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Matthew 9:18-19
While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples.

Matthew 9:23-26:

When Jesus came to the leader's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, "Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.

Mark 5:22-24

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

Often we look at women in ancient times and only see oppression and misery. Yet even in cultures where women are under the patriarchal system there could be love. Jairus loved his daughter enough to go to Jesus to help her. The Gospels often show religious leaders of the time as hypocrites unwilling to recognized Jesus, but for his daughter Jairus was willing to yield.

Mark 5:35-43:

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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Tamar, Absalom's Daughter

2 Samuel 14:27:
There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.

Absalom named his daughter after his sister. Like her aunt, young Tamar was a beautiful woman.

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Tamar, David's Daughter

2 Samuel 13:1:
Some time passed. David's son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David's son Amnon fell in love with her.

David had several children by different wives. Amnon was the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel, while Absalom and Tamar were children of Maacah. In fact, Amnon was David's firstborn son and heir, while Absalom was his second born son.

2 Samuel 13:2:

Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her.

The Bible tells us two things in this verse. Amnon "loves" Tamar to the point of distraction, but not enough to want to marry her. The fact she is a virgin means he can not have an affair with her without causing problems.

2 Samuel 13:3:

But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man.

Jonadab was Amnon and Tamar's cousin.

2 Samuel 13:4:

He said to him, 'O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?' Amnon said to him, 'I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.'

When Jonadab approaches Amnon, he stresses Amnon's royal connections, while Amnon distances his relationship to Tamar by saying she is Absalom's sister.

2 Samuel 13:5:

Jonadab said to him, 'Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, "Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand."'So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, 'Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.' Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, "Go to your brother Amnon's house, and prepare food for him." 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes.

Jonadab and Amnon plan to ensnare Tamar. While some commentators claim Tamar, a single woman, was not supposed to have been alone with a single man, Jonadab and Amnon have plan a way around this restriction. Amnon pretends to be sick, and asks his father to have a female relative fix his meal, a seemingly innocent request. David tells his daughter to go to Amnon's house and cook his meal. Tamar complied with her father's command.

Again, Tamar does nothing "wrong". She acted just as she should.

2 Samuel 13:9-13:

Then she took the pan and set them out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, 'Send out everyone from me.' So everyone went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, 'Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.' So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, 'Come, lie with me, my sister.' She answered him, 'No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.'

Amnon begins to apply pressure on Tamar. She says no. The Bible conveys her fear and desperation. She reminds him that what he is doing is morally wrong and that as David's favored son and heir he could ask to marry her. Yet his is not what Amnon wants.

2 Samuel 13:14:

But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.

Amnon raped Tamar. He used his physical strength to force her.

Many times women who have been raped are told they did something to cause that rape. The Bible makes no such judgment against Tamar. Amnon decided he wanted her because she was physically attractive to him. Amnon planned. Amnon deceived David. Amnon used his greater physical strength to force her. Tamar, on the other hand, was exactly where her society said she should be--cooking a meal for her male relative as instructed by her father.

Like many people, both women and men, Tamar was the victim of incest. Her half-brother decided he wanted her, and her father left the door open for her to be abused. David would not have expected his son to do such a thing, no parent would. Yet, incest happens in families from all social and economic classes--in "good Christian" homes as well as non Christian. Families need to be aware of the possibilities.

2 Samuel 13:15:

Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, 'Get out!'

After his sexual desire is fulfilled, Amnon has no further use for Tamar. The love he professed suddenly turned hate, a hate stronger than the lust he felt for her.

2 Samuel 13:16:

But she said to him, 'No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.' But he would not listen to her.

Tamar pleads with Amnon not to reject her, yet he will not listen to her.

2 Samuel 13:17-20:

He called the young man who served him and said, 'Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.' (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went. Her brother Absalom said to her, 'Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.' So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house.

Amnon has his servant do his dirty work, and having Tamar thrown out. Tamar grieves, wearing ashes and tearing her robes. Her brother Absalom sees her distress. Through out the story, Amnon has distanced himself from Tamar, calling her "Absalom's sister", yet Absalom stresses that Tamar is Amnon's sister. Unfortunately, he does what too many family member have done when confronted with incest--urges Tamar to be quiet. He tells he to be quiet, for Amnon is her brother. He does take her in to his house, but does nothing to really address her pain. Instead she becomes a desolate woman living in her brother's house, with a "dirty" secret.

2 Samuel 13: 21:

When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.

A father had the responsibility of gaining reparation if his daughter was victimized, but David didn't stand or Tamar. Instead, David was more concerned with his son, not his daughter. Two members of her family who could have supported her failed: both David and Absalom. Many modern victims of incest face this same failure. Their families may be more concerned with protecting the abuser than the victim....or they may be more concerned with returning to the status quo. Yet, as we've seen the Holy Spirit was very concerned about what happened to Tamar. He inspired the author to remember her plight. Women today can know that even if everyone else seems not to care, God does.

2 Samuel 13:32:

But Jonadab, the son of David's brother Shimeah, said, 'Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men the king's sons; Amnon alone is dead. This has been determined by Absalom from the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar.

Absalom has had Amnon killed in revenge for what was done to their sister, now Jonadab reappears. He tells David not to be too upset that only Amnon was killed. He goes on to stress that Absalom planned it for the rape of Tamar. Notice he says nothing of his own part in the plot to rape his cousin.

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Tamar, Judah's Daughter-in-Law

1 Chronicles 2:3:
His daughter-in-law Tamar also bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.

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1 Kings 4:11:
Ben-abinadab, in all Naphath-dor (he had Taphath, Solomon's daughter, as his wife).

According to verse 7, Solomon had twelve offices who governed Israel. Each official provided food for the king and his retinue for one month out of the year. Taphath, Solomon's daughter, was married to one of those officials..

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Numbers 26:33:
Now Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tizrah.

In chapter 26, the Lord instructed Moses to portion out land according to the tribes. Because the land would be inherited by sons, it would stay with the tribe to which it had been granted. However, Zelophehad "had no sons" to inherit his portion.

Numbers 27:1-4:

Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, a the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said, 'Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father's brothers.'

These women had the courage to question not only Moses, but God. They realized that without a brother to inherit, their family would not receive a portion of land. They (not a male representative) went before Moses, the priest and the whole congregation to present their case. Their father had not been part of Korah's rebellion; he did not merit the punishment meeted out to the rebels.

Numbers 27:5-11:

Moses brought their case before the LORD. And the LORD spoke to Moses, say: 'The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father's brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. You shall also say to the Israelites, "If a man dies, and has no sons, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughters. If he has no daughters, then you shall give his inheritance to the nearest kinsman of his clan, and he shall possess it. It shall be for the Israelites a statute and ordinance, as the LORD commanded Moses."'

Often we have been told "never question God", yet these women did question God and were rewarded. God modified His original instructions, to allow the women to inherit. More, no one questioned their right to ask. Moses acted on their request, taking their request before God. He did not tell them they had to be silent.

However, this was a tribal society; land was owned by the tribe and portioned out to members. When sons inherited the land, the land remained with the tribe. If a woman inherited, then married, the land would leave the tribe.

Numbers 36:1-4:

The heads of the ancestral houses of the clans of the descendants of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh, of the Josephite clans, came forward and spoke in the presence of Moses and the leaders, the heads of the ancestral houses of the Israelites; they said, 'The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for inheritance by lot to the Israelites; and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters. But if they are married into another Israelite tribe, then the inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our ancestors and added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry; so it will be taken away from the allotted portion of our inheritance. And when the jubilee of the Israelites comes, then their inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they have married; and their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our ancestral tribe.'

The men of the tribe wanted the land to stay in their tribe and not become the inheritance of another. They approached Moses and the assembled congregation with a great deal more formality than when the women brought their case.

Number 36:5-9:

Then Moses commanded the Israelites according to the word of the LORD, saying, 'The descendants of the tribe of Joseph are right in what they are saying. This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad. Let them marry whom they think best; only it must be into a clan of their father's tribe that they are married, so that no inheritance of the Israelites shall be transferred from one tribe to another; for all Israelites shall retain the inheritance of their ancestral tribes. Every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the Israelites shall marry one from the clan of her father's tribe, so that all Israelites may continue to possess their ancestral inheritance. No inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another; for each of the tribes of the Israelites shall retain its own inheritance.

Again the Lord (through Moses) adjusted His command to meet the reality of Israelite society. To prevent the inheritance being shifted into another tribe, women inheritors would be required to marry within their clan. Most woman would have married within the clan anyway, as most marriages are endogamous. With this restriction, however, is the indication that women could marry whoever they choose.

Number 36:10-12:

The daughters of Zelophehad did as the LORD had commanded Moses. Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, daughters of Zelophehad, married sons of their father's brothers. They were married into the clans of the descendants of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father's clan.

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"The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A, and are used by permission. All rights reserved."
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