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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
2 Samuel 13

 

 

Verse 1

1. It came to pass after this — Probably not long after the events of the last chapter. The divine judgments upon David’s house followed hard after his sin.

Tamar — Sister of Absalom, and half sister of Amnon. Compare the marginal references.


Verses 1-19

AMNON’S INCEST, 2 Samuel 13:1-19.

The charm and power of David’s name in Israel must have been largely broken as his sins in the matter of Uriah the Hittite became known to his family and among the people. His own deep penitence and humiliation before God speedily brought him mercy and pardon, but the silent influence of royal example left its evil leaven to work in the court and in the nation. And the institution of polygamy, fostered in the royal household, was the fruitful source of feuds and crimes. Its necessary tendency was to favour dissoluteness of life among the members of the king’s household, and also to occasion numberless bickerings and fearful struggles over the matter of succession to the throne. All this is abundantly shown in the following history, and especially in the sins and ruin of Amnon and Absalom.


Verse 2

2. So vexed, that he fell sick — “Not being able to obtain his desires, his grief so ate up his body that he grew lean, and his colour was changed.” — Josephus.

Amnon thought it hard — Literally, it was difficult in the eyes of Amnon to do her any thing. The meaning is, that being a virgin, Tamar was kept in such seclusion and custody that it was hardly possible for him to come at her; and, being his half sister, it was unlawful for him to marry her. Leviticus 20:17.


Verse 3

3. A friend… a very subtile man — “One of those characters,” says Stanley, “who in great houses pride themselves on being acquainted and on dealing with all the secrets of the family.” Compare his acts and words in 2 Samuel 13:32-35.


Verse 6

6. Cakes — Hebrews, heart cakes; some kind of delicious pastry, perhaps folded and laid together in the shape of a heart.


Verse 8

8. Amnon’s house — It appears that each of the king’s sons had a separate establishment of his own.

Flour — Margin, more correctly, paste, or dough. Here we observe that in that more simple age kings’ daughters were accustomed to the arts and practices of cookery.


Verse 10

10. Bring the meat into the chamber — This chamber was adjoining the one where Tamar baked the cake.


Verse 12

12. No such thing ought to be done in Israel — In heathen nations, where idol gods were worshipped by impure practices, this might be tolerated, but not among the chosen people, whose sacred laws condemned it. See marginal references.

Folly — This word is often used in the sense of a disgraceful act.


Verse 13

13. One of the fools — A disgraced, dishonoured, shameful Hebrew.

He will not withhold me — What all she meant by these words we cannot tell. They may have been with her only a pretext to get out of his hands; or, being the daughter of a foreigner, she may have been ignorant of the law which forbade their marriage, (Leviticus 18:9; Deuteronomy 27:22,) or she may have thought that the king had power to suspend the law in their case.


Verse 15

15. Hated her exceedingly — His love had been the offspring of his foul desire, and when that was satiated his sin, his danger, and shame all rushed upon his thoughts, and generated this hatred in his soul. “He now feels for the first time,” says Ewald, “the sinfulness of his deed, and the impossibility of his love being ever reciprocated.”


Verse 16

16. No cause — For this additional violence and rage. The passage should be rendered thus: There is not cause for this greater evil than the other which thou hast done with me, to thrust me away.

This evil… is greater than the other — For it would publish their shame to all the city, and make it appear that their incest had been brought about by some lewd proposal of hers.


Verse 18

18. A garment of divers colours — A loose outer garment reaching down to the ankles and covering the arms, for such the original word, פסים, seems to indicate; and Josephus says, “The virgins of old time wore such loose coats tied at the hands, and let down to the ankles, that the inner coats might not be seen.” But even this robe of royalty protected her not from shameful abuse.


Verse 19

19. Ashes on her head… rent her garment… hand on her head — Signs of humiliation, agony, and despair. See references.

Went on crying — Screaming aloud through the streets of the city, frantic over the disgrace and violence she had so cruelly received.


Verse 20

ABSALOM’S REVENGE, 2 Samuel 13:20-36.

20. Absalom… said unto her — He seems to have met her while in the sad plight described in 2 Samuel 13:19, and took her at once to his own house.

Regard not this thing — Thus he tried to soothe her troubled spirit, though he himself felt most keenly her disgrace, and planned a deadly purpose of revenge.

Remained desolate — Literally, Tamar remained and was desolate. That is, she stayed at Absalom’s house, and did not go home to her father’s.

Desolate — Was never married.


Verse 21

21. He was very wroth — But he let him go unpunished, for, as the Septuagint adds, “he afflicted not the spirit of Amnon, his son, for he loved him because he was his firstborn.” In more than one instance did David’s paternal affection run away with his judgment. But Amnon’s deed must have brought home to David’s soul a bitter memory of his own dark crime.


Verse 23

23. Sheepshearers — The season of sheepshearing was the occasion of a great festival. See 1 Samuel 25:4; 1 Samuel 25:8; 1 Samuel 25:36, and notes.

Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim — Probably the modern Tell Asur, which is about ten miles north of Jerusalem, and near to the ancient Ophrah, (see Joshua 18:23; 1 Samuel 13:17,) which was also called Ephraim. 2 Chronicles 13:19; John 11:54. The identity of these places, however, has not been fully established.


Verse 25

25. He would not go — Absalom doubtless expected the king would decline going, and thereby hoped to secure more certainly his permission for Amnon to go.


Verse 26

26. Why should he go — David suspected some evil, for he had reason to fear the existence in Absalom’s heart of deadly enmity towards Amnon.


Verse 27

27. He let Amnon and all the king’s sons go — Hoping that perhaps this friendly feast might work for good, and deepen the friendship of all these sons.


Verse 28

28. Have not I commanded you — No guilt will be on you, for I take all the responsibility on myself; only obey you my orders.


Verse 29

29. All the king’s sons arose — In greatest terror and alarm, not knowing the designed extent of this foul play.

Mule — This is the first mention of mules in Scripture, for ימים, translated mules in Genesis 36:24, undoubtedly means warm springs, as the Vulgate there renders it. The law prohibited the Hebrews to “gender cattle with a diverse kind,” (Leviticus 19:19,) and so they probably first came into possession of mules by importation. Compare Ezekiel 27:14. It seems from Scripture notices of these animals that only kings and great men used them.

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Verse 30

30. Tidings came — Some excited person, seeing Amnon fall, and expecting that all the other sons would share the same fate, ran to Jerusalem at once to bear the awful news.


Verse 32

32. Jonadab… said — That subtle busybody, who is posted on all the secrets of the royal family, (2 Samuel 13:3-5,) now coolly explains the matter as only a thing that had long been determined.


Verse 37

ABSALOM’S FLIGHT TO GESHUR, 2 Samuel 13:37-39.

37. Absalom fled — When the other sons of the king arose and fled, he took advantage of the confusion and escaped out of the land. 2 Samuel 13:29; 2 Samuel 13:34.

Went to Talmai — His maternal grandfather. 2 Samuel 3:3.

Geshur — A province belonging, at the time of Absalom’s flight, to Syria.

2 Samuel 15:8. It was on the northern border of Bashan, and adjoining the province of Argob. See Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5. “It is a remarkable fact — and it shows how little change three thousand years have produced on this eastern land — that Bashan is still the refuge of all offenders. If a man can only reach it, no matter what may have been his crimes or his failings, he is safe; the officers of government dare not follow him, and the avenger of blood even turns away in despair. During a short tour in Bashan, I met more than a dozen refugees, who, like Absalom in Geshur; awaited in security some favourable turn of events.” — Porter.


Verse 38

38. Three years — During which time, as we learn from the next verse, David became reconciled to the loss of Amnon and yearned to see Absalom again. His undue paternal affections involved him in additional and greater sorrows.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 13:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-13.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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