2 Samuel 13
Clarke's Commentary
Amnon falls in love with his half-sister Tamar, and feigns himself sick, and requests her to attend him, 2 Samuel 13:1-6. David sends her to him, and he violates her, 2 Samuel 13:7-14. He then hates her, and expels her from his house, 2 Samuel 13:15-17, She rends her garments, puts ashes on her head, and goes forth weeping, 2 Samuel 13:18, 2 Samuel 13:19. She is met by Absalom her brother, who, understanding her case, determines the death of Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:20-22. Two years after, he invites all his brothers to a sheep-shearing, when he orders his servants to murder Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:23-29. Tidings come to David that Absalom has slain all the king's sons, which fill him with the bitterest distress, 2 Samuel 13:30, 2 Samuel 13:31. The rest soon arrive, and he finds that Amnon only is killed, 2 Samuel 13:32-36. Absalom flees to Talmai, king of Geshur, where he remains three years, 2 Samuel 13:37, 2 Samuel 13:38. David longs after Absalom, having become reconciled to the death of Amnon, 2 Samuel 13:39.

And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.
Whose name was Tamar - Tamar was the daughter of David and Maacah, daughter of the king of Geshur, and the uterine sister of Absalom. Amnon was David's eldest son by Ahinoam. She was therefore sister to Amnon only by the father's side, i.e., half-sister; but whole sister to Absalom.

And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.
Amnon was so vexed - for she was a virgin - It has been well remarked that "the passion of love is nowhere so wasting and vexatious, as where it is unlawful. A quick sense of guilt, especially where it is enormous, as in the present instance, strikes the soul with horror; and the impossibility of an innocent gratification loads that horror with desperation: a conflict too cruel and too dreadful for human bearing." - Delaney.

But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.
Jonadab was a very subtle man - And most diabolic advice did he give to his cousin. We talk of the simplicity and excellence of primitive times! "Say not thou what is the cause that the former days were better than these." Take them altogether, we may thank God that they are past, and pray him that they may never return.

And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.
And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.
So Amnon 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 come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat.
So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.
And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.
And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.
And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.
And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.
Nay, my brother - There is something exceedingly tender and persuasive in this speech of Tamar; but Amnon was a mere brute, and it was all lost on him.

And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.
Speak unto the king - So it appears that she thought that the king, her father, would give her to him as wife. This is another strong mark of indelicacy in those simple but barbarous times. There might have been some excuse for such connections under the patriarchal age, but there was none now. But perhaps she said this only to divert him from his iniquitous purpose, that she might get out of his hands.

Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
Hated her exceedingly - Amnon's conduct to his sister was not only brutal but inexplicable. It would be easy to form conjectures concerning the cause, but we can arrive at no certainty.

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. But he would not hearken unto her.
Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.
And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.
A garment of divers colors - See the note on Genesis 37:3, where the same words occur.

And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.
And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.
But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.
But when King David heard - To this verse the Septuagint add the following words: Και ουκ ελυπησε το πνευμα Αμνων του υἱου αυτου, ὁτι ηγαπα αυτον, ὁτι πρωτοτοκος αυτου ην; "But he would not grieve the soul of Amnon his son, for he loved him, because he was his first-born." The same addition is found in the Vulgate and in Josephus, and it is possible that this once made a part of the Hebrew text.

And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.
And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.
Absalom had sheep-shearers - These were times in which feasts were made, to which the neighbors and relatives of the family were invited.

And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant.
And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.
Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee?
Let my brother Amnon go - He urged this with the more plausibility, because Amnon was the first-born, and presumptive heir to the kingdom; and he had disguised his resentment so well before, that he was not suspected.

But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.
Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.
And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.
And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.
Absalom hath slain all the king's sons - Fame never lessens but always magnifies a fact. Report, contrary to the nature of all other things, gains strength by going.

Virgil has given, in his best manner, a fine personification of Fame or Evil Report. - Aen. iv., 173.

Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes;

Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum,

Mobilitate viget, viresque adquirit eundo, etc.

"Now Fame, tremendous fiend! without delay,

Through Libyan cities took her rapid way;

Fame, the swift plague, that every moment grows,

And gains new strength and vigor as she goes," etc.

Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.
And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, 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.
And Jonadab - said - Amnon only is dead - This was a very bad man, and here speaks coolly of a most bloody tragedy, which himself had contrived.

Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.
But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.
And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.
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: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.
But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.
Absalom fled - As he had committed wilful murder, he could not avail himself of a city of refuge, and was therefore obliged to leave the land of Israel, and take refuge with Talmai, king of Geshur, his grandfather by his mother's side. See 2 Samuel 3:3.

So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.
And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
David longed to go forth unto Absalom - We find that he had a very strong paternal affection for this young man, who appears to have had little to commend him but the beauty of his person. David wished either to go to him, or to bring him back; for the hand of time had now wiped off his tears for the death of his son Amnon. Joab had marked this disposition, and took care to work on it, in order to procure the return of Absalom. It would have been well for all parties had Absalom ended his days at Geshur. His return brought increasing wretchedness to his unfortunate father. And it may be generally observed that those undue, unreasonable paternal attachments are thus rewarded.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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