From the Daily Office Lectionary for Saturday in the week of Proper 14, Year 1 (Pentecost 11, 2015)
2 Samuel 16:22 ~ So they pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
I’m having a hard time with Scripture today … I have notes for a sermon for tomorrow, so I’ll be able to mumble my way through some sort of ad libbed homily … but tomorrow’s lessons are not cause of the problem. The cause was this lesson in today’s Daily Office Lectionary in which Absalom attempts to wrest the kingdom of Israel from his father David. Absalom takes control of Jerusalem and then, on the advice of Ahithophel, whose counsel is extolled “as if one consulted the oracle of God,” this happens: to demonstrate his control of the city and his contempt for his father, Absalom’s men “pitched a tent for Absalom upon the roof; and Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.” ~ “Go in to” is a biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse. In other words, Absalom, on the advice of one whose counsel is considered to be like that of God, publicly raped his father’s concubines as part of a military conquest.
This is a week in which many of us have been disgusted by the NY Times report on ISIS’s “theology of rape,” by the Jihadists’ use of women as property, as sex slaves, as rewards for their followers, by their calling rape an act of prayer! So these verses really leapt out at me!
Absalom is not a hero of the Bible. Eventually, his rebellion is put down and he is killed. Nonetheless, this lesson portrays his act with callous nonchalance and praises the man who advised it. I’m disgusted. A theology of rape is not so distant. I’m having a hard time with Scripture today.