The Rape of Tamar
1Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. 2Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her.
3But Amnon had a very crafty friend—his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea.#13:3 Hebrew Shimeah (also in 13:32), a variant spelling of Shimea; compare 1 Chr 2:13. 4One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?”
So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
5“Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”
6So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and cook my favorite dish#13:6 Or a couple of cakes; also in 13:8, 10. as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” 7So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.
8When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him. 9But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Amnon told his servants. So they all left.
10Then he said to Tamar, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. 11But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”
12“No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. 13Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.”
14But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.
16“No, no!” Tamar cried. “Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.”
But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17He shouted for his servant and demanded, “Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!”
18So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,#13:18 Or a robe with sleeves, or an ornamented robe. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. 19But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.
20Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, “Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he’s your brother. Don’t you worry about it.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.
21When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.#13:21 Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version add But he did not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn. 22And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.
Absalom’s Revenge on Amnon
23Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast. 24He went to the king and said, “My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?”
25The king replied, “No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you.” Absalom pressed him, but the king would not come, though he gave Absalom his blessing.
26“Well, then,” Absalom said, “if you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?”
“Why Amnon?” the king asked. 27But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon. So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king.#13:27 As in Greek and Latin versions (compare also Dead Sea Scrolls); the Hebrew text lacks this sentence.
28Absalom told his men, “Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!” 29So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.
30As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one is left alive!” 31The king got up, tore his robe, and threw himself on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow.
32But just then Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimea, arrived and said, “No, don’t believe that all the king’s sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33No, my lord the king, your sons aren’t all dead! It was only Amnon.” 34Meanwhile Absalom escaped.
Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming down the hill on the road from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.”#13:34 As in Greek version; Hebrew lacks this sentence.
35“Look!” Jonadab told the king. “There they are now! The king’s sons are coming, just as I said.”
36They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and all his servants wept bitterly with them. 37And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.
Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39And King David,#13:39a Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version read And the spirit of the king. now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.#13:39b Or no longer felt a need to go out after Absalom.