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2 Samuel 13:1--14:33

The Rape of Tamar

13:1 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. In the course of time David’s son Amnon fell madly in love with her. 1  13:2 But Amnon became frustrated because he was so lovesick 2  over his sister Tamar. For she was a virgin, and to Amnon it seemed out of the question to do anything to her.

13:3 Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was a very crafty man. 13:4 He asked Amnon, 3  “Why are you, the king’s son, 4  so depressed every morning? Can’t you tell me?” So Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar the sister of my brother Absalom.” 13:5 Jonadab replied to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. 5  When your father comes in to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come in so she can fix some food for me. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch. Then I will eat from her hand.’”

13:6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came in to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come in so she can make a couple of cakes in my sight. Then I will eat from her hand.”

13:7 So David sent Tamar to the house saying, “Please go to the house of Amnon your brother and prepare some food for him.” 13:8 So Tamar went to the house of Amnon her brother, who was lying down. She took the dough, kneaded it, made some cakes while he watched, 6  and baked them. 7  13:9 But when she took the pan and set it before him, he refused to eat. Instead Amnon said, “Get everyone out of here!” 8  So everyone left. 9 

13:10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the cakes into the bedroom; then I will eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes that she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. 13:11 As she brought them to him to eat, he grabbed her and said to her, “Come on! Get in bed with me, 10  my sister!”

13:12 But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t humiliate me! This just isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this foolish thing! 13:13 How could I ever be rid of my humiliation? And you would be considered one of the fools 11  in Israel! Just 12  speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” 13:14 But he refused to listen to her. 13  He overpowered her and humiliated her by raping her. 14  13:15 Then Amnon greatly despised her. 15  His disdain toward her surpassed the love he had previously felt toward her. 16  Amnon said to her, “Get up and leave!”

13:16 But she said to him, “No I won’t, for sending me away now would be worse than what you did to me earlier!” 17  But he refused to listen to her. 13:17 He called his personal attendant and said to him, “Take this woman out of my sight 18  and lock the door behind her!” 13:18 (Now she was wearing a long robe, 19  for this is what the king’s virgin daughters used to wear.) So Amnon’s 20  attendant removed her and bolted the door 21  behind her. 13:19 Then Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went on her way, wailing as she went.

13:20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Was Amnon your brother with you? Now be quiet, my sister. He is your brother. Don’t take it so seriously!” 22  Tamar, devastated, lived in the house of her brother Absalom.

13:21 Now King David heard about all these things and was very angry. 23  13:22 But Absalom said nothing to Amnon, either bad or good, yet Absalom hated Amnon because he had humiliated his sister Tamar.

Absalom Has Amnon Put to Death

13:23 Two years later Absalom’s sheepshearers were in Baal Hazor, 24  near Ephraim. Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 13:24 Then Absalom went to the king and said, “My shearers have begun their work. 25  Let the king and his servants go with me.”

13:25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go. We shouldn’t burden you in that way.” Though Absalom 26  pressed 27  him, the king 28  was not willing to go. Instead, David 29  blessed him.

13:26 Then Absalom said, “If you will not go, 30  then let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king replied to him, “Why should he go with you?” 13:27 But when Absalom pressed him, he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons along with him.

13:28 Absalom instructed his servants, “Look! When Amnon is drunk 31  and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ kill him then and there. Don’t fear! Is it not I who have given you these instructions? Be strong and courageous!” 32  13:29 So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what Absalom had instructed. Then all the king’s sons got up; each one rode away on his mule and fled.

13:30 While they were still on their way, the following report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one of them is left!” 13:31 Then the king stood up and tore his garments and lay down on the ground. All his servants were standing there with torn garments as well.

13:32 Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My lord should not say, ‘They have killed all the young men who are the king’s sons.’ For only Amnon is dead. This is what Absalom has talked about 33  from the day that Amnon 34  humiliated his sister Tamar. 13:33 Now don’t let my lord the king be concerned about the report that has come saying, ‘All the king’s sons are dead.’ It is only Amnon who is dead.”

13:34 In the meantime Absalom fled. When the servant who was the watchman looked up, he saw many people coming from the west 35  on a road beside the hill. 13:35 Jonadab said to the king, “Look! The king’s sons have come! It’s just as I said!”

13:36 Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, wailing and weeping. 36  The king and all his servants wept loudly 37  as well. 13:37 But Absalom fled and went to King Talmai son of Ammihud of Geshur. And David 38  grieved over his son every day.

13:38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he remained there for three years. 13:39 The king longed 39  to go to Absalom, for he had since been consoled over the death of Amnon. 40 

David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem

14:1 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see 41  Absalom. 14:2 So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning 42  and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. 43  14:3 Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say. 44 

14:4 So the Tekoan woman went 45  to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, 46  O king!” 14:5 The king replied to her, “What do you want?” 47  She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 14:6 Your servant 48  has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. 14:7 Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death 49  of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, 50  leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”

14:8 Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” 51  14:9 The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”

14:10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” 14:11 She replied, “In that case, 52  let the king invoke the name of 53  the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head 54  will fall to the ground.”

14:12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 14:13 The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. 14:14 Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 55  14:15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. 56  But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant 57  asks. 14:16 Yes! 58  The king may 59  listen and deliver his female servant 60  from the hand of the man who seeks to remove 61  both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 62  14:17 So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”

14:18 Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak!” 14:19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” 63  The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. 14:20 Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.” 64 

14:21 Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I 65  will do this thing! Go and bring back the young man Absalom! 14:22 Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked 66  the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your 67  servant!”

14:23 So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 68  14:24 But the king said, “Let him go over 69  to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over 70  to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.

14:25 Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. 71  From the sole of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. 72  14:26 When he would shave his head – at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long 73  and he would shave it – he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds 74  according to the king’s weight. 14:27 Absalom had 75  three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman. 76 

14:28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. 14:29 Then Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to send him to the king, but Joab was not willing to come to him. So he sent a second message to him, but he still was not willing to come. 14:30 So he said to his servants, “Look, Joab has a portion of field adjacent to mine and he has some barley there. Go and set it on fire.” 77  So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s 78  portion of the field on fire.

14:31 Then Joab got up and came to Absalom’s house. He said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion of field on fire?” 14:32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent a message to you saying, ‘Come here so that I can send you to the king with this message: 79  “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there.”’ Let me now see the face of the king. If I am at fault, let him put me to death!”

14:33 So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king 80  summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom 81  bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him. 82 

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[13:1]  1 tn Heb “Amnon the son of David loved her.” The following verse indicates the extreme nature of his infatuation, so the translation uses “madly in love” here.

[13:1]  sn Amnon was the half-brother of Tamar; Absalom was her full blood-brother.

[13:2]  2 tn Heb “and there was distress to Amnon so that he made himself sick.”

[13:4]  3 tn Heb “and he said to him.”

[13:4]  4 tn An more idiomatic translation might be “Why are you of all people…?”

[13:5]  5 tn This verb is used in the Hitpael stem only in this chapter of the Hebrew Bible. With the exception of v. 2 it describes not a real sickness but one pretended in order to entrap Tamar. The Hitpael sometimes, as here, describes the subject making oneself appear to be of a certain character. On this use of the stem, see GKC 149-50 §54.e.

[13:8]  6 tn Heb “in his sight.”

[13:8]  7 tn Heb “the cakes.”

[13:9]  8 tn Heb “from upon me.”

[13:9]  9 tc A few medieval Hebrew mss have “and they removed everyone” (Hiphil preterite with vav consecutive 3cp, rather than Qal preterite with vav consecutive 3cp).

[13:11]  10 tn Heb “lie with me” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV); NCV “come and have sexual relations with me.”

[13:13]  11 tn Heb “and you will be like one of the fools.”

[13:13]  12 tn Heb “Now.”

[13:14]  13 tn Heb “to her voice.”

[13:14]  14 tn Heb “and he humiliated her and lay with her.”

[13:15]  15 tn Heb “and Amnon hated her with very great hatred.”

[13:15]  16 tn Heb “for greater was the hatred with which he hated her than the love with which he loved her.”

[13:16]  17 tn Heb “No, because this great evil is [worse] than the other which you did with me, by sending me away.” Perhaps the broken syntax reflects her hysteria and outrage.

[13:17]  18 tn Heb “send this [one] from upon me to the outside.”

[13:18]  19 tn The Hebrew expression used here (כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים, kÿtonet passim) is found only here and in Gen 37:3, 23, 32. Hebrew פַּס (pas) can refer to the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot; here the idea is probably that of a long robe reaching to the feet and having sleeves reaching to the wrists. The notion of a “coat of many colors” (KJV, ASV “garment of divers colors”), a familiar translation for the phrase in Genesis, is based primarily on the translation adopted in the LXX χιτῶνα ποικίλον (citona poikilion) and does not have a great deal of support.

[13:18]  20 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Amnon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[13:18]  21 tn The Hebrew verb is a perfect with nonconsecutive vav, probably indicating an action (locking the door) that complements the preceding one (pushing her out the door).

[13:20]  22 tn Heb “Don’t set your heart to this thing!”

[13:21]  23 tc The LXX and part of the Old Latin tradition include the following addition to v. 21, also included in some English versions (e.g., NAB, NRSV, CEV): “But he did not grieve the spirit of Amnon his son, because he loved him, since he was his firstborn.” Note David’s attitude toward his son Adonijah in 1 Kgs 1:6.

[13:23]  24 map For location see Map1 D2; Map2 D3; Map3 A2; Map4 C1.

[13:24]  25 tn Heb “your servant has sheepshearers.” The phrase “your servant” also occurs at the end of the verse.

[13:25]  26 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[13:25]  27 tc Here and in v. 27 the translation follows 4QSama ויצפר (vayyitspar, “and he pressed”) rather than the MT וַיִּפְרָץ (vayyiprats, “and he broke through”). This emended reading seems also to underlie the translations of the LXX (καὶ ἐβιάσατο, kai ebiasato), the Syriac Peshitta (wealseh), and Vulgate (cogeret eum).

[13:25]  28 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[13:25]  29 tn Heb “he”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[13:26]  30 tn Heb “and not.”

[13:28]  31 tn Heb “when good is the heart of Amnon with wine.”

[13:28]  32 tn Heb “and become sons of valor.”

[13:32]  33 tn Heb “it was placed on the mouth of Absalom.”

[13:32]  34 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Amnon) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[13:34]  35 tn Heb “behind him.”

[13:36]  36 tn Heb “and they lifted their voice and wept.”

[13:36]  37 tn Heb “with a great weeping.”

[13:37]  38 tc The Hebrew text leaves the word “David” to be inferred. The Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate add the word “David.” Most of the Greek tradition includes the words “King David” here.

[13:39]  39 tc The translation follows 4QSama in reading רוּחַ הַמֶּלֶךְ (ruakh hammelekh, “the spirit of the king”) rather than the MT דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ (david hammelekh, “David the king”). The understanding reflected in the translation above is that David, though alienated during this time from his son Absalom, still had an abiding love and concern for him. He longed for reconciliation with him. A rather different interpretation of the verse supposes that David’s interest in taking military action against Absalom grew slack with the passing of time, and this in turn enabled David’s advisers to encourage him toward reconciliation with Absalom. For the latter view, see P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 344, and cf. CEV.

[13:39]  40 tn Heb “was consoled over Amnon, because he was dead.”

[14:1]  41 tn Heb “the heart of the king was upon.” The Syriac Peshitta adds the verb ’ethrei (“was reconciled”).

[14:2]  42 tn The Hebrew Hitpael verbal form here indicates pretended rather than genuine action.

[14:2]  43 tn Heb “these many days.”

[14:3]  44 tn Heb “put the words in her mouth” (so NASB, NIV).

[14:4]  45 tc The translation follows many medieval Hebrew mss in reading וַתַּבֹא (vattavo’, “and she went”) rather than the MT וַתֹּאמֶר (vattomer, “and she said”). The MT reading shows confusion with וַתֹּאמֶר later in the verse. The emendation suggested here is supported by the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, some mss of the Targum, and Vulgate.

[14:4]  46 tn The word “me” is left to be inferred in the Hebrew text; it is present in the Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate.

[14:5]  47 tn Heb “What to you?”

[14:6]  48 tn Here and elsewhere (vv. 7, 12, 15a, 17, 19) the woman uses a term which suggests a lower level female servant. She uses the term to express her humility before the king. However, she uses a different term in vv. 15b-16. See the note at v. 15 for a discussion of the rhetorical purpose of this switch in terminology.

[14:7]  49 tn Heb “in exchange for the life.” The Hebrew preposition בְּ (bÿ, “in”) here is the so-called bet pretii, or bet (בְּ) of price, defining the value attached to someone or something.

[14:7]  50 sn My remaining coal is here metaphorical language, describing the one remaining son as her only source of lingering hope for continuing the family line.

[14:8]  51 tn Heb “concerning you.”

[14:11]  52 tn The words “in that case” are not in the Hebrew text, but may be inferred from the context. They are supplied in the translation for the sake of clarification.

[14:11]  53 tn Heb “let the king remember.”

[14:11]  54 tn Heb “of your son.”

[14:14]  55 tn Heb “he devises plans for the one banished from him not to be banished.”

[14:15]  56 tc The LXX (ὄψεταί με, opsetai me) has misunderstood the Hebrew יֵרְאֻנִי (yerÿuni, Piel perfect, “they have made me fearful”), taking the verb to be a form of the verb רָאָה (raah, “to see”) rather than the verb יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”). The fact that the Greek translators were working with an unvocalized Hebrew text (i.e., consonants only) made them very susceptible to this type of error.

[14:15]  57 tn Here and in v. 16 the woman refers to herself as the king’s אָמָה (’amah), a term that refers to a higher level female servant toward whom the master might have some obligation. Like the other term, this word expresses her humility, but it also suggests that the king might have some obligation to treat her in accordance with the principles of justice.

[14:16]  58 tn Or “for.”

[14:16]  59 tn Or “will.” The imperfect verbal form can have either an indicative or modal nuance. The use of “perhaps” in v. 15b suggests the latter here.

[14:16]  60 tn Heb “in order to deliver his maid.”

[14:16]  61 tn Heb “destroy.”

[14:16]  62 tn Heb “from the inheritance of God.” The expression refers to the property that was granted to her family line in the division of the land authorized by God.

[14:19]  63 tn Heb “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?”

[14:20]  64 tn Heb “to know all that is in the land.”

[14:21]  65 tc Many medieval Hebrew mss have “you” rather than “I.”

[14:22]  66 tn Heb “blessed.”

[14:22]  67 tc The present translation reads with the Qere “your” rather than the MT “his.”

[14:23]  68 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

[14:24]  69 tn Heb “turn aside.”

[14:24]  70 tn Heb “turned aside.”

[14:25]  71 tn Heb “Like Absalom there was not a handsome man in all Israel to boast exceedingly.”

[14:25]  72 tn Heb “there was not in him a blemish.”

[14:26]  73 tn Heb “for it was heavy upon him.”

[14:26]  74 tn Heb “two hundred shekels.” The modern equivalent would be about three pounds (1.4 kg).

[14:27]  75 tn Heb “and there were born.”

[14:27]  76 tc The LXX adds here the following words: “And she became a wife to Rehoboam the son of Solomon and bore to him Abia.”

[14:30]  77 tc The LXX adds here the following words: “And the servants of Absalom burned them up. And the servants of Joab came to him, rending their garments. They said….”

[14:30]  78 tn The word “Joab’s” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

[14:32]  79 tn Heb “saying.”

[14:33]  80 tn Heb “he.” Joab, acting on behalf of the king, may be the implied subject.

[14:33]  81 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Absalom) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

[14:33]  82 tn Heb “Absalom.” For stylistic reasons the name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation.

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