Show navigation

Why did Amnon rape Tamar? Why didn’t David punish Amnon?


Subscribe to our Question of the Week:

Amnon and Tamar
Question: "Why did Amnon rape Tamar? Why didn’t David punish Amnon?"

Amnon was the half-brother of Tamar, as they shared the same father, David. Tamar is described as “beautiful,” and Amnon was highly attracted to her (2 Samuel 13:1–2). Amnon did not know what to do about his infatuation, and he soon confided in a friend named Jonadab. Jonadab was “very shrewd” and gave Amnon a plan, saying, “Go to bed and pretend to be ill. . . . 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’” (2 Samuel 13:5). The idea was that, when alone with Tamar, Amnon could then do as he pleased.

Amnon followed this evil plan and succeeded in getting Tamar alone with him in his bedroom. When he told her to lie down with him, she refused. He then forced himself upon her and raped her (2 Samuel 13:14).

Afterwards, Amnon was said to hate her more than he had “loved” her before the rape occurred—it was never really “love” at all, but lust. Absalom, Tamar’s full-brother, found out about the deed, as did David. David’s response was that “he was furious” (2 Samuel 13:21). Absalom took care of Tamar in his own home and would not speak to Amnon. Two years later Absalom commanded his servants to murder Amnon in revenge (2 Samuel 13:28–29). Absalom fled the country for a time and later returned to David.

But why didn’t David punish Amnon? Many reasons have been suggested. One likely reason is that Amnon was David’s son and that David had been guilty of sexual sin himself (in the case of Bathsheba)—therefore, he felt inadequate to judge his son for such an action. Another possible reason is that there was no witness to the crime. Amnon’s friend Jonadab had carefully orchestrated the crime to avoid the possibility of witnesses; therefore, there was no way to prove the crime according to Jewish law.

Regardless of the reason, Absalom took matters into his own hands in killing his half-brother Amnon, though it resulted in many problems for himself. He lived away from his family for three years after the murder and lived for some time in Jerusalem before seeing his father’s face. Absalom would also later seek to usurp his father’s throne, resulting in his own death.

This tragic situation highlights some of the problems associated with sexual sin and its aftermath. No one should experience the treatment Tamar endured, and it is important to respond to such situations with integrity and justice. David neglected justice, and Absalom implemented his own standards, creating additional problems in the process.

Recommended Resources: The Great Lives from God's Word Series by Chuck Swindoll and Logos Bible Software.

Related Topics:

How could David be considered a man after God's own heart?

Who was Absalom?

Who are the sons of David mentioned in the Bible?

What should we learn from the account of David and Goliath?

Why was God so angry at David for taking the census?

Return to:

Questions about 2 Samuel

Return to: Home

Why did Amnon rape Tamar? Why didn’t David punish Amnon?

The GQ Network