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The Bible In A Year: Day 134

2 Samuel 13-14
Song of Solomon 1
Acts 18

2 Samuel 13-14

This tale from the lives of the sons of David is quite disturbing and you come away from it thinking that maybe Absalom isn’t so bad. The way it was handled isn’t the way of God, but we’re only human and sometimes we take revenge and vengeance into our own hands.

It’s not made explicitly clear in this text but Absalom and Tamar are full blooded siblings, and she’s the only named daughter of king David. It’s possible that he had daughters with his other wives, he had a eight wives, but only Tamar appears in the scriptures. Considering the reason for her appearance, she probably wishes she remained in the shadows, but here she is and it’s a tough one.

Amnon was born to David’s second wife, and probably older that Absalom and his sister. And he was very attracted to his half sister Tamar, but didn’t know what to do about it. So he gets some very bad advice (remember the king of the ammonites?) from a cousin to play a ruse and act like he was sick. When the king comes to see him, request that his sister Tamar come and tend to him in his illness.

He thinks that’s a great idea and plays it out, so that when Tamar comes she is unaware of what he’s up to and they’re alone. He grabs her and forces himself on her, while she protests and puts up a fight, even suggesting that Amnon ask the king to marry her. Half siblings marrying back then want very uncommon, even Abraham and Sarah were half siblings, but it also wasn’t the norm. Amnon doesn’t think that will work so he just carries out his shameful plan.

After he does the deed he takes a hatred for Tamar that the scripture describes as “the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love by which he loved her” and he has her thrown out of him home. She is understandably distraught and even pleaded with him to marry her after he had assaulted her, but being the piece of garbage that he was he doesn’t even consider this.

Now Absalom comes in the scene and learns from his sister what’s happened. He takes her to his home and doesn’t do anything at first. Two full years go by before he makes a plan and with the cover of a feast for all the sons of David he has his servants jump on Amnon and kill him.

At this point I’m very pro Absalom and see nothing wrong here, except the part about murdering your brother and vigilante Justice, and that we are not supposed to do things like this. As a Catholic I know that Absalom done wrong here, but as a fellow human being, I also have to say that I don’t blame him at all. Maybe that says more about me that I’d like to admit.

David here’s that all his sons have been slain by Absalom and he mourns them, but then he sees them ride into town and learns Absalom has gone into self exile. But the chapter closes with David seemingly happy, although secretly, that Amnon is dead.

Joab gets a woman, and gives her lines to go perform before David, and it’s something of a parable that she pretends to have two sons that had a fight and one killed the other. She begs the king to give amnesty to her other son, and when david agrees she then turns the conversation to Absalom and he knows she’s been put up to this whole charade. He asks if Joab put her up to this, and she admits that he did.

David calls Joab in and tells him to go bring back Absalom from exile. When he returns though he is banned from David’s presence until after two years he demands to see his father, and if he is still angry at him that they should just kill him rather than keep him cut off from the king and in a kind of internal exile.

Song of Solomon 1

We finished the book of Psalms yesterday and are now embarking on the oft misunderstood book of Song of Solomon. On the surface this seems to be love poetry of a man to his engaged bride. But Jewish scholars and rabbis often read it as a straight up allegory about God and his beloved Israel.

The early church fathers read it as possibly having a literal man and bride, but more likely an allegory. Some believed it was actually Solomon writing love poetry, but had more meaning in an allegorical sense as either God and Israel like the Jewish scholars proposed, or about Christ and his church.

I personally think they’re all valid interpretations and all can exist at the same time. Was there a real woman that these poems were written for? Possibly, but maybe not. They definitely speak of the love that God has for Israel and that Christ has for the church, with both having been compared to a wedding throughout all the scriptures.

Just like with psalms I’ll probably not provide commentary on each chapter every day, because they often speak for themselves and require very little in the way of context or commentary.

Acts 18

Paul leaves Athens and heads west to the city of Corinth, here he meets two Jews recently arriving from Rome. Their names were Pricilla and Aquila, and they were originally from Pontus, a Greek kingdom on the south shore of the Black Sea in what is now Turkey, and were living in Rome when the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome some time in the late 40s AD.

The Roman historian Suetonius writes an interesting passage in his History of The Twelve Caesars about this event,

Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [the Emperor Claudius] expelled them from Rome.

Suetonius, Lives Of The Twelve Caesars, Claudius 25

Many historians believe that Suetonius heard of this “chrestus” and assumed he was still alive and causing trouble, but was most like a misspelling of Christus and that the disturbances were arguments in the synagogues of Rome between those who believed Jesus was the Christ and those who didn’t.

Paul joins up with these two and stays in their home, and from there he continues his tradition of going to the synagogues and then to the gentiles.

When Paul is dragged before the tribunal the unbelievers try to have the Roman authorities get involved by disassociating themselves from the Christians. The Jewish faith held a somewhat protected status in Rome because it was an ancient faith of a people that had fallen under Roman control, but if the Jews could convince the authorities that the Christians were a separate (and more importantly, a brand new) religion, then they’d forfeit many of the protections and would be subject to more and harsher penalties. But the proconsul tells them that it’s not a state issue, and it’s something for the Jews to sort out themselves.

Paul returns to Antioch and makes many stops along the way. After he leaves Ephesus a man named Apollos arrives. He was a believer in Jesus, but apparently had only been baptized by John the Baptist and wasn’t sent by the apostles because although he knew the general story of Jesus, his mission, and the way to salvation, he wasn’t as well versed as an actual missionary that was sent by the apostles. So Pricilla and Aquila took him in and taught him and he became a great evangelist. He had the drive and the oratory skills, but he was lacking in knowledge. With that gap filled in he began to preach even more powerful than before.

2 Samuel 15
Song of Solomon 2
Acts 19

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