December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Some time later the following incident occurred. David's son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and David's son Amnon loved her.
- He was in such straits over his sister Tamar that he became sick; since she was a virgin, Amnon thought it impossible to carry out his designs toward her.
- Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, son of David's brother Shimeah, who was very clever.
- He asked him, "Prince, why are you so dejected morning after morning? Why not tell me?" So Amnon said to him, "I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."
- Then Jonadab replied, "Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. When your father comes to visit you, say to him, 'Please let my sister Tamar come and encourage me to take food. If she prepares something appetizing in my presence, for me to see, I will eat it from her hand.'"
- So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came to visit him, Amnon said to the king, "Please let my sister Tamar come and prepare some fried cakes before my eyes, that I may take nourishment from her hand."
- David then sent home a message to Tamar, "Please go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some nourishment for him."
- Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was in bed. Taking dough and kneading it, she twisted it into cakes before his eyes and fried the cakes.
- Then she took the pan and set out the cakes before him. But Amnon would not eat; he said, "Have everyone leave me." When they had all left him,
- Amnon said to Tamar, "Bring the nourishment into the bedroom, that I may have it from your hand." So Tamar picked up the cakes she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom.
- But when she brought them to him to eat, he seized her and said to her, "Come! Lie with me, my sister!"
- But she answered him, "No my brother! Do not shame me! That is an intolerable crime in Israel. Do not commit this insensate deed.
- Where would I take my shame? And you would be a discredited man in Israel. So please, speak to the king; he will not keep me from you."
- Not heeding her plea, he overpowered her; he shamed her and had relations with her.
- Then Amnon conceived an intense hatred for her, which far surpassed the love he had had for her. "Get up and leave," he said to her.
- She replied, "No, brother, because to drive me out would be far worse than the first injury you have done me." He would not listen to her,
- but called the youth who was his attendant and said, "Put her outside, away from me, and bar the door after her."
- Now she had on a long tunic, for that is how maiden princesses dressed in olden days. When his attendant put her out and barred the door after her,
- Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long tunic in which she was clothed. Then, putting her hands to her head, she went away crying loudly.
- Her brother Absalom said to her: "Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be still now, my sister; he is your brother. Do not take this affair to heart." But Tamar remained grief-stricken and forlorn in the house of her brother Absalom.
- King David, who got word of the whole affair, became very angry. He did not, however, spark the resentment of his son Amnon, whom he favored because he was his first-born.
- Absalom, moreover, said nothing at all to Amnon, although he hated him for having shamed his sister Tamar.
- After a period of two years, Absalom had shearers in Baalhazor near Ephraim, and he invited all the princes.
- Absalom went to the king and said: "Your servant is having shearers. Please, your majesty, come with all your retainers to your servant."
- But the King said to Absalom, "No, my son, all of us should not go lest we be a burden to you." And though Absalom urged him, he refused to go and began to bid him good-bye.
- Absalom then said, "If you will not come yourself, please let my brother Amnon come to us." The king asked him, "Why should he go to you?"
- At Absalom's urging, however, he sent Amnon and all the other princes with him. Absalom prepared a banquet fit for royalty.
- But he had instructed his servants: "Now watch! When Amnon is merry with wine and I say to you, 'Kill Amnon,' put him to death. Do not be afraid, for it is I who order you to do it. Be resolute and act manfully."
- When the servants did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded, all the other princes rose, mounted their mules, and fled.
- While they were still on the road, a report reached David that Absalom had killed all the princes and that not one of them had survived.
- The king stood up, rent his garments, and then lay on the ground. All his servants standing by him also rent their garments.
- But Jonadab, son of David's brother Shimeah, spoke up: "Let not my lord think that all the young princes have been killed! Amnon alone is dead, for Absalom was determined on this ever since Amnon shamed his sister Tamar.
- So let not my lord the king put faith in the report that all the princes are dead. Amnon alone is dead."
- Meanwhile, Absalom had taken flight. Then the servant on watch looked about and saw a large group coming down the slope from the direction of Bahurim. He came in and reported this, telling the king that he had seen some men coming down the mountainside from the direction of Bahurim.
- So Jonadab said to the king: "There! The princes have come. It is as your servant said."
- No sooner had he finished speaking than the princes came in, weeping aloud. The king, too, and all his servants wept very bitterly.
- But Absalom, who had taken flight, went to Talmai, son of Ammihud, king of Geshur,
- and stayed in Geshur for three years.
- The king continued during all that time to mourn over his son; but his longing reached out for Absalom as he became reconciled to the death of Amnon.
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