Don’t Overlook This Heinous Bible Personality!

Posted on February 16, 2023


By David Ettinger

Heinous Indeed
The word “heinous” is quite fitting in this circumstance.

The circumstance I reference is among the most heinous in the Bible. I am speaking of Amnon’s heinous rape of his half-sister Tamar as chronicled in 2 Samuel Chapter 13. Amnon was King David’s oldest son, and Tamar his daughter, though birthed by a different woman.

No doubt most of you are all-too-familiar with this abominable occurrence, and we give 100 percent of the blame to Amnon. After all, he was the one who committed the atrocity.

But as heinous as Amnon was, there was one almost as heinous as him. We read in 2 Samuel 13:3: “But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very clever man.”

Shimeah is David’s 3rd-oldest brother behind Eliab and Abinadab (1 Samuel 16:6-9). If you looked up this reference, you’ll notice that the 3rd-oldest brother is called “Shammah.” That’s okay; he is referred to as “Shimea” in 1 Chronicles 2:13. I know, in the English that’s 3 different spellings, but verse comparisons reveal Shammah, Shimeah, and Shimea to be one and the same.

This makes Jonadab David’s nephew and Amnon’s first cousin, besides his friend.

Sly & Heinous
When Amnon confides to Jonadab that he lusts after Tamar but can’t have her because they are half-siblings, Jonadab advises him:

Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, “Please have my sister Tamar come and give me food to eat, and have her prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat from her hand” (2 Samuel 13:5).

Though the account ends Jonadab’s words here, the intent of this scheme is to give Amnon the opportunity to satiate his heinous lust.

Note back in verse 3 how Jonadab is described as “clever.” The Hebrew word for “clever” is arum, which means “crafty” or “sly.” And indeed Jonadab used his crafty slyness to instigate the heinous rape of his innocent cousin Tamar.

Sly Jonadab, Part 2
We unfortunately encounter this heinous character again – in the same chapter!

Amnon’s younger brother Absalom – Tamar’s full brother – takes his revenge on Amnon 3 years later, having him killed at a festival attended by all of David’s sons. All in attendance flee, and in the confusion, a false report reaches David that all of his sons have been killed (2 Samuel 13:30-31).

However, sly and crafty Jonadab is at his uncle’s side (we’re not sure in what capacity) and shrewdly swoops in as an angel of light – the bearer of good news – by telling David:

Let my lord not assume that they have put to death all the young men, the king’s sons, for only Amnon is dead; because this has been set up by the intent of Absalom since the day that he violated his sister Tamar. So now, may my lord the king not take the report to heart, claiming, “all the king’s sons are dead”; but only Amnon is dead (vss. 32-33).

Though not recorded, David was probably grateful for the news and thanked his Eddie Haskell-like nephew. Too bad this maggot got to share this good news when in reality he was a huge instigator of the entire heinous episode.

Good News for Shimeah
We can feel somewhat sorry for David’s 3rd-oldest brother Shimeah for having such a fiend for a son, but wait. A brief perusal of Scripture reveals that Shimeah had another son – a valiant one!

We discover this in 1 Chronicles Chapter 20 in a short account of a battle some of David’s brave soldiers were entangled in with several Philistine giants. We read:  

Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him (vss. 6-7, emphasis added; also recorded in 2 Samuel 21:20-21).

This is good news for Shimeah. At least he went to his grave knowing that though he had spawned at least one rotten, heinous son, he could at least take comfort in the fact that while one son instigated a rape, the other was heroically fighting Israel’s battles.

But back to the villain …

The next time you think about the account of Amnon and Tamar, or read about it, remember not to overlook the role played by that heinous Jonadab.

Oooh that Jonadab. Heinous indeed!