Princess Tamar

Who is Princess Tamar?

David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar

2 Samuel 12:1
  • Born: circa 1000.
  • Place of birth: Judah, Israel.
  • Father: King David.
  • Mother: Maacah bat Talmai (daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur (1 Chronicles 3:3)).
  • Brother (same father and same mother): Absalom

What’s her story?

David’s son Amnon loved her. He was in such anguish over his sister Tamar that he became sick; she was a virgin, and Amnon thought it impossible to do anything to her. Now Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, son of David’s brother Shimeah, who was very clever. He asked him, “Prince, why are you so dejected morning after morning? Why not tell me?” So Amnon said to him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” Then Jonadab replied, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. When your father comes to visit you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and encourage me to take food. If she prepares something in my presence, for me to see, I will eat it from her hand.’” So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came to visit him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and prepare some fried cakes before my eyes, that I may take food from her hand.” David then sent home a message to Tamar, “Please go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was in bed. Taking dough and kneading it, she twisted it into cakes before his eyes and fried the cakes. Then she took the pan and set out the cakes before him. But Amnon would not eat; he said, “Have everyone leave me.” When they had all left him, Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may have it from your hand.” So Tamar picked up the cakes she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. But when she brought them close to him so he could eat, he seized her and said to her, “Come! Lie with me, my sister!” But she answered him, “No, my brother! Do not force me! This is not done in Israel. Do not commit this terrible crime. Where would I take my shame? And you would be labeled a fool in Israel.* So please, speak to the king; he will not keep me from you.” But he would not listen to her; he was too strong for her: he forced her down and raped her. Then Amnon felt intense hatred for her; the hatred he felt for her far surpassed the love he had had for her. Amnon said to her, “Get up, leave.” She replied, “No, brother, because sending me away would be far worse than this evil thing you have done to me.” He would not listen to her, but called the youth who was his attendant and said, “Send this girl outside, away from me, and bar the door after her.” Now she had on a long tunic, for that is how virgin princesses dressed in olden days. When his attendant put her out and barred the door after her, Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long tunic in which she was clothed. Then, putting her hands to her head, she went away crying loudly. Her brother Absalom said to her: “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Keep still now, my sister; he is your brother. Do not take this so to heart.” So Tamar remained, devastated, in the house of her brother Absalom. King David, when he heard of the whole affair, became very angry. He would not, however, antagonize Amnon, his high-spirited son; he loved him, because he was his firstborn. And Absalom said nothing, good or bad, to Amnon; but Absalom hated Amnon for having humiliated his sister Tamar. (Source: 2 Samuel 12: 1-22)

What can we learn from Princess Tamar’s story?

A case of Intra-familiar sexual abuse. She was abused by her own brother or half-brother. The whole family is involved in the sexual abuse: the half-brother, the cousin, the brother, the father, King David, the absent mother.

How can we use her story?

From the story of Princess Tamar we developed a methodology of prevention against child abuse:

  1. Tell the biblical story of Princess Tamar
  2. Bring the story to reality: reflect on the reality of sexual abuse today
  3. Learn the 6 elements of prevention
    1. Identify risk factors
    2. Say No to sexual contact
    3. Tell the abuser that it is a crime
    4. Show the consequences of the abuse
    5. Tell the abuser that you will not silence. You will tell the world about it.
    6. Seek help
  4. Take a pledge to protect children and adolescents
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