“My Name is Absalom” Part 4 by P.M. Gilmer

If you missed part three last week, here’s your chance to catch up: https://declaretonextgeneration.com/2017/08/11/my-name-is-absalom-part-3-by-p-m-gilmer/

It took almost two years for me to exact my revenge. Tamar continued to live with me and refused to go out in public. Though my father tried to enforce some type of peace between Amnon and myself, we avoided each other and never took part in family dinners together. I wondered sometimes at my father’s naivete. He seemed to think he could just tell me and Amnon to give each other the kiss of friendship as he did after we had quarreled as boys. That never worked then and would certainly not work now.

For at least six months, my father (and others, I’m sure) kept a close eye on me. Though I did not hide my anger, I let people think I was willing to let God exact revenge on my brother and had no intention of causing more trouble in Jerusalem. In this way, my father’s vigilance eventually relaxed, and I had time to begin carefully laying my plans.

The only person I’m sure I never fooled was my mother. Though she said no more about expecting Tamar to marry Amnon, she made little effort to see her daughter or expressed any concern for her. I felt she was an unnatural mother at times, but I kept my thoughts focused on Amnon and on how I could have my revenge in the most promising way.

Before I could get very far with my plans, I knew I needed to gain the trust of Jonadab– not only to learn of his possible complicity, but also to use him for my own advantage. To even establish contact with him, however, took me almost a year. Though still unsure of his part in the defiling of my sister, whenever he saw me–even from a distance–he cringed in fear and would not come near me, so I knew his guilt must be great. Surprisingly, it turned out to be Chileab who let me know exactly what Jonadab had done.

Chileab often came to my home for a meal, an event Tamar looked forward to as Chileab remained one of the few people with whom she felt at ease. I was grateful for his willingness to visit us on a regular basis as Tamar seemed to have few pleasures left in life. Though it had only been a few months since her ordeal, I still hoped she would heal in her mind and someday be once again the sister I adored and cherished. As I watched her this particular evening, laughing and talking to Chileab, that hope burned brighter than usual.

After our meal, the three of us went up and onto my roof to enjoy the cool evening while my servants cleaned up below. After an hour or so, Tamar said she was tired, gave both Chileab and myself a kiss, then went back down to her bedchamber. Chileab and I sat in silence for several minutes, nursing our cup of wine and watching the stars. I caught myself dozing off when Chileab spoke.

“She seems a little better tonight. How has she been faring?”

I sighed, thinking again of the care-free, laughing young girl Tamar had been a few short months ago. “She is calmer–seems to cry less often–but she still won’t go out at all, and that can’t be good for her. She did finally let Elisheba and Naarah visit her a couple of days ago. Hopefully, they will be able to coax her out of her shell a bit more.” Elisheba was Chileab’s sister and Naarah, Adonijah’s. They both were quite close to Tamar.

Chileab nodded. “Elisheba told me. She was glad Tamar finally agreed to let them visit, but was rather forlorn when she came home. She misses the ‘old Tamar,’ but I told her she must be patient.”

“It is hard to be patient. I just want to go and smash Amnon’s head in. What was he thinking anyway? Don’t you think if he had just asked Father if he could marry Tamar that Father would have agreed?”

Chileab said nothing for a few moments, then, “Maybe, but I think he was afraid Tamar would not accept him, but if Jonadab hadn’t . . .” He stopped, glanced over at me, then looked down.

As I said, I knew of Jonadab’s presence in Amnon’s house, and was eager to learn exactly why he was there. Chileab’s look of guilt confirmed to me that Jonadab had something to hide. Anyone but Chileab would be dying to tell me every detail they knew and even those they didn’t. But that was Chileab–noble through and through. Could be rather sickening, actually.

“What about Jonadab?” I asked slowly and in a low voice.

Chileab squirmed a bit, but he knew I would not let him leave until I heard what he knew. If Chileab knew, then so did others, and I would rather hear it from him than anyone else.

“It was his idea,” he finally answered, his voice low as well. “We all knew Amnon was moping around, whining about how beautiful Tamar is but how she only laughed at him and saw him as a ‘silly boy.’ Finally one evening, Jonadab told him he should stop moping and do something. I thought he was going to suggest–as you said–to go to Father and ask to marry Tamar. I was late for choir practice, so I left before he made his suggestion. It wasn’t until the next day that I heard Amnon played sick, and Father went to see him.”

He stopped again, obviously reluctant to continue, but I needed to know. I could no more ignore the part Jonadab played in this story than I could ignore my need for food. If I was to have revenge for Tamar’s honor, I must make sure of everyone involved.

As casually as I could, I said, “I know Father commanded Tamar to go and wait on Amnon. I have never understood that, and he refuses to discuss it with me. I’m sure he realizes how stupid it was, but that changes nothing. I can’t believe Father would be taken in by either Amnon or Jonadab. So, Amnon pretended he was sick? And, I suppose the only thing that would make him feel better would be Tamar coming to wait on him. Tamar already told me Jondab was there, so you are not telling me something totally new. She has wondered as well what part Jonadab had in this.”

I added the last because I knew Chileab would feel Tamar had a right to know the truth about Jonadab even if he wasn’t so sure I did. I can be sneaky that way.

Chileab looked up at me, and though there remained little light left from our flickering oil lamps, I could see he was studying me carefully. “Perhaps the less she knows, the better,” he said cautiously.

I shook my head, trying not to appear too eager or impatient. “Right now, she fears almost everyone. It would be better if she could just see this as something concocted by Jonadab and Amnon and that no one else was involved–including our father.” Even though I would still blame my father for his part, I saw no need for Tamar to carry that burden as well.

Chileab nodded slowly, taking in my words. “I agree our father behaved foolishly and irresponsibly, but I don’t believe he ever meant for any harm to come to Tamar. You must make her see that.”

I shrugged, still tamping down my impatience. I was beginning to see Jonadab’s part in this, but still wanted Chileab to confirm it. I would not want my revenge to be incomplete.

Chileab frowned, but said, “Very well. Yes, from what I’ve heard, the whole thing was Jonadab’s idea. He told Amnon he should pretend to be sick, then when our father came to see him, he should tell him that the only thing he wanted was for Tamar to come and wait on him. Now, whether Jonadab meant for things to go as far as they did, I cannot say. Of course, Jonadab is saying he did not mean for Amnon to do what he did. He just thought if Amnon had a chance to be alone with Tamar, he could then convince her of his love.”

I took a long swallow of my wine. I could almost believe that, but that hardly made Jonadab innocent. “Of course,” I said, my thoughts darker than ever. I would need to have words with Jonadab. Soon. Very soon.

“My Name is Absalom” Part 3 by P.M. Gilmer

This is part three of “My Name is Absalom”. If you haven’t read parts one and two, please go back and read my last two blogs:

https://declaretonextgeneration.com/2017/07/28/my-name-is-absalom-part-1/

https://declaretonextgeneration.com/2017/08/04/my-name-is-absalom-part-2-by-p-m-gilmer/

I arrived at the palace and headed straight for the dining hall. I didn’t see either of my parents–only a few of my younger siblings as well as a couple of my father’s other wives quietly lingering. No one seemed to be eating; a few looked up at me as I entered, but just as quickly looked back down again. It seemed they had heard something of what happened to Tamar. I walked over to Chileab’s mother, Abigail, the most level-headed of my father’s wives.

“Where is my mother?”

“She has retired for the evening. As has your father.” At first, she wouldn’t look at me, but I stood there until she did. Her eyes shone with tears of pity. “How is Tamar?” she asked quietly.

“How do you think?” I answered harshly. I had no grievance with Abigail, but I was in no mood for commiseration or possible platitudes. Abigail was as bad as her son in that she too often tried to see the good where none could possibly exist. I turned and left, not willing to answer questions or see sympathy from anyone else.

Pushing past servants, I made my way to my mother’s room. I knocked on the door, and her maid servant opened the door slightly to see who was there. When she recognized me, she turned and said, “It’s your son, Absalom, my lady.”

Without waiting for my mother’s response, I shoved the servant aside and went in. The room was dark with only one small oil lamp lit in one corner. My mother was reclining on her couch, and even in the darkness, I could see her eyes were puffy and red.

“My darling boy,” she said, reaching out her arms towards me.

I leaned down, kissed her, then found a stool to sit on. “What did you hear?” My mother was prone to histrionics, and I did not want to give her a chance to make this situation about her. I was undoubtedly too late for that.

She regarded me, her eyes glittering and calculating. “That your sister made a spectacle of herself in the streets of Jerusalem. That she went to Amnon’s house, threw herself at him, and is now refusing to marry him.”

I stared at her. “Are you mad? Tamar went to Amnon’s house at our father’s insistence where she was attacked. And you now think she should marry him?”

She sniffed. “Tamar has always been a little dramatic, don’t you think? Oh, yes, I’m sure I’ve spoiled her, but she is old enough to take responsibility for her own actions. And what would be so bad about being married to your brother? Better that than some foreign prince or an Israelite merchant. There have been several of those sniffing around her already, but now with her making her shame so public, it’s unlikely anyone else will have her.”

My stomach churned, and I had to swallow the bile threatening to choke me. “You would put the blame on Tamar? Your own daughter?” A suspicion grew in my mind. “Did you know Father told Tamar to wait on Amnon?”

My mother gave a small shrug, then yawned. “I was there when your Father spoke to Tamar, yes. She didn’t really want to go, but Amnon had asked for her, and your Father wanted to please him. Do you think I should have stopped her? Really, Absalom, Tamar cannot be babied forever. Now, I am tired and ready to retire. If you are so determined to put blame on someone, speak with your father. Though you should probably wait until the morning. Your father was quite distressed when he heard about Tamar’s street exhibition and asked not be disturbed. He will not appreciate being bothered at this hour, especially as you didn’t even show up for a dinner at which you were expected.”

Not for the first time, my mother rendered me speechless. Should I have been surprised at her attitude? No, in all honesty–yet I was. I did not want to go home and tell Tamar what our mother had said, but I feared she would not be a bit surprised. Disappointed, yes, and hurt as well, but not surprised. She believed our mother to be jealous of her beauty, but I always scoffed at such a notion. Now, I was not so sure.

Frustrated, I got up and left my mother’s room and almost ran out of the palace. I was tempted to go and see my father in spite of my mother’s warning, but I knew if he refused to see me, I would not be able to control my temper any longer.

So, I fled down the dark streets of Jerusalem, running with no real purpose. I thought of going to Amnon’s house, but assumed he would be well guarded. I could try and find Jonadab, but doubted he would see me either. Somehow, though, I knew I would not let Amnon get away with hurting my sister. I consoled myself with the well-said proverb: revenge is a dish best served cold.

“My Name is Absalom” Part 2 by P.M. Gilmer

Here is part two of my continuing story. If you missed part one, please click on following link:

https://declaretonextgeneration.com/2017/07/28/my-name-is-absalom-part-1/

 

Now I come to the part of my story which is the most difficult for me to tell, but, unfortunately, it is the most important and explains how and why things changed so much between myself and my brothers.

I had spent the morning idling at my house, knowing I should make my way to the palace to see my mother. I was expected for dinner that evening, but I hadn’t spoken to her since we returned from battle several days ago now, and I knew my mother would be annoyed that I had made no effort to see her on my own. Before I could summon the energy to get ready to go, one of my servants entered my room, his eyes wide with fear.

“My lord! There is trouble outside! Your sister . . .”

When my servant first entered, I sighed, ready to rebuke him for troubling me about some minor disaster, but as soon as he uttered the words “your sister”–I sprang to my feet, pushed him out of the way, and ran out the door.

Just down the street from my house, I could see a small crowd gathered and could hear the wailing of a young woman–a young woman whose voice I recognized very well.

Not bothering to put on sandals or even an outer garment, I dashed down the street, kicking up dust, and upon reaching the crowd, pushed the first man out of my way. I gasped as I saw my sister standing in the middle of the street, wearing the new, colorful robe our father had recently given her. But, the robe was torn, and ashes covered her beautiful hair. Her maidservant was cowering next to Tamar as she wailed loudly, tears streaming down her face.

I cannot express the horror I felt upon seeing my sister in such a state. For a moment, I could not move. Then I looked up and over the crowd and realized where we were standing–right outside my brother, Amnon’s house. In front of his door, two servants stood guard, their eyes wide with consternation and dismay, but also a fierce determination. I turned back to Tamar and grabbed her by the arm.

“Tamar! Be quiet! You’re making a spectacle of yourself! What is wrong? Has that Amnon been with you?”

She would not stop wailing, so I gave her a little shake. “Tamar! Be quiet! Amnon is your brother, so don’t take this to heart. I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you–but no matter what has happened–we need to keep this in our family.”

I began to pull her by the arm to bring her home with me and when she resisted, I looked into her eyes. The reproachful look she gave me pierced my very soul, but I still needed to get her out of the street. The crowd around us remained silent, not daring to speak or call out while I was there, but I knew as soon as I left, the talk would spread far and wide about the trouble between the children of the king.

Once we reached my house, I turned her over to one of my women servants who, along with Tamar’s own handmaid (who had followed us silently through the street) took off Tamar’s torn robe and led her off to bathe and comfort her.

While the women took care of Tamar, I paced through my house wanting to go and confront Amnon, but I knew the crowd would still be there, waiting to see what I would do. Though my first thought after realizing what must have happened between Amnon and Tamar had been to force Amnon to marry my sister, my thoughts now grew darker, and I knew I only wanted to kill him. I tried to calm myself, knowing I should go and speak with my father first, but I was in no mood to see him. I did not know what my father would do, but I knew he would not countenance any type of severe punishment. Certainly not the death I was now envisioning in my mind.

In the end, I did nothing. Well, not right then anyway. I ordered a servant to bring me a skin of wine, and I took it and a cup up to my roof to drink. The sun was sinking into the horizon, and though the air quickly cooled, it did nothing to chill my blood.

I had drunk about half the skin when Tamar came up silently behind me and sat down on a bench next to me. We said nothing for several moments, just stared out at the darkening sky. Then, taking a deep breath, Tamar said in a shaky and low voice, “He said he would never marry me, and,” she stopped, trying to stifle a sob. “And he said he hated me.”

The rage I had been trying to tamp down flared up, and I hurled my cup out into the night. “He said that? He actually said that?”

Tamar nodded, her face down, sobs hiccupping out of her. “I tried to tell him to wait and ask Father to let us marry, but he wouldn’t listen. He just . . . just forced himself on me, then told me to get out. Said he hated even the sight of me and told his servant to throw me out and lock the door.”

Before I could respond, one of my servants came up to us, bowed to me, and said, “Sorry to interrupt, my lord, but your mother has sent a messenger wanting to know why you didn’t appear for dinner. I believe she is still waiting for you.”

I groaned but knew I should go. Obviously, I needed to talk to her anyway, but it would not be at a pleasant family meal. I stood up, then turned back to Tamar. “I need to go. She must not have heard about this yet, but she will soon enough. I will leave guards at the door, so you will be safe here. You will be fine?” I didn’t think she would actually be “fine”, but I had no choice but to leave. I needed to speak to both our mother and father, then decide how to take care of Amnon.

Tamar reached up and took my hand. “There is one more thing you should know,” she said, her voice so hoarse from her earlier screaming and crying I needed to strain to hear her. “Jonadab was there as well.”

My eyebrows raised and my gut clenched. “Jonadab? You mean?”

She shook her head. “No, not that he touched me, but he was there with us. He opened the door for me and brought me into Amnon. He . . .” Her voice broke again, and new suspicions crept into my mind.

“I don’t understand. Why were you there anyway?”

“Father sent me,” she said, her voice even lower.

I was so stunned, I sat back down. “Father sent you? What do you mean?”

“Father called me this morning. He had been to see Amnon because he was sick, and Amnon told Father he wanted me to come to him with food. So, I made some bread and brought it to him. When I got there, Jonadab was waiting for me. Like I said, he brought me into Amnon’s room and as soon as I went in, Amnon grabbed me. I tried to stop him . . .”

I pulled my sister to myself, hugging her tightly as she sobbed. “It’s not your fault,” I said fiercely. “Do not think that for a minute. And, you do not have to marry that fool, Amnon, either. You can stay here with me. I will take care of everything. Do you understand?”

She nodded, her head against my chest, and I wished I did not have to leave. But, my mother was not a patient woman. Besides, I now had another reason to go: I needed to confront my father.