13 1Some 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. 2Amnon 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. 3Amnon had a good friend, Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was exceptionally streetwise. 4He 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.” 5“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.’ ” 6So 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.” 7David sent word to Tamar who was home at the time: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare a meal for him.” 8So 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. 9But 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. 10Then 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. 11But when she got ready to feed him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, sister!” 12“No, brother!” she said, “Don’t hurt me! This kind of thing isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this terrible thing! 13Where 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.” 14But he wouldn’t listen. Being much stronger than she, he raped her. 15No 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!” 16“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. 17He called for his valet. “Get rid of this woman. Get her out of my sight! And lock the door after her.” 18The 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.) 19Tamar 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. 20Her 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. 21King David heard the whole story and was enraged, 22but 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. 23Two 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. 24He also went to the king and invited him. “Look, I’m throwing a sheep–shearing party. Come, and bring your servants.” 25But 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. 26Then 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?” 27But Absalom was so insistent that he gave in and let Amnon and all the rest of the king’s sons go. 28Absalom 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!” 29Absalom’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. 30While they were still on the road, a rumor came to the king: “Absalom just killed all the king’s sons—not one is left!” 31The 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. 32Just 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. 33So my master, the king, mustn’t make things worse than they are, thinking that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.” 34Absalom fled. 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.” 35Then Jonadab exclaimed to the king, “See! It’s the king’s sons coming, just as I said!” 36He 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. 37David mourned the death of his son a long time. When Absalom fled, he went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. 38He was there three years. 39The king finally gave up trying to get back at Absalom. He had come to terms with Amnon’s death.
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