Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day: Amnon & Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22).

Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her.

Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.”

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.”

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. Then she took the pan and set them out before him, but he refused to eat.

Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”

She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.”

But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she was, he forced her and lay with her.

Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, “Get out!”

But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.”

But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.

Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.”

So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her.

    So lemme get this straight. Tamar’s uncle couldn’t keep it in his pants.

    Welp, the Bible endorses incest, then. O_O

  • AnonaMiss

    You know, I always liked Absalom.

    It’s been a while since I read his full story so maybe I’d feel differently about it now, but it’s so rare in scripture for a male character to actually care for a female relative more than for their own honor/status/whatever. Here we see him trying to comfort her (as best he can in that particular rape culture), but IIRC he later kills Amnon for doing this and goes off into hiding for years.

    I’m trying to suss out now why my feelings about Absalom are so different from my feelings about the brothers of Dinah – before the whole genocide thing of course, which crosses the line twice. I think it’s because Absalom premeditatedly and willingly suffers on his sister’s behalf, leaving behind a life of privilege with no guarantee that he would ever be anything but a hunted man. He actually puts something on the line for her.

    I think it also helps that we see Tamar’s reaction. Dinah’s non-presence in her own story, and Shechem’s attitude towards her after the rape(?), means that it can be read any number of ways. We don’t know how she feels about Shechem, we only know that her brothers disapproved of the match because they wanted her to be raped by someone more closely related to her. Whereas we can see here how Tamar feels about her experience. She still doesn’t get any agency, but at least she gets a voice.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

     Tamar’s brother couldn’t keep it in his pants.  Probably half brother, as they refer to her as the sister of Absalom, though Amnon calls her sister too. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Agh, you’re right. It’s as bad as that Spaceballs line:

    Dark Helmet:
    I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.

    I’ll edit the post.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also: Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.

    Tamar was giving Amnon an out if he really wanted to bang her legally in that culture. As gross as that is, it points up the fact that Amnon really wasn’t thinking at all except about what he wanted and was going to take it regardless of her wishes. :(

    Only surprised Absalom didn’t arrange a convenient accident for Amnon.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Another thing I like (well, for certain values of like) about this story, aside from Absalom’s willingness to side with his sister, is that we are unequivocally asked to side with Tamar and sympathize with her grief and pain. No attempt to suggest that “she asked for it” or “she really wanted it” or any of the familiar excuses.

  • Mark Z.

    Only surprised Absalom didn’t arrange a convenient accident for Amnon.

    Two years later…

    Absalom made a feast like a king’s feast. Then Absalom commanded his servants, ‘Watch when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, “Strike Amnon”, then kill him. Do not be afraid; have I not myself commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.’ So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded.

  • Lori

     That was politics though, not revenge for Tamar, wasn’t it?

  • EllieMurasaki

    There a reason it couldn’t be both?

  • Lunch Meat

    I remember learning in high school the moral of this story is “If you let your boyfriend pressure you into sex, he won’t love you afterward.”

    Well, also “Don’t have so many wives and children that your children become bitter rivals and hate each other.”

    And “If one of your children does something bad, discipline him so that another one of your children doesn’t feel the need to kill him later and rebel against you.”

  • Lori

    I remember learning in high school the moral of this story is “If you
    let your boyfriend pressure you into sex, he won’t love you afterward.”  

    Well, sure. That’s totally the obvious lesson to take from this uplifting little tale.

    I swear sometimes I wonder how any of us survived a fundie upbringing.

  • AnonaMiss

    After he has Amnon killed, Absalom has to flee the country and go into hiding. David does forgive him in a few years and lets him return to Israel, but Absalom had no way of knowing that (and David never struck me as a particularly forgiving guy). 

    You could argue that it was so important to have Amnon out of the way that he was willing to risk it; but Absalom wasn’t even second in line as David’s heir, and he didn’t kill any of his other older brothers (as far as we learn) until after he has openly usurped the throne. …At which point he starts raping his father’s concubines.

    Personally I prefer to believe that “the winner wote the history books” on the Absalom story, and that really his revolution was benevolent and awesome.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    the Bible endorses incest, then. O_O – Invisible Neutrino

    I don’t know that I’d call this endorsing incest. It seems pretty clear to me that we’re expected to see Amnon as the villain of this little story, and the person ultimately at fault for the later civil war when Absalom rebels against David.

  • http://jdm314.livejournal.com/ Mad Latinist

    I confess that when you started this series, the very first Biblical Family tale that came to mind was this one. For somewhat frivolous reasons though: I have been studying the different types of bread & bakery products of the ancient world, and this passage has come up multiple times—the word used for the “cakes” (or whatever they actually are) is interesting and for a different reason (and also mystifying) in every ancient version/translation of the Bible!

    On a more serious note, Susan Weingarten points out in a couple of her articles that in the ancient mid-east women seem to have done their baking naked (the kitchen being very hot, after all), which adds an interesting subtext to this story.

  • Deborah Moore

    That’s the real difference between Absalom and Dinah’s brothers.  Absalom gives his sister a voice.  Dinah’s brothers do not.

    (By the way, it may not be emphasized in this piece, but Ammon was David’s son by his first wife and Absalom and Tamar are children by a later wife).

  • LoneWolf343

     Maybe, but it still seems like a Women in Refrigerators moment.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Isn’t fridging specifically when a woman gets killed in order to produce angst and plot for her male significant other or close relation? This would be a related trope but not the same one, unless I missed Tamar dying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    TVtropes says that it can apply to any kind of vicious assault.

  • Ben English

    It is in many ways, but in this case it’s progress from the time of the Patriarchs where Dinah was granted no voice or sexual agency of her own. Also, unlike the murder of Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend, it (may have?*) actually happened in an actual ancient patriarchal society.

    *My understanding was that we know very little historical information about any king of Israel prior to Solomon outside the Bible, but I may be wrong.

  • Amaryllis

    It’s also interesting to compare this story with the entry from two days and two chapters ago and one generation ago.

    David-and-Bathsheba is usually presented as simple adultery (well, complicated by that murder-by-enemy of her husband) or even as great love story.  But if you read the bare words of the text, Bathsheba wasn’t asked, she was commanded. It could easily be considered rape through abuse of royal power. Like father, like son?

    Today’s tale is unambiguously called rape, and it’s rape through abuse of family power. Amnon is taking advantage of his position as oldest son and royal heir: he gets what he asks for, then he takes what he wants.

    David is angry, but he does nothing to Amnon. Tamar is expected to go on living in the same family that contains Amnon, and it’s her and not him who is expected to remain solitary and “desolate.”

    I’m not the first person, by a long shot, to point out the similarities between this story, and the many current examples of families and  institutions of all sorts to protect the abuser rather than the abused.

    I see, on looking it up, that Absalom named a daughter Tamar. I don’t think it’s clear, though, whether that was before or after this incident.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So the code word to indicate that it’s time to strike Amnon is “Strike Amnon”?

    That’s a terrible codeword.

  • Amaryllis

    the word used for the “cakes” (or whatever they actually are) is
    interesting and for a different reason (and also mystifying) in every
    ancient version/translation of the Bible!

    * checks verse-comparison sites *

    Hey, so it is! Bread, or cakes, or (my favorite) “little messes” or just “her favorite food.” And it’s baked, or boiled, or fried, and served from a pot, or a  dish, or a frying-pan… It’s a mystery.

    Tangentially, I’ve heard recently that the phrase usually translated as “bowels of compassion” should be more accurately rendered as “womb of mercy.” Which gives a whole different effect.

    The Chick-fil-A Poem of the Day, for a different Tamar and an old pot:

    Consolation for Tamar
    (on the occasion of her breaking an ancient pot)

    You know I am no archeologist, Tamar,
    And that to me it is all one dust or another.
    Still, it must mean something to survive the weather
    Of the Ages-earthquake, flood, and war-

    Only to shatter in your very hands.
    Perhaps it was gravity, or maybe fated-
    Although I wonder if it had not waited
    Those years in drawers, aeons in distant lands,

    And in your fingers’ music, just a little
    Was emboldened by your blood, and so forgot
    That it was not a rosebud, but a pot,
    And, trying to unfold for you, was brittle. 
    — A E Stallings

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The other thing I find interesting is that Jonadab fellow. He actively counselled Amnon in how to deceive Tamar so she would be close to him in a way that would lower her guard until it was too late for her to safely back out without committing some vague dishonor that would mean adverse consequences for her.

    If it happened today I’d expect Jonadab to be charged as an accessory to rape.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also:

    But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.”

    That really breaks my heart. :

    She’s just been raped by her half-brother, and she’s still more worried about codes of family honor and is willing to live up to them even if it meant (by the laws of that time, ISTR) being forced to marry him and Amnom paying some kind of indemnity to his father, which he’d get back on inheritance anyway.

    She was ready to let herself be abused for the rest of her life to save the honor of a person worth less than the camel poo people probably stepped in back then.

  • LoneWolf343

     It’s really if a female character is exploited specifically to develop a male’s character rather than her own. Rapes are also common Fridging Women moments.

  • Lori

     

    She was ready to let herself be abused for the rest of her life to save
    the honor of a person worth less than the camel poo people probably
    stepped in back then.   

    The honor she was trying to save was at least partially her own. Things were so bad then that her choices were marry her rapist half brother or live with her brother, a desolate woman. For me the worst horror is Tamar being in the position of having to beg her rapist not to ruin the rest of her life.

    I always figured David refusal to punish Amnon was as much a matter of not having the nerve to be that hypocritical, as it was because Amnon was the favorite. Can you imagine how the conversation would have gone if David had tried it?

    David: It’s terrible that you raped Tamar.

    Amnon: At least unlike some people, I didn’t have anyone murdered trying to cover it up.

    FSM, this story is horrible.

  • Lori

     

    She was ready to let herself be abused for the rest of her life to save
    the honor of a person worth less than the camel poo people probably
    stepped in back then.   

    The honor she was trying to save was at least partially her own. Things were so bad then that her choices were marry her rapist half brother or live with her brother, a desolate woman. For me the worst horror is Tamar being in the position of having to beg her rapist not to ruin the rest of her life.

    I always figured David refusal to punish Amnon was as much a matter of not having the nerve to be that hypocritical, as it was because Amnon was the favorite. Can you imagine how the conversation would have gone if David had tried it?

    David: It’s terrible that you raped Tamar.

    Amnon: At least unlike some people, I didn’t have anyone murdered trying to cover it up.

    FSM, this story is horrible.

  • ohiolibrarian

    So Amnon not only rapes Tamar, he slut-shames her into the bargain? What a guy!

  • Mark Z.

    David is angry, but he does nothing to Amnon. Tamar is expected to go on living in the same family that contains Amnon, and it’s her and not him who is expected to remain solitary and “desolate.”I’m not the first person, by a long shot, to point out the similarities between this story, and the many current examples of families and institutions of all sorts protecting the abuser rather than the abused.

    She can’t escape being in the same family, but she does get out of the royal household. Absalom takes her in. Which IMO is what keeps this from being standard Women In Refrigerators material: first he makes sure she’s safe, and offers what emotional support he can. Revenge comes later.

    So the code word to indicate that it’s time to strike Amnon is “Strike Amnon”?

    Absalom is not terribly subtle, no. His style is more “Yeah, I killed him, what about it? He was an evil bastard, it was justified revenge, and anyway I have like 22 Charisma and +3 Awesome Hair.”

  • Zeborah

     I think it’s because Absalom premeditatedly and willingly suffers on his
    sister’s behalf, leaving behind a life of privilege with no guarantee
    that he would ever be anything but a hunted man.

    Well, the person he seeks refuge from is his mother’s father a king. So I think he’s leaving behind a life of privilege for another life of privilege – but yeah, he’s at least someone who did something here.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yes, because the verse following the ones you quoted was “and this was a fantastic thing that others should do.”

  • The Guest Who Posts

     Well, it *is* a Biblical family such as Chick-Fil-A supports…

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I swear sometimes I wonder how any of us survived a fundie upbringing.

    I certainly wonder it. I’m very impressed that so many of you not only survived it, but came out of it rational.

    I was taught that if a boy tried to pressure me into sex, he didn’t care about me. They kind of skipped the idea that girls might pressure boys into sex too, so I shouldn’t do it either, but it was a valuable lesson, I guess. I’ve never had a guy try to pressure me into sex. I think I’ve always scared that type off.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Wait, what? So any time a woman is assaulted in a story, it’s a “fridge moment” now?

    Oh, what the hell, I hate TVTropes anyway.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

     The fridge trope is about the purpose the assault serves in the storyline. The woman is killed or assaulted for its effect on another character, usually a male love interest. The victim isn’t treated as a character in her own right, but as a satellite or appendage of someone else who is the real target. A gruesome death isn’t the only way to accomplish this.


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