INSIDE THE HEARTS
OF BIBLE WOMEN

12 ~ Violated
(Tamar)

(based on 2 Samuel 13-18 in the Old Testament)





Part 1 ~ Innocent Trust
It started out like any other day.  Just the same as those thousands of other women before and after her who had been or would be
raped.  Some would be too afraid to admit that it happened to them at all, thus allowing it to fester inside the rest of their lives.  Some
would react as did Tamar.

 The sun shone so brightly on gentle Tamar's bed.  She sat up, recalled what she had in mind to do that day, and slid her feet to the
floor.   She donned one of her many multi-colored embroidered dresses worn by King David's virgin daughters.  Once dressed and her
long thick hair combed, she left her room and nearly skipped down the hall of the royal house to greet the rest of her family.

 Tamar was like the sun rising all over again each morning.  Her eyes sparkled, her lips lyrically spoke, her hair flowed behind her trying
to keep up with her unending energy.  If anyone woke up feeling tired, that didn't last long around Tamar.  Her enthusiasm for life was
catching!  [1]

 At this very moment elsewhere in the city, Tamar's half-brother was rising also.   Being David's eldest son, Amnon was old enough to
have his own house now.  But his getting out of bed was not quite in the same fashion as his younger half-sister.

 Sir," said one of the servants, "I believe you were to meet with someone in town today about buying some land.  The morning grows late."

 "Oh," he mumbled, "I nearly forgot.  Had something else on my mind."

 Indeed Amnon did have something else on his mind.  It had been troubling him so much that he'd become absent-minded and
preoccupied for the past several weeks.  As a result, many of his important personal affairs had gone undone.

The servants left the room and shortly returned to find Amnon still sitting on the side of his bed staring.  "Sir, here are your clothes.  Are
they what you wanted?  When do you wish to eat?"

 "When do I always eat?" he snapped.  "Don't I always eat two hours after I get up?"

 "I'm sorry, sir.  It's just that you are a little later getting up than usual today."

 "I get up when I'm ready!  Is that understood?"

 "Yes, your majesty."

 "Now get out of here and leave me alone!"

 Breakfast time did come, but as had been his habit the past week, he did not show up to eat.  [2]

 Instead, he stayed in his bedroom and dreamed of the love of his life.  She was so beautiful.  When he was around her he could not
keep his eyes off her.  Oh how he loved her!  But she never paid any attention to him.  He was like a piece of furniture to her, he was
sure.  Yes, she'd greet him and smile, but that was all.  And she did that to everyone.

 If there was just some way to prove his love.  He could only think of one way, but didn't think he could persuade her to go along with it.  
Hadn't he failed at every other thing he'd tried?  If only....

 "Sir."

 "What is it this time?" he jeered impatiently.

 "Cousin!"  The servant was interrupted by the guest, so left for him to make his own introduction.

 "So my own dear cousin is pining away."  Jonadab walked in with the usual sly grin on his face.  The world was a lion, and as far as
Jonadab was concerned, he had it by the tail.

 "Is there something you desire?  Name it, cousin.  And it shall be yours ~ and, well, maybe half of it mine."

 "Cut it out, will you?"

 "Hey, what's with you any more?  Nobody can talk to you without you biting their heads off.  And you look nearly as bad as you're acting.  
I hear you haven't been eating.  So what's that supposed to prove?  Come on, you can tell me."

 "Oh, Joanadab, I am in love with Tamar, Absalom's sister."

 "So, what's so bad about that?"

 "She won't even look at me.  And Absalom is so headstrong, I know if I asked our father for permission to marry her, her brother would
probably talk him back out of it.  Everyone looks up to Absalom, even though he's the king's second son and I'm the first.  Absalom gets
everything.  Well, I want Tamar.  If I could only convince him to let her be my wife."

 "Why bother with Absalom or the king either one?  Take what you want and they'll have no choice."

 "What do you mean?" Amnon asked.

 "You're the king's son, aren't you?  Here's a plan for you.  Get back into bed and pretend you're sick.  When your father comes to check
on you, tell him you want Tamar to come fix a meal for you and feed you.  That will give you a chance to let Tamar know just how nice a
guy you are."

 Amnon considered the suggestion in silence.  Then a grin appeared on his face, his eyes grew wider, and he replied, "I think you're
right.  I bet it would work.  Then she'll have to marry me."  [3]

 Jonadab wondered at that last remark, but had a day's worth of excitement on his mind, so sloughed it off and rose to leave.  "Well,
cousin, let me know how things turn out."

 And so, suddenly and conveniently Amnon was sick.  He walked out to the courtyard feigning dizziness.  His servants rushed over to him.

 "My lord, what has happened?  You must lie down right away.  There is a cot in this room right over here.  Better not try to go back to
your bedroom."

 They got young Amnon onto a cot, and he moaned even louder.

 "No wonder he hasn't been eating.  There is something seriously wrong with him."

 Within an hour King David arrived at Amnon's bedside.

 "Son, what's wrong?"

 "Oh Father," he groaned appropriately.  "My stomach aches something terrible.  And I'm so dizzy, I can't even walk.  I haven't been able
to eat either."

 "You really should eat, Son.  Food always is a healer.  Won't you just try?"

 "Maybe I could if Tamar would come and cook for me.  I could lie right here and see her in the courtyard while she made the bread; hers
always turns out so much better than anyone else's.  And then if she could stay and break it into pieces and feed them to me herself...."

 "Of course.  It shall be done.  I'll send Tamar right over.  She certainly keeps my own spirits up when she's around, and I know she would
yours too.  She'll be glad to come and nurse you."  [4]

 David returned to his royal house and sent for Tamar to go to Amnon's house and take care of him.

 As Tamar walked down the street, anyone who had seen Absalom easily recognized her as his sister.  There was not a blemish
anywhere.  Every facial feature was formed perfectly.  They were both well built and strong.  Their skin, their eyes, their smiles all shone.  
They stole the hearts of everyone who saw them.

 In between seeing and greeting people she knew, Tamar's mind wandered.  Next week Absalom would be taking her and their mother to
Geshur to visit her maternal grandfather.  He was king of his own country, as was her father king of the land she lived in.  Having royal
family on both sides was exciting.  She was anxious to see her grandfather as they got to travel there but once a year or so.  The trip
would be so much fun.  She did not know her destiny was about to change, and she would not be taking that trip.

 Shortly, she arrived at Amnon's house.  A servant took her to the cot where he lay near the courtyard.

 "Amnon, what has happened?  You look so sick," she commented lovingly.

 Amnon, who had immediately pretended he was asleep as soon as he heard her arrive, opened his eyes.

 "Where am I?  Oh, it's you Tamar.  Oh sister.  I feel so terrible."  He took hold of her hand.

  "If only, if only you would fix me some of your special bread.  No one can fix it like you can.  Maybe then I could eat and begin to heal my
ailing body."

 "Of course I will bake for you.  Now you just lie here and rest while I take care of everything."  [5]

 So Tamar went out to the courtyard and got some of the flour that had been ground just that morning.  She added to it water and some
of the yeast starter she had brought with her.  Amnon watched her every delicious move.

 After some time in kneading, Tamar broke the dough in to small pieces, put them on a tile slab, and let them rise in the warm noonday
sun.  Amnon was growing impatient.

 By the time the bread dough had risen, Tamar had finished cleaning up where she'd been working.  The bread was placed in the oven.  
Amnon could smell the pleasant odor, and it teased his appetite.  Sometimes he didn't think he could stand the waiting much longer.

 Being small, it did not take very long for the pieces of bread to bake.  Tamar pulled them out of the oven and took them to her brother in
the adjoining room.

 "Here, Amnon," she offered sweetly.  "Now you can eat and be refreshed and your strength will return."  She was so promising.

 "But I am feeling worse.  I don't see how I can eat now."

 "But you must.  It will help you," she gently pleaded.

 "Tamar, send all the servants out of the house.  Please."

 What a strange request, she thought.  Well, maybe the noise was too much for him.  Even quiet talk can echo in the ears of a sick
person.  So she sent them all out.

 "Here, let's try to eat now."

 Amnon gazed at Tamar.  His eyes were begging.

 "Please, Tamar.  If you could only take me to my room where I can lie on my own bed.  I would feel much better there.   And after I eat, I
can go right to sleep without having to move or be disturbed.  Will you please help me?"

 "Of course.  Now don't get up too fast.  Remember your dizzy spells."

 Tamar lifted the covers off and then pulled Amnon's feet around until they were almost to the floor.  She put her arm around his shoulder
and supported him as best she could as he rose from the cot.

 "Just stand here a minute now while you get used to being up so you don't faint.  You're so heavy, I could never pick you up off the
floor," she grinned.  "You know, you really should be having one of your servants do this."

 "No, I'll be okay.  Just get me to my room," he whispered.  "Walk slowly and I'll make it all right."  [6]

 One small step at a time to her fate.  Amnon had his arm around Tamar's waist.  Closer and closer they inched toward the room, as into
a web.

 They arrived, and Amnon sat on the side of his bed.  She pulled his feet up on to the bed and covered him up.

 "I'll be right back, Amnon."

 "Where are you going?" he asked startled.

 "Just out there to get the bread.  I'll be right back," she reassured again.

 "Oh yes, the bread.  I'll be right here waiting."

 That was an odd thing to say, she thought as she walked out of the room.  Of course he'll be right there.  How could he go anywhere
else in his condition?

 She came back and set the bread on a table near Amnon's bed.

 "Close the door."

 Close the door?  There are no servants around.  Amnon watched her pause and look at him questioningly.  

 "Don't look at me like that.  Just do as I say."

 A little shocked at the slight outburst from such a sick person, Tamar went over and shut the door.  Her instincts told her not to, but she
did not listen.  It was her last chance.

 "Now, don't get all upset.  That will just make you feel worse."

 "I'm sorry.  It's just that I'm so sick.  Come over here now.  My appetite is becoming so great."

 Tamar returned to his bed and took a piece of  bread to feed him.  [7]
                                                  Part 2 ~ Betrayed

   Suddenly Amnon took hold of her hand.  His grip was like a lion's jaw.  She looked at him startled.  The bread dropped.  She tried to
pull back.  He held on tighter.

 "What are you trying to do, Amnon?  Now let go of me!"

 "Let go of you?  No.  Never!"

 "You're not sick!   What's going on?"

 "Tamar, I have loved you for so long, come lie with me."

 He grabbed both hands and tried to pull her down to his bed.  Instinctively, Tamar struggled to get away.  She tried to control her voice
and sound logical.

 "Please, Amnon!  Don't force me!  Please, I beg you!  No!"

 Tamar struggled too much.  Hanging on to both hands, he got out of bed and picked her up.

 "No, Amnon!  You can't be doing this to me!  I've known and trusted you all my life!  Please, listen to me!"

 "You say no with your lips, but you want it as much as I do."

 She scratched him in her struggle to get away, but he did not seem to pay any more attention to that than what she was saying.  He
dropped her down onto the bed and held her down.  He was smiling.

 "No!  No!  What will happen to me in my disgrace?  Where will I go?  Who will I be able to face?"  [8]

 He still did not hear.  Time was running out.  In desperation she tried appealing to his own pride.

 "What will happen to you?  People will call you an evil fool.  All you'd have to do is ask the king and he will give me to you to be your
wife.  I know he will!"

 "You'll be glad, sister.  You were in my dreams.  You will be now.  You will want to keep coming back to me.  I know you will.  I will become
irresistable to you."

 He was too strong.  She couldn't get a way.

 "Amnon!  No!  Please!  No...."

 Tamar's pleasings fused into sobs.  She rocked her head back and forth.  

 "No....  Please no....  no...."

 Then there were the screams.  [9]

 It was all over.  Amnon looked down at her.  She was still shaking, still mumbling no.  She still was not smiling.  She still did not love him.  

 That wasn't the way his dreams were.  She wasn't supposed to be like this.  It was supposed to be all different.  She hardly even knew
what was going on.  All those no's.  That wasn't right.  She wasn't acting right.  She wasn't loving him now like she was supposed to.  She
was hating him.  How could she hate him after this?  But she did.  She hated him.

 Amnon became repulsed.  He got out of bed and walked to the other side of the room.  He turned toward her.  "Get out!" he shouted.  
"Get out of my sight!  You're nothing but....  You made me do this!  Now get out of here!  You make me sick!"

 Tamar got up and stared at her half-brother in disbelief.  By this time her sobs were coming from deep within her being.  Her confusion,
her shame, her fear mounted.  She leaned against the wall betrayed and degraded.

 "Oh, Amnon," she gasped.  "What are you saying to me?  What has happened?"  [10]

 Now a new panic overtook her.  "There is no cause for you to say this!  Don't send me away now.  I'll be your wife to cover my shame.  
But please don't send me away like this.  This evil is greater than the first.  Oh please, Amnon, please!"

 She stumbled over to where he was.  She knelt on the floor, hung on to his feet and pleaded with him.  He looked down at her torn
clothes, matted hair, and the blood.  In disgust he called out.  "Servant!  Servant!"

 The servants outside the gate heard, and one came rushing through the courtyard and into the room, fearing some terrible thing was
happening to their master.

 There he saw Tamar huddled on the floor, a mass of agony.  She looked up at the servant, her face flushed, perspiration mixed with
tears soaking her clothes.  In quick alternates, she gasped and stopped breathing at all.  She stared at him as though she did not know
who he was.  She whimpered.

 "Get this woman away from me!" Amnon demanded.  "Get her out of here and bolt the door!  I never want to see her again!"

 The servant, guessing what had just happened, stooped to bring Tamar to her feet.  He held her arm and slowly guided her out of
Amnon's bedroom and into another room of the house.  He called one of the maids who came running.

 "My poor lady.  What has he done to you?"  [11]

 Tamar was seated on a mat on the floor.  But now she was huddled up in a kind of human mass rocking back and forth, back and forth,
groaning, whimpering.

 "No....  no....  no...."

 The maid stooped down and pulled Tamar to her.  She held her and rocked her and smoothed the hair out of her eyes.

 "It was so terrible," she whispered.  "How could he do this to me?"

 Tamar looked up in to the older woman's eyes with horrified questioning.  The woman had no answer.  She continued to cry, but became
quieter and quieter until the woman thought she'd finally fallen asleep in exhaustion.

 Suddenly Tamar sat up.  Her fists were clinched.  She pounded on the mat.  "I hate him!  I hate him!"

 Her screams merged into wailing, and she lay back down.  The woman sat patiently with her.  Another maid came in.

 "She'd better leave.  Amnon might have heard her that time."

 The woman put her arms around Tamar and started bringing her to her feet.

 "Come on now.  We've got to take you home."  [12]

 Tamar looked up in disbelief.  "Home?  Home?  How can I go home?  How can I face my mother?  How can I face my father?  My friends?  
Anyone?"

 Her last words were muffled in the half sobbing half moaning of a woman in mourning for the dead.  She took hold of the beautifully
colored robe of her virginity, and slid it off.  For a moment she stood there looking at it.  Suddenly hysterical, she tore it mercilessly, then
threw it at the wall.  Standing there in her long white undergarment, she looked down at its starkness in defeated silence.  

 The maid put her arm around Tamar again.  "Come on now."

 They began to walk out of the room to the courtyard.  Her whole body was tense.  Her muscles were tightened and wouldn't let go.  Her
energy was robbed.  She felt a fire where he had hurt her.  He had been so rough.  She could hardly move.  Her steps were slight.  A few
inches at a time.  Her head reeled.

 They managed to get out to the courtyard and she saw where just an hour earlier she had innocently baked bread for someone she
trusted.  She stopped, bent down, picked up some of the ashes from the edge that had cooled down.  She ritually sprinkled them over her
head with shaking hand and unsure fingers.  The mourning over a dead part of her had begun.

 Some of the ashes fell back down into her eyes.  The older woman, understanding what Tamar was doing, took the edge of her own
scarf and tried to wipe Tamar's face with it.  Then she motioned to another maid who came to the other side of Tamar.  They helped her
back to her feet, put another robe on her, covered her face with a dark veil, and walked through the gate out into the street.  [13]

 They turned to their left, but Tamar stopped.

 "No, please, not there.  Take me to my brother's house.  Take me to Absalom's.  Please...."

 With special understanding, the women turned and walked with her in the direction of Absalom's house.  It was closer anyway.  People
stared as the three passed, wondering.  Some came right out and asked.

 "Is someone sick?  Who is it?"

The women kept on walking without a word.  Occasionally Tamar's silence burst, she put her hands on her head and began to sob
again.  But the noise was muffled by her veil.  The women never protested.  They just patiently walked with her, supporting her the best
they could.  Sometimes they talked quietly with her, sang a lullaby to her, and tried to comfort the comfortless.

 In a few minutes, Tamar heard the women speak out like someone else was near them.  She looked through her veil, but with tears that
had clouded and swelled her eyes, it took her a minute to realize that they had arrived.

 "Call for Absalom!  Quickly!  It's his sister, Tamar!"

 The servant ran and got Absalom.  The women were inside his courtyard by now.  He called to Tamar who tried in vain to run to him.  He
rushed to her, and his little sister collapsed in his arms.  [14]

 "Oh, Absalom....  he....  he...."

 Absalom lifted her veil and hardly recognized her.  Shocked, he picked her up carefully but quickly in his strong arms and carried her
into his house.  The women who had accompanied her walked with him, explaining as much as they had been able to determine.  He laid
his sister down on a bed and turned to the women.  

 "Thank you for bringing her here.  Go now, before our brother takes his hate out on you next.  Do not tell him where she is."

 When the women left, and no one else was in the room, Tamar suddenly jumped up and looked at her brother with a new panic.

 "No!  No!  Absalom.  Please don't!"

 He backed away from her slightly and quietly assured her.  "No, little sister.  You need never fear me.  I love you too much.  With a real
love.  I would never violate you.  You are safe here."

 He moved closer again and she put her head on his arm.  "Oh, Abaslom, he did such a terrible thing to me.  How could he do it?  Not
me!  I'm ruined!  Oh, my God, help me...."

 Tamar began once again to cry.  She never was very far from the tears.  Absalom put both arms around her and awkwardly tried to
comfort her.

 "Hush now.  He is our brother."

 "But I hate him so much for what he did to me."

 "Be quiet now.  Being our brother, he will always be around.  Just be patient and you will be avenged.  In the mean time, you are to live
here where I can keep him away from you.  I will take care of you.  Can you trust me?"  [15]

 At first Tamar found she could not eat.  She was nauseated at what had happened to her, and nauseated at the thought of food too.  
She was only able to take a few bites and drink some liquid.  Just the thought of the rape could make her  want to throw up.  She couldn't
get those terrible thoughts out of her head.

 Even on days when the sun was warm, she sat out in the courtyard with an extra cloak around her.  It seemed she could never warm up.  
The whole ordeal had been so chillingly cruel.  So cold.  She just sat and stared most of the time.  Sometimes the tears returned and
those close to her could hear it....

 "No....  no...."

 Sometimes they could get her to do some work.  But they could not get her to do any baking.  No one was going to force her to bake.  
Ever.  She couldn't even look at the oven.  Every time she did, the thoughts of the broken bread, the broken trust, and the betrayal all
came back to her.  They decided to wait and not expect too much of her at first.  At least, not with the baking.  And they moved the oven
to a corner of the courtyard where they could put up a screen in front to keep it out of view as much as possible.  [16]

      Although noontime every day was always the worst, the time it had happened, there was another time that was nearly as hard ~ night
time.  At night all was silent, like that early afternoon.  At night everyone was away in their sleep and left her alone.  At night she could not
sleep.  Or sometimes she did, and suddenly would awake in terror wishing she hadn't.

 Sometimes she dreamed that Amnon was in a desert alone.  She would go to the desert not knowing he was there, although she could
never figure out how or why she went.  It seemed to be Amnon's desert.  She'd hear him cry out, "Help me!  Help me!"  Tamar would
struggle to get to him.  When she got close, he'd be laughing and offering her loaves of bread.  She would become frightened and turn to
run, but her legs wouldn't work.  Then she'd begin to call out, "Help me!  Help me!" and would wake herself up.  She'd be perspiring, her
heart nearly leaping out of her chest, tears streaming down her face.

 There were other dreams.  Dreams where she would cry out for help in a house, but the servants would all be deaf.  Or dreams where
she would plead with her father, "Oh please don't send me to his house again!"  Or dreams that were so deep inside her, she would wake
up crying but not remember why.  [17]

 During those long hours between sleep, she would try to relive the assault, changing the events so the assault did not happen.  

 If only she hadn't helped him off the cot.  If only he had got sick the week she was to be visiting her grandparents.  If only she had
thought to throw the covers over his eyes just long enough to break free.  If only she had scratched a little harder.  If only....

 Gradually, as life went on around her in the regular daily routine that had been hers before the assault, she found that time was dulling
the vividness and shadowing the reality.  Gradually she participated more and more in the daily routine.  She even got so she could bake
bread again ~ just as long as there were others around her when she did.  But she never got so she could eat any of it again.  [18]

 Months passed.  Then a year.  But no one in the family forgot.  Tamar remained secluded in Absalom's house.  David was heartsick over
what had happened between his own children.  His anger over what Amnon had done tied him in knots.  His own son.  How could he do
this thing in Israel?  However, he was just sowing his wild oats.

 Sometimes David thought it was his own guilt coming back on him.  Had he not seen Bathsheba bathing not too many years before this
and lain with her?  And when she learned she was pregnant, had he not had her husband killed in battle so he could be the legal father of
their child?  And now this.

 What kind of father had he really been?  David asked God to forgive him and his example before his children.  And he told Amnon to be
sure to ask God's forgiveness.  Other than this, not much was said.  And nothing done.

 The king was surprised that Absalom had taken it so well.  True, he never said anything good about Amnon, but he never said anything
bad either.  He was proud of Absalom's self-control.  That was a sign of maturity.  But Absalom was only waiting.  Waiting for the perfect
moment.

 Two years passed.  Tamar had gone back to her general routine now.  Although the vividness of the rape had now dulled, the memory
was still there.  It would always be there.  She remained in seclusion at Absalom's house.  She felt she could never bring herself to
marry.   [19]      
                                             Part 3 ~ To Live Again

  It was shearing time, a happy time, a time of feasting and giving thanks for the bounty.  Absalom's sheep were up north in Ephraim, and
he decided to give a feast.  He approached his father.  "It's sheep shearing time.  I'd like to invite the whole family up for a feast of
thanksgiving."  

 "No, all of us shouldn't go.  We would only be a burden to you."

 "But Father, we do not have opportunities to all get together like this very often any more."

 "No.  It's better this way.  But you go ahead and have a good time."

 Would the king ever really have time for his children?

 At that, a new thought popped into Absalom's head.  "Well, if everyone can't come, at least let my brother Amnon come."

 "Amnon?  Why Amnon?"

 He's going to be the next king after you.  Besides, at least part of the family should be together during this time.  Who better than your
oldest son to represent everyone?  Who better than the heir to your throne?"

 David was unsure.  Finally he relented.  "All right.  All your brothers may go."

 Would that throw a wedge into his new plans with everyone there?  No, he thought he could work around that.

 "Thank you, Father.  We will think of you."

 Sweet vengeance was close.  Now, at last, was the time for which Absalom had been waiting.  No one could treat his sister like Amnon
had done.  How he hated his brother for ruining her young life.

 Arrangements were made for the feast.  Amnon was to be at the head of table.  The servants were to wait.  Then, when Amnon was
quite drunk, they were to kill him.  [20]

 "But sir, what will his father, the king, do to us?"

 "Don't be afraid.  Am I not the one who has given you this order?  Be strong and brave.  It is the only honorable thing to do."

 The feast took place.  And, according to plan, when Amnon was obviously drunk, a servant slipped up behind him and struck him
stelthily  with his death weapon.  At first everyone just thought he had passed out drunk.  But not for long.

 "Look!  It's Amnon!  Someone has killed him!  Let's get out of here!"

 All the rest of Absalom's brothers fled in fear for their own lives and rushed back to Jerusalem.  Word came to David that everyone of
his sons had been slain.  He tore his clothes and lay on the earth crying out for his slain sons.

 "Oh, Jehovah.  Bathseba's baby is dead.  Tamar is defiled.  And now this.  Oh, God!  Not this too!  I have no family left!"

 But Jonadab, their cousin, came to the king apparently trying to smooth over a little of what he had started two years earlier.  "My Lord.  
They were not all slain.  Only Amnon is dead.  It was arranged by Absalom who had been waiting for this chance to avenge Tamar's
honor for the day he raped her.  Please, your majesty, they are not all dead.  Only Amnon is dead."

 Not too long after, the watchman called out that over a dozen men were riding through the valley outside the city.  "See?  What did I tell
you?  These are your sons."

 Presently David's sons did arrive.  One by one they came in and embraced their father and wept for their slain brother, Amnon.  
Everyone including the servants in the king's house wept.  All but Absalom.  Tamar had never stopped weeping.

 Although he felt justified in avenging Tamar's rape, Absalom feared what his father might do to him.  He fled to Geshur to live with his
grandfather, their king, until he found out his father's intentions toward him.  [21]

 Another year went by.  Then two.  Three.  By now David's grief for Amnon had been comforted.  More and more David longed to see
Absalom; for after all, wasn't he his son too?

 So obvious became David's longing for Absalom, that his close friend and adviser, Joab, perceived it.  Joab arranged for a woman to
come see the king about the matter, but in disguise.  

 "My Lord King," she pleaded.  My two sons argued out in a field and one killed the other.  Now there are those who wish to have my
other son killed in vengeance.  But that would leave me with no sons at all.  Please, would you decree that he will be spared and returned
to me?"

 David was anxious to help.  "Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.  As surely as the Lord lives, not one hair of your sons'
head will fall to the ground."

 But the woman did not thank him and leave.  "My Lord King.  You are guilty of avenging because you have not sent for your own son to
return to you out of exile."

 It did not take David long to figure out what was going on.  "Did Joab get you to come say these things to me?"

 She had to answer yes.

 David went to Joab about the matter and Joab admitted it. [22]

 "You are right," David finally conceded.  "Go, bring the young man Absalom home again."

 Joab fell to his face and bowed and thanked the king.  He rushed to Absalom's house where Tamar was still living in seclusion.  It had
been five years since her rape.  But she still felt enshrouded in shame.  He told her the good news.

 "Your brother, Absalom!  I'm going to get him and bring him back home!  ?Your father gave his consent!  I knew he would.  He loves
Abslaom and you.  I knew he couldn't take revenge out on Absalom forever."

 Tamar was overjoyed.  Surely there would be a feast at the palace.  She would join them for such an event as this.  

 But there was no feast.  Just as Tamar had been betrayed by Amnon, and then Amnon betrayed by Absalom, now Absalom was
betrayed by his father.

 When David received word that Absalom had arrived in Jerusalem, he felt the joy of seeing him again, but it quickly gave over to the old
hurt.  Why did he gave to kill Amnon?  So he sent word.  "He must go to his own house.  He must not see my face."

 Two more years.  Now five years since Amnon's vengeance murder, and seven years since Tamar's rape.  What happened that
afternoon so long ago would never stop tearing and ripping at this family.  [23]

 Absalom sent for David's adviser, Joab.  He could not bear it longer.  "Go to the king, my father, for me.  Ask him why in the world he
brought me back here from Geshur.  I may as well have stayed there if this is the way things are going to be.  Then tell him to let me see
his face.  Or if I have done anythying so terrible, just kill me and get it over with."

 How Joab's heart ached for Absalom, and for Tamar whose honor he had only been trying to defend.  And for David with his shattering
family.  Joab went to David and gave him the message.  David's heart was touched.  He sent for Absalom.

 Absalom immediately went to his father.  They embraced and kissed.  But was it too late?  Absalom had tried to defend his sister, and
their own father was punishing him for it.  Would they have to pay further?

 Four more years passed.  It was now eleven years since Tamar's rape.  And still the terrible incident would not quit haunting either her
or her family.  Her dreams continued.  So did the hurting.

 The allegiance of the people began going over to Absalom.  It was part of Absalom's new plan.  David would die in the not too distant
future.  He was some sixty years old now.  And as far as Absalom was concerned any more, there wasn't any lvoe lost between him and
his father anyway.  That had been raped also.  [24]

 Then one day while Absalom was in Hebron where he had been born and where his father had begun his own reign, Absalom declared
that he was now king.  After all, he was heir to the throne and the present king was getting too old.  Word quickly spread to David who
feared his powerful and influential son.  He knew the hearts of the people were now after Absalom.  So his immediate family and 600 loyal
men fled with David to the caves in the nearby hills to hide.  David left behind his ten mistresses to take care of the royal house.

 When Absalom marched in to take over Jerusalem, he asked his counselor what he should do as a gesture of proving his supremacy
over his father and secure his crown.  When the counselor advised him, without flinching Absalom carried it out. Wwhy not?  No one
seemed to care about anyone else's honor any more anyway.  Not in this family.

 He had a tent set up on the high flat roof of the royal house.  It was still day and everyone down on the street could see.  Then one by
one, his father's mistresses were taken to Absalom in the tent.  Thereby he felt that he had proven once and for all that he had taken his
father's place in all things.  Besides, if his father could do it with Bathsheba and no one care, and his brother with Tamar and no one
care, who was to say he couldn't?

 His counselor then advised, "Now let us send a troop after your father, King David, and have him killed."  [25]

 After all these years trying to defend what he had done for Tamar with not the slightest indication of caring from his father, Absalom had
finally grown bitter.  He had tried so long to receive his father's approval and love.  All in vain.

 A battle followed between the soldiers of the father and son.  David was much stronger than anyone had thought.  The king told his
soldiers, "If and when you catch up with young Absalom, deal gently with him for my sake."  

 Wasn't it a little late for that, David?  If you had only said such things directly to Absalom while you could.  But you hadn't, and never
again would you receive the opportunity.  

 The next day as Absalom rode through some trees, his long thick hair caught hold of a low-hanging branch of an oak tree and got
caught there.  His horse kept going and left Absalom hanging from the tree by only his hair.  

 Joab, David's counselor, heard he was there but had not been harmed by anyone.  Neither did anyone know what exactly to do with
him.  Joab knew.  Absalom had shamed his own father by laying with his mistresses.  He went to where Absalom was, begging for
someone to cut him loose or hand him a knife to do it himself.  Everyone stood there laughing while he kicked and squirmed.  The tree
was too strong for him.

 Then Joab announced, "You deserve something special for the same you brought to your father.   And here it is."  

 With a vengeance, Joab took three darts and calculatingly thrust them into Absalom's heart while he hung yet alive from the oak tree.  
Then ten young armour bearers who were with Joab finished up the job and killed him.  Vengeance was done.  [26]

 By now, David had returned to Jerusalem and was sitting by the city gate waiting for the news of the battle.  A messenger was spotted
running toward him.  He fell to the ground before the king and reported.  "Blessed is the Lord who has delivered you out of the hands of
your enemies."

 "But what about my son?  Is the young man Absalom safe?"

 "I saw a great commotion going on under an oak tree but didn't know what it was all about.  I left immediately to  bring you the news."

 Then another messenger came running up.  He too bowed to the ground before the great but now aged King David.  Again the father
asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?"

 The messenger answered, "All of your enemies that rose up against you to hurt you are now as the young man is."

 Stunned, David immediately got up and made his way slowly to his room over the gate.  And as he walked, he could be heard sobbing
much too late, "Oh my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would God I had died for you.  Oh Absalom, my son, my son!"

 So at last Tamar had been avenged.  And the avenger had been avenged.  And who was the victor?  She never knew.  She could only
continue to suffer and bear the pain and wonder "What if I hadn't gone over there that day?"

 "What....if...."   [27]          
                                            THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                              Part 1 ~ Innocent Trust

1.         How can rape/incest throw a person off track in her life plans and relationships, even for years to come if she allows it to?  How can Romans
8:28 help?

2.        What does Proverbs 25:28 mean as it relates to this situation?

3.        What changes people who are anti-social (Proverbs 16:6,7)?  Do you think a rapist could ever make a turn-around because of this?

4.        A high percentage of rapists know their victims.  How would you warn women to show caution in visiting with men they know?  What if a
woman is living in the same house as her assaulter (Matthew 10:16)?

5.        Young girls need to be warned of possible danger situations (Proverbs 8:32,33).  Yet we desire to let them keep their innocence and trust in
human nature as long as possible.  How could you give them a gentle yet firm warning?

6.        There are certain places a woman should avoid going either with men or where a man might be waiting for them (John 3:19,20).  What places
would you warn other women not to go?

7.        What types of things might a man say just to get a woman trapped in a car, a room, or a building?  What types of response should she make?  If
a father or brother assaults her, he may tell her he'll get in trouble if she tells and she should protect him.  Or he may say her mother will be killed if she
doesn't cooperate.  What can be explained to young ladies in general to get out of such situations?  (Colossians 3:18)


                                                    Part 2 ~ Betrayal

8.        How can you reassure a rape victim that God is of tender mercy, and still sees her as pure as she ever was?  (Matthew 19:24-26)

9.        In SOME cases possible rapists are talked out of their violence, usually by remaining calm, getting off the subject, and reminding them of good
things in their life (Proverbs 26:4).  It is worth a try.  What are some such topics might a women begin to talk about who may be threatened with rape?

10.        How would you use Proverbs 29:11 to recommend to women to save their lives afterwards?

11.        What ways of ministering to a victim's physical reactions might help her the most?  Consider Psalm 69:1-3; 19-21 and Job 30:15-16.

12.        How could Psalm 140:9-13 help a rape/incest victim?

13.       The rape victim shown signs of mourning in various ways and for various reasons ~ loss of innocence, loss of self-respect, loss of others'
respect, etc.  How could Job 6:1-15 and Romans 12:15b help?

14.        Considering Romans 15:1-3, how could we help shield a rape/incest victim from curious onlookers or friends who hear about her rape?  How
about during a time of questioning by authorities?

15.        What can family members do to help an incest victim work through the love-hate relationship she has with her father/brother/uncle/cousin?  
How can Psalm 49:1 and 55:12-14 help?

16.        If you were a victim and close to tears all the time, how would you want other people to act around you?  Read Psalm 102:1-9.

17.        Read Job 7:3,4; Psalm 6:6,7.  What might a victim do to help her get through the nights and possible dreams?

18.        What kind of positive thoughts and activities would help a rape victim rise above her tragedy (Psalm 55:4-6)?


                                            Part 3 ~ To Live Again

19.        What can a family with guilt feelings for not protecting the victim spend their mental energy on instead of the guilt?  Why?

20.        What could you say to the people in a rape victim's family to help them deal with desires for revenge (Psalm 94:1)?

21.        Can vengeance ever be truly satisfied?  How is it and is it not like punishment?  Might Proverbs 9:6,7 have any bearing on vengeance?  What
does this make the avenger?

22.        Once vengeance begins, it snowballs.  The avenger can be taken to the same level as the original evil doer.  How would you apply Luke 9:54,55?

23.        David tried to close his eyes and hope the problem would go away by itself.  This sometimes happens with the mother of a young lady being
molested by a family member in order to keep her family together.  What should this parent do?  (Philemon 18)  

24.       What is the ONLY way to get this out of the lives of family's lives (Matthew 5:44,45)?  Why?

25.        Once vengeance gets out of hand, it spreads like a terrible disease.  The original evil doer is able to attack many times over.  Who must put a
stop to it (Ezekiel 25:15-17)?  How?

26.        When victims and family get caught up in vengeance, in the end who will get the last laugh (2 Corinthians 2:10,11)?

27.        What is the best way a victim's family and close friends can rally to her side and prove their love (Philippians 4:8 and 7)?