2 Samuel 13-15
Chapter 13 is so sordid I’m not going to recap it. A couple of discussion points – why is it that Tamar wants Amnon to marry her? Sad statement about the status of women in society, that she would prefer marrying her rapist over the alternative, which seems to be living as a ‘desolate woman’ in her brother Absalom’s house (unmarriageable and shamed). Why doesn’t Absalom do anything about it for two years? And why doesn’t David intervene? Aha, the reason is in a footnote: Verse 21 reads: “When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.” (NLT, others are similar). But here’s the footnote to that verse: “Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version add ‘But he did not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.’”
So David is playing favorites to the point where the spoiled eldest child can get away with anything. In fact, when Absalom finally takes his revenge by murdering Amnon, David mourns Amnon and forces Absalom to flee. WTF? Good thing I don’t turn to the bible for lessons in parenting. If this chapter were made into a movie, what would the classification be? (incest, rape, murder….)
There are some words of wisdom from a wise woman, who is sent by David’s right-hand-man Joab to help reconcile David and Absalom. So Absalom returns with his family – including a daughter named Tamar! – but David still holds a grudge and stubbornly refuses to speak to him. Absalom uses extortion to persuade Joad to intervene on his behalf. Such a nice bunch. Next time I hear people wanting to be a ‘Biblical family’, I’ll think of this clan.
Absalom proves himself to be the most schmoozy, sleazy, cunning politician ever. He wheels and deals with the populace for 4 years and then once he has their support, he stages a coup. David and his followers flee Jerusalem, leaving only 10 concubines to ‘look after the palace’ (ie fend for themselves). He takes the Ark of the Covenant with him, then sends it back – what was the purpose of that? Now he and Absalom are each trying to infiltrate the other’s camp with spies. Remember the old cartoon in Mad Magazine?