1 David's son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her.
2 Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible that he could ever fulfill his love for her.
3 Now Amnon had a very crafty friend--his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David's brother Shimea.*1
4 One day Jonadab said to Amnon, "What's the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?" So Amnon told him, "I am in love with Tamar, Absalom's sister."
5 "Well," Jonadab said, "I'll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are sick. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you'll feel better if she feeds you."
6 So Amnon pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, "Please let Tamar come to take care of me and cook something for me to eat."
7 So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon's house to prepare some food for him.
8 When Tamar arrived at Amnon's house, she went to the room where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked some special bread for him.
9 But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. "Everyone get out of here," Amnon told his servants. So they all left.
10 Then he said to Tamar, "Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here." So Tamar took it to him.
11 But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, "Come to bed with me, my darling sister."
12 "No, my brother!" she cried. "Don't be foolish! Don't do this to me! You know what a serious crime it is to do such a thing in Israel.
13 Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me."
14 But Amnon wouldn't listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her.
15 Then suddenly Amnon's love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. "Get out of here!" he snarled at her.
16 "No, no!" Tamar cried. "To reject me now is a greater wrong than what you have already done to me." But Amnon wouldn't listen to her.
17 He shouted for his servant and demanded, "Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!"
18 So the servant put her out. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,* as was the custom in those days for the king's virgin daughters.2
19 But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.
20 Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, "Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, don't be so upset. Since he's your brother anyway, don't worry about it." So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in Absalom's house.
21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.
22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about it, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.
23 Two years later, when Absalom's sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king's sons to come to a feast.
24 He went to the king and said, "My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?"
25 The king replied, "No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you." Absalom pressed him, but the king wouldn't come, though he sent his thanks.
26 "Well, then," Absalom said, "if you can't come, how about sending my brother Amnon instead?" "Why Amnon?" the king asked.
27 But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon.
28 Absalom told his men, "Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don't be afraid. I'm the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!"