apartments in the royal palace, but the intercourse between the children was fairly free.

v. 6. So Amnon, following the advice of his shrewd cousin with all that it implied, lay down and made himself sick; and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar, my sister, whose skill in cooking was evidently well known, come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, two heart-cakes, made of rolled dough, something on the order of pancakes, considered very strengthening for the heart, that I may eat at her hand.

v. 7. Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, who apparently occupied apartments of his own, and dress him meat, prepare him some strengthening food.

v. 8. So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, a mixture or paste of dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes, used the batter to bake the special cakes for which he had asked.

v. 9. And she took a pan, or the cakes prepared by her, and poured them out before him, served them for him to eat; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, have out all men from me, he ordered all his attendants to leave the room. And they went out, every man, from him.

v. 10. And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat in to the chamber, the inner room where his couch was, that I may eat of thine hand. He acted like a capricious patient. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them in to the chamber to Amnon, her brother.

v. 11. And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, throwing aside all his feigned weakness, and said unto her, Come, lie with me, my sister.

v. 12. And she, in the attempt to save her honor, answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me, humbling her by this crime; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel, it was strictly in opposition to the Law, Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:17; Deuteronomy 27:22; do not thou this folly. Cf Genesis 34:7, the passage which Tamar probably had in mind.

v. 13. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? Disgrace and contempt would be sure to strike her wherever she would go. And as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel, a person who foolishly and to his own condemnation committed a heinous transgression. Now, therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. She did not hold out an actual hope that the king would sanction the forbidden marriage, but spoke in the height of her fear, wishing to escape his passion for the present, trying to put him off by the prospect that he might be able to gratify his passion with a show of right, if he would but wait.

v. 14. Howbeit, he would not hearken unto her voice; but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her, gratified his passionate lust. Such is the power of sin if it is not kept in check by the fear of God or by love toward the Lord.

Verses 15-22

Amnon Spurns Tamar

v. 15. Then Amnon, having gratified his bestial lust, hated her exceedingly, this being the usual consequence of a relation such as pictured in this chapter, so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her; he now loathed the object of his former intense passion. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone!

v. 16. And she said unto him, there is no cause; this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. The Hebrew text shows an unfinished sentence, spoken in great agitation: On account of this greater evil than the other which thou didst to me in sending me away-. If he persisted in driving her from his house, men might believe that she had given him occasion to act toward her in such a manner, and the disgrace would be all the greater. But he would not hearken unto her, did not, in fact, even let her finish her protest.

v. 17. Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, his own private attendant, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her, just as if she had tempted him to a shameful act and he wanted to insure against a repetition of her shamelessness.

v. 18. And she had a garment of divers colors upon her, a coat or upper garment with long sleeves; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins appareled. Although she was a virgin and a princess, Amnon treated Tamar like a common prostitute. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

v. 19. And Tamar, as a sign of her great grief over the shame laid upon her, put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, as a token of the fact that the hand of God lay heavily on her in this visitation, and went on crying, bewailing the greatness of her shame and disgrace.

v. 20. And Absalom, her brother, said unto her, Hath Amnon, thy brother, been with thee? He guessed the state of affairs at once, expressing his opinion thus delicately. But hold now thy peace, my sister; he is thy brother; regard not this thing, lay it not to heart. He feigned a carelessness which he was far from feeling, because he wanted to conceal his purpose to revenge himself in the sight of all men. If Tamar would act in the same manner, he would have a better opportunity to carry out his design. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house, literally, "as desolated," as one whose happiness in life had been destroyed.

v. 21. But when King David heard of all these things, he was very wroth. His anger, unfortunately, did not cause him to act, to punish Amnon. Either the consciousness of his own recent sin held him back, or he practiced a false indulgence toward his first-born son.

v. 22. And Absalom, true to his plan of hiding his feelings for the time being and lulling Amnon to security, spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad, he simply avoided him; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had forced his sister Tamar. Such examples of sin as here narrated instill a loathing and a horror of sin. They show that every sin and especially such sins of the flesh are an abomination in the sight of God, evils which cause only sorrow and heartache among men.

Verses 23-39

Absalom's Revenge

v. 23. And it came to pass after two full years, during all of which time Absalom carried his grudge toward Amnon in his heart, that Absalom had sheep-shearers in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim, some miles northeast of Bethel, where he had a ranch; and Absalom invited all the king's sons, for sheep-shearing was a joyous festival.

v. 24. And Absalom came to the king and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheep-shearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant, The invitation had originally been made to the king and his body-guard.

v. 25. And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee, too large a number of invited guests might make the festival too expensive for Absalom. And he, Absalom, pressed him, tried to make him change his mind; howbeit he would not go, but blessed him, wished him success for the festival.

v. 26. Then said Absalom, who craftily saw that this arrangement favored his plans of revenge, if not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee? He may have had some premonition of evil in hesitating about letting the heir apparent go along at this time.

v. 27. But Absalom pressed him that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. Here was another instance of David's weakness in yielding to Absalom's urgent request.

v. 28. Now, Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, when, under the influence of wine, he would throw aside caution, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon, then kill him, fear not; have not I commanded you? He would take the responsibility of the murder upon himself, his purpose being chiefly to avenge his sister Tamar, but probably also to remove the crown prince, an act which would make him the heir apparent to the throne. Be courageous, and be valiant. The servants of Absalom needed this encouragement very much since they stood in awe of the king and his anger.

v. 29. And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon, in the course of the festival meal, as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule and fled, fearing for his own life.

v. 30. And it came to pass, while they, the princes, were in the way, on their flight to Jerusalem, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. This shows the usual exaggeration of rumors.

v. 31. Then the king arose and tare his garments, in token of his great grief, and lay on the earth; and all his servants, following the example of their master, stood by with their clothes rent.

v. 32. And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, who had followed the development of matters with sharp eyes, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men, the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead; for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar, his determination to avenge the crime had been written in his features, in the fixed position of his mouth.

v. 33. Now, therefore, let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead, that was not the state of affairs; for Amnon only is dead.

v. 34. But Absalom fled; having accomplished his purpose, he thought it best to evade the king's wrath. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, watching the return of the people from the festival with double interest, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hillside behind him, the princes coming in from the west, the shortest and quickest way.

v. 35. And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come; as thy servant said, so it Isaiah This confirmed Jonadab's keen guess.

v. 36. And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept, in deep mourning over the death of Amnon; and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.

v. 37. But Absalom fled and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur, his grandfather, 2 Samuel 3:3. And David mourned for his son, namely, for Amnon, every day, literally, "all his days," all his life.

v. 38. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years.

v. 39. And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom, literally, "And held back, refrained, David, the king, from going forth to Absalom"; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead, the grief gradually became less sharp, and therefore David abandoned the idea of calling Absalom to account for his revenge. The word of the Lord that the sword would not depart from the house of David had begun to be fulfilled. A sin is quickly committed, and there may be a momentary gratification, but in the end the consequences are such as to make all its fruits appear apples of Sodom, as they really are.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 13". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/2-samuel-13.html. 1921-23.
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