2 Samuel 13

Amnon and Tamar

1 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.
2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.
3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man.
4 He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
5 “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’ ”
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”
7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.”
8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it.
9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat. “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him.
10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom.
11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing.
13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.”
14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her.
17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.”
18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore.
19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
21 When King David heard all this, he was furious.
22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Absalom Kills Amnon

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there.
24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”
25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.
26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?”
27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.”
29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.
30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.”
31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.
32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar.
33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled. Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”[b]
35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”
36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.
37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.
38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years.
39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

2 Samuel 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

Ammon's violence to his sister. (1-20) Absalom murders his brother Ammon. (21-29) David's grief, Absalom flees to Geshur. (30-39)

Verses 1-20 From henceforward David was followed with one trouble after another. Adultery and murder were David's sins, the like sins among his children were the beginnings of his punishment: he was too indulgent to his children. Thus David might trace the sins of his children to his own misconduct, which must have made the anguish of the chastisement worse. Let no one ever expect good treatment from those who are capable of attempting their seduction; but it is better to suffer the greatest wrong than to commit the least sin.

Verses 21-29 Observe the aggravations of Absalom's sin: he would have Ammon slain, when least fit to go out of the world. He engaged his servants in the guilt. Those servants are ill-taught who obey wicked masters, against God's commands. Indulged children always prove crosses to godly parents, whose foolish love leads them to neglect their duty to God.

Verses 30-39 Jonadab was as guilty of Ammon's death, as of his sin; such false friends do they prove, who counsel us to do wickedly. Instead of loathing Absalom as a murderer, David, after a time, longed to go forth to him. This was David's infirmity: God saw something in his heart that made a difference, else we should have thought that he, as much as Eli, honoured his sons more than God.

Cross References 24

  • 1. 2 Samuel 3:2
  • 2. 2 Samuel 14:27; 1 Chronicles 3:9
  • 3. S 2 Samuel 3:3
  • 4. S 1 Samuel 16:9
  • 5. Genesis 45:1
  • 6. S Genesis 39:12
  • 7. S Genesis 38:16
  • 8. Leviticus 20:17; Judges 20:6
  • 9. S Genesis 34:7; Judges 19:23
  • 10. Genesis 20:12; S Leviticus 18:9; S Dt 22:21,23-24
  • 11. S Genesis 34:2; Deuteronomy 22:25; Ezekiel 22:11
  • 12. S Genesis 37:23; Judges 5:30
  • 13. S Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; Esther 4:1; Daniel 9:3
  • 14. S Genesis 34:7
  • 15. Genesis 31:24
  • 16. Leviticus 19:17-18; 1 John 2:9-11
  • 17. 1 Samuel 25:7
  • 18. S 2 Samuel 3:3
  • 19. Jdg 19:6,9,22; S Ruth 3:7; 1 Samuel 25:36
  • 20. S 2 Samuel 12:10
  • 21. S Numbers 14:6; 2 Samuel 1:11; 2 Samuel 12:16
  • 22. ver 34; S 2 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:23,32
  • 23. 2 Samuel 14:13
  • 24. S 2 Samuel 12:19-23

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verse 19.
  • [b]. Septuagint; Hebrew does not have this sentence.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO SECOND SAMUEL 13

This chapter relates some of the evils that were to arise out of David's house, and which were similar to the evils committed by him; the deflowering of his daughter, and the murder of his eldest son: the story is this; Amnon falls in love with Tamar, his sister, and grew thin upon it, which being observed by a friend of his, inquires the reason of it, which having got out of him, forms a scheme for obtaining his desire, and which succeeded; for by it he had the opportunity of ravishing his sister, 2Sa 13:1-14; the consequences of which were extreme hatred of her, hurrying her out of doors, lamentation and mourning on her part, grief to David, and enmity in the heart of Absalom to Amnon, which put him upon meditating his death, 2Sa 13:15-22; and which was brought about after this manner. Absalom had a sheep shearing, to which he invited the king and all his sons, and to which they all came excepting the king, 2Sa 13:23-27; when Absalom gave orders to his servants to observe Amnon when he was merry, and at his word smite him and kill him, as they did, 2Sa 13:28,29; tidings of which soon came to the ears of David, and these aggravated, that all the king's sons were killed, which threw the king into an agony; but Jonadab endeavoured to pacify him, by assuring him that only Amnon was dead, the truth of which soon appeared by the coming of the king's sons, 2Sa 13:30-36; but Absalom fled to Geshur, where he remained three years, when David's heart began to be towards him, and to long for him, who was to bring more evil against him, 2Sa 13:37-39.

2 Samuel 13 Commentaries