Monday, June 18, 2012

II. Samuel 13: These stories sure are gruesome!

We have definitely been learning a lot from reading the ENTIRE Bible. Like, there are a lot of terribly gruesome stories. The last chapters we read about David involved him sleeping with Uriah's wife, trying to get Uriah drunk to sleep with his wife to cover up the fact that she was pregnant, and then having Uriah killed.

Now, we see the dysfunction that was occurring between David's children, many of them half-siblings of each other. 

Warning flag number one: this chapter begins with Amnon, one of David's son's having feelings for Tamar, his virgin half sister. If this isn't creepy enough, it gets worse.

Distraught about the fact that he can't sleep with her (because she's still a virgin, not because she's related by blood mind you), Amnon turns to his cousin, Jonadab for advice. Jonadab tells him just to fake being sick and tell David that he wants Tamar to come and make him dinner. 

Amnon takes this advice and everything is going according to plan, except that when he tells her to lay with him, she refuses, reminding him that it is a big no no in Israel. Telling her that she is a fool, he then forces her into bed with him. He then gets angry with her and throws her out. She then tears her clothes (which were virgin specific) and runs to tell her full brother Absalom about this. Naturally, he is rather angry. David, meanwhile, seems to be taking everything in stride.

A couple of years later, while hanging out with some sheep shearers, Absalom requests of David that all of David's sons go for a "hike" together, when David says no, Absalom requests that only Amnon goes. After getting the OK, they go off in the wilderness and Absalom has his men kill Amnon. All of David's other son's flip out and run away. 

Word gets back to David that all of his son's are dead except for one and David is naturally distraught. Turning to his nephew Jonadab (yep, the same one who told Amnon how to sleep with his half-sister), David is told that he shouldn't be upset because really there is only one body that has been found. After this, all of David's sons come home. Except for Absalom who has fled after having his half-brother slain. David continues to mourn daily for Absalom because he doesn't know where he is, but is fine with the death of Amnon. 

This is twice now that we have seen David more concerned about a son in danger than a son who is dead. Remember back to the Uriah incident. When David's son by Bathsheeba was dying, David would not eat he was so stricken with grief. Once the baby was dead, he simply went on with his life as if nothing had happened. 

Is this something specific to David? Or was this a custom of the time? Was death such a regular part of life back then that people just went on with their lives as if the person never existed? Either way, Molly and I have come to question, why include these stories out of David's life? Will they go to shed light on future actions? Perhaps we'll know more once reading some more. Again though, I must point out that Hollywood could not come up with more intense and dramatic story lines.

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