2 Samuel 13-14 Good News Translation (GNT)
Amnon and Tamar
13 David's son Absalom had a beautiful unmarried sister named Tamar. Amnon, another of David's sons, fell in love with her. 2 He was so much in love with her that he became sick, because it seemed impossible for him to have her; as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men. 3 But he had a friend, a very shrewd man named Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah. 4 Jonadab said to Amnon, “You are the king's son, yet day after day I see you looking sad. What's the matter?”
“I'm in love with Tamar, the sister of my half brother Absalom,” he answered.
5 Jonadab said to him, “Pretend that you are sick and go to bed. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please ask my sister Tamar to come and feed me. I want her to fix the food here where I can see her, and then serve it to me herself.’” 6 So Amnon pretended that he was sick and went to bed.
King David went to see him, and Amnon said to him, “Please let Tamar come and make a few cakes here where I can see her, and then serve them to me herself.”
7 So David sent word to Tamar in the palace: “Go to Amnon's house and fix him some food.” 8 She went there and found him in bed. She took some dough, prepared it, and made some cakes there where he could see her. Then she baked the cakes 9 and emptied them out of the pan for him to eat, but he wouldn't. He said, “Send everyone away”—and they all left. 10 Then he said to her, “Bring the cakes here to my bed and serve them to me yourself.” She took the cakes and went over to him. 11 As she offered them to him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me!”
12 “No,” she said. “Don't force me to do such a degrading thing! That's awful! 13 How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you—you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I'm sure that he will give me to you.” 14 But he would not listen to her; and since he was stronger than she was, he overpowered her and raped her.
15 Then Amnon was filled with a deep hatred for her; he hated her now even more than he had loved her before. He said to her, “Get out!”
16 “No,” she answered. “To send me away like this is a greater crime[a] than what you just did!”
But Amnon would not listen to her; 17 he called in his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight! Throw her out and lock the door!” 18 The servant put her out and locked the door.
Tamar was wearing a long robe with full sleeves,[b] the usual clothing for an unmarried princess in those days.[c] 19 She sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying. 20 When her brother Absalom saw her, he asked, “Has Amnon molested you? Please, sister, don't let it upset you so much. He is your half brother, so don't tell anyone about it.” So Tamar lived in Absalom's house, sad and lonely.
21 When King David heard what had happened, he was furious. 22 And Absalom hated Amnon so much for having raped his sister Tamar that he would no longer even speak to him.
23 Two years later Absalom was having his sheep sheared at Baal Hazor, near the town of Ephraim, and he invited all the king's sons to be there. 24 He went to King David and said, “Your Majesty, I am having my sheep sheared. Will you and your officials come and take part in the festivities?”
25 “No, my son,” the king answered. “It would be too much trouble for you if we all went.” Absalom insisted, but the king would not give in, and he asked Absalom to leave.
26 But Absalom said, “Well, then, will you at least let my brother Amnon come?”
“Why should he?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on insisting until David finally let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king[d] 28 and instructed his servants: “Notice when Amnon has had too much to drink, and then when I give the order, kill him. Don't be afraid. I will take the responsibility myself. Be brave and don't hesitate!” 29 So the servants followed Absalom's instructions and killed Amnon. All the rest of David's sons mounted their mules and fled.
30 While they were on their way home, David was told: “Absalom has killed all your sons—not one of them is left!” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes in sorrow, and threw himself to the ground. The servants who were there with him tore their clothes also. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shammah, said, “Your Majesty, they haven't killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. You could tell by looking at Absalom that he had made up his mind to do this from the time that Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 So don't believe the news that all your sons are dead; only Amnon was killed.”
34 In the meantime Absalom had fled.
Just then the soldier on sentry duty saw a large crowd coming down the hill on the road from Horonaim.[e] He went to the king and reported what he had seen.[f] 35 Jonadab said to David, “Those are your sons coming, just as I said they would.” 36 As soon as he finished saying this, David's sons came in; they started crying, and David and his officials also cried bitterly.
37-38 Absalom fled and went to the king of Geshur, Talmai son of Ammihud, and stayed there three years. David mourned a long time for his son Amnon; 39 but when he got over Amnon's death, he was filled with longing for his son Absalom.
Joab Arranges for Absalom's Return
14 Joab knew that King David missed Absalom very much, 2 so he sent for a clever woman who lived in Tekoa. When she arrived, he said to her, “Pretend that you are in mourning; put on your mourning clothes, and don't comb your hair. Act like a woman who has been in mourning for a long time. 3 Then go to the king and say to him what I tell you to say.” Then Joab told her what to say.
4 The woman went to the king, bowed down to the ground in respect, and said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
5 “What do you want?” he asked her.
“I am a poor widow, sir,” she answered. “My husband is dead. 6 Sir, I had two sons, and one day they got into a quarrel out in the fields, where there was no one to separate them, and one of them killed the other. 7 And now, sir, all my relatives have turned against me and are demanding that I hand my son over to them, so that they can kill him for murdering his brother. If they do this, I will be left without a son. They will destroy my last hope and leave my husband without a son to keep his name alive.”
8 “Go back home,” the king answered, “and I will take care of the matter.”
9 “Your Majesty,” she said, “whatever you do, my family and I will take the blame; you and the royal family are innocent.”
10 The king replied, “If anyone threatens you, bring him to me, and he will never bother you again.”
11 She said, “Your Majesty, please pray to the Lord your God, so that my relative who is responsible for avenging the death of my son will not commit a greater crime by killing my other son.”
“I promise by the living Lord,” David replied, “that your son will not be harmed in the least.”
12 “Please, Your Majesty, let me say just one more thing,” the woman said.
“All right,” he answered.
13 She said to him, “Why have you done such a wrong to God's people? You have not allowed your own son to return from exile, and so you have condemned yourself by what you have just said. 14 We will all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which can't be gathered again. Even God does not bring the dead back to life, but the king can at least find a way to bring a man back from exile.[g] 15 Now, Your Majesty, the reason I have come to speak to you is that the people threatened me, and so I said to myself that I would speak to you in the hope that you would do what I ask. 16 I thought you would listen to me and save me from the one who is trying to kill my son and me and so remove us from the land God gave his people. 17 I said to myself that your promise, sir, would make me safe, because the king is like God's angel and can distinguish good from evil.[h] May the Lord your God be with you!”
18 The king answered, “I'm going to ask you a question, and you must tell me the whole truth.”
“Ask me anything, Your Majesty,” she answered.
19 “Did Joab put you up to this?” he asked her.
She answered, “I swear by all that is sacred, Your Majesty, that there is no way to avoid answering your question.[i] It was indeed your officer Joab who told me what to do and what to say. 20 But he did it in order to straighten out this whole matter. Your Majesty is as wise as the angel of God and knows everything that happens.”
21 Later on the king said to Joab, “I have decided to do what you want. Go and get the young man Absalom and bring him back here.”
22 Joab threw himself to the ground in front of David in respect, and said, “God bless you, Your Majesty! Now I know that you are pleased with me, because you have granted my request.” 23 Then he got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 The king, however, gave orders that Absalom should not live in the palace. “I don't want to see him,” the king said. So Absalom lived in his own house and did not appear before the king.
Absalom Is Reconciled to David
25 There was no one in Israel as famous for his good looks as Absalom; he had no defect from head to toe. 26 His hair was very thick, and he had to cut it once a year, when it grew too long and heavy. It would weigh about five pounds according to the royal standard of weights. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter named Tamar, a very beautiful woman.
28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king. 29 Then he sent for Joab, to ask him to go to the king for him; but Joab would not come. Again Absalom sent for him, and again Joab refused to come. 30 So Absalom said to his servants, “Look, Joab's field is next to mine, and it has barley growing in it. Go and set fire to it.” So they went and set the field on fire.
31 Joab went to Absalom's house and demanded, “Why did your servants set fire to my field?”
32 Absalom answered, “Because you wouldn't come when I sent for you. I wanted you to go to the king and ask for me: ‘Why did I leave Geshur and come here? It would have been better for me to have stayed there.’” And Absalom went on, “I want you to arrange for me to see the king, and if I'm guilty, then let him put me to death.”
33 So Joab went to King David and told him what Absalom had said. The king sent for Absalom, who went to him and bowed down to the ground in front of him. The king welcomed him with a kiss.
2 Samuel 13-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Amnon and Tamar
13 Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her. 2 Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4 He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” 5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’” 6 So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.”
7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9 Then she took the pan and set them[a] out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! 13 As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.
15 Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, “Get out!” 16 But she said to him, “No, my brother;[b] for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. 17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” 18 (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.[c]) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. 19 But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.[d] 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.
Absalom Avenges the Violation of His Sister
23 After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Absalom came to the king, and said, “Your servant has sheepshearers; will the king and his servants please go with your servant?” 25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, or else we will be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Absalom made a feast like a king’s feast.[e] 28 Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Watch when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not be afraid; have I not myself commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons rose, and each mounted his mule and fled.
30 While they were on the way, the report came to David that Absalom had killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them was left. 31 The king rose, tore his garments, and lay on the ground; and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king’s sons; Amnon alone is dead. This has been determined by Absalom from the day Amnon[f] raped his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore, do not let my lord the king take it to heart, as if all the king’s sons were dead; for Amnon alone is dead.”
34 But Absalom fled. When the young man who kept watch looked up, he saw many people coming from the Horonaim road[g] by the side of the mountain. 35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” 36 As soon as he had finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, and raised their voices and wept; and the king and all his servants also wept very bitterly.
37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. David mourned for his son day after day. 38 Absalom, having fled to Geshur, stayed there three years. 39 And the heart of[h] the king went out, yearning for Absalom; for he was now consoled over the death of Amnon.
Absalom Returns to Jerusalem
14 Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. 2 Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. 3 Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth.
4 When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and did obeisance, and said, “Help, O king!” 5 The king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 Your servant had two sons, and they fought with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole family has risen against your servant. They say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother, so that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he murdered, even if we destroy the heir as well.’ Thus they would quench my one remaining ember, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the face of the earth.”
8 Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” 9 The woman of Tekoa said to the king, “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father’s house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 The king said, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall never touch you again.” 11 Then she said, “Please, may the king keep the Lord your God in mind, so that the avenger of blood may kill no more, and my son not be destroyed.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.” He said, “Speak.” 13 The woman said, “Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence.[i] 15 Now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid; your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his servant. 16 For the king will hear, and deliver his servant from the hand of the man who would cut both me and my son off from the heritage of God.’ 17 Your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God, discerning good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!”
18 Then the king answered the woman, “Do not withhold from me anything I ask you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak.” 19 The king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?” The woman answered and said, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, one cannot turn right or left from anything that my lord the king has said. For it was your servant Joab who commanded me; it was he who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 In order to change the course of affairs your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth.”
21 Then the king said to Joab, “Very well, I grant this; go, bring back the young man Absalom.” 22 Joab prostrated himself with his face to the ground and did obeisance, 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 granted the request of his servant.” 23 So Joab set off, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 The king said, “Let him go to his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom went to his own house, and did not come into the king’s presence.
David Forgives Absalom
25 Now in all Israel there was no one to be praised so much for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 When he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight. 27 There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
28 So Absalom lived two full years in Jerusalem, without coming into the king’s presence. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab to send him to the king; but Joab would not come to him. He sent a second time, but Joab would not come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Joab rose and went to Absalom at his house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent word to you: Come here, that I may send you to the king with the question, ‘Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.’ Now let me go into the king’s presence; if there is guilt in me, let him kill me!” 33 Then Joab went to the king and told him; and he summoned Absalom. So he came to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king; and the king kissed Absalom.
2 Samuel 13-14 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
13 Now Avshalom the son of David had a beautiful sister named Tamar. Some time after the previous events, Amnon the son of David fell in love with her. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he became ill, for she was a virgin, and Amnon thought it would be impossible to approach her. 3 But Amnon had a friend named Yonadav the son of Shim‘ah David’s brother; and Yonadav was a very shrewd fellow. 4 He asked him, “Why, son of the king, are you growing thinner every day? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon answered him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Avshalom’s sister.” 5 Yonadav said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food to eat, and have her prepare the food where I can watch. I’ll eat what she serves me.” 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended he was sick. 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 here where I can watch, and I’ll eat what she serves me.” 7 David sent this instruction home to Tamar: “Go now to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare him some food.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes while he watched, and baked the cakes. 9 Then she took the pan and turned them out in front of him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Have everyone leave me”; and everyone left him. 10 Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the room, so that I can have you serve me. Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the room to Amnon her brother. 11 But when she brought them near, so that he could eat, he grabbed her and said to her, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” 12 “No, my brother,” she answered him, “don’t force me! Things like this aren’t done in Isra’el; don’t behave so disgracefully! 13 Where could I go with such shame? And as for you, you will be regarded as one of Isra’el’s vulgar brutes. Now therefore, please! Speak to the king, because he won’t keep me from you.” 14 However, he wouldn’t listen to her; and since he was stronger than she, he overpowered her and raped her. 15 But then he was filled with utter revulsion for her — his hatred of her was even greater than the love he had had for her before. Amnon said to her, “Get up, and get out of here!” 16 “No,” she objected, “because throwing me out like this is an even worse thing than what you’ve already done to me!” But he wouldn’t listen to her; 17 he called his personal servant and said, “Get rid of this woman for me! Throw her out, and lock the door after her!” 18 She was wearing a long-sleeved robe (this was how they used to dress the king’s daughters who were virgins). His servant took her out and locked the door after her. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head, tore her long-sleeved robe that she was wearing, laid her hand on her head and went off, crying aloud as she went.
20 Avshalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now, my sister, keep quiet; because he’s your brother. Don’t take the matter to heart.” But Tamar remained desolate in her brother Avshalom’s house.
21 When King David heard about all these things, he became very angry. 22 As for Avshalom, he refused to say a word to Amnon, either good or bad; for Avshalom hated Amnon for having raped his sister Tamar.
23 Two years later, when Avshalom had sheep-shearers in Ba‘al-Hatzor, near Efrayim, Avshalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Avshalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has sheep-shearers; please let the king and his servants come along with your servant.” 25 The king replied to Avshalom, “No, my son, let’s not all go — we don’t want to be a burden to you.” Avshalom pressed him, but he wouldn’t go; however he gave him his blessing. 26 Then Avshalom said, “If you won’t go, then please let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Avshalom kept pressing him, so he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.
28 Avshalom ordered his servants, “Pay close attention: when Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine, and I say to you, ‘Kill Amnon,’ then strike him down. Don’t be afraid — I’m the one ordering you to do it — but take courage, and be bold.” 29 Avshalom’s servants did to Amnon as Avshalom had ordered. At this, all the king’s sons jumped up, mounted their mules and fled.
30 While they were on their way, the news came to David that Avshalom had killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them was left alive. 31 The king got up, tore his clothes and lay on the ground, while all his servants stood by with their clothes torn too. 32 But then Yonadav, the son of Shim‘ah, David’s brother, spoke up; he said, “My lord shouldn’t think they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons. Only Amnon is dead; for Avshalom has meant to do this ever since the day he raped his sister Tamar. 33 So my lord the king shouldn’t take it as seriously as if all the king’s sons are dead; only Amnon is dead.”
34 However, Avshalom took flight. The young man keeping watch looked up and saw many people coming along the road behind him on the hillside. 35 Yonadav said to the king, “Here, the king’s sons have come; it’s just as your servant said.” 36 The moment he finished speaking, the king’s sons came, cried out and wept; and the king too, with all his servants, cried out in great pain. 37 Avshalom fled and went to Talmai the son of ‘Ammihud, king of G’shur. David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Avshalom fled, went to G’shur and stayed there three years. 39 But as King David became reconciled to the death of his son Amnon, he was increasingly filled with longing to see Avshalom.
14 Yo’av the son of Tz’ruyah perceived that the king missed Avshalom; 2 so Yo’av sent to T’koa, brought from there a clever woman and said to her, “Please, pretend you’re a mourner. Put on mourning clothes, and don’t anoint yourself with oil, but appear to be a woman who has mourned for the dead a long time. 3 Go in to the king and speak to him in this fashion — ” and then Yo’av told her just what to say. 4 When the woman of T’koa spoke to the king, she fell down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself, and said, “King, help!” 5 The king said to her, “What’s the trouble?” She answered, “I’m a widow. After my husband died, 6 my two sons were out in the field; and they got into a fight with each other. There was no one to separate them, and one hit the other and killed him. 7 Now the whole family has come against me, your servant; they’re saying, ‘Hand over the one who hit his brother, so that we can put him to death for killing his brother.’ They want to destroy the heir as well and thus quench my one remaining coal; then my husband will have neither name nor survivor anywhere on earth.”
8 The king said to the woman, “Go back home; I myself will decide what to do about you.” 9 The woman of T’koa said to the king, “My lord, king, let the guilt be on me and my father’s family; the king and his throne be guiltless.” 10 The king answered, “If anyone says anything to you, bring him to me; and he won’t bother you any more.” 11 “Please,” she said, “let the king swear by Adonai your God that the blood avengers won’t do any more destroying, so they won’t destroy my son.” He said, “As Adonai lives, not one of your son’s hairs will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Please allow your servant to say something else to my lord the king.” “Go on,” he replied. 13 The woman said, “Why is it, then, that you have produced a situation exactly like this against God’s people? By saying what you have said, the king has virtually incriminated himself — in that the king does not bring home again the son he banished. 14 For we will all die someday; we’ll be like water spilled on the ground that can’t be gathered up again; and God makes no exception for anyone. The king should think of some way to keep the son he banished from being forever an outcast. 15 Now the reason I came to speak about this matter to my lord the king is that the people were intimidating me; so your servant said, ‘I will speak now to the king; maybe the king will do what his servant is asking. 16 For the king will listen and rescue his servant from the hands of those who would destroy me and my son together from our share of God’s inheritance.’ 17 Then your servant said, ‘Please let my lord the king say something that will give me relief; for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good from bad — and may Adonai your God be with you.’”
18 The king then answered the woman: “I’m going to ask you a question, and please don’t hide anything from me.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king now speak.” 19 The king asked, “Did Yo’av put you up to this?” The woman answered, “As you live, my lord the king, when my lord the king speaks, no one can avoid the issue by turning either right or left. Yes, it was your servant Yo’av who had me do this, and he put in my mouth every word you have heard your servant say. 20 Your servant Yo’av did this in order to bring about some change in the situation. But my lord is wise, he has the wisdom of an angel of God when it comes to understanding anything going on in the land.”
21 The king said to Yo’av, “All right, I am granting this request. Go, and bring back young Avshalom.” 22 Yo’av fell to the ground on his face, prostrating himself, and blessed the king; Yo’av said, “Today your servant knows that I have won your favor, my lord, king, because the king has done what your servant requested.” 23 Then Yo’av got up, went to G’shur and brought Avshalom to Yerushalayim. 24 However, the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but he is not to appear in my presence.” So Avshalom returned to his own house and did not appear before the king.
25 Now in all Isra’el there was no one more praised for his beauty than Avshalom — there was no defect on him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 26 He would cut his hair only once a year, at the end of the year; and the only reason he cut it then was because it weighed him down. He weighed the hair from his head at 200 shekels (using the royal weight) [about five pounds]. 27 To Avshalom were born three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
28 Avshalom lived two years in Yerushalayim without appearing before the king. 29 Then Avshalom summoned Yo’av, planning to send him to the king; but he refused to come to him. He summoned him a second time, but he still wouldn’t come. 30 So he said to his servants, “See, Yo’av’s field is close to mine, and he has barley there; go, and set it on fire.” Avshalom’s servants set the field on fire. 31 Then Yo’av got up, went to Avshalom at his house and asked him, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?” 32 Avshalom answered Yo’av, “Look, I sent a message to you to come here, so that I could send you to the king to ask, ‘Why did I come from G’shur? It would have been better for me if I had stayed there. So now, let me appear before the king; and if I’m guilty of anything, he can kill me.’”
33 Yo’av went to the king and told him; and when he had called for Avshalom, he went to the king and prostrated himself with his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Avshalom.
2 Samuel 13-14 The Message (MSG)
13 1-4 Some time later, this happened: Absalom, David’s son, had a sister who was very attractive. Her name was Tamar. Amnon, also David’s son, was in love with her. Amnon was obsessed with his sister Tamar to the point of making himself sick over her. She was a virgin, so he couldn’t see how he could get his hands on her. Amnon had a good friend, Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was exceptionally streetwise. He said to Amnon, “Why are you moping around like this, day after day—you, the son of the king! Tell me what’s eating at you.”
“In a word, Tamar,” said Amnon. “My brother Absalom’s sister. I’m in love with her.”
5 “Here’s what you do,” said Jonadab. “Go to bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to visit you, say, ‘Have my sister Tamar come and prepare some supper for me here where I can watch her and she can feed me.’”
6 So Amnon took to his bed and acted sick. When the king came to visit, Amnon said, “Would you do me a favor? Have my sister Tamar come and make some nourishing dumplings here where I can watch her and be fed by her.”
7 David sent word to Tamar who was home at the time: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare a meal for him.”
8-9 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house. She took dough, kneaded it, formed it into dumplings, and cooked them while he watched from his bed. But when she took the cooking pot and served him, he wouldn’t eat.
9-11 Amnon said, “Clear everyone out of the house,” and they all cleared out. Then he said to Tamar, “Bring the food into my bedroom, where we can eat in privacy.” She took the nourishing dumplings she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she got ready to feed him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, sister!”
12-13 “No, brother!” she said, “Don’t hurt me! This kind of thing isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this terrible thing! Where could I ever show my face? And you—you’ll be out on the street in disgrace. Oh, please! Speak to the king—he’ll let you marry me.”
14 But he wouldn’t listen. Being much stronger than she, he raped her.
15 No sooner had Amnon raped her than he hated her—an immense hatred. The hatred that he felt for her was greater than the love he’d had for her. “Get up,” he said, “and get out!”
16-18 “Oh no, brother,” she said. “Please! This is an even worse evil than what you just did to me!”
But he wouldn’t listen to her. He called for his valet. “Get rid of this woman. Get her out of my sight! And lock the door after her.” The valet threw her out and locked the door behind her.
18-19 She was wearing a long-sleeved gown. (That’s how virgin princesses used to dress from early adolescence on.) Tamar poured ashes on her head, then she ripped the long-sleeved gown, held her head in her hands, and walked away, sobbing as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon had his way with you? Now, my dear sister, let’s keep it quiet—a family matter. He is, after all, your brother. Don’t take this so hard.” Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s home, bitter and desolate.
21-22 King David heard the whole story and was enraged, but he didn’t discipline Amnon. David doted on him because he was his firstborn. Absalom quit speaking to Amnon—not a word, whether good or bad—because he hated him for violating his sister Tamar.
23-24 Two years went by. One day Absalom threw a sheep-shearing party in Baal Hazor in the vicinity of Ephraim and invited all the king’s sons. He also went to the king and invited him. “Look, I’m throwing a sheep-shearing party. Come, and bring your servants.”
25 But the king said, “No, son—not this time, and not the whole household. We’d just be a burden to you.” Absalom pushed, but David wouldn’t budge. But he did give him his blessing.
26-27 Then Absalom said, “Well, if you won’t come, at least let my brother Amnon come.”
“And why,” said the king, “should he go with you?” But Absalom was so insistent that he gave in and let Amnon and all the rest of the king’s sons go.
28 Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. Then he instructed his servants, “Look sharp, now. When Amnon is well into the sauce and feeling no pain, and I give the order ‘Strike Amnon,’ kill him. And don’t be afraid—I’m the one giving the command. Courage! You can do it!”
29-31 Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what their master ordered. All the king’s sons got out as fast as they could, jumped on their mules, and rode off. While they were still on the road, a rumor came to the king: “Absalom just killed all the king’s sons—not one is left!” The king stood up, ripped his clothes to shreds, and threw himself on the floor. All his servants who were standing around at the time did the same.
32-33 Just then, Jonadab, his brother Shimeah’s son, stepped up. “My master must not think that all the young men, the king’s sons, are dead. Only Amnon is dead. This happened because of Absalom’s outrage since the day that Amnon violated his sister Tamar. So my master, the king, mustn’t make things worse than they are, thinking that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Absalom fled.
Just then the sentry on duty looked up and saw a cloud of dust on the road from Horonaim alongside the mountain. He came and told the king, “I’ve just seen a bunch of men on the Horonaim road, coming around the mountain.”
35-37 Then Jonadab exclaimed to the king, “See! It’s the king’s sons coming, just as I said!” He had no sooner said the words than the king’s sons burst in—loud laments and weeping! The king joined in, along with all the servants—loud weeping, many tears. David mourned the death of his son a long time.
37-39 When Absalom fled, he went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. He was there three years. The king finally gave up trying to get back at Absalom. He had come to terms with Amnon’s death.
14 1-3 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king, deep down, still cared for Absalom. So he sent to Tekoa for a wise woman who lived there and instructed her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in black and don’t comb your hair, so you’ll look like you’ve been grieving over a dead loved one for a long time. Then go to the king and tell him this . . .” Joab then told her exactly what to say.
4 The woman of Tekoa went to the king, bowed deeply before him in homage, and said, “O King, help!”
5-7 He said, “How can I help?”
“I’m a widow,” she said. “My husband is dead. I had two sons. The two of them got into a fight out in the field and there was no one around to step between them. The one struck the other and killed him. Then the whole family ganged up against me and demanded, ‘Hand over this murderer so we can kill him for the life of the brother he murdered!’ They want to wipe out the heir and snuff out the one spark of life left to me. And then there would be nothing left of my husband—not so much as a name—on the face of the earth.
15-17 “So now I’ve dared come to the king, my master, about all this. They’re making my life miserable, and I’m afraid. I said to myself, ‘I’ll go to the king. Maybe he’ll do something! When the king hears what’s going on, he’ll step in and rescue me from the abuse of the man who would get rid of me and my son and God’s inheritance—the works!’ As your handmaid, I decided ahead of time, ‘The word of my master, the king, will be the last word in this, for my master is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil.’ God be with you!”
8 The king said, “Go home, and I’ll take care of this for you.”
9 “I’ll take all responsibility for what happens,” the woman of Tekoa said. “I don’t want to compromise the king and his reputation.”
10 “Bring the man who has been harassing you,” the king continued. “I’ll see to it that he doesn’t bother you anymore.”
11 “Let the king invoke the name of God,” said the woman, “so this self-styled vigilante won’t ruin everything, to say nothing of killing my son.”
“As surely as God lives,” he said, “not so much as a hair of your son’s head will be lost.”
12 Then she asked, “May I say one more thing to my master, the king?”
He said, “Go ahead.”
13-14 “Why, then,” the woman said, “have you done this very thing against God’s people? In his verdict, the king convicts himself by not bringing home his exiled son. We all die sometime. Water spilled on the ground can’t be gathered up again. But God does not take away life. He works out ways to get the exile back.”
18 The king then said, “I’m going to ask you something. Answer me truthfully.”
“Certainly,” she said. “Let my master, the king, speak.”
19-20 The king said, “Is the hand of Joab mixed up in this?”
“On your life, my master king, a body can’t veer an inch right or left and get by with it in the royal presence! Yes, it was your servant Joab who put me up to this, and put these very words in my mouth. It was because he wanted to turn things around that your servant Joab did this. But my master is as wise as God’s angels in knowing how to handle things on this earth.”
21 The king spoke to Joab. “All right, I’ll do it. Go and bring the young man Absalom back.”
22 Joab bowed deeply in reverence and blessed the king. “I’m reassured to know that I’m still in your good graces and have your confidence, since the king is taking the counsel of his servant.”
23-24 Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. The king said, “He may return to his house, but he is not to see me face-to-face.” So Absalom returned home, but was not permitted to see the king.
25-27 This Absalom! There wasn’t a man in all Israel talked about so much for his handsome good looks—and not a blemish on him from head to toe! When he cut his hair—he always cut it short in the spring because it had grown so heavy—the weight of the hair from his head was over two pounds! Three sons were born to Absalom, and one daughter. Her name was Tamar—and she was a beauty.
28-31 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, and not once did he see the king face-to-face. He sent for Joab to get him in to see the king, but Joab still wouldn’t budge. He tried a second time and Joab still wouldn’t. So he told his servants, “Listen. Joab’s field adjoins mine, and he has a crop of barley in it. Go set fire to it.” So Absalom’s servants set fire to the field. That got him moving—Joab came to Absalom at home and said, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
32 Absalom answered him, “Listen, I sent for you saying, ‘Come, and soon. I want to send you to the king to ask, “What’s the point of my coming back from Geshur? I’d be better off still there!” Let me see the king face-to-face. If he finds me guilty, then he can put me to death.’”
33 Joab went to the king and told him what was going on. Absalom was then summoned—he came and bowed deeply in reverence before him. And the king kissed Absalom.