Wondering about the dividing line between passionate love and intense hatred, I journeyed through the Word to a good example of such as found in 2nd Samuel 13:1-39. The ‘love’ Amnon had for his stepsister Tamar.
Lets look at what love is. 1st Corinthians 13:1-13 talks about the importance of love above other gifts – vs 4-8a,
“Love suffers long (patient); and is kind; envieth not; never boastful, proud or rude. Love isn’t selfish, is not easily provoked (or quick tempered); thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things (is always supportive), believes all things (trusting), love is hopeful and endures all things. Above all, LOVE NEVER FAILS!
Did Amnon have all these? We’ll find out soon enough.
2nd Samuel 13:1-2 opens up telling us that Amnon loved Tamar, David’s daughter and Absalom’s sister to the point that he became upset because she was a virgin and he thought it hard to get her.
How did Amnon know that Tamar was a virgin? Did he go “test-driving” No!!!! In those days, it was required of the king’s daughters (who were usually virgins) to wear a special robe of divers colours. This robe was a symbol of their purity and mark of being chaste to all. It was like an open declaration of what she was – an untouched, uncultivated (as in not used) land, whose nutrients were still intact. It was a sign of freshness and newness of life. Amnon wanted of that freshness.
It’s okay to desire something, but to what purpose is that desire? Why want something so badly if you don’t intend to use it for any good, save to make it desolate and lie wasted? Amnon had a desire and also a friend/cousin (Jonadab) who always knew how to get what he wanted…a friend that was very subtle (cunning or streetwise). A man of God advised us to “be careful who we reveal our needs to, or else a mediocre individual will show up to fulfil them”. It was permitted in those times to marry your sister, why didn’t Amnon do just that! SELAH. Jonadab advised Amnon and that was the genesis of Tamar’s nightmare. There is nothing wrong in letting someone else know what your plans are, but do both of you desire to get the same results? Be careful who you seek advice from.
Looking at vs.5
“And Jonadab saith unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thy self sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.”
Jonadab didn’t say Amnon should rape his sister, but he gave Amnon a plan and that plan was such that put the sense of sight to work. Tamar was to make cakes in front of Amnon. I can imagine the pictures that went through Amnon’s mind, as he beheld Tamar knead the dough and bake them. What he saw would have heightened his frenzy and desire to a boiling point. Hence, he threw all cautions to the wind.
As a king’s son, he was well schooled in the laws of the land, so he knew the consequences of his action. Love is patient, thinks no evil. Why didn’t Amnon take the right steps and wait? Truth is, what he felt was LUST, EROTIC LOVE for his sister that couldn’t and wouldn’t wait. He had so longed for it that he became disgusted after the act. Of course, you weren’t expecting her to respond passionately to him in a state of rape! I’m sure he was disappointed at the fact his 99% desire was met with a 0% response at the other end and a 99% resistance.
Amnon hated Tamar more than he “loved” her because there’s something about the desire to capture, after which you experience diminishing returns because you’ve gotten to the peak of it and there’s nothing else in it for you – especially if you had to go through a lot of aches (heart, body wise) to get it and that of your own compulsion.
There’s something demeaning about #RAPE. It is worse if it’s someone you know and the most terrible part of this story is being kicked out in that state of vulnerability, after your prized possession has been taken from you. I’m sure Tamar would have day-dreamed repeatedly about her knight in shinning armour and the D-day when he gains access into the treasure she has to offer him- her gift to him. Only for it to be forcefully taken from her! What a deep-seated pain. For Tamar remained in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman, sad and lonely!
After she was thrown out, Tamar tore off her symbol of intactness, her divers’ coloured robe. Surprising that Amnon raped Tamar, yet he left her robe still in place. So that he could deceive others that she left his house the way she came in. But like Zara said in William Congreve’s ‘The Mourning Bride’, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” Tamar tore the robe and put ashes on her head.
I checked up the meaning of “ashes” and WEBSTER has this to say “what is left when a fire has burned itself out; the remains of a human body (whether or not cremated)”. Checked up “head” too; this is, “the top part of the human body or foremost part of an animal’s body. It contains the brain, mouth, nose, eyes and ears and its structure protects these organs; the leading person in a community etc. or the position he holds.”
All Tamar was trying to say was “…not only is my virgin land ravaged, lying wasted and desolate, all I have left is the ashes of what used to be a burning fire. My zeal as one devoted solely to God via my body is burnt out and I’m left with only its reminders.” She put the ashes on her head to show that this singular act of rape affected the core of her existence. She was no longer an example (virgin, leader) to others. In other words, she didn’t have a head anymore…because she was no longer a virgin and the man who took it wouldn’t marry her and play his part as her head!
Rape is bad. No matter the sides we try to view it from, it affects so many other people within and outside our circles – not just now, but later on. A husband or wife, daughter or son gets to suffer for what someone else did to another. It spoils clean bonds that would have been formed, rears its ugly head occasionally in the family and breeds friction that people can’t really pin their fingers on, yet know there is unresolved tension somewhere.
At one time or another we’ve all been like Tamar- RAPED!!! Not necessarily the sexual. But something we held on to so tenaciously, something very valuable was taken from us and we were kicked outside for the world to see. Left with nothing, but the quenching embers of what we once treasured.
However, we don’t have to become desolate like Tamar and remain sad and lonely, but rise above the dump and stand. Pick the shreds of our garments, our life and give them back to our Maker not our brother Absalom; because Absalom will definitely (even if it takes 2 years), go for ‘our Amnon’ to destroy it. ‘Your Absalom’ is that silent pain in you that has turned into bitterness and you are nursing him, while waiting the right time to strike Amnon. It’s in the past now, let it go, rid yourself of the burden of bitterness and un-forgiveness. Set your heart free and you will love again.
- Inbetween, seek professional help amongst the many organisation that deals with these matters and come out a survivor. Don’t let the rapist ruin your yesterday, today and the future. It’s time to hit the ground running.
- Report the case and the rapist to appropriate quarters (especially properly establish organisations that will pursue this cause for you), so that he or she cannot do that to someone else. #DontBeSilent, #SpeakUp
- Go to a hospital and get a check-up for all forms of veneral diseases etc and be treated.
© 2015. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved