2 Kings xiii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Thamar was born of Maacha, as well as Absalom.

Ver. 2. Her. He had seen her on some solemn occasions, when virgins were allowed to go out, well attended. At other times they were so strictly guarded, that Amnon thought it almost impossible to gratify his passion, (Calmet) which made him grow pale. He afterwards feigned himself to be more sickly than he really was, ver. 6. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. A very wise man. That is, a crafty and subtle man: for the counsel he gave on this occasion shews that his wisdom was but carnal and worldly. (Challoner) — Jonadab seems to be styled Jonathan, chap. xxi. 21. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. King? to whom every indulgence must be allowed. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. To me. Hebrew, “and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it,” &c. (Haydock) — He pretends to be disgusted with food, (Calmet) unless he see his sister make it ready. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Messes. Hebrew, “cakes, or cordials;” what might refresh the heart, and give an appetite. The queen of Perdiccas, of Macedon, baked bread for her servants. (Herodotus viii. 137.) (Genesis xviii. 6.)

Ver. 9. Out. This conveys the idea of something liquid. (Calmet) — It was a thin wafer, (Haydock) or cake, of which there were different sorts.

Ver. 10. Chamber. Hebrew Chadera, “bed-place,” (Canticle of Canticles i. 4.) where Amnon was lying. (Calmet)

Ver. 12. Folly, or impiety, so directly contrary to the law, Leviticus xviii. 6. and 9. and 11. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Thee. Was she ignorant that such marriages could not be allowed? (Calmet) — Some think she was. (Grotius) (Menochius) — Others believe that, in her present situation, she said what first came into her head, to get out of the hands of her brother. The Rabbins pretend that she was conceived before David married her mother, and that the latter was a pagan; so that they suppose there was no relationship between Thamar and Amnon. But this is all asserted without proof. (Calmet)

Ver. 15. Before. Such changes are not unfrequent in those who give way to disorderly passions, as Aristotle (prob. iv.) proves. Semiramis slew her lovers, and among the rest her own son. (Tirinus) — God caused Amnon to be stung with remorse, and the evil spirit pushed him on to extremities, which filled the palace with scandal and bloodshed. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. Greater, as being more public; (Tirinus) and all would think her guilty of some horrible misdemeanor. (Haydock) — It made the divulging of the crime in some degree necessary. (Menochius) — Unhappy woman! why did she not cry out, at least, before the perpetration of the act, as the law directed? (Deuteronomy xxii. 24.) (Salien, the year of the world 3000.)

Ver. 18. Robe. Hebrew passim; long and variegated, like Joseph’s, Genesis xxxvii. 3. The Septuagint call it, karpotos, to insinuate that it was “adorned with fruits,” &c. (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Head, as if to hide her face, Ezechiel xxvii. 30., and Jeremias ii. 37. So Mezentius:

“Canitiem immundo deformat pulvere et ambas

Ad Cœlum tendit palmas.”—– (Virgil, Æneid x.) See Homer, Iliad 2. (Calmet)

— Crying, that no one might think she had consented. (Menochius) — She probably went directly to her brother’s house, and related the affair to him; or he met her in this condition. (Salien)

Ver. 20. Brother. His disgrace will fall upon the whole royal family, and the king will not bring him to punishment, like another. (Calmet) — Away. Hebrew and Chaldean, “desolate.” (Menochius) — Septuagint, “like a widow.”

Ver. 21. And he, &c. This is not in Hebrew, &c., nor in St. Jerome’s version. Josephus and some copies of the Septuagint read it. But the reason here alleged would not suffice to excuse David. (Calmet) — He might think that, as he had shewn such a bad example himself, he could not with a good grace punish others. (Sanctius) — This however was requisite, as long as he was king. Whatever faults he might have fallen into, he was not on that account to suffer crimes to remain unpunished; (Haydock) and it is supposed that he testified his resentment to Amnon; (Salien, &c.) though the Scripture be silent thereon. (Haydock) — Abulensis condemns him for too great remissness. (Menochius)

Ver. 23. Two. Hebrew, “full years.” He waited so long, that he might put his murderous designs in execution with less suspicion. (Haydock) — Sheep. It was esteemed the best husbandry, “to have fine flocks;” bene pascere: (Cato) even for the nobility. — Ephraim, or Ephrem; (John xi. 54.) probably near Bethel. (Josephus, Jewish Wars v. 33.) (Calmet) — Nabal had made a feast on a similar occasion, 1 Kings xxv. Absalom invites his father to avoid suspicion; (Menochius) though he would be glad at his refusing to come, unless perhaps he would not have hesitated to order his brother to be murdered in his very presence, in order to punish both. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. Blessed him, wishing him joy. Absalom kept a separate establishment, and had many children, chap. xiv. 27. (Menochius)

Ver. 26. Amnon. He mentions him as the eldest, and that David might suppose that they were perfectly reconciled. (Calmet) — The unhappy father seems for a long time to have expressed a reluctance and foreboding. (Haydock)

Ver. 28. It is I: the blame will fall on me; I will rescue all from danger. These servants were probably infidels, of Gessur, and fled with their master. (Menochius)

Ver. 29. Mule. This is the first time we find these animals used to ride on. The judges had fair asses. These mules were not the offspring of horses and asses. They bear young in Syria, (Aristotle, anim. vi. 24.) and are little inferior to horses in size, though they are shaped like our mules. (Aristotle, anim. xxxvi.)

Ver. 30. Left. Fame often magnifies. (Menochius) — Crescit eundo. (Haydock)

Ver. 32. Mouth. Chaldean [and] Syriac, “heart.” Aquila, “because Absalom was in wrath against him.” He had resolved upon his destruction. (Calmet) — Perhaps he had expressed his intention to some of the court; and this Jonadab (by whose means the crime had been committed, ver. 5) had heard of it. (Haydock)

Ver. 34. Mountain. Olivet. (Calmet) — They had not kept the high road through fear of Absalom; (Abulensis) who, on his part, fled out of the country, as no city of refuge was able to protect wilful murderers. (Haydock)

Ver. 37. Tholomai, or Tholmai, (Haydock; chap. iii. 3.) his maternal grandfather. (Calmet)

Ver. 38. Ceased. We do not read that he had pursued Absalom before. (Calmet) — Now he laid aside all thoughts of punishing him, as he began even to desire to see him again, when he reflected that Amnon had deserved death. (Haydock) — Hebrew also, “he burnt with a secret desire to receive Absalom,” chap. xiv. 1. (Jonathan; Vatable, &c.) (Calmet) — Protestants, “the soul of king David longed to go forth unto,” &c. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Amnon ravisheth Thamar. For which Absalom killeth him, and flieth to Gessur.

1 And *it came to pass after this, that Amnon, the son of David, loved the sister of Absalom, the son of David, who was very beautiful; and her name was Thamar.

2 And he was exceedingly fond of her, so that he fell sick for the love of her: for as she was a virgin, he thought it hard to do any thing dishonestly with her.

3 Now Amnon had a friend, named Jonadab, the son of Semmaa, the brother of David, a very wise man:

4 And he said to him: Why dost thou grow so lean from day to day, O son of the king? why dost thou not tell me the reason of it? And Amnon said to him: I am in love with Thamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.

5 And Jonadab said to him: Lie down upon thy bed, and feign thyself sick: and when thy father shall come to visit thee, say to him: Let my sister Thamar, I pray thee, come to me, to give me to eat, and to make me a mess, that I may eat it at her hand.

6 So Amnon lay down, and made as if he were sick: and when the king came to visit him, Amnon said to the king: I pray thee, let my sister Thamar come, and make in my sight two little messes, that I may eat at her hand.

7 Then David sent home to Thamar, saying: Come to the house of thy brother Amnon, and make him a mess.

8 And Thamar came to the house of Amnon, her brother: but he was laid down: and she took meal and tempered it: and dissolving it in his sight, she made little messes.

9 And taking what she had boiled, she poured it out, and set it before him, but he would not eat: and Amnon said: Put out all persons from me. And when they had put all persons out,

10 Amnon said to Thamar: Bring the mess into the chamber, that I may eat at thy hand. And Thamar took the little messes which she had made, and brought them into her brother Amnon, in the chamber.

11 And when she had presented him the meat, he took hold of her, and said: Come, lie with me, my sister.

12 She answered him: Do not so, my brother, do not force me: for no such thing must be done in Israel. Do not thou this folly.

13 For I shall not be able to bear my shame, and thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel: but rather speak to the king, and he will not deny me to thee.

14 But he would not hearken to her prayers, but being stronger, overpowered her, and lay with her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with an exceeding great hatred: so that the hatred, wherewith he hated her, was greater than the love with which he had loved her before. And Amnon said to her: Arise, and get thee gone.

16 She answered him: This evil, which now thou dost against me, in driving me away, is greater than that which thou didst before. And he would not hearken to her.

17 But calling the servants that ministered to him, he said: Thrust this woman out from me: and shut the door after her.

18 And she was clothed with a long robe: for the king’s daughters, that were virgins, used such kind of garments. Then his servant thrust her out; and shut the door after her.

19 And she put ashes on her head, and rent her long robe, and laid her hands upon her head, and went on crying.

20 And Absalom, her brother, said to her: Hath thy brother Amnon lain with thee? but now, sister, hold thy peace, he is thy brother: and afflict not thy heart for this thing. So Thamar remained pining away in the house of Absalom her brother.

21 And when king David heard of these things he was exceedingly grieved: and he would not afflict the spirit of his son Amnon, for he loved him, because he was his first-born.

22 But Absalom spoke not to Amnon, neither good nor evil: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had ravished his sister Thamar.

23 And it came to pass, after two years, *that the sheep of Absalom were shorn in Baalhasor, which is near Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king’s sons:

24 And he came to the king, and said to him: Behold thy servant’s sheep are shorn: Let the king, I pray, with his servants, come to his servant.

25 And the king said to Absalom: Nay, my son, do not ask that we should all come, and be chargeable to thee. And when he pressed him, and he would not go, he blessed him.

26 And Absalom said: If thou wilt not come, at least let my brother, Amnon, I beseech thee, come with us. And the king said to him: It is not necessary that he should go with thee.

27 But Absalom pressed him, so that he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. And Absalom made a feast, as it were the feast of a king.

28 And Absalom had commanded his servants, saying: Take notice when Amnon shall be drunk with wine, and when I shall say to you: Strike him, and kill him; fear not: for it is I that command you: take courage, and be valiant men.

29 And the servants of Absalom did to Amnon, as Absalom had commanded them. And all the king’s sons arose, and got up every man upon his mule, and fled.

30 And while they were yet in the way, a rumour came to David, saying: Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.

31 Then the king rose up, and rent his garments, and fell upon the ground: and all his servants, that stood about him, rent their garments.

32 But Jonadab, the son of Semmaa, David’s brother, answering, said: Let not my lord the king think, that all the king’s sons are slain: Amnon only is dead, for he was appointed by the mouth of Absalom from the day that he ravished his sister, Thamar.

33 Now, therefore, let not my lord the king take this thing into his heart, saying: All the king’s sons are slain: for Amnon only is dead.

34 But Absalom fled away: and the young man that kept the watch, lifted up his eyes and looked: and behold there came much people by a bye-way on the side of the mountain.

35 And Jonadab said to the king: Behold the king’s sons are come: as thy servant said, so it is.

36 And when he made an end of speaking, the king’s sons also appeared: and, coming in, they lifted up their voice, and wept: and the king also, and all his servants, wept very much.

37 But Absalom fled, and went to Tholomai, the son of Ammiud, the king of Gessur. And David mourned for his son every day.

38 And Absalom, after he was fled, and come into Gessur, was there three years. And king David ceased to pursue after Absalom, because he was comforted concerning the death of Amnon.



1: Year of the World 2972, Year before Christ 1032.

23: Year of the World 2974, Year before Christ 1030