Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Brother's Love

For those of you following my blog, sorry for not posting yesterday.  Normally I wouldn't post on a Saturday, but I'll give you a quick thought.  The first major thing that happens in II Samuel after David's affair with Bathsheba is the rape of Tamar by her step-brother Amnon.  Long story short, after raping her, Amnon is repulsed by her, so she ends up living in disgrace with her older brother, Absalom.  David eventually hears about what his oldest son has done to one of his daughters, but refuses to do anything about it because Amnon is heir to the throne.  This, understandably, infuriates Absalom, who quickly begins planning his revenge.  By the end of our reading, Absalom has murdered Amnon, gone into exile, returned from exile, and started a rebellion, usurping David's throne.  Absalom becomes the villain of the story, and so he is typically viewed through a lens of revulsion and distaste.  The assumption, going back to my post on David and Bathsheba, is that only evil people do evil things.

There is, however, an interesting little blip of information that calls this assumption into questions.  When David calls Absalom back from exile, II Samuel shares that Absalom had three sons and one daughter.  We're not told the name of his sons, but the author of II Samuel does relate the name of his daughter, and it is Tamar.  Absalom named his daughter after the sister he loved.  Evil men don't love their sisters.  Once again, the stories in Samuel don't present us with an easy black and white world.  Instead, the stories in the books of Samuel present us with the lives of real people, mixtures of black and white, who through valuable attributes like love do terrible things like murder.  Absalom may not have been the evil villain he has been made out to be.

One final, possibly interesting, I've said in previous posts, my Hebrew has mostly fallen by the wayside, but Absalom's name looks remarkably like a merging of two other Hebrew words: ab and shalomAb means "father," and shalom means "peace."  It's quite ironic that David's refusal to enact justice led the Father of Peace down the road of murder and revolt.

Stopping point: II Samuel 15

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