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was a brother who had done it. But hold now thy peace, my sister; be is thy brotherregard not this thing. But as all he could fay could not remedy the evil, neither could it relieve it ; which seems sufficiently implied, in what the sacred historian adds So Tamar continued disconsolate in her brother Absalom's house. And, in all probability, she continued so her whole life long ; unmarried, and undone. And Amnon had the horror of reflecting, that for one moment's base and brutal indulgence, he had made his nearest kinswoman, an amiable and an innocent fister, miserable to the last moment of her life.
How David resented this rape, we learn from the text; which informs us, that he was very wroth; but how he punished it, we know not. The truth is, it was to no purpose for him to punish it legally, and hardly possible to punish it equitably; inasmuch as that could not be done without at once exposing the infamy of his house, and cutting off the next heir of his crown. And how hard was it for a father to do this? especially a father who was partly accessary to the guilt, by a very unguarded compliance with
his son's irrational request. The legal punishment of a rape, upon a virgin unbetrothed, was a fine of fifty shekels of silver, to be paid to the father of the damsel, and an obligation upon the ravilher to take her to wife, without a power of divorce, Deut. xxii. 28, 29. The first of these penalties was insignificant in the case before us, and the second impracticable ; because the marriage must be incestuous. :
This case is also attended with another difficulty: The rape was committed in a city, and the damsel did not cry out ; and in that case, I apprehend, the law of Deut. xxii. 23, 24. must be executed upon her. It is true, she was not a damsel betrothed, and therefore the letter of that law does not extend to her case; but the cquity of it does, because the crime committed, and Tamar's offence against that law, was equally great, and Amnon's injury equally irreparable: consequently, had he been sentenced to death*, she must have suffered with him; and therefore David could not punish him, as he ought, without involving her in his fate;
* As he certainly must have been by the law of Levit. XX. 17. for uncovering his fifter's nakedness.
and I apprehend it to be a rule of cquity, rather to let the guilty escape, than destroy the innocent and the injured.
But it may be asked, What becomes of the power of the Sanbedrim in that case ? If that court was now in being, and David could protect Amnon from it, could he not as well have protected both himself and Bathsheba ?, Consequently, how did he lie under any necessity of destroying Uriah, to screen either himself, or Bathsheba, from an infamous punishment ?
I ANSWER, That fupposing that court in being, and that Amnon could be punished by it as he deserved, and Tamar at the same time acquitted, (which could not be, unless they could take upon them to dispense with a law of God) yet, what court takes cognifance of causes not brought before it? And how could this cause come before it, when all the persons interested in the prosecution of it, were at least equally interested to conceal it ; which was by no means the case in the affair of Bathsheba ; whose husband was a very considerable man, (greatly provoked) and greatly allied, as will be seen hereafter. And therefore the two cases are, in my
opinion, very different : great, and, as I apprehend, insuperable difficulties, obstructed the course of justice, in Amnon's affair me
HOWEVER, that guilt, which either human justice, or human infirmity, could not chastize as it deserved, the divine vengeance did.
ABSALOM, altho' grieved to the soul, for the injury done to his sister, and refenting it to death, yet so well diffembled his resentment, as not to take the least notice of it to Amnon. He carefully concealed his refentment, at once to hide his intention of revenge, and to make it sure ; and hid it thus, for two whole years together; at the end of which he invited his father, and all his brethren, to the customary feftivity of a fheep-theering : which David declined, on account of the unnecessary expence to which it must put his son. Then Absalom begged, and prefsed him again: Howbeit he would not go, saith the text; yet, to foften the refusal, he gave him his blessing. Then Absalom begged again, that Amnon (his elder brother, and heir apparent of the crown) might honour him with his presence. This too David declined, for some time; but being much
pressed by Absalom, (to whom he could not easily refuse any thing) that he and the rest of his brethren might have leave to go with him, David at length consented; and they went accordingly.
ABSALOM, now determined to make sure of his revenge, directed some servants, in whom he could confide, to attend Amnon at the feast, till the wine had raised his spirits, and taken him off his guard; and then to be ready, as soon as he gave the word, to smite and to slay him. They did as they were directed, and Amnon fell. Thus did Abfalom, at one blow, revenge himself upon his sister's ravisher, and rid himself of his rival in his father's favour, and only obstacle (as he apprehended) to his crown.
When the fatal blow was given to Amnon, the rest of the king's sons, terrified at what they saw, started up from the table, seized every man his mule, and fled home as fast as they could. But fast as they fled, fame reached the palace before them, and told David, that Absalom had destroyed all his sons.
This news, we may well imagine, threw the king into the utmost confternation: drove