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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 13

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



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.

Verse 1

A fair sister; his sister by father and mother: see 2 Samuel 3:3.

Verse 2

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.

Verse 3

Shimeah, called also Shammah, 1 Samuel 16:9.

Verse 4

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?

Verse 5

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.

Verse 7

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.

Verse 8

He was laid down upon his bed, or rather his couch.

Verse 9

Poured them out; out of the frying-pan into the dish.

Verse 10

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.

Verse 12

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.

Verse 13

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.

Verse 15

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,Genesis 34:3; 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.

Verse 16

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.

Verse 18

Of divers colours; of embroidered work. Compare Genesis 37:3.

Verse 19

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.

Verse 20

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.

Verse 21

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, Deuteronomy 22:23,Deuteronomy 22:24, 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.

Verse 22

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.

Verse 23

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.

Verse 24

To the feast, which was usual upon those occasions. See Genesis 38:12; 1 Samuel 25:7,1 Samuel 25:11.

Verse 25

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·

Verse 26

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·

Verse 27

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.

Verse 28

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?

Verse 29

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.

Verse 30

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.

Verse 32

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.

Verse 34

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.

Verse 37

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.

Verse 39

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 Psalms 84:2; Psalms 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; Ezekiel 13:9,Ezekiel 13:20; Amos 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.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/2-samuel-13.html. 1685.
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