Monday, October 3, 2016

Sisters in circumstance

I almost feel like I should warn everyone that this week is going to be a tough one. It may very well be the most difficult study yet, in our women of the Bible series.

We will meet two women, who are sisters in circumstance. No, they are not really sisters, but they had the same thing happen to them. And we may want to cringe and look away, but it's important to look and learn.

Ready? These women are named Tamar and Dinah.
Both of them were forced to have sex outside of marriage. It's a harsh word, and we may not like to even think about it, but it's rape. It's the story of people who would not control themselves, and the consequences for them, and for their family. People may wonder why stories like this are included in the Bible -- the Bible is bold to show us examples of what "not to do!"

We will need to brush up on two passages of Scripture: for Dinah, re-read Genesis 34, and then for Tamar, read in II Samuel:

 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.
Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.
Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”
Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”
So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”
David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.
“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”
But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar. (II Samuel 13)

What a clever fellow, cousin Jonadab.
He tells Amnon that after all, he's royal, and he should have what he wants. Whatever delights the royal eye, should delight the royal flesh . . . oh boy. Doesn't that sound just like King David? He SAW Bathsheba, and he TOOK Bathsheba . . . and we will see the prophecy fulfilled:

                           Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house,
                           because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite
                           to be your own.’11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your
                           own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your
                           very eyes .... 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in
                           broad daylight before all Israel.’” (II Samuel 12:10-12)

David could not control his own passions, and now he can't control his sons. Nor can they control themselves! David would not deny himself what was taboo; his sons will not deny themselves, either. Tamar's purity and virginity will be torn from her, all because of David's poor example.

This will be a story of a family defiled and torn. We'll see examples of how not to behave, and we'll see how Tamar and Dinah were avenged. It's a bumpy road. Hope you'll join us.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I don’t think there can be a woman in this world who is not horror stuck and terrified by the very word “rape”, let alone the actuality of it. This will be a hard one, for sure.