Ammon receives judgement for the rape of Tamar. This is, without a doubt, first degree murder. He dies at the hand of Absalom.
It has been two years since Ammon raped Tamar. Other than getting angry about the act we don’t see any other action out of David. We are told that Absalom never spoke another word to Ammon, either good or bad, after that day. And not even Tamar cried out for justice.
So as far as Ammon is concerned it is in the past. He goes about his daily business without giving Tamar a second thought. But all is NOT forgotten or forgiven. Absalom has revenge on his heart and mind and this dish is served VERY cold. Let’s rejoin our story.
♥ ♦ ♥
Tamar is about her morning routine. She prepares herself a bowl of cooked barley and eats it quietly in the corner of the kitchen. Looking out the window she sees the flowers of the garden. They are in full bloom right now. Thoughts of the past begin to intrude on her solitude.
This used to be her favorite time of year. She would walk among the flowers of her father’s house. She would also go to her private vegetable garden. There she grew herbs that brought life to the meals she prepared. Cooking was one of her passions and a skill she took great care in developing for when she would become a wife.
She stops her thoughts in their tracks when the preparations for becoming a wife filter in. She will never be a wife. Even the status of daughter of the king cannot restore her purity required for marriage. She will be a desolate woman. One without husband or children to fill her life.
The intensity of the pain of this has lessened over the two years since she was violated but not the weight of it. She no longer wakes screaming for release. But she is hollow. The joy that once was part of her very makeup is gone. She feels its absence with every breath and longs for it to return. The garden had brought a partial smile to her lips, until her thoughts wandered too far.
Tamar puts her half empty bowl on the table for Absalom’s kitchen staff to care for and makes her way back into her room. This is where she stays most of the time. Absalom is occasionally able to coax her out for evening meals but she retreats quickly back to her solitude at the first opportunity.
Her room isn’t a terrible place to be. Her brother has made certain she has every distraction known to woman available for her. She has a loom for weaving and access to all the materials she could ever desire. She has paints and beads and embroidery floss and… And she engages in using the various items provided for her but the work she turns out is as hollow as she is, when placed by her former pieces.
Absalom sees the changes in Tamar. He has done everything he knows to do to help her heal, except talk about it. When Tamar was violated he told her not to take it to heart and he has avoided discussing her heart and his own. Absalom hasn’t spoken a word to Ammon since that despicable day. And each day that passes where he watches Tamar his heart hardens a little more.
From day one Absalom knew there had to be some recompense demanded. He had hoped it would come from his father but that hope fell flat. Tamar had no husband so the law didn’t require Ammon’s life. But he was supposed to marry her and care for her for life. Tamar had told him how Ammon barred the door behind her. He violated her twice and since no one else would demand recompense, HE would.
Absalom has been working on a plan for nearly a year. The last time he brought his sheep for sheering the idea began to form in his mind. And this plan would make a public declaration of the justice that has long been denied Tamar.
This year was spent in secret conferences with Jonadab…
╔ ꓿ ‼ ꓿ ╗
Screech! Hit the brakes here! I put Jonadab in the story here because he is the one who tells David that this was the plan since the day Tamar was violated. To me, this means that Jonadab knew about the plan and kept it a secret from Ammon. But Jonadab was the one who convinced Ammon to take his sister in the first place! Does this man have no loyalties!? Does he sell his ‘advice’ to the highest bidder? Or was he upset by the way Ammon turned on Tamar after he had raped her? How did this man get into Absalom’s confidence??? I hold this man at least partly responsible for Tamar’s rape and I wonder if he put the idea of killing Ammon into Absalom’s head. BAD company!
╚ ꓿ ‼ ꓿ ╝
Jonadab was a cunning man. He knew how to make the most of any situation and turn it to his advantage. He had advised Ammon on how to get Tamar alone but he didn’t believe himself a party to her rape. He also was angry with Ammon for not keeping Tamar since he was so in love with her that he HAD to have her. So when Absalom approached him about a way to make Ammon pay for his sins, Jonadab was eager to be of service. But he never shared his own role in counseling Ammon before the deed. He was smart enough to keep this piece of information to himself.
The planning during the year included mapping out where Absalom would pasture his sheep so that they could be near enough to look after yet far enough away to ensure distance from David’s soldiers. The sheering of the sheep would take in the territory of Ephraim at Baal-hazor.
Sheep shearing always involved a feast when the job was done. Absalom’s plan was to kill Ammon during this feast. He couldn’t just invite Ammon and expect him to lay himself in Absalom’s hands. Ammon would also probably smell a trap since the two of them hadn’t spoken a word since that night. He needed to invite all the king’s sons so Ammon would be included by rite. Jonadab suggested that David be invited too so he could witness the debt being cleared. Absalom thought this an excellent idea.
Absalom came to David two weeks before sheering would commence. “’Behold, your servant has sheepshearers. Please let the king and his servants go with your servant’ (verse 24b). I would share my good fortune with you.”
David appreciated Absalom’s invitation but he declined. “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you” (verse 25a).
“You would in no way be a burden to me my king. It would be an honor to have you at my side.”
“No, it is too great a thing to gather all my house together. But I will send you with my blessing.”
No matter how Absalom put his idea to David he held fast. David wasn’t the one Absalom really had to have in attendance though. He had to convince his father to at least let Ammon come.
“If you will not attend at least have my brothers attend.”
“Your brothers may have sheerings of their own to attend.”
“But this year is an important one for my flock as I have introduced a new strain and it has more than doubled my yield. I would celebrate such an occurrence with them and perhaps if they so desire, offer them some from my own flock to increase their yield.”
“I am hesitant to commit them without first speaking with them.”
“You have the authority to do so and they would not disappoint you. This is very important to me that ALL my brothers see the success I have gained from the hand of the Lord.”
Absalom had thrown in the ‘magic word’ as David always tried to honor the work the Lord wrought in his children. He still didn’t feel completely at ease with such a large gathering of his children but how could he disappoint Absalom when he wanted to honor the Lord.
“I will send word to your brothers that they shall join you in feasting.”
“Ammon also my king?”
“Why would Absalom mention Ammon by name” wondered David. He knew their relationship had been strained since Ammon defiled Tamar. “Maybe Absalom is looking to mend their relationship.” After thinking this over David assured Absalom that ALL his brothers would be in attendance to celebrate his favor with the Lord.
Absalom left the home of the king with a spring in his step. His plan was falling into place. But he had to be careful that he didn’t rush the task and miss a step along the way. He had three weeks to prepare; two before the season started and one while the process was underway. If his brothers showed up earlier to see his new breed, all the better. He could put them at ease so they wouldn’t be expecting anything when the time came.
Once the schedule was set and the invited guests were guaranteed, Absalom turned to the task of choosing the one who would perform the actual task. He needed to choose wisely. The hand of the man needed to be steady and swift. He must be able to hide his true intent behind smiles of hospitality. He also had to be completely loyal to Absalom. If his plan were to be revealed all would be lost, including his own head if he were not careful.
Absalom chooses one of Tamar’s servants as his instrument of justice. Mijamin had grown up in Absalom’s household. He had risen to the position of overseer for the household staff. He was responsible for obtaining things to entertain Tamar. He didn’t serve her directly but he saw that she was never without distraction and he was the one she would make requests to for new items she desired.
Mijamin had also personally benefited from Tamar’s former generosity. Tamar had helped Mijamin’s son when he fell ill. She had made certain he had the medication he needed, even though Mijamin had no means by which to pay for these lifesaving herbs. Mijamin’s heart broke to see Tamar, the ghost of herself, as she moved about her life now. He would not be so bold as to ask her about her difference but he certainly pondered it.
The night before leaving for sheep shearing Absalom called Mijamin to accompany him in his study. “Mijamin I have a story to tell you. And after I have finished my tale, I would ask your hand in setting things right.”
Mijamin had no idea where Absalom was going with this introduction but Mijamin would faithfully serve Absalom, even unto the point of death. “Speak my lord.”
“Do you recall when the lady Tamar came to live with me?”
“I do my lord.”
“Do you know the reason behind her coming, or her pain?”
“I do not my lord. It is not my place to ask such things.”
“You are quite right but you need to know now so that you can understand the task I am to set your hand to.”
Mijamin nods his understanding and waits for Absalom to continue.
“As I’m certain you know, Tamar is my sister. We share the same mother. Two years ago, my brother Ammon, who shares a father but not mother with me, desired in his heart to have my sister. Rather than asking the king for her hand he set about to take her. He feigned illness and asked our father to send my sister to minister to him. She, being one who loves to care for the sick, was honored by his request. She went to him in good faith. He asked that she prepare a cake in his presence and give it to him directly from her own hand. He ordered everyone out of the room, again pretending to be too ill for their presence, and had my sister bring the cake to his bedside so he could ‘receive it from her own hand.’ This was a ruse. As soon as she came close he grabbed her to force her to lie with him. She pleaded with him not to do this despicable thing to her but her pleas fell on deaf ears. He overpowered her and stole her virginity from her.” Absalom paused here to gage Mijamin’s response.
Mijamin’s face is dark with anger but he is holding himself still. He says nothing and waits for Absalom to continue. He feels certain there must be more to this story.
Absalom continues. “After Ammon violated Tamar in the most cruel manner he threw her out of his home.” Absalom made certain to speak these last words slowly so Mijamin wouldn’t miss a one of them.
Mijamin’s fists clench and his jaw tightens as he fights to control the anger raging within him. He knows men and he knows the Law of Moses. Ammon did first what only brutes would do and then compounded it by leaving Tamar a shattered woman. One no respectable man would ever marry. By law he was required to marry her and care for her for life but he had thrown her aside with no more consideration than the bones one has picked clean.
Satisfied that Mijamin fully understands Ammon’s crime Absalom lays out the task he has for Mijamin. “It is shearing season and I have invited all the king’s sons to the feast following. Ammon will be in attendance. ‘Mark when Ammon’s heart is merry with wind, and when I say to you, “Strike Ammon,” then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant’ (verse 28b). This is justice for lady Tamar.”
Mijamin nodded his approval. “I am honored to have been chosen for this task. My lady deserves justice and I would that it come from my hand as hers once ministered kindness to my family. It WILL be done.”
Sheep shearing is going well. Several of the kings sons arrived before the day of the feast. They wanted to look at the new breed of sheep Absalom had been speaking so highly of. The fleeces are exquisite! They are dense without being matted and shaved easily. The animals themselves are strong and surefooted. All the brothers are pleased to accept three mating pair from Absalom’s hand.
The feast is underway and all are making merry. Talk of the new breed and the bounty of the meal abound. Wine flows freely around the table. Mijamin has instructed those under him to ensure that the glasses are always full, especially that of Ammon.
Absalom is secretly nursing the same drink while waiting on word from Mijamin. He has set himself some distance from Ammon so as not to arouse suspicion. He does not believe he could keep a civil look on his face if in direct line of sight with Ammon.
Finally Mijamin steps into Absalom’s line of sight and nods his head discretely. Absalom smiles and issues the command both men have been waiting for; “Strike Ammon!”
Mijamin whips a dagger from his belt and plunges it into Ammon’s stomach. “For Tamar” he growls as he twists the knife and slides it upwards.
Those at the table are initially shocked but quickly recover. The scramble over one another in a rush to leave. They are afraid of being next on Absalom’s list.
As the kings sons make for their donkeys and ride towards Jerusalem Absalom and Mijamin watch as Ammon breathes his last. “All heard me give the order. You bear no guilt in this.”
“I would have gladly done it for my lady even without your order.”
“I need you to go back to Jerusalem and look after my sister Tamar. I do not know when it will be safe for me to return. All heard my order and my father may send the avenger of blood for me.”
“I will guard her with my life.”
The men go their separate ways, leaving the body of Ammon where it fell.
News travels fast and bad news travels even faster. Word reached David in Jerusalem of Absalom’s acts but they are a bit exaggerated.
“Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left” is the cry of the messenger as soon as he reaches David’s porch.
David stood up, tore his garments, let out a mournful wail and fell to the ground on his face. All those who were in attendance of him did the same. The room was filled with sounds of utter grief.
Jonadab was the only one not joining in this display. He stepped over by the side of the king, knelt down and spoke to him. “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for Ammon alone is dead. For by command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king’s sons are dead, for Ammon alone is dead” (verses 32b-33).
(to be continued)
♥ ♦ ♥
Once again we come to ‘bad company’ and the dangers of it. Absalom was no angel as we will continue to see but Jonadab was downright a scoundrel! This man played both ends against the middle. He is with Ammon, Absalom and now David. He certainly gets around.
I can understand Absalom’s outrage at his sister’s rape but the cold way he stewed on it for two years speaks volumes of the man himself. He nurses his anger and schemes until he is ready to strike. He knows nothing of forgiveness; neither how to give it or how to receive it. I’m glad God didn’t hand him the kingdom next!
Justice demands a price. Today we have Jesus who paid that price for us but what about Ammon and Absalom? Did they ever repent of their deeds? Did Ammon ever apologize to Tamar? I doubt she would have listened to him if he did it directly. WHY didn’t David intervene? If he had demanded justice for Tamar Ammon might have lived. Did he feel it wasn’t his place since his children were adults? Was this his pattern with them all along?
Father God, I have trouble ‘calling my kids on the carpet’ for their behavior as adults. I have done it on occasion but the issue had to be really important. Thank You that they listened to me in those times. Maybe they listened because I so rarely do it. This issue was big enough that David should have stepped in. It destroyed AT LEAST three lives because it was ignored.
Holy Spirit, show me which issues to wade into and which to let sort themselves out. I know my daughter is quicker to ask for my help than my sons. Show me opportunities to sow Your love and truth into their lives without being overbearing. Thank You for allowing me to be part of their lives; each and every one of them! Keep them ALL from ‘bad company.’