Page images

the king exceedingly; and he denounced to || black garment, and fell down, and lay upon Nathan, that this was a wicked inan, who the ground, in sackcloth : entreating God for could dare to do such a thing, and it was but the recovery of the child, for he vehemently just that he should restore the lamb * fourfold, | loved the child's mother. But when, on the and be punished with death for it also. Upon seventh day, the child was dead, the king's this Nathan immediately said, that he was servants durst not tell him of it; as supposing himself the man who ought to suffer those pu- that when he knew it, he would still less adnishments; and that by his own sentence : for mit of food, and other care of himself, by that it was he who had perpetrated this great reason of his grief at the death of his son ; and horrid crime. He also revealed to him since when the child was only sick, he so the

anger of God, who had made him king greatly afflicted bimself, and grieved for him. over the army of the Hebrews, and lord of But when the king perceived that his servants all the nations, and those many and great na were in disorder, and seemed to be affected tions, round about him; who had forinerly de- as those are who are very desirous to conceal livered him out of the hands of Saul, and had something, he understood that the child was given him such wives as he had justly and le-dead; and when he had called one of his sergally married; and now this God was despised vants to him, and discovered that it was so, he by him, and affronted by his impiety; when arose and washed himself, and took a white he had married, and now had another man's garment, and came into the tabernacle of God. wife ; and by exposing her husband to the He also commanded them to set supper beenemy, had really slain him : that God would fore him, and thereby greatly surprised his inflict punishments upon him on account of kindred and servants; while he did nothing those instances of wickedness; that his own of this when the child was sick ; but did it all wives should be violated by one of his sons; when he was dead. Whereupon having first and that he should be treacherously supplant- begged leave to ask him a question, they beed by the same son ; and that, although he had sought him to tell them the reason of this perpetrated his wickedness secretly, yet should conduct. He then called them unskilful peothat punishment which he was to undergo beple, and instructed them how he had hopes of inflicted publicly upon him, and also that the the recovery of the child while it was alive; child which was born to him of Bathsheba and accordingly did all that was proper for should soon die. When the king was troubled bim to du, as thinking by such means to renat these messages, and sufficiently confound der God propitious: but that when the child ed, and said with tears and sorrow that he had was dead, there was no longer any occasion sinned: (for

he was without controversy a for grief, which was then to no purpose. pious man, and guilty of no sin at all in his When he had said this, they commended the whole life, excepting those in the matter of king's wisdom and understanding. He then Uriab,) God had compassion on him, and went unto Bathsheba his wife, and she conwas reconciled to him, and promised that heceived and bare a son ; and, by the command would preserve him both his life and his king- of Nathan the prophet, called his name Solo. dom. For he said, that seeing he repented mon. I of the things he had done, he was no longer But Joab sorely distressed the Ammonites displeased with him. So Nathan, when he in the siege, by cutting off their waters; and bad delivered this prophecy to the king, re- depriving them of other means of subsistence : turned home,

till they were in the greatest want of drink However, God sent a dangerous distemper and meat, for they depended only on one upon the child that was born to David of ihe small well of water; and this they durst not wife of Uriah. At which the king was trou- drink of too freely, lest the fountain should bled, and did not take any food for seven entirely fail. So he wrote to the king, and days; † although his servants almost forced informed him thereof; and persuaded hiin to him to take it, but he clothed himself in a come himself and take the city, that he might

soft Exod. xxii. 1.

+ See the note on VI, 14.

I 2 Sam. xii. 24.


have the honor of the victory. Upon this one Jonadal, a kinsman and friend of bis, letter of Joab's, the king accepted of his good who discovered his passion ; for he was an exwill and fidelity ; and took with him his army, straordinary wise man, and of great sagacity and came to the destruction of Rahab; and of mind. When therefore he saw that

every when he had taken it by force, he gave it to morning Amnon was not in body as he ought his soldiers to plunder it. But he himself to be, he came to him, and desired him to took the king of ihe Ammonites' crown, whose tell him what was the cause of it: however weight was a talent of gold ;* and it had in he said, that he guessed it arose from the its middle a precious stone called a sardonyx : passion of love. Amnon confessed that he which crown David ever after wore on his was in love with a sister of his, who had the own head. He also found many other vessels same father with himself. So Jonadab

sugin the city, and those both splendid and of gested to him by what method and contrivgreat price; but as for the men, he † torment-ance he might obtain his desires. For he ed them, and then destroyed them. And persuaded him to counterfeit sickness; and when he had taken the other cities of the Am- || bade him, when his father should come to monites by force, he treated them after the him, to beg of him that his sister might come same manner.

and minister to him; for if that were done he

should be better, and should quickly recover CHAP. VIII.

from his distemper. So Amnon lay down on

his bed, and pretended to be sick, as JonaOf The violation OF TAMAR BY HER BROTHER AMNON ; | dab had suggested. And when his father THE REVENGE OP ABSALOM, AND HIS BANISHMENT AND

came, and inquired how he did, he begged of

him to send his sister to him. Accordingly WHEN

THEN the king returned to Jerusalem, || he presently ordered her to be brought to

a sad misfortune befell his house, on him: and when she was come, Amnon bade the following occasion. He had a daughter, || ber make cakes for him, and fry them in a named Tamar, † who was yet a virgin, and pan, and do it all with her own hands; bevery handsome ; insomuch that she surpassed | cause he should take them better from her all the most beautiful women. She had the than from any one else. So she kneaded the same mother with Absalom. Now Amnon, flour in the sight of her brother, and made David's eldest son, fell in love with her, and him cakes, and baked them in a 'pan, and being not able to obtain his desires, on ac- brought them to him. But at that time he count of the custody she was under, his griefwould not taste them, but gave order to his preyed upon him so much that he grew lean, servants to send all that were there out of his and his color was changed. Now there was chamber ; because he had a mind to repose

wrowcoonaa * A talent of gold was about seven pounds weight. | services; but without taking away their lives. We never Nor.could Josephus well estimate it higher, since he here elsewhere, that I remember, nieet with such methods of says, that David wore it on his head perpetually.

cruelty in putting men to death in all the Bible, or in † Whether Josephus saw the words of our other copies, || any other ancient history. Nor do the words in Samuel 2 Sam. sii. 31. and i Chron, xx. 3, that David put the seem naturally to refer to any such thing... inhabitants, or at least the garrison, of Rabbah, and of the # Virgins of the blood royal were kept secluse in apartother Ammonite cities, which be besieged and took, under, | ments, separate from the commerce of men, into, which. or cut them witb, saws; and under, or with, harrows of not only strangers, but even their own fathers, were not iron; and under, or with, axes of iron; and made them pass permitted to enter. Amnon, however, at some time or through the brićk-kiln; is not here directly expressed. I other, had seen the beautiful Tamar, or otherwise he If he saw them, as is most probable he did, he certainly could not have conceived so strong a passion for her. expounded them of tormenting these Ammonites to death, | Upon some certain ceremonial occasions, indeed, it was who yet were none of those seven nations of Canaan, | customary for the young women to walk out, and shew whose wickedness had rendered them incapable of mercy. themselves; but, considering their close confinement at Otherwise I should be inclined to think that the meaning, other times, it was hardly possible for Amnon to find at least as the words are in Samuel, might only be this, || an opportunity of declaring his passion, much more that they were made the lowest slaves, to work in sawing || of gratifying it; and therefore, out of pure despair, limber or stone ; in harrowing the fields ; in hewing |he pined' bimself into a consumption. Calmet's Comtimber; in making and burning bricks; and the like hard mentary. B.


himself free from tumult and disturbance. As || (for the virgins of old time wore such loose soon as what he had commanded was done,coats, tied at the hands, and let down to the he desired his sister to bring his supper to ankles, that the inner coats might not be him into the inner parlour; which, when the seen ;) and sprinkled ashes on her head'; and damsel had done, he took hold of her, and en went up the middle of the city, crying out;: deavored to persuade her to lie with him. and lamenting for the violence that had been Hereupon the damsel cried out, and said, | offered her. Now Absalom, her brother, hap

• Nay, brother, do not force me, nor be so l.pened to meet her, and asked her, what sad wicked as to transgress the laws, and bring | thing had befallen her, that she was in that upon thyself the utmost confusion. Curb this plight? and when she told him, he comforted thy linrighteous and impure lust: from which || her, and desired her to be quiet, and to take our house will get nothing but reproach and all patiently, and not to esteem her being cordisgrace.” She also advised him to speak to rupted by her brother as an injury.. So she his father about this affair, as he might pro- yielded to his advice, and left off crying out, bably permit him to marry her. This she and discovering the force offered her to the said, as desirous to avoid her brother's violent multitude. And she continued as a widow, passion at present. But he would not yield with her brother Absalom, a long time. ... to her ; but, imflamed with love, and blinded When David knew this, he was grieved at with the vehemency of his passion, he forced the actions of Amnon. But because he had his sister. But, as soon as Amnon had grati- | an extraordinary affection for him, for he was fied his desires, he hated the object of them: his eldest son, he was compelled not to afflict and, giving her reproachful words, bade her | him. But Absalom watched for a convenirise up and be gone. And when she said, | ent opportunity of revenging this crime, for that this was a more injurious treatment than he thoroughly hated him. Now the second the former, because, now he had forced her, 1 year after this wicked affair was over, and he would not let her stay with him till the | Absalom was about to shear his own sheep at • evening, but bid her go away in the day time, Baalhazor, a city in the portion of Ephraim, and while it was light, that she might meet | he besought his father, as well as his brethren, with people that would be witnesses of her to come and feast with him. But when Da. shame, he commanded his servant to turn | vid excused himself, as not being willing to her out of his house. Hereupon she was sore- be burdensome, Absalom desired he would, ly grieved at the injury and violence that had | however, send his brethren, whom he did send been offered her:f and rent her loose coat, | accordingly. Then Absalom charged his ser

* Interpreters seem to be at a great loss to find out the xii. 11, more conspicuous. Calmet's and Le Clerc's Comreason why Amnon's love to his sister should so soon be ments, and the History of the Life of King David. B. converted into such a hatred as to make him act so

+ The manner of Tamar's signifying her vexation for rudely, so brutally, towards her; but it is no uncommon thing for men of violent and irregular passions to pass her is expressed by her putting ashes upon her head,

the injury and disgrace which her brother had put upon from one extreme to another. The shame which accom

2 Sam, xiii. 19. And that this was an ancient custom, panies every base action, the remorse and repentance, whereby to denote one's grief and concern for any great and many bad consequences, that immediately pursue it

, | loss or calamity, is evident from that passage of the promake a recoil in every man's temper; and therefore it

phet concerning the people of Tyre: “They shall cry. no wonder that a libidinous young nian, who would not spare so much as his own sister, should after fruition, and I bitterly, cast dirt upon their heads, and wallow them.

selves in the ashes." Ezek. xxvii. 30. from Achilles's beha when the ardor of his lust was satisfied, be seized with a


upon tbe death of Patroclus, às we have it in Homer, contrary passion, and hate the object he loved so much before, when he came coolly to compare the pleasure and 'Αμφοτέρησι δε χερσίν έλών κονιν αιθαλοισσαν ) the sin together, the shortness of the one, and the hei Χέναλο κακκεφαλής χάρειν δ' ήσχυνε προσωπον. nousness of the other, He hated his sister when he

Iliad, 18. should have hated himself; and as this outrageous treat and from what Mezentius did upon the death of his Laument made it impossible for his guilt to be concealed, so

sus, according to Virgil: God seems to have abandoned him to the tumult of his intemperate mind, on purpuse to make this punishment

Canitiem immundo deformat pulvere, et ambas. of David's adultery more flagrant, and the prophet's pre

Ad cælum tendit palmas

Æneid. 10. B. diction of raising up evil to him out of his own house; 2 Sam. * 2 Sam. xiii. 20.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

were in their

vants, that when they should see Amnon dis- || account of the injury be had offered to Tamar. ordered and drowsy with wine, and he should|In the inean time a great noise of horses, and give them a signal, they should fear nobody, a tumult of some people that were coming, exbut kill him.

cited their attention. They were the king's When they had done as they were com sons, who were fled away from the feast. So nished, and alarıned for themselves. So they grief, and he himself grieved with them. But immediately got on horseback, and rode away it was more than he expected to see those his to their father. * But somebody prevented sons again, whom he had a little before heard them, and told their father that they were to have perished. However, there were tears all slain by Absalom. Whereupon he was and groans on both sides ; they lamenting overcome with sorrow, as for so many of his their brother who was killed, and the king sons that were destroyed at once; and by lamenting his son, who was killed also : but this consideration, that it was their brother Absalom fled to Geshur, to his grandfather, † that appeared to have slain them, he aggra- | by his mother's side, who was king of that vated his sorrow for them. So he neither in-country, and he remained with him three quired what was the cause of this slaughter, whole years. nor stayed to hear any thing else ; which yet Now David had a design to send to Abit was but reasonable to have done, when so solam;f not that he should come to be punish

very great, and, by that greatness, so incredible, ed, but that he might be with him. For the 1 a misfortune was related to him. He rent bis effects of his anger were abated by length

clothes, and threw himself upon the ground, of time. It was Joab, the caplain of his host, and there lay lamenting the loss of all his sons, that chiefly persuaded him so to do. For he both those who, as he was informed, were | suhorned a woman that was stricken in age slain, and of him that stew them. But Jo-| to go to the king in mourning apparel, who nadab, the son of his brother Shimeah, entreat- | said to him, that two of her sons had some difed him not to indulge his sorrow so far; forference between them, and that, in the progress as to the rest of his sons, he did not believe of that difference, they came to an open quarthey were slain, for he found no cause for such rel; and that one was smitten by the other, a suspicion. But he said it might deserve in- and was dead, and she desired bim to interquiry as to Amnon. For it was not unlikely pose in this case, and to save this her son from that Absalom might venture to kill him, on her kindred, who were very zealous to have

Norra Naran * 2 Sam. xiii. 29.

vinced how much more reasonable it was to preserve + 2 Sam. iii. 3.

Absalon, But, how plausible soever the likeness might * About An. 1068 B. C.

be, there was a wide difference between her case and f The art and contrivance of this widow of Tekoah's | bis: for her son, as she pretended, was slain in a scuffle speech is very remarkable. “When the woman of Te- || with his brother; whereas Amnon was taken off by a koah spake to the king, she fell on her face on the ground, premeditated murder: he was slain in the field, where and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king! And the there were no witnesses whether the fact was wilfully king said to her, What aileth ihee?' And she answered, I done or no; whereas all the king's sons saw Amnon bar. am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is ilead. And barously murdered by his brother. And, lastly, he was thy handmaid had two sons, and the two strove together her only son, by whom alone she could hupe to have her in the field, and there was none to part then, but the one husband's name perpetuated; whereas David's family was smote the other, and slew him. And, hebold, the whole in no danger of being extinct, even although he had given family is risen against tbine handmaid, and they said, up Absalom to justice. But there was a great deal of poDeliver him that smole his brother, that we may kill licy in not making the similitude too close and visible, lest him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and the king should perceive the drift of the woman's petition we will destroy the heir also ; and so they shall quench before she had obtained a grant of pardon for ber son, my coal which is left, (i. e. deprive me of the little com and came to make the application to the king. And fort of my life that remains, which is, as it were, a coal bu- though, upon her making the application, the king might ried in the ashes,) and shall not leave to my husband neither have argued the disparity of the two cases, yet he thought name nor remainder upon the earth." 2 Sam. xiv. 4; &c. proper to wave this, and admit her reasoning to be good, Now the scope of all this speech was.lo frame a case as

because he was as desirous to have Absalom recalled as like to David's as she could devise, that, by prevailing were any of his subjects. Patrick's Cominent. B. with him to determine it in her favor, he might be convol. 1.—(21.)

3 s


him that had slain his brother put to death ; || been under, or by the want of such care as was that so she might not be farther deprived of the proper to be taken of a king's son; for he still hopes she had of being taken care of in her surpassed all men in the talness of his statore, old age by him; and that if he would hinder and was more eminent in a fine appearance this slaughter of her son, by those that wished than those that dieted the most luxuriously. for it, he would do her a great favor, because And indeed such was the thickness of the hair the kindred would not be restrained from their of his head, that it was with difficulty he was purpose by any thing else than by the fear of polled every eighth day; and his hair + weighhim.

ed two hundred shekels, which are five pounds. And when the king had given his con. However, he dwelt in Jerusalem two years, sent to what the woman had begged of him, and became the father of three sons and one she made this reply, “ I owe thee thanks for beautiful daughter; which daughter I Rehothy benignity to me in pitying my old age, boam, the son of Solomon, took to wife afterand preventing the loss of my only remaining wards, and had by her a son named Abijab. child. But, in order to assure me of this thy But Absalom sent to Joab, and desired him to kindness, be first reconciled to thine own son, pacify his father towards him; and to beseech and cease to be angry with him. For how him to give him leave to come to see him, and shall [ persuade myself that thou hast really speak with him. But when Joab neglected bestowed this favor upon me, while thou thy so to do, he sent some of his own servants, self continnest after the like manner in thy and set fire to the field that adjoined to him: wrath to thine own son ? For it is a foolish which thing when Joab understood, he came thing to add wilfully another to thy dead son; to Absalom and accused him of what he while the death of the other was brought about had done, and asked him the reason why he without thy consent.”. The king now perceive|| did so. Absalom replied, “I have found ed that this pretended story was a fabrication out this stratagem, that might bring thee to devised by Joab; and when, upon inquiry of me, while thou hast taken no care to perform the old woman, he understood it to be so in the injunction I laid upon thee, which was reality, he called for Joab, and told himn he to reconcile my father to me.

And I really had obtained what he requested, according to beg it of thee, now thou art here, to pacify his own mind; and he bade him bring Absa. my father as to me: since I esteem my comJom back, * for he was not now displeased, buting hither to be more grievous than my bahad already ceased to be angry with him. So nishment, while my father's wrath against me Joab bowed himself down to the king, and continues.” Joab was hereby persuaded, went immediately to Geshur, and brought Ab- and pitied the distress that Absalom was in, salom with him to Jerusalem.

and became an intercessor with the king for However, the king sent a message to his sou him. beforehand, as he was coming, and command And when he had discoursed with his father, ed him to retire to his own house; for he was he soon brought him to that amicable disposinot yet in such a disposition as to think fit totion towards Absalom, that he presently sent see him.

Accordingly, upon the father's con- | for him to come to him. And when he had mand, he avoided coming into his presence; cast himself down upon the ground, and begand contented himself with the respects paid ged for the forgiveness of his offences, the him by his own family only. Now his beauty king raised him up, and promised to forget was not impaired, either by the grief he had what he had formerly done. $

2 Sam. xiv. 21.

shekels. Dr. Wall's Critical Notes on the Old Testament: + Of this weight of Absalom's hair, how in twenty or upon 2 Sam. xiv. 26. It does not appear what was Josethirty years it might well amount to two hundred shekels, phus's opinion. He sets the text down honestly, as he or to somewhat above six pounds avoirdupois, see the found it in his copies. Only he thought, that "at the end Literal Accomplishment of Prophecies, page 77, 78. of days," when Absalom polled and weighed his bair, But a late very judicious author thinks that the Septua- || was once a week. gint meant not its weight, but its value, was iwo hundred 2 Chron. xi. 20.

$ 2 Sam. xiv. 33.


« PreviousContinue »