Shmuel 2-Chapter 13: Amnon and Tamar

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

   Buy now on

Chapter 13: Amnon and Tamar[1]

1. Tamar the sister of Avshalom, and Amnon’s infatuation for her:

  • Tamar: After the above events, Avshalom the son of Dovid had a beautiful sister by the name of Tamar [i.e. they shared both the same mother and father[2], the mother being Ma’achah who was the daughter of the kingdom of Gashure and was taken by Dovid during the war against the kingdom as a Yefas Toar. Dovid had relations with her prior to her converting and she became pregnant with Tamar from those relations. However, Avshalom, was born to her and Dovid after she already converted.[3]]
  • Amnon becomes sickly infatuated with Tamar: Amnon the son of Dovid loved his [paternal] sister Tamar and he became so infatuated with her to the point that he became sick, being that she was a virgin [and was very modest and would not leave her house and therefore] he was unable to [figure out a way of how to[4]] become intimate with her [and became sick as a result].

2. A plan is devised to rape Tamar:

  • Yonadav, the friend of Amnon: Amnon had a friend [i.e. first cousin] named Yonadav, who was the son of Shimah, the brother of Dovid. Yonadav was a very wise individual [who used his wisdom in evil ways[5]]. He asked Amnon to tell him as to why he appears so weak morning after morning [as if he had not slept, as in truth he would remain awake all night thinking about his sister[6]], after all he is the son of the king [and should not have any worries or lack of sustenance]. Amnon informed him that he is deeply in love with Tamar the sister of his brother Avshalom. [Meaning to say that Halachically she is only considered the sister of Avshalom, and is not considered as his own sister being that she was conceived prior to her mother’s conversion, and therefore she is permitted to him in marriage and he is losing sleep over his infatuation for her.[7]]
  • The plan: Yehonadav told Amnon that he should lie in his bed and make believe that he is sick. “Your father will then come to visit you, and when he does so you should tell him that you would like your sister Tamar to come and feed you bread, and that she should make the food in front of your eyes in order so you can see [her making it and have an appetite to eat[8]] and eat it from her hand [and then hopefully get better].”

3. Amnon rapes his sister Tamar:

  • Amnon tricks his father Dovid to arrange for his sister to feed him: So Amnon lied in his bed and made believe that he was sick, and the king came to visit him. Amnon said to the king that he requests that his sister Tamar comes to visit him and make for him two fried bread patties in front of his eyes in order so he can eat from the food that was made by her hands. So Dovid sent a message to the house of Tamar telling her that she should go to the house of Amnon her brother and make for him food so he can eat from it and get better.
  • Tamar makes food for Amnon but he refuses to eat: Tamar went to the house of Amnon her brother and saw that he was lying down. She took the dough and kneaded it broiled in hot water and then cooked it in oil, thus making fried bread. She then took the pan and served the food in front of Amnon, pouring the bread together with oil onto a plate that was in front of him, although he refused to eat anything.
  • Amnon asks to be left alone with his sister: Amnon then requested for all the people in the room to leave, and so all the people in the room left [except for his sister Tamar]. Amnon then requested from Tamar to bring the food into his inner bedroom [where he slept[9]] so that he can eat it from her hands. So, Tamar took the fried breads that she had made and brought it to Amnon her brother inside the inner room.
  • The rape: She brought the food to her brother to eat and instead he grabbed her and said to her, come lie with me my sister. She said to him, “My brother please do not rape me, as such actions are not done amongst the Jewish people and do not do this great abomination. If you do this, where will I be able to carry my shame, and you will be considered like one of the lowlifes of the Jewish people. Now, if you truly desire me, go speak to the king as surely he will not abstain giving me to you [in marriage[10], as indeed I am halachically permitted in marriage to you, as my mother was impregnated with me by our father prior to her conversion while she was still a Gentile Yefas Toar, and thus I am not considered to have paternal lineage[11]].” However, Amnon refused to listen to her pleas [as he did not desire to take her as a wife and simply desired to fulfill his lust with her], and he forcibly took hold of her and oppressed her and raped her.

4. The aftermath of the rape:

  • Amnon hates his sister and throws her out of his home: [After the rape] Amnon hated his sister a tremendous hatred, and greater was his hatred for her than was his love for her. [The reason why he hated her is because during the rape his organ became caught up in one of her pubic hairs which was rough and strong and ended up castrating him.[12] Alternatively, she forcibly fought back against the rape and caused him much pain and anguish during it.[13] Alternatively, she cursed and blasphemed him and angered him with words.[14]] Amnon then told her to get up and leave his room and his house. She however pleaded with him, asking him to let her stay and not do this great evil to her, to throw her out in disgrace as this evil is even greater than the evil of the rape and oppression that he did to her. However, he refused to listen to her and threw her out of the home. [Now, that she was raped and defiled by him, she desired to marry him in order to cover up her shame, however he now hated her and was not interested in marrying her and hence he threw her out of the home in order so his father would not ask him to marry her.[15]]
  • She is thrown out of the home: He summoned his lad who was his servant and instructed him to throw his sister out from the home into the outside and that he should lock the door after her. At the time, she was wearing a special garment known as a Kesones Pasim which was a coat worn by all the daughters of the king who were virgins. The servant escorted her out of the home and locked the door after her. [The reason G-d made all this happened is in order to fulfill the curse that Nathan the prophet told Dovid, that due to his sin with Batsheva, Hashem will bring evil upon him from his own home, in the form of measure for measure. Thus, Hashem had Dovid’s son rape his own sister and then hate her and throw her out of the home thus having the rape publicized in order so Avshalom can hate him in exchange and kill him. The sexual sin is in exchange for the sexual sin Dovid did with Batsheva, and the murder is in exchange for the murder of Uriah.[16]]
  • Tamar bemoans her state: Tamar took ash and placed it on her head and she took her Kesones Pasim which was on her and tore it and she placed her [Kesones Pasim coat and] hands over her head [to inform everyone that she was raped[17]] and walked in this manner while screaming.
  • Avshalom calms his sister down and has her stay by him: Avshalom her brother said to her, “Was your brother Amnon with you [i.e. raped you[18]]? Now, my sister, don’t make a big deal about it and don’t tell anyone, as he is your brother. Don’t pay any attention to what happened.”
  • Tamar remained to live in the house of her brother Avshalom, and she felt very bored and depressed [being alone without any friends due to her great shame[19]].
  • Dovid discovers what happens: Dovid the king heard all that happened [regarding the rape of his daughter by his son] and he was very angry.
  • Avshalom is no longer in talking terms with Amnon: Avshalom refused to speak with Amnon whether for good or for bad, as Avshalom hated Amnon due to that he oppressed his sister, Tamar.

5. Avshalom gets revenge and kills Amnon:

  • Avshalom invites the king to join the family for the festive ritual of sharing the sheep: Two years later it came time to share the sheep of Avshalom in the area of Chatzor which was located near the lands of Efraim. Avshalom invited all of the sons of the King to join him for the ceremony [of the sharing of the sheep, being that it was accustomed in those days to make a large feast at the time of the sheep sharing[20]]. Avshalom arrived to the king and said to him, “Your servants are now sharing the sheep, may the king and his servants please come with us, your servants.” However, the king said to Avshalom his son, “My dear son, it is not proper for us all to go as this will be very [financially[21]] burdening upon you.” Avshalom continued to press upon his father to come with them, although Dovid did not desire to go and instead blessed him [for his goodwill in inviting the king[22]].
  • Avshalom convinces the king to send Amnon with them: Avshalom said to the king, “at the very least, can my brother Amnon come with us?” And the king responded to him, “Why should he go with you [as he is my first born and stands in the position of representing the king and therefore it is unbefitting for him to go[23]]?” However, Avshalom continued to press upon the king, until he finally agreed, and he sent Amnon as well as all of the sons of the king together with him.
  • The plan devised to kill Amnon: Avshalom instructed his lads saying, “when you see that Amnon is drunk with wine, I will give you the signal to smite Amnon and kill him. Do not fear, as I am the one who has instructed you to do so. Be strong, and be real warriors.”
  • Amnon is killed: The lads of Avshalom did to Amnon as Avshalom had instructed them [and they killed him]. All the sons of the king got up, and each man road on his mule and ran away [in panic, fearing that they too would be killed].

6. Dovid is informed of the death of his son:

  • Dovid is told that all of his sons were killed by Avshalom: While they [the sons who ran away] were on the road, a rumor reached the ears of Dovid saying that Avshalom had killed all the sons of the king and not one of them had survived.
  • Dovid mourns the death of his sons: Dovid stood up and tore his clothing and lied on the ground and all of his servants which stood over him tore their clothing as well.
  • Dovid is informed the truth that only Amnon was killed: Yonadav, the son of Shima who was the brother of Dovid, said to Dovid “Do not think that all of the lads, the sons of the king, were killed, as Amnon alone had died, as Avshalom had a vendetta against him from the day that he had oppressed his sister Tamar and therefore ordered his assassination. Now, let the king not accept in his heart this rumor saying that all the sons of the king had died as in truth Amnon alone is dead.”
  • The sons of the King return unharmed: Avshalom ran away and the lad [of Dovid] who was on the lookout [from the castle in the city of Dovid] raised his eyes and saw a large group of people [i.e. the sons of the King] coming from behind him in an abnormal direction from the edge of the mountain [as they were running away from Avshalom, thinking that he would try to kill them as well, and therefore they returned back home from an abnormal direction]. Yonadav then said to the king that the sons of the King have arrived and that he should see that what he had said is indeed true.
  • The king and his sons mourn the murder of Amnon: As he finished speaking, the sons of the king arrived and they all raised their voice and cried and also the king’s servants cried a very great cry.

7. Avshalom runs away from his father:

  • Avshalom ran away to [his grandfather[24]] Talmaiy the son of Amichur the king of Geshur.
  • Dovid mourned his son throughout all the days that Avshalom had fled to Geshur. Avshalom remained there for three years.
  • Dovid decides to reconcile with Avshalom: Dovid [had a great longing for Avshalom and thus] decided to go out and greet Avshalom as he had already been comforted on the death of Amnon.


[1] See Sanhedrin 21a-b

[2] Rashi 13:1; Metzudos Dovid 13:1

[3] Sanhedrin 21a; Metzudos Dovid 13:1

[4] Rashi and Metzudos Dovid 13:2

[5] Rashi 13:3

[6] Radak and Metzudos Dovid 13:4

[7] Metzudos Dovid 13:4

[8] Metzudos Dovid 13:5

[9] Metzudos Dovid 13:10

[10] Metzudos Dovid 13:12

[11] Rashi 13:13; Ralbag 13:12

[12] Sanhedrin 21a; Rashi and Radak 13:15

[13] Ralbag 13:15

[14] Ralbag and Metzudos Dovid 13:15

[15] Metzudos Dovid 13:16 and Pirush Rav Yeshaya

[16] Radak 13:15

[17] Metzudos Dovid 13:19

[18] Metzudos Dovid 13:20

[19] Ralbag 13:20

[20] Rashi and Radak 13:23

[21] Radak 13:25

[22] Metzudos Dovid 13:25

[23] See Metzudos Dovid 13:26

[24] Metzudos Dovid 13:37

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.