2 Samuel 13


Amnon falls in love with his half-sister Tamar, and feigns

himself sick, and requests her to attend him, 1-6.

David sends her to him, and he violates her, 7-14.

He then hates her, and expels her from his house, 15-17,

She rends her garments, puts ashes on her head, and goes forth

weeping, 18, 19.

She is met by Absalom her brother, who, understanding her case,

determines the death of Amnon, 20-22.

Two years after, he invites all his brothers to a

sheep-shearing, when he orders his servants to murder Amnon,


Tidings come to David that Absalom has slain all the king's

sons, which fill him with the bitterest distress, 30, 31.

The rest soon arrive, and he finds that Amnon only is killed,


Absalom flees to Talmai, king of Geshur, where he remains three

years, 37, 38.

David longs after Absalom, having become reconciled to the death

of Amnon, 39.


Verse 1. 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.

Verse 2. 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.

Verse 3. 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.

Verse 12. 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.

Verse 13. 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.

Verse 15. 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


Verse 18. A garment of divers colours]

See Clarke on Ge 37:3, where the same words occur.

Verse 21. But when King David heard] To this verse the

Septuagint add the following words: καιουκελυπησετοπνευμα


"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.

Verse 23. Absalom had sheep-shearers] These were times in which

feasts were made, to which the neighbours and relatives of the

family were invited.

Verse 26. 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.

Verse 30. 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, &c.

"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 vigour as she goes," &c.

Verse 32. 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.

Verse 37. 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

2Sa 3:3.

Verse 39. 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.

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