Saturday, November 27, 2010

Question: Why No Justice Nor Compassion for Tamar?

In 2 Samuel, Chapter 13, we find an odd story about a brother who lusts after and then rapes his sister. Keeping with the implicit male chauvinism shown in the Old Testament, the scene is set as follows:
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. (Verse 1)
Please notice that, while Tamar obviously is King David's daughter, only her brothers explicitly are identified as the king's progeny!! In and of itself, that tells you a lot about the early Hebrew opinion of the female gender.

As the story goes, Amnon forces himself on his sister and, once the deed is done, he has no more use for her. He goes about his merry way and gets to live it up for another two years...until Absalom kills him in an act or revenge.

What concerns me the most about this story is the treatment of Tamar. For one thing, adultery (in any form) and particularly incest is supposed to be dealt with by the Jewish authorities. Yet, no effort is expended by King David nor the priests to bring Amnon to justice. Amnon never has to answer for his nasty deed and only meets his demise when the king is tricked.

Worst of all, however, is how the victim of this crime is dealt with. Understandably, Tamar is distraught from being raped. Does anyone come to comfort her?
And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house. (Verse 20)
In essence, Tamar is told to shut up and not to become angry because the perpetrator is her brother. Here is another example of how the Hebrews denigrated women.

Not surprisingly, this is the last we hear about poor Tamar. The story shifts to focus on Absalom and David. So, is incestuous rape okay if it occurs in the royal family? Would King David have acted so disinterested if Amnon had raped a brother instead of a sister? (Me thinks not!)

To see what other questions I've asked about the Christian Bible, go here.

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