Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.Ammon loveth his sister Tamar; ravisheth her; then hateth and driveth her away, 2 Samuel 13:1-19. Absalom entertaineth and revengeth her with Amnon’s death, 2 Samuel 13:20-29. David is grieved: Absalom fleeth to Geshur, 2 Samuel 13:30-39.
A fair sister; his sister by father and mother: see 2 Samuel 3:3.
And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.He fell sick; the passion of his mind disturbed his body, as is usual. She was a virgin, and therefore diligently kept, so as he could not get private converse with her; and withal modest, and abhorring any compliance with his lustful desires, both from her inclination and interest.
But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.Shimeah, called also Shammah, 1 Samuel 16:9.
And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.From day to day, Heb. from morning to morning; for whereas in the day he had many diversions and refreshments, in the night he was pestered with tormenting thoughts and passions; the effects whereof appeared in his countenance in the morning.
Wilt thou not tell me, thy sure friend and faithful servant, who am ready to advise and assist thee?
And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.Let my sister Tamar come; so he calls her, to prevent the suspicion of any dishonest design upon so near a relation, whom neither nature nor respect and affection would permit him to vitiate.
Eat it at her hand; pretending that his stomach was so nice that he could eat nothing but what he saw dressed, and that by a person whom he much affected.
So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat.It is strange that so wise and sagacious a person as David did not see through so vain a pretence; but that must be ascribed partly to the instincts of nature, which generally preserve near relations from such monstrous actions; and partly to God’s providence, which blinded David’s mind, that he might bring upon him the designed and threatened judgments.
So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.He was laid down upon his bed, or rather his couch.
And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.Poured them out; out of the frying-pan into the dish.
And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.Into the chamber; an inner chamber; either,
1. That wherein he lay sick upon his bed, where also Tamar made the cakes in his sight, who then carried them out into the next room, to bring them in again when he called for them. Or rather,
2. Another chamber; Ammnon lying upon his couch in one chamber where the company were with him, where also she made the cakes before him, first sendeth all out of that room, and then riseth from his couch, and, upon some pretence, goes into another secret chamber, where he might have the better opportunity for his intended wickedness.
And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.No text from Poole on this verse.
And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.Nay, my brother, whom nature both teacheth to abhor such thoughts, and obligeth to defend me from such a mischief with thy utmost hazard if another should attempt it.
Do not force me: thou shouldst abhor it, if I were willing; but to add violence to thy filthiness is abominable.
In Israel; among God’s people, who are taught better things; who also will be infinitely reproached for such a base action.
And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.Whither shall I cause my shame to go? how can I either endure or avoid the shame and reproach of it?
As one of the fools in Israel, i.e. loathsome and contemptible to all the people, whereas now thou art in great reputation, and heir apparent of the crown.
He will not withhold me from thee: this she spake, either because she did not understand or not remember that the law of God prohibited such marriages between a brother and his half-sister; or because she thought her royal father could or would dispense with it, upon this extraordinary occasion, to save his first-born son’s life; or that by this pretence she might free herself from her present and most urgent danger, knowing she should have opportunity enough to prevent other mischiefs.
Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; partly because, his lust being now satisfied, his mind and conscience had a true and clear prospect and deep sense of the natural turpitude and baseness of the action, and of that shame, and contempt, and loss, and mischief which was likely to follow it, and consequently an utter aversion from her who had been the instrument and occasion of his sin; and principally by the just judgment of God, both upon Amnon and David, that so the sin might be made public, and way made for the succeeding tragedies; for otherwise it would probably produce love and kindness to her, as it did in another, Genesis 34:2,3; especially, in him, whom both nature, and interest, and even lust itself, obliged to allay her grief and shame by all possible demonstrations of kindness.
And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.There is no cause, to wit, given thee by me.
This evil is greater than the other: this she might truly say, because though the other was in itself a greater sin, yet this was an act of greater inhumanity and barbarous cruelty, and a greater wrong and calamity to her, (which she means by evil,) because it exposed her to public infamy and contempt, as if she had been an impudent strumpet, and had either enticed him to the sin, or at least consented to it; and besides, it turned a private offence into a public scandal, to the great dishonour of God and of his people Israel, and especially of all the royal family, and was likely to cause direful passions, and breaches, and mischiefs among them.
Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.No text from Poole on this verse.
And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.Of divers colours; of embroidered work. Compare Genesis 37:3.
And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.Put ashes on her head, and rent her garment; to signify her grief for some calamity which had befallen her, and what that was concurring circumstances did easily discover.
Laid her hand on her head, in token of grief and shame, as if she were unable and ashamed to show her face. See Jeremiah 2:37.
Went on crying, to manifest her abhorrency of the fact, and that it was not done by her consent.
And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.Been with thee, i.e. lain with thee. Behold, and imitate the modesty of Scripture expressions.
He is thy brother; therefore thou must forgive and forget the injury; therefore thy disgracing of him will be a blot to us all; therefore thou wilt not get right from David against him, because he is as near and dear to him as thou; therefore thy dishonour is the less, because thou wast not abused by any mean person, but by a king’s son; therefore this evil must be borne, because it cannot be revenged. And thus he covers his design of taking vengeance upon him at the first opportunity.
Regard not this thing, so as to torment thyself.
Desolate; neglected and forsaken by others, none now seeking her in marriage; and through shame and dejection of mind, giving herself up to solitude and retirement.
But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.To wit, with Amnon; whom yet he did not punish, at least so severely as he should; either from the conscience of his own guilt in the like kind; or from that foolish indulgence which he oft showed to his children; or because the case was perplexed; for if he had been put to death for the fact, by virtue of that law, Deu 22:23,24, she also, who was innocent, must have died with him, because she did not cry out; although indeed that law did not reach the present case, Tamar not being betrothed to a husband: and for the following law concerning a virgin not betrothed, that could have no place here: he could not force Amnon to marry Tamar, because that marriage had been incestuous.
And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad, i. e. he said nothing at all to him, to wit, about that business. It is a synecdochical expression, used in like manner, Genesis 31:24. He neither debated it with him, nor threatened him for it; but seemed willing to cover it, and pass it by with brotherly kindness. For if he had wholly forborne all discourse and converse with him, it would have raised great jealousies in Amnon and David, and hindered him in his intended and desired revenge.
For Absalom hated Amnon; or rather, but, or though Absalom, as the Hebrew particle chi commonly signifies; for the following clause is not added as a reason of the former, but by way of exception or opposition. Though he outwardly expressed no dislike of the fact, yet he inwardly hated him.
And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.After two full years: this circumstance of time is noted, partly as an aggravation of Absalom’s malice, which was so inveterate and implacable; and partly as an act of Absalom’s policy, that both Amnon and David might more securely comply with his desires, as being now free from all suspicion of revenge.
Absalom had sheep-shearers, according to the manner of those ancient times, when princes did not give themselves up to sloth and luxury, but spent their time and pains in some honest employment.
Ephraim; either, first, The city called Ephraim, or Ephrem, John 11:54. Or, secondly, The tribe of Ephraim, towards or nigh unto which this place was situate.
And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant.To the feast, which was usual upon those occasions. See Genesis 38:12 1 Samuel 25:7,11.
And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.He pressed him; pretending great desire of his presence there, to prevent any jealousies, which otherwise he thought would arise in the breast of a king so wise and experienced, and under the expectation of God’s dreadful judgments to be inflicted upon his family.
Blessed him; dismissed him with thanks for his kindness, and with his fatherly blessing·
Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee?Let my brother Amnon go with us; for the king designed (as the following words show) to keep him at home with him, as being his eldest son, and heir of his kingdom; otherwise Absalom would never have made particular mention of him, which now he was forced to do. Nor did this desire of Amnon’s presence want specious pretences, as that seeing the king would not, he who was next to him might, honour him with his company; and that this might be a manifest and public token of that love and friendship which was between him and his brother, notwithstanding the former occasion of difference·
But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.It is strange that his urgent desire of Amnon’s company raised no suspicion in so wise a king; but God blinded his mind, that he might execute his judgments upon David, and bring upon Amnon the just punishment of his lewdness.
Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.When Amnon’s heart is merry with wine; when he least suspects, and will be most unable to prevent the evil.
Have not I commanded you; I who am the king’s son, and, when Amnon is gone, his heir; who therefore shall easily obtain pardon for you, and will liberally reward you?
And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.Mules were in use amongst the Israelites. See 1 Kings 1:33. For though they might not promote such mixed kinds of procreation, Leviticus 19:19, yet they might use creatures so engendered.
And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.Which was not improbable, when the sword was once drawn among them, and one of them killed, which might provoke the rest to draw their swords, both to defend themselves, and to revenge their brother’s death, and thereby occasion the death of all. And God suffered this false report to be spread for David’s greater terror and humiliation, that he who had formerly rejoiced in the tidings of Uriah’s death, might now be tormented with the report of the death of all his sons.
Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.Jonadab was a man of great craft and subtlety, and one that had exact knowledge of Amnon’s fact, and of Absalom’s temper.
By the appointment, or, by the command; Heb. mouth, put for command, Numbers 3:16. From the day; it was resolved from that time in his breast; but the word of command was not then given to others, for that would probably have hindered his design. But all this he seems to have spoken from a probable conjecture, rather than of certain knowledge, as appears by the sequel.
Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.No text from Poole on this verse.
But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.Absalom fled; he who had undertaken to defend his servants flees or his own life.
Behind him; behind the watchman; for it seems they did not come in the direct road, where the watchman looked for them, but (for some reason or fancy they had) fetched a compass, and came that way which he least expected them.
And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.No text from Poole on this verse.
But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.Talmai, the son of Ammihud; his mother’s father, 2 Samuel 3:3; that he might have present protection and sustenance from him; and that by his mediation he might obtain his father’s pardon and favour.
So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.To go forth unto Absalom, to wit, to visit him, or to send for him. And thus this word the soul is here understood, partly from the Hebrew verb, which being of the feminine gender, agrees not with David, but with David’s soul; and partly by comparing this with other places, where the same verb is used, and the soul expressed, as Psalm 84:2 119:81. But as this supplement may seem too bold, so this version seems not so well to agree with that phrase of going out to Absalom; for David neither desired nor intended to go out to Absalom, but that Absalom should come home to him. And these words may be and are otherwise rendered, by the most ancient and remarkable interpreters, to this purpose; And king David made an end of going out (to wit, in an hostile manner, as that verb is oft used, Genesis 14:18 2 Samuel 11:1) against (for so the Hebrew particle el is oft used, as Jeremiah 34:7 Eze 13 9,20 Am 7:15). Absalom; i. e. having used some, though it is probable but cold and remiss, endeavours to pursue after Absalom, and to fetch him from his grandfather’s to receive condign punishment, he now gave over thoughts of it. Thus the same verb, and that in the same conjugation, is used in the same manner, 1 Kings 3:1, he made an end of building. It is to be objected, That the Hebrew verb is of the feminine gender, and therefore doth not agree with king David, which is masculine. It may be answered, That enallage of genders is a most frequent figure; and as the masculine gender is sometimes applied to women when they do some manly and gallant action, Exodus 1:21, so the feminine gender is sometimes used of men when they show an effeminate tenderness in their disposition; which is the case here, as some learned Hebricians have noted.