Amnon Loves Tamar.
1. Tamar—daughter of David by Maachah
2. for she was a virgin—Unmarried
daughters were kept in close seclusion from the company of men; no
strangers, nor even their relatives of the other sex, being permitted
to see them without the presence of witnesses. Of course, Amnon must
have seen Tamar, for he had conceived a violent passion for her, which,
though forbidden by the law (Le 18:11),
yet with the sanction of Abraham's example (Ge 20:12), and the common practice in neighboring
countries for princes to marry their half sisters, he seems not to have
considered an improper connection. But he had no means of making it
known to her, and the pain of that disappointment preying upon his mind
produced a visible change in his appearance and health.
3. Jonadab, the son of Shimeah—or
Shammah (1Sa 16:9). By
the counsel and contrivance of this scheming cousin a plan was devised
for obtaining an unrestricted interview with the object of his
4. my brother Absalom's sister—In
Eastern countries, where polygamy prevails, the girls are considered to
be under the special care and protection of their uterine brother, who
is the guardian of their interests and their honor, even more than
their father himself (see on Ge 34:6-25).
2Sa 13:6-27. He Defiles
6-8. Amnon lay down, and made himself
sick—The Orientals are great adepts in feigning sickness,
whenever they have any object to accomplish.
let Tamar my sister come and make me a couple of
cakes—To the king Amnon spoke of Tamar as "his sister," a
term artfully designed to hoodwink his father; and the request appeared
so natural, the delicate appetite of a sick man requiring to be
humored, that the king promised to send her. The cakes seem to have
been a kind of fancy bread, in the preparation of which Oriental ladies
take great delight. Tamar, flattered by the invitation, lost no time in
rendering the required service in the house of her sick brother.
12-14. do not force me—The remonstrances
and arguments of Tamar were so affecting and so strong, that had not
Amnon been violently goaded on by the lustful passion of which he had
become the slave, they must have prevailed with him to desist from his
infamous purpose. In bidding him, however, "speak to the king, for he
will not withhold me from thee," it is probable that she urged this as
her last resource, saying anything she thought would please him, in
order to escape for the present out of his hands.
15. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly—It
is not unusual for persons instigated by violent and irregular passions
to go from one extreme to another. In Amnon's case the sudden revulsion
is easily accounted for; the atrocity of his conduct, with all the
feelings of shame, remorse, and dread of exposure and punishment, now
burst upon his mind, rendering the presence of Tamar intolerably
painful to him.
17. bolt the door after her—The street
door of houses in the East is always kept barred—the bolts being
of wood. In the great mansions, where a porter stands at the outside,
this precaution is dispensed with; and the circumstance, therefore, of
a prince giving an order so unusual shows the vehement perturbation of
18. garment of divers colours—As
embroidery in ancient times was the occupation or pastime of ladies of
the highest rank, the possession of these parti-colored garments was a
mark of distinction; they were worn exclusively by young women of royal
condition. Since the art of manufacturing cloth stuffs has made so
great progress, dresses of this variegated description are now more
common in the East.
19, 20. Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her
garment of divers colours … laid her hand on her head, and went
on crying—that is, sobbing. Oriental manners would probably
see nothing beyond a strong sense of the injury she had sustained, if
Tamar actually rent her garments. But, as her veil is not mentioned, it
is probable that Amnon had turned her out of doors without it, and she
raised her hand with the design to conceal her face. By these signs,
especially the rending of her distinguishing robe, Absalom at once
conjectured what had taken place. Recommending her to be silent about
it and not publish her own and her family's dishonor, he gave no
inkling of his angry feelings to Amnon. But all the while he was in
secret "nursing his wrath to keep it warm," and only "biding his time"
to avenge his sister's wrongs, and by the removal of the heir-apparent
perhaps further also his ambitious designs.
20. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother
Absalom's house—He was her natural protector, and the
children of polygamists lived by themselves, as if they constituted
23-27. Absalom had sheep-shearers in Baal-hazor,
which is beside Ephraim—A sheep-shearing feast is a grand
occasion in the East. Absalom proposed to give such an entertainment at
his estate in Baal-hazor, about eight miles northeast of Jerusalem near
a town called Ephraim (Jos 11:10).
He first invited the king and his court; but the king declining, on
account of the heavy expense to which the reception of royalty would
subject him [2Sa 13:25],
Absalom then limited the invitation to the king's sons [2Sa 13:26], which David the more readily agreed
to, in the hope that it might tend to the promotion of brotherly
harmony and union.
2Sa 13:28-36. Amnon Is
28. Absalom had commanded his servants, saying
… when Amnon's heart is merry with wine … kill him, fear
not—On a preconcerted signal from their master, the servants,
rushing upon Amnon, slew him at the table, while the rest of the
brothers, horror-struck, and apprehending a general massacre, fled in
affrighted haste to Jerusalem.
29. every man gat him up upon his
mule—This had become the favorite equipage of the great. King
David himself had a state mule (1Ki 1:33). The Syrian mules are, in activity,
strength, and capabilities, still far superior to ours.
30, 31. tidings came to David, saying, Absalom
hath slain all the king's sons—It was natural that in the
consternation and tumult caused by so atrocious a deed, an exaggerated
report should reach the court, which was at once plunged into the
depths of grief and despair. But the information of Jonadab, who seems
to have been aware of the plan, and the arrival of the other princes,
made known the real extent of the catastrophe.
2Sa 13:37-39. Absalom Flees
37. Absalom fled, and went to Talmai—The
law as to premeditated murder (Nu 35:21) gave him no hope of remaining with
impunity in his own country. The cities of refuge could afford him no
sanctuary, and he was compelled to leave the kingdom, taking refuge at
the court of Geshur, with his maternal grandfather, who would,
doubtless, approve of his conduct.