Reading 88/341, 2 Samuel 12.26-14

[A] With today's reading, we are now 25% of the way through the Bible.
[B] It is pretty difficult to figure out who to cheer for in today's reading. Absalom is not exactly the hero we would hope for. Absalom harbors anger against his brother, but he does not act out of justice. He seems to be fighting more for his own honor than justice for Tamar. I think that we can have sympathy for David, even though this disaster of a family was created by his own decision to have many wives plus commit adultery.
[C] Absalom's murder of Amnom can be compared and contrasted to Joab's murder of Abner, Moses' murder of the Egyptian, and Cain's murder of Abel, but it is most like when Abimelech son of Gideon killed his 70 brothers.
[D] Absalom flees to Geshur because his mother was the princess from there. His grandfather or uncle was the king. Geshur was one of the nations that Joshua was unable to drive out, so that kingdom continued to exist in the midst of Israel.

...2 Samuel...

Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city. Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah. Indeed, I have taken the city of waters. Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it, lest I take the city, and it be called by my name.” David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it. He took the crown of their king from off his head, and the weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone, and it was set on David's head. He brought forth a large amount of spoil from the city. He brought forth the people who were there, and set them to labor with saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them toil at the brick kiln, and thus he did to all the cities of the children of Ammon. David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

Then it happened that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar, and Amnon, the son of David, loved her. Amnon was so vexed that he fell sick because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her, but Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, and Jonadab was a very crafty man. He said to him, “Why, son of the king, are you so haggard from day to day? Will not you tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.” Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be sick, and when your father comes to see you, tell him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it from her hand.’” So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be sick, and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.” Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go now to your brother Amnon's house, and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house, and he was lying down. She took dough, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. She took the pan, and poured them out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Have everyone leave from me.” They went out from him.

Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. When she had brought them near to him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not rape me, for no such thing ought to be done in Israel. Do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where shall I carry my shame? And as for you, you will be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” However he would not listen to her voice, but being stronger than she, he forced her, and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with exceedingly great hatred, for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone.” She said to him, “No, my brother, because this great wrong in sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. Then he called his servant who ministered to him, and said, “Put this woman out from my presence, and bolt the door after her.” She had a coat of many colors on, for with such robes were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her. Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her coat of many colors that she had on, and she laid her hand on her head, and went her way, crying aloud as she went. Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this thing to heart.” So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house. But when king David heard of all these things, he was very angry. Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.

It happened after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. Absalom came to the king, and said, “Behold now, your servant has sheepshearers. Let the king, I pray you, and his servants go with your servant.” The king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, however he would not go, but blessed him. Then said Absalom, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom pressed him, and he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. Absalom commanded his servants, saying, “Mark now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I tell you, ‘Smite Amnon’, then kill him. Be not afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous, and be valiant.” The servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man got up on his mule and fled. It happened, while they were in the way, that the news came to David, saying, “Absalom has slain all the king's sons, and not one of them is left.” Then the king arose, and tore his garments, and lay on the earth, and all his servants standing near tore their garments. Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, answered, “Do not let my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon only is dead. By the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he raped his sister Tamar. Now therefore do not let 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.” But Absalom fled. The young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, many people were coming by way of the hillside road behind him. Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king's sons have come. As your servant said, so it is.” It happened, 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 bitterly. But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai the son of Ammihur, king of Geshur. David mourned for his son day after day. So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. The soul of king David longed to go forth to Absalom, for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.

Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king's heart was toward Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa, and fetched there a wise woman, and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning clothing, and do not anoint yourself with oil, but be as a woman who has a long time mourned for the dead, and go in to the king, and speak in this manner to him.” So Joab put the words in her mouth. When the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and paid homage, and said, “Help, O king.” The king said to her, “What ails you?” She answered, “Alas I am a widow, and my husband is dead. Your handmaid had two sons, and they strove together in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck the other, and killed him. Behold, the whole clan is risen against your handmaid, and they say, ‘Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he killed’, and so they would destroy the heir also. Thus will they quench my coal which is left, and will leave to my husband neither name nor remnants on the surface of the earth.” The king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord, O king, let the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house, and the king and his throne be guiltless.” The king said, “Whoever says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall not touch you anymore.” Then said she, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood destroy no more, lest they destroy my son.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the earth.”

Then the woman said, “Please let your handmaid speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” The woman said, “Why then have you devised such a thing against the people of God? For in speaking this word the king convicts himself, in that the king does not bring home again his banished one. For we all must die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, and God does not take away life, but devises means, that he who is banished will not be an outcast from him. Now therefore seeing that I have come to speak this word to my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid, and your handmaid said, ‘I will now speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant.’ For the king will hear, to deliver his servant out of the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God. Then your handmaid said, ‘Please let the word of my lord the king set me at rest, for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad’, and the Lord your God be with you.” Then the king answered the woman, “Do not hide anything from me that I shall ask you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king now speak.” The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered, “As your soul lives, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. It was your servant Joab. He commanded me, and he put all these words in the mouth of your handmaid. To change the face of the matter, your servant Joab done this thing, and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.”

The king said to Joab, “Behold now, I grant this. Go therefore, bring the young man Absalom back.” Joab fell to the ground on his face, and paid homage, and blessed the king, and Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, in that the king has performed the request of his servant.” So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. The king said, “Let him turn into his own house, but let him not see my face.” So Absalom turned to his own house, and did not see the king's face. Now in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty, from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. When he cut the hair of his head (it was at every year's end that he used to cut it, when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels, according to the king's weight. To Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar, she was a woman with a beautiful face. Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, and he did not see the king's face. Then Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king; but he would not come to him, and he sent again a second time, but he would not come. Therefore he said to his servants, “Behold, Joab's field is near mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” Absalom's servants set the field on fire. Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom to his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” Absalom answered Joab, “Behold, I sent to you, saying, ‘Come here, that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why am I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.”’ Now therefore let me see the king's face, and if there be iniquity in me, let him kill me. So Joab came to the king, and told him, and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king, and the king kissed Absalom.

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