Tamar's Plea – כִּי לֹא יִמְנָעֵנִי מִמֶּךָּ


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Fact or Fiction?

Shemuel II 14 describes the tragic story of Amnon's rape of Tamar.  When Amnon says, "come lie with me, my sister" Tamar attempts to convince Amnon that he not commit the despicable act:

(יב) וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ אַל אָחִי אַל תְּעַנֵּנִי כִּי לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה כֵן בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אַל תַּעֲשֵׂה אֶת הַנְּבָלָה הַזֹּאת. (יג) וַאֲנִי אָנָה אוֹלִיךְ אֶת חֶרְפָּתִי וְאַתָּה תִּהְיֶה כְּאַחַד הַנְּבָלִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַתָּה דַּבֶּר נָא אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי לֹא יִמְנָעֵנִי מִמֶּךָּ.
(12) And she answered him: 'Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel; do not thou this wanton deed. (13) And I, whither shall I carry my shame? and as for thee, thou wilt be as one of the base men in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.'

After pointing out that Amnon's intended action is an abomination which will bring her shame and him a bad name, Tamar concludes with a practical suggestion: that Amnon simply ask the king for permission to wed her, as David would surely agree.  However, this last argument is perplexing.  If Amnon and Tamar were siblings, then relations between the two were prohibited1 and David would never allow them to marry.  Why, then, would Tamar even suggest this as a possibility?  Was she saying what she perceived to be the truth, or was this an outright lie?

My Sister or His Sister?

Throughout the chapter Tamar is referred to as both the sister of Avshalom and the sister of Amnon. How was she related to each? On one hand, Tamar is introduced to the reader specifically in relationship to Avshalom, rather than to Amnon.  Similarly, when speaking to Yonadav, Amnon himself refers to Tamar as Avshalom's sister rather than saying, "my sister".  This would seem to imply that Tamar was related only to Avshalom (through his mother) and not to Amnon.  However, in the rest of the chapter, Tamar is continuously spoken of as Amnon's sister, suggesting that they, too, must have been at least half-siblings. Whose sister was she?

Other Questions

The chapter raises several other questions which might relate to the above as well: