The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Second Book of Kings
A maid there was of rare beauty, called Tamar, sister to David’s son Absalom; and it befell at this time that another of David’s sons, Amnon, fell in love with her.
Such was his longing that he pined away wanting her; how should he approach a maid unwed, to compass her dishonour?
But he had a friend called Jonadab, son to Semmaa that was David’s brother, a man of shrewd wits, that expostulated with him,
Should a royal prince pine away, day in, day out, and not tell the reason? Then Amnon told him, I am in love with my brother Absalom’s sister, Tamar.
Lie down on thy bed, Jonadab told him, and feign illness; then, when thy father visits thee, ask him to let thy sister Tamar come and tend thy wants, cook some dainty for thee, and give it thee with her own hand.
So Amnon lay down, and feigned to fall sick, and said to the king, when he came to visit him, Pray send my sister Tamar to boil me two mouthfuls of gruel, here in my presence, and give them me with her own hand.
So David sent word to Tamar’s home, bidding her go to her brother Amnon’s house and make gruel for him;
and to her brother Amnon’s house she went, to find him lying abed. She took the flour and stirred it and boiled it, and when her cooking was done, she poured it out, and put it down beside him;
but he refused to eat. Then Amnon would have all that were there leave his presence, and when all had left him,
he bade her come into his room and give it to him with her own hand. So Tamar took the gruel and brought it into her brother Amnon’s room;
but when she held it out, he caught hold of his sister and would have her bed with him.
Nay, brother, said she, do not force me to thy will; in all Israel, that were deemed great wrong. Forbear thy recklessness;
else can I never shew my face, and all Israel will cry out on thy reckless folly. Ask me of the king for thy bride; he will not deny thee.
But Amnon would not listen to her; he forced her to his will and so bedded her.
And now Amnon conceived a hatred of her that passed all measure; the love he once had for her could not compare with his hatred now; Up, he cried, and begone!
Nay, said she, this is a greater wrong than the first wrong thou didst me, to drive me away thus. But he would not listen to her;
he called to the serving-man that waited on him, and bade him thrust the woman out and shut the door on her.
Clad in the long robe of a princess, she was thrust out, and the door was shut on her.
Dust she sprinkled on her hair, tore the long robe, put her head between her hands, and went on her way in tears.
So thy brother Amnon bedded thee? Absalom said to her. Keep silent for this while; he is thy brother. Do not eat thy heart out over it. So Tamar remained there in Absalom’s house, pining away.
Great sorrow had king David when the news came to him, but he would do nothing to cross his son Amnon, that he loved dearly; was he not his first-born?
As for Absalom, he spoke no word to Amnon, fair or foul; so deeply did he hate him for dishonouring his sister Tamar.
Two years after, when it was shearing-time for Absalom’s sheep at Baal-Hasor, by Ephraim, he would have all the king’s sons there.
But when he went to the king, and said, Thy servant’s sheep are a-shearing, will not my lord king come to the feast, and his servants with him?
the king answered, Nay, my son, do not ask us all to come and be a burden to thee; nor would he consent, for all Absalom’s pleading; he would only give him his blessing for the journey.
Then at least, said Absalom, let my brother Amnon come with us, if thou wilt not. There is no need for that, David said,
but at last Absalom had his way, and David sent Amnon and all the princes with him. It was a royal banquet Absalom prepared for them;
but first he gave orders to his men, Wait till Amnon is bemused with wine; then, when I say Strike, slay him. Have no fear; you do but execute my orders; take heart, and shew yourselves men of mettle.
So Absalom’s servants did his bidding on Amnon; and all the rest of the princes mounted on their mules and fled.
While they were still on their way, the story reached David that Absalom had slain all the princes, and not one had escaped with his life.
At that the king rose up, and tore his garments, and cast himself down on the ground; and his servants tore their garments, all that stood by waiting on him.
Only Jonadab, son of Semmaa that was David’s brother, would have none of it; Do not believe, my lord King, he said, that all the princes have been killed; Amnon is dead, but only he. His name was ever on Absalom’s lips, since the day of his sister Tamar’s dishonouring.
Never burden thy heart, my lord king, with the fancy that all are dead; it is only Amnon.
Absalom betook himself to flight. Meanwhile, a servant that was on the watch looked out and saw a throng of men coming down by an unfrequented path on the mountain-side;
whereupon Jonadab said to the king, It is the princes that are coming; thy servant was in the right.
And indeed, as soon as he had finished speaking, the princes came in view, and loud they wept as they came; the king, too, and all his servants made great lament.
Absalom took refuge with Tholomai, son of Ammiud king of Gessur; and David all the while went on mourning for his son.
Three years Absalom spent at Gessur as a fugitive;
then David gave up the quest for him; already his grief for Amnon was assuaged.✻
The Holy Bible