|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-20 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.
Verse 2. - Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick. The Hebrew literally is, and it was narrow to Amnon, even to becoming sick. To an Oriental a feeling of narrowness means distress, while in joy there is a sense of largeness and expansion. Our words for distress have lost this picturesque force. That Amnon thought it hard does not mean that he had any feeling for his sister's disgrace, but that he knew that his attempt was difficult. He did not see how he could get Tamar into his power, and feared the consequences. The wives had each her own dwelling, and the daughters were kept in strict seclusion.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Amnon was so vexed,.... Distressed, straitened, and perplexed in his mind through unruly and unbridled lusts that raged in him:
that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; as Antiochus son of Seleucus did for his mother in law Stratonice, who, to cure him of it, was delivered to him by his father (s):
for she was a virgin; and so kept very recluse from the company of men, that he could not come at her; so Philo (t), speaking of the Jewish women, and particularly virgins, says, that they were shut up in their chambers, and through modesty shun the sight of men, even those of their own house; hence they are called from a word which signifies to hide; and Phocylides (u) the poet advises to the shutting of them up in like manner:
and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her; that it was difficult to have access to her, almost impossible, what he despaired of, and what, if attained to, would be wonderful and amazing; he was at his wits' end how to contrive any scheme to get at her, and obtain his desire.
(s) See the Universal History, vol. 3. p. 519. Ed. fol. (t) In Flaccum, p. 977. (u) Poem. admon. v. 203, 204.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. for she was a virgin—Unmarried daughters were kept in close seclusion from the company of men; no strangers, nor even their relatives of the other sex, being permitted to see them without the presence of witnesses. Of course, Amnon must have seen Tamar, for he had conceived a violent passion for her, which, though forbidden by the law (Le 18:11), yet with the sanction of Abraham's example (Ge 20:12), and the common practice in neighboring countries for princes to marry their half sisters, he seems not to have considered an improper connection. But he had no means of making it known to her, and the pain of that disappointment preying upon his mind produced a visible change in his appearance and health.
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