If only I hadn’t seen my sister naked, if only I’d joined my brothers in the military training my father insisted that we undertake, if only I hadn’t gone to the river for a swim. If only, if only, if only…
One morning I decided not to leave at dawn with my brothers for training, truthfully I was tired of “lunge, parry, attack” and other such fighting routines. I wanted some peace and quiet, to drink wine and eat fresh bread dipped in lamb stew, to watch the maidens dance in the king’s palace and listen to the musicians songs about my father’s exploits in battles almost forgotten. I was the first son, designated heir apparent but my father loved my brother Absalom and probably wished he had come first.
Absalom was handsome, tall, could sing like an angel and play the harp and lyre better than all the court musicians he inherited my father’s gift for music, his hair was the most beautiful hair in the world. It was wavy, very thick and the colour made you itch to run your fingers through it. I’m talking like a woman, another difference between my brother and I. He was a man’s man yet he had women sighing when his shadow touched them while I who was sensitive and listened to their problems was forever in the friend zone despite the fact that I was the future king of Israel. Perhaps life could have continued that way, my brother in the spotlight and I could have forever futilely fought to earn my father’s love.
That morning I went to swim in the shallow pool by the east wall of the city where my father’s tents were located. I left just before sunrise in order to avoid questions and prying eyes, as I left I saw Ishmar one of my father’s soldiers patrolling the grounds. I waved to him and continued on my merry way. As soon as I got to the pool, I began to strip and then I saw her.
She was washing her body leisurely like she had all the time in the world. The rising sun coloured her body pink and her lush curves looked like over ripe grapes, bursting with sugar and threatening to split. Her hair veiled her face yet I knew she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Soon she walked out of the pool, dried her hair and began to braid it. She turned her head and I saw her, she was my sister, my sister Tamar.
Days became weeks and weeks became months but I couldn’t put off the picture of my sister from my mind, my beautiful sister. She was a virgin and was destined to be married off to the crown prince of Tyre to strengthen the alliance my father had with the king of Tyre. Yet I wanted her more than I’d ever wanted anything, even my father’s love. My every thought was centred on her and how it would feel like to have her beneath me, trembling in passion. I soon began to lose interest in everything even food and my health suffered for it.
Jonadab came to visit me, he was my cousin, the son of my father’s brother Shimeah. He quickly saw that my ailment was not physical but mental, he tried his best to cheer me up but all his efforts failed.
“Why are you moping around like this, day after day- you, the son of the king! Tell me what’s eating at you”. His handsome face was creased with worry. I didn’t want to tell him, how could I explain that I’m love with my sister. Eventually he pushed me hard enough and got the truth out of me. He came up with a truly brilliant plan…
I pretended to be at death’s door and my father was worried, I asked him to tell Tamar to cook dumplings for me and bring them to my chambers. She came with her maidservants and guards, I dismissed them rather quickly and asked her to bring the dumplings to my bedroom, the innocent girl actually carried the dish to my bedroom.
I had her where I wanted her, she was finally mine, now and forever. I lunged for her and covered her with my body- all those lunging lessons had finally paid off. She begged me not to dishonour her by lying with her before marriage. She asked me to tell our father that I wanted to marry her, I smiled at her foolishness. Our father would never allow a half-brother marry his half-sister, he loved the lord too much to disobey his command that a brother should have carnal knowledge of his sister. She soon realised that her tears and protests were pointless and she lay there like a dead fish while I slaked my lust.
As soon as I was done, I couldn’t even look at her. She was so repulsive to me, she had been a flat-out disappointment. Her beauty was dead and her body reminded me of a rotten fruit. I told her to leave my room at once, the stupid girl went on her knees and begged me not to dishonour her like this but I was past caring, she needed to leave my chamber before I killed her with my bare hands. My father had killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands, killed a giant with only a slingshot and one stone. His warrior blood flowed through my veins, killing Tamar would be too easy. I would have done it too but I knew that I’d never get away with it.
My father summoned me to his tent, he had heard of how I had dishonoured my sister, all Israel had heard of it. She sat day and night in her brother’s tent wearing sackcloth, crying and singing sad songs. My father didn’t say too many things to me, my father hated to discipline his children, he left that unpleasant chore to their mothers. When he was done with droning about irresponsible behaviour, he asked me to leave. As I got to the door, he said softly “You’ll never make a good king, I’ll give the kingdom to a more worthy successor” My palms got really sweaty but I walked out evenly from his tent.
For two years I’d been waiting for Absalom to comment on my violation of his sister, he didn’t say anything to me whether good or bad. One evening I was sitting in front of my tent willing the day to go by quickly. I recieved an invitation to Prince Absalom’s party for the princes and high ranking officials and I didn’t want to waste this golden oppotunity.
I’m drifting in and out of consciousness, my brother knifed me in the stomach and I’d lost a lot of blood. The party had simply been a ruse to kill me in a place where Absalom had full control.
Art by Okutachi JohnPaul
Reference used: The message Bible- 2 Samuel Chapter 13