Make Option 01: “Write the Bible” Read the story of the rape of Tamar 2 Samuel 13:1-33.
Privately, reflect on the story. What does the story tell/show, and what does it hide or leave untold? Whose voices and interests are given expression, and whose voices or interests are not given expression? What do you wish happened that doesn’t?
In a blog post (or oral presentation, or video presentation linked at your blog), write 350-750 additional words to the story. These words may be a prequel, or a sequel, or interlaced into the story. You may “break up” your words, adding some here, and some there.
Write freely: To paraphrase the book of Judges, assume “there is no censor in OOTLE16, and everyone may write what is right in hir own eyes.”
You may choose simply to write your words, and indicate by some means where they belong in relation to the biblical story. Or, you may copy and paste the biblical text into your blog and write into it and around it. If you choose the latter, find some way to format your text so that the reader knows at a glance what is biblical and what is nonbiblical.
This is the way I would want the story to be told to any woman that I am ministering to. I feel that this story is very oppressive because it puts the blame on the woman who has been raped instead of on Amnon. Although he is eventually killed for his actions, that does not take away from her grief and shame.
Amnon rapes Tamar
13 Some time later, David’s son Amnon fell in love with Tamar the beautiful sister of Absalom, who was also David’s son. 2 Amnon was so upset over his half sister that he made himself sick. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible in Amnon’s view to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, David’s brother, who was a very clever man.
4 “Prince,” Jonadab said to him, “why are you so down, morning after morning? Tell me about it.”
So Amnon told him, “I’m in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.”
5 “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick,” Jonadab said to him. “When your father comes to see you, tell him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch and eat from her own hand.’”
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. The king came to see him, and Amnon told the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of heart-shaped cakes in front of me so I can eat from her hand.”
7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare some food for him.” Tamar felt honored to be asked to go and take care of her brother. She had been taught from a young age that it was her job to serve and honor the men of the household, especially her brother Amnon, since he was David’s oldest son, which meant that he was in line to be king.
8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house where he was lying down. Tamar wondered how sick he was, he looked well. However, she was told that he was sick so she did not question it long, for it was not the expectation of women to think critically about what the men said. She took dough, kneaded it, made heart-shaped cakes in front of him, and then cooked them. Tamar briefly thought about how odd it was that her brother wanted to eat heart-shaped cakes from her hand, but once again, Tamar was in a society where women were not expected to think critically. Oh, what an oppressive life this was for Tamar! 9 She took the pan and served Amnon, but he refused to eat. Tamar was slightly offended. “What have I done wrong?!” She thought this because in this society where women did not think critically, everything was their fault. If you question this piece of commentary, see Genesis, it was “that woman” that the Lord gave Adam.
“Everyone leave me,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom so I can eat from your hand.” This is very odd behavior. Tamar was wondering why he sent everyone away and why she was to be alone with him, but once again, she was not allowed to think critically because she was a woman in a patriarchal society. So Tamar took the heart-shaped cakes she had made and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. 11 When she served him the food, he grabbed her and said, “Come have sex with me, my sister.” She is disturbed.
12 But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t rape me. Such a thing shouldn’t be done in Israel. Don’t do this horrible thing. 13 Think about me—where could I hide my shame? Once again, this society felt that everything was the woman’s fault and taught them to be ashamed of their sexuality or being assaulted. And you—you would become like some fool in Israel! Please, just talk to the king! He won’t keep me from marrying you.” Tamar was thinking that this would allow her to be queen, however was this what she wanted? I mean if Amnon has made up his mind and he is going to have sex with her then she might as well at least move up in the world. Sex does lead to power.
14 But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was, and so he raped her.
15 But then Amnon felt intense hatred for her. In fact, his hatred for her was greater than the love he had felt for her. Tamar noticed this shift in his mood. It frightened her even more so. So Amnon told her, “Get out of here!”
16 “No, my brother!”[a] she said. “Sending me away would be worse than the wrong you’ve already done.” She wanted to be made right. Remember, incest was not a great concern at this time.
But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, because he realized what humiliation he would have for his actions. 17 He summoned his young servant and said, “Get this woman out of my presence and lock the door after her.” (18 She was wearing a long-sleeved robe because that was what the virgin princesses wore as garments. The story failed to mention that most likely her garments were blood-stained and she had great shame that she was sexually engaged in an unrighteous way.)[b] So Amnon’s servant put her out and locked the door after her.
19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and walked away, crying as she went, because once again, society oppressed women and taught them to be ashamed if they were sexually abused.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon been with you? It was kind of obvious with the blood stains, ashes, ripped sleeves, and uncontrollable grief. Keep quiet about it for now, sister; he’s your brother. Don’t let it bother you.” Easier said than done. So Tamar, a broken woman, lived in her brother Absalom’s house.
21 When King David heard about all this he got very angry, but he refused to punish his son Amnon because he loved him as his oldest child.[c] 22 Absalom never spoke to Amnon, good word or bad, because he hated him for raping his sister Tamar.
Absalom kills Amnon
23 Two years later, Absalom was shearing sheep at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and he invited all the king’s sons. 24 Absalom approached the king and said, “Your servant is shearing sheep. Would the king and his advisors please join me?”
25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go, or we would be a burden on you.” Although Absalom urged him, the king wasn’t willing to go, although he gave Absalom a blessing.
26 Then Absalom said, “If you won’t come, then let my brother Amnon go with us.”
“Why should he go with you?” they asked him. 27 But Absalom urged him until he sent Amnon and all the other princes. Then Absalom made a banquet fit for a king.[d]
28 Absalom commanded his servants, “Be on the lookout! When Amnon is happy with wine and I tell you to strike Amnon down, then kill him! Don’t be afraid, because I myself am giving you the order. Be brave and strong men.” 29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon just what he had commanded. Then all the princes got up, jumped onto their mules, and fled.
30 While they were on the way, the report came to David: “Absalom has killed all of the princes! Not one remains.” 31 The king got up, tore his garments, and lay on the ground. All his servants stood near him, their garments torn as well. 32 But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My master shouldn’t think that all the young princes have been killed—only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s plan ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 So don’t let this bother you, my master; don’t think that all the princes are dead, because only Amnon is dead,
This passage is a frustrating one. Bandstra points out that this is the beginning of Absalom’s undoing, because after he kills Amnon, David is forced to kill him and keep him from entering into Jerusalem. Absalom, however, outsmarts David and gives him a run for his money and power when he attempts to take over Jerusalem. In the end, Absalom is killed in the fight with David’s forces and David remains king. Deborah Rooke explains in her article that it is obvious that this society valued men above women, because women were expected to serve and remain faithful, men were not. This is in agreement with some of the points I made throughout the commentary. As I stated above, this is the way I would want this story to be told to a woman I was ministering to, because it shows many of the problems with this society.