Tag Archives: rape

Tamar’s Story

Write the Bible

The challenge this week is to imagine I am a Bible writer and I am allowed to write a prequel, sequel, or supporting part to the story found in 2 Samuel 13:1-33. In the readings and lectures to prepare me for this task, I learned the importance of how 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, and 2 Kings focus on the biblical monarchy. As reiterated by Dr. Lester in his first lecture several times in Judges the people are condemned for taking matters into their own hands and not doing God’s will so the Israelites end up with kings to guide them just as they have requested. In his second lecture, we learn how the divine king can also provide duties of the priest because of his special relationship with God. The article written by Steven McKenzie further discusses how monarchs in the ancient Near East owned their lands and had final authority over everyone and everything. He also talks about how the sons, or heirs, are the ones who will succeed their fathers for this position. Barry Bandstra spells out how David’s first son Amnon was in line for the throne when he acted on his obsession for his half-sister, Tamar. Tricking their father and her to come visit him in his bedroom he rapes her. Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, takes revenge killing him two years later.

According to information in the article by Deborah Rooke being the victim of rape was probably seen as Tamar’s fault because women were always viewed as adulteresses. In ancient times women were at fault for getting raped because they were seductresses. Victim blaming, or the woman being at fault in a rape, still takes place to today although it is less about committing adultery. Instead, it is believed that the woman should know how to prevent getting raped. She should not go places alone, never wear clothes which make her irresistible to men, never get drunk, and so on and so forth. Before you read the scripture followed by my story I ask you to think about the article by Hilary Lipka which questions if Bathsheba was a seductress or a rape victim. Knowing that the king has power over everyone and everything pretty much sums up my belief of what happened. Power is misused throughout the stories of David’s life as king. If David raped Bathsheba it would explain why he never punished his eldest son and never reached out and took care of his daughter. He viewed Amnon’s behavior as tolerable.

How timely and appropriate to focus on rape during sexual assault awareness month! I did some further research prior to writing my story because I wanted positive inspiration unlike the negative I’d read leading up to my envisioning the story I wish Tamar had lived. The article I found was written by Susan Ackerman expressing roles women would have had in ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible. She even mentions Tamar as being a woman who was able to live independent of a husband because she was the king’s daughter.

2 Samuel 13:1-33 Common English Bible (CEB)

Some time later, David’s son Amnon fell in love with Tamar the beautiful sister of Absalom, who was also David’s son. Amnon was so upset over his half sister that he made himself sick. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible in Amnon’s view to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, Shimeah’s son, David’s brother, who was a very clever man.

“Prince,” Jonadab said to him, “why are you so down, morning after morning? Tell me about it.”

So Amnon told him, “I’m in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.”

“Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick,” Jonadab said to him. “When your father comes to see you, tell him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I can watch and eat from her own hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. The king came to see him, and Amnon told the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of heart-shaped cakes in front of me so I can eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare some food for him.”

So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made heart-shaped cakes in front of him, and then cooked them. She took the pan and served Amnon, but he refused to eat.

“Everyone leave me,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom so I can eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the heart-shaped cakes she had made and brought them to her brother Amnon in the bedroom. When she served him the food, he grabbed her and said, “Come have sex with me, my sister.”

But she said to him, “No, my brother! Don’t rape me. Such a thing shouldn’t be done in Israel. Don’t do this horrible thing. Think about me—where could I hide my shame? And you—you would become like some fool in Israel! Please, just talk to the king! He won’t keep me from marrying you.”

But Amnon refused to listen to her. He was stronger than she was, and so he raped her.

But then Amnon felt intense hatred for her. In fact, his hatred for her was greater than the love he had felt for her. So Amnon told her, “Get out of here!”

“No, my brother!” she said. “Sending me away would be worse than the wrong you’ve already done.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. He summoned his young servant and said, “Get this woman out of my presence and lock the door after her.”(She was wearing a long-sleeved robe because that was what the virgin princesses wore as garments.) So Amnon’s servant put her out and locked the door after her.

Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and walked away, crying as she went.

Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Keep quiet about it for now, sister; he’s your brother. Don’t let it bother you.” So Tamar, a broken woman, lived in her brother Absalom’s house.

When King David heard about all this he got very angry, but he refused to punish his son Amnon because he loved him as his oldest child. Absalom never spoke to Amnon, good word or bad, because he hated him for raping his sister Tamar.

Two years later, Absalom was shearing sheep at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and he invited all the king’s sons. Absalom approached the king and said, “Your servant is shearing sheep. Would the king and his advisors please join me?”

But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son. We shouldn’t all go, or we would be a burden on you.” Although Absalom urged him, the king wasn’t willing to go, although he gave Absalom a blessing.

Then Absalom said, “If you won’t come, then let my brother Amnon go with us.”

“Why should he go with you?” they asked him. But Absalom urged him until he sent Amnon and all the other princes. Then Absalom made a banquet fit for a king.

Absalom commanded his servants, “Be on the lookout! When Amnon is happy with wine and I tell you to strike Amnon down, then kill him! Don’t be afraid, because I myself am giving you the order. Be brave and strong men.” So Absalom’s servants did to Amnon just what he had commanded. Then all the princes got up, jumped onto their mules, and fled.

While they were on the way, the report came to David: “Absalom has killed all of the princes! Not one remains.” The king got up, tore his garments, and lay on the ground. All his servants stood near him, their garments torn as well. But Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah, said, “My master shouldn’t think that all the young princes have been killed—only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s plan ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. So don’t let this bother you, my master; don’t think that all the princes are dead, because only Amnon is dead.

The rest of Tamar’s story…(not found in the Bible.)

When she heard the news of what Absalom had done she was relieved that Amnon would no longer be able to violate any other women. But relief didn’t last long for she was distraught thinking about what their father might do to Absalom and what would be her fate after this incident.

“My dear brother, you have avenged what happened to me but now I am afraid of what will happen to me as you leave your home to go into hiding from our father.” “Who shall take care of me when you are gone and where will I live?”

Absalom answered her, “Tamar, our father is fond of you and does feel bad Amnon hurt you. Go to him in his grief and ask him for a place to stay and a way to provide for yourself. He is sure to grant you these requests. If he hesitates or refuses, remind him that he is the king and can do anything even if it has not been done before.”

After giving her this advice he made haste, away from the house seeking safety for himself leaving her alone. Tamar internalized everything that had happened to her.

Not long after King David’s servants came to the house looking for Absalom. They said to her, “Where is Absalom? We have come to give him the king’s warning.” She answered them truthfully that she did not know and then asked that they take her to meet with King David.

They did so. She found her father weeping and fasting over the death of Amnon. When he saw her he ceased temporarily and allowed her to enter the room.

“Daughter, you know what your brother has done to my eldest son why are you here?” She answered him saying, “Father, I come for I have no place else to go and because you have sent my brother away I no longer have anyone to care for me.”

“You have come and yet I cannot help you.” He replied. Remembering what Absalom told her and knowing that she faithfully abided by the teachings of Yahweh she said, “Father, you are the servant of God and have been given God’s authority. You are able to even do priestly jobs when needed. Today you will invite me to stay at your house where I will bake the bread until I reach the age when I am too old to bear children. Once this happens I will enter the Temple and perform priestly duties.”

King David agreed and then went back to weeping and fasting.

Because her brother avenged the wrongs done to her by her half-brother she was allowed to live out the rest of her life without stigma and shame for she had done nothing wrong. This did not mean that her life was easy for it was hard work to make the bread for all who resided at the house of her father.

And when she finally reached the age when her body would no longer bear children she entered into the Temple to assume her priestly duties where she happily lived out the rest of her days.

Sources

Ackerman, Susan  http://religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-45

Bandstra, Barry http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-12-ch8.html

Lester, Dr. Brook

Lipka, Hilary http://bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/david-and-bathsheba.aspx

McKenzie, Steven L. http://bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/kingship-in-the-ane.aspx

Rooke, Deborah http://bibleodyssey.org/passages/related-articles/woman-adulterer-motif.aspx

Judges 19:1-21:25

Background

The assignment this week is to explain Judges 19:1-21:25 looking at the historical context and trying to determine whether or not the story told as it is written would be strange or offensive to listeners in our social context today. First, we need to look at the historical context and it is important to remember a few things we have been learning about the Hebrew Bible and how it came to be. Earlier this semester we learned how biblical writers often wrote about events which had happened several years before they lived and they used these stories to pass on an ideological viewpoint they wanted listeners of their day to hear and glean truth from. Our lessons this week focus on trying to prove the timeline and events depicted in Joshua and Judges.

In his lectures, Dr. Lester discusses how historians take the biblical writings, other writings from other cultures written in the same time period, and combine them with archaeological evidence to better understand what the writer and his audience may have been like. In the writings in the book of Joshua and Judges, the dates and the archaeological findings do not match up leading scholars to come up with theories on how the Israelites settled after the Bronze Age and before the time of the Israelite kings in the monarchical time period.

Theories

According to Dr. Lester, there is a stark difference between the book of Joshua where conquest theory states an almost complete genocide of the Canaanites and the book of Judges instead is seen as a peaceful infiltration theory. Most likely is the gradual infiltration model based on evidence found at historical sites. Ann Killebrew discusses three newer theories for the establishment of the Israelites. Social revolutionary theory where the early Israelites rebel against the Canaanite leadership, the pastoral Canaanite theory which states that the Israelites were nomads who settled in the land of Canaan after the collapse of the Bronze Age sometime in the twelfth and eleventh centuries, and her theory called the mixed multitude theory that combines the rest because archaeological evidence contradicts what is written in Joshua.

Excavation uncovers contradictions

As a modern society, we continue to learn and problem-solve using new techniques to try and learn from the past by looking at clues that have been left behind from ancient societies. New means for excavating in ancient cities disproved dates thought to be correct when analyzing the biblical texts when archaeology looked more intensely at small areas in homes discussed in an article by Margeet Steiner.  Author Paula McNutt shares her perspective on how anthropology, the study of social organizations in specific societies and cultures in their particular historical context, is used by historians to explain specific events. Historian rely on the information from anthropologists to make sense of things. She further explains subsets of this study are ethnohistory which documents texts both oral and written plus archaeological information and ethnoarchaeology which integrates historical and anthropological data using contemporary information about societies studying it from an anthropological understanding.

Narratives

As referenced earlier Dr. Lester stated in his lecture scholars must compare the Biblical texts with those from other sources and find the truth or essence of the story instead of focusing only on historical facts. Carol Meyers further describes that we as students learning the Bible need to be mindful that biblical narratives were less about getting history right and more about what the writer wanted to promote as ideology. As a storytelling technique, it is exciting to speak of a past historical event and make it bigger or more important that it might actually have been. The goal becomes trying to understand why the storyteller is using this position to teach the lesson or moral they want their listeners to hear. In his article, Eric Cline talks about how it is believed that Philistines overtook certain areas but don’t appear to have done so violently and military style as first believed. Instead, they probably intermarried and joined cultural practices with the people already living there. In doing so they integrated their practices and traditions which then blended to form a new culture over time. Cline also points out that the Canaanite civilization would have eventually come to an end for all civilizations do and an ending is a new beginning we call that the “circle of life”.

Setting the scene for this story

Barry Banstra’s description of the final chapters of Judges tells how the tribes were quarreling and how the tribe of Dan moved locations and how the other tribes banded together to try and wipe out the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 19:1-21:25) because after Joshua’s death they couldn’t seem to cooperate and lost focus on Yahweh. I speculate that the writer of Judges found it disturbing that when cultures combined parts of the existing culture were modified and changed. He was afraid of losing the traditions, practices, and rituals that were important to him. Why not create a story where if you were to do certain things it would be bad for your tribe? Stories which were preserved and shared with following generations would have done so to teach lessons of the behaviors seen as desirable for living together and worshiping Yahweh. Later in the tale, the writer softens his view knowing that to completely destroy the tribe of Benjamin is not an appropriate behavior. His message is to honor Yahweh by being hospitable and welcoming to others while working with the other tribes but keeping true to your tribe’s culture and keeping unlawful tribes accountable for their heinous actions. It would have been important in the story teller’s day to use an illustration of what might happen to your tribe if you don’t follow the rules between tribes. The rest will rise up and you may become extinct.

The story

Judges 19:1-21:25 shares that there was a Levite who spoke harshly and offended his second wife so she went home to the safety and security of her own family. After four months the Levite goes to woo her back. The second wife’s father demonstrates hospitality and extends it constantly but finally, the Levite decides he needs to leave. Because the group leaves so late in the day they are not able to get far before nightfall. His servant suggests staying at the closest town, but the Levite says no because it is foreign and not Israelite. Instead, they make it to the closest Israelite town which is in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin also Israelites. An old man finds them struggling to find a place to house for the night so he takes them in. The story tells he is not a Benjaminite, but from Ephraim and living in the town, Gibeah. Townsmen come to the house and demand the Levite come out so they may rape him. The old man suggests he will give them his virgin daughter and the Levite’s second wife. The men refuse. The Levite forces his second wife out where she is brutally raped and abused throughout the night, dying from her injuries. He cut her body into twelve pieces and sent one to each of the tribes as a summons. The Benjaminites chose to not give up the abusers and instead rose against the rest of the tribes assembled. After three days of fierce fighting where the Benjaminites won the battles the first two days and prayers to Yahweh were offered each night God told God’s people that they would prevail on the third day and it was so. A small band of Benjaminites fled and the rest of the tribes of Israel took pity on them and let them live. Since the rest of their tribe, including the women and children, had been killed these men needed wives but couldn’t have any from another tribe for the others had taken an oath not to give their women as brides to the remaining Benjaminites. It was decided to find these men wives from another settlement. The town of Jabesh-gilead had not sent men to battle so they were destroyed and the virgin women taken for wives. It was discovered that there were not enough women for the number of men so it is suggested that the remaining men lie in wait and abduct the women of Shiloh when they go dancing in the vineyards. When the fathers and brothers complain to the council they are told to be generous for there were not enough women captured in battle for the men left. Once the matter was settled the rest of the Israelites returned home to their respective tribes and families.

My thoughts

In the time before there were kings in Israel Judges clearly illustrates that each of the tribes had chiefs and when necessary they created an assembly, much like ancient Icelanders gathered for Althing. In the story, these chiefs are summoned when they receive the pieces of the second wife’s body. In our society, this is absolutely unacceptable and United Nations sanctions would be administered to any country thinking this would be an acceptable way to inform others to gather.

In the storyteller’s day her destroyed and dismembered body is symbolic of the actions against her Levite husband for the loss of his property and that in reality, the offending abusers wanted to perpetuate this crime to the Levite personally. Further compounding that fact that the Benjaminites had not offered him hospitality in their own land was a crime towards Yahweh. I surmise it was seen as benevolent to spare the lives of the remaining 600 men even though another town was decimated except for the women who had not yet had sexual intercourse. It is perceived that the rest of the Israelites are making amends to be sure to keep twelve tribes alive honoring their cultures within the greater body. In the idea to right the wrong to each of the Benjaminites, the final abduction of Shiloh’s women still considered pure to become wives for the men without brides then finally corrected the wrongs committed in war by the other tribes.

Again I feel these practices are offensive or should be, to members of society today especially to anyone who identifies as a woman. Women are not property and clearly, the telling of this story in our context today would make a survivor of rape question her worth in the eyes of God. She would want to know if there was such a thing as a loving God. Interpretation of this story might confirm her personal experience and the answer would very likely be no since the woman in this story is abused so severely she dies from her injuries.

Links

Bandstra, Barry http://barrybandstra.com/rtot4/rtot4-11-ch7.html

BibleGateway https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+19%3A1-21%3A25&version=NRSV

Cline, Eric http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2015/01/cli398005.shtml

Killebrew, Ann http://bibleodyssey.org/tools/video-gallery/a/archaeology-and-conquest-killebrew.aspx

Lester, Dr. Brook lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2DKycttjhw&feature=youtu.be&list=PL-VPCh99l1-mh0JGg9zQ6zbUO1GfLWIrG

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdOIwlysU-0&list=PL-VPCh99l1-mh0JGg9zQ6zbUO1GfLWIrG&index=20

McNutt, Paula http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/mcnutt_ancientIsrael.shtml

Meyers, Carol http://bibleodyssey.org/tools/bible-basics/does-the-bible-relate-to-history-meyers.aspx

Steiner, Margreet http://bibleodyssey.org/places/related-articles/kathleen-kenyon-and-jericho.aspx

Sexual Assault Awareness April 2017

My Enduring Story

The evening I shared my warrior story at the United Way banquet we didn’t meet, not officially anyway. I shared my story then as I do now. It is your story too, isn’t it? No worries you stay anonymous. I choose to break the silence. You may not have the words to tell your story or it might not be safe for you to do so which is exactly why it is our story I tell. Our story and the story of countless, nameless others. Your body language told your story directly to my heart in that crowded room once I spotted you. As I was speaking I realized I was having an out of body experience. I heard myself continue talking as I walked to the back of the room and hugged you. I, of course, asked your permission first. Thank you for allowing me to offer my love to you in that moment. The moment when we didn’t officially meet.

I was honored to be sharing my story publicly for the first time and in front of such a large crowd. A crowd full of Walworth County dignitaries several who I had known by name for many years. They knew me, but not when I was allowed to be myself. How wonderful it was they were able to meet me anew that evening a year and a half ago! Along with sharing my story of the emotional, verbal, and spousal rape I endured, I was able to openly thank the organization which assisted me in rediscovering Debi. I am writing this blog post to remind the world what an asset the Association for the Prevention of Family Violence Walworth County is to the communities and people it serves.

Sexual Assault Awareness 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and it is my duty as a warrior, teacher, preacher, prophet, and advocate to educate others about healthy relationships. If you or anyone you know lives in Walworth County and needs services please send them to APFV. My warrior sister, that night statistically speaking, we were not alone as members of the sexual assault club. Let’s do some simple math to estimate how many of us there were in the room. If there were 100 people, we’ll pretend 50 were women and 50 were men, according to the statistics published by RAINN which state 1 in 6 women will be raped or a victim of attempted rape then that means there were 8 or 9 of us there that night. The statistic for men is 1 in 33 so there were probably two men in attendance who also belong to the club we never asked to join. Those men are even less likely to get the help they need because society continues to shame, guilt, and keep this topic taboo.

Another reason why this is one, if not the most, important problem in America to address immediately is that in our country every 98 seconds a fellow American is sexually assaulted which means in a little over a minute and a half all day, every day the club grows larger making this a problem we cannot ignore. It is up to us to take action and to break the cycle.

Organizations

Here are the links to some organizations who help warrior/survivors in need. Please share, repost, and forward this blog post to as many people as possible because we can’t possibly know everyone who needs to find a safe place. Together in loving community, we are the voice they need to hear to find the help which is available.  By sharing this blog post you are practicing love in action. Remember it is our purpose to practice being love with each other. What are you waiting for? Do it now! Oh, and one more thing valuable, worthy and fiercely beautiful people- I love you, especially you, my nameless sister in the back of the room I’ve not met yet.

Association for the Prevention of Family Violence (APFV) 

RAINN

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

No More

The National Domestic Violence Hotline