13:1 David had several wives, and he fathered many children by them (3:2-5; 5:13-16). Both Absalom and Tamar had Maacah as their mother, whereas Amnon, David’s firstborn son, had Ahinoam as his mother. The words was infatuated with her may also be translated as “loved her,” but the present translation is better because Amnon’s actions toward Tamar show that he never really loved her.
13:3 Jonadab was Amnon’s friend and cousin. Shrewd is literally “wise,” but Jonadab’s wisdom was clearly not used for godly means.
13:5 Jonadab devised a plan by which Amnon could get alone with and close to Tamar.
13:6-8 Amnon followed Jonadab’s plan to the letter, and it worked.
13:9 Amnon seems to have been in a larger room of the house. When everyone left him, he retreated to the bedroom to lie down.
13:10 The bedroom was normally the innermost room of the house and the least public.
13:11 Sleep with me is literally “lie with me”—have intercourse.
13:13 Tamar also insisted the crime would shame both her and her brother. Tamar then suggested that Amnon speak to the king about marrying her first. Her suggestion, however, may have been a means to escape the situation; it is unlikely David would have granted Amnon’s request in violation of the Mosaic law (Lv 18:11; 20:17).
13:14 Amnon’s lust was beyond the reach of reason or human compassion.
13:16 The Torah required a man who raped a virgin to pay her father a significant bride price, and he could never divorce her (Dt 22:28-29). The law protected women by warning men of the consequences of uncontrolled sexual urges. It was also probably assumed that the young woman’s brothers would be sure the man who had dishonored their sister would be a good husband to her. Amnon’s attempt to send Tamar away after he had assaulted her was much worse than the rape itself since it would ensure that her shame was permanent.
13:17-19 “This” was a disrespectful way to speak of Amnon’s half sister whom he had hoped to marry. Tamar’s actions were typical signs of mourning.
13:20 Absalom found Tamar and discovered Amnon had raped her. Be quiet for now probably meant Absalom wanted Tamar to refrain from revealing what happened until he could think of a way to help her or to take vengeance on Amnon. As a desolate woman, Tamar would probably not marry; however, Absalom cared for her in his house.
13:21 David was furious, but he apparently did nothing. The law required that Amnon and Tamar should marry since Amnon raped her (Dt 22:28-29), but it also prohibited sibling marriages (Lv 18:11); thus, this unusual case had no easy solution. David also may have feared challenging Amnon about Tamar because Amnon may have challenged him about his relationship with Bathsheba.
13:22 Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, did not say anything to Amnon, either good or bad, choosing instead to wait for an opportunity for revenge.
13:23-25 Two years later was a long time, but Absalom had not forgotten Amnon’s sin. Sheep-shearing was a time of celebration (1Sm 25:7-8), so Absalom invited all the king’s sons to Baal-hazor about fourteen miles north of Jerusalem.
13:26 Absalom’s request for Amnon to come may have been veiled as something David should do—send the crown prince if the king himself could not come. David challenged Absalom’s request in light of the tension that probably was obvious between him and Absalom.
13:27 After much discussion, David sent Amnon and all the king’s sons. Maybe David sent the others along in hopes of keeping things peaceful between Absalom and Amnon.
13:28 The narrative shifts suddenly to Baal-hazor. Absalom commanded his young men to strike Amnon. He reassured them because they probably feared reprisal from David. Absalom commissioned his hit men with words similar to those God spoke to Joshua (Jos 1:9).
13:30-33 Perhaps he who reported to the king that Absalom had struck down all the king’s sons was one of the first to flee Baal-hazor. Thus he was panicked and lacked full information. David must have regretted his decision to send all his sons to Baal-hazor (v. 27).
Jonadab clarified that only Amnon was dead, and he revealed that Absalom had planned Amnon’s murder ever since Amnon had disgraced his sister Tamar. The text does not reveal how Jonadab knew Absalom’s plans; perhaps it was only his theory, or perhaps he had overheard Absalom muttering threats.
13:34-36 Coming from the road west of him indicates David’s sons had circled around rather than returning directly to Jerusalem.
13:37-38 Talmai was Absalom’s maternal grandfather (3:3). He ruled Geshur, a small Aramean city-state along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Since Talmai was Absalom’s grandfather and was on friendly terms with David, insisting on Absalom’s return would have been politically difficult. Consequently, Absalom stayed three years in Geshur.
13:39 David missed Absalom, and he had finished grieving over Amnon’s death. Yet he did not arrange for Absalom’s homecoming. Whether from lack of fortitude or uncertainty about the right course of action, David’s inaction would lead to further troubles.