Amnon and Tamar: the tragedy begins
In today’s Arab world, Quranic law allows a man to have up to four wives. However, David, the revered king of Israel, surpassed this number by having at least eight wives.
Among them were Saul’s daughters: Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail (who was Nabal’s wife), Maachah, Bathsheba (who was Uriah’s wife), and others who bore children for David.
Who are Amnon and Tamar?
One of David’s many sons was Amnon, born to Ahinoam and serving as the firstborn. Although Amnon held a chronological position that could potentially secure his claim to David’s throne, it became evident that he lacked the character required for such a role.
Amnon developed an infatuation with his half-sister Tamar, despite the presence of numerous beautiful women in Israel. Tamar happened to be the sister of Absalom, who would later rebel against David. Absalom possessed long hair and a strikingly handsome face that captivated David’s heart.
Tamar herself was equally beautiful. Her charms allured her half-brother Amnon into falling in love with her. Frustrated by his inability to act on his desires due to their familial relationship, Amnon began to suffer internally—losing his appetite and wasting away physically.
Amnon’s temptation to sin
During this time, Jonadab—the son of David’s brother Shimei—approached Amnon and inquired about his troubles. When Amnon confided in him about his feelings for Tamar, Jonadab devised a plan to help him consummate their relationship.
Following Jonadab’s scheme, Amnon feigned severe illness and lay in bed pretending to be in pain. Upon hearing about Amnon’s sickness from their father David himself, arrangements were made for Tamar—a skilled baker—to prepare food for her brother.
Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house as instructed by their father. She kneaded dough and baked cakes before him but encountered resistance when she offered them to him.
Sensing an opportunity alone together after dismissing everyone else from the room upon request by Amnon himself, Tamar brought the food into the chamber where he lay.
However, the encounter took a dark turn when instead of accepting her hospitality like a brother should do; he seized hold of her and demanded she lie with him sexually.
Terrified, Tamar vehemently protested against this violation, making it clear that such actions were not acceptable within Israel.
She pleaded with him not only out of concern for her own shame but also warned him that such behavior would brand him as an outrageous fool among their people.
The Enantiodromia Phenomenon
Telling him instead that he should speak with their father King David if he truly desired her presence. Amnon disregarded Tamar’s pleas completely, and overpowering her against her will proceeded to violate and sleep with her forcibly.
Following this abhorrent act, the narrative reveals how deeply Amnon despised Tamar afterward, his hatred towards her far surpassing any love he had previously professed. He abruptly ordered Tamar out of his sight, saying
“Get up! Go!”
This extreme psychological reversal exhibited by Amnon can be identified as enantiodromia—a term used in Carl Jung’s analytical psychology referring to radical personality changes often occurring during one’s later years.
However, in this case, the phenomenon is observed on a shorter timeline within romantic relationships between men and women. It is astonishing how frequently we end up hating those we were once passionately in love with.
This is distinct from ambivalence where both love and hate coexist; in these instances, it is solely hatred remaining.
The reason why seeing Tamar initially ignited a desire within Amnon, yet upon obtaining what he wanted, his hatred towards her surpassed any previous sentiments, is likely rooted in sexual dissatisfaction.
Ammon felt insulted due to Tamara’s resistance which led to dissatisfaction rather than mere loss of interest after fulfilling one’s desires.
Rather than using the more complex term enantiodromia, this psychological transformation could aptly be referred to as “the Ammon Complex.”
Unable even to bear looking at Tamer anymore, Ammom furiously commanded she leaves home. Tamer protested, but Amon refused to listen. Summoning one servant serving under Amon, the order was given:
“Put this woman out my presence, and bolt door after.”
Tamar in grief
Tamer, wearing long robe sleeves typical attire of a virgin daughter king, was expelled from the premises. Such disqualification resulted from being stripped of royal finery meant unmarried princesses.
Thus, Tamer tore off the colored robe, sprinkled ashes hair, and left while weeping loudly—returning home utterly broken-hearted.
Tamer must have felt profound despair gazing upon barred doors symbolizing rejection. She put ashes on her head, tore the robe worn, and cried aloud while leaving the house.
At around 22 years old, Ammom stood significantly older than Tammer who was approximately 15 years old during these events.
Absalom hides his anger and prepares for revenge
Absalom, Tammer’s brother, sensed something terrible had occurred. He urged Tammer not to disclose details regarding the incident.
Desiring revenge on behalf sister, Absalom eagerly awaited the opportune moment to retaliate against Amon.
Absalom harbored ambitions of usurping the throne eliminating Amon’s next line of succession—which would inevitably cast unfavorable light onto himself.
The misplaced lust displayed by one prince ultimately triggered a bloody struggle over King David’s throne. The outcome witnessed the deaths of both Amon & Absalom, resulting in Solomon ascending the throne.
Fascinatingly, Solomon achieved kingship through an unexpected path—originally working fisherman. Exemplifying how one individual mistake can unpredictably alter the political landscape.
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The biblical lesson from the story of Amnon and Tamar
The biblical lesson from the story of Amnon and Tamar encompasses several important teachings:
- The Consequences of Lust: The story highlights the destructive consequences of unchecked lust and sexual immorality. Amnon’s uncontrolled desire for his half-sister Tamar led him to commit a heinous act that resulted in profound pain, broken relationships, and ultimately his own demise. It serves as a reminder of the importance of self-control and honoring God’s design for sexual purity.
- The Power of Deception: Jonadab’s role in facilitating Amnon’s sinful desires demonstrates the danger of surrounding oneself with individuals who encourage and enable wrongdoing. We should be cautious about seeking advice or influence from those who do not uphold God’s principles.
- The Devastation of Betrayal: Tamar experienced immense betrayal when her own brother violated her trust and dignity. This serves as a reminder that our actions can deeply impact others, causing lasting emotional, physical, and spiritual harm. It emphasizes the importance of treating others with respect, honor, and love.
- Seeking Justice: Absalom’s pursuit of revenge against Amnon highlights the human desire for justice when wrongs are committed. However, it also reveals how seeking personal vengeance can perpetuate a cycle of violence and further damage relationships within families or communities.
- God’s Sovereignty in Redemption: Despite the tragedy that unfolded within David’s family due to sin, God remained sovereign over His plan for redemption. Through Solomon, born to David and Bathsheba after their repentance over their own transgressions (Bathsheba being Uriah’s wife), God continued His covenant promises by establishing Solomon as king.
Overall, this biblical account teaches us about the destructive nature of sin but also points us toward repentance, forgiveness, redemption through Christ Jesus, and restoration through God’s grace. The story reminds us to seek righteousness, to value purity, to treat others with respect, and to trust in God’s sovereignty even amidst human failures