Three years have passed since that day, and my spies tell me that Absalom is now living out of my reach, in the only place he considers safe: the palace of his grandfather, Talmai king of Geshur, who is certain to protect him. Despite being my ally in every other respect, old Talmai is known for being stubborn. He will undoubtably refuse to hand him over to me.
But for now I make no such request. Why? Because if Absalom were to be brought back here, to Jerusalem, how should I deal with him? Should I throw him behind bars—or else recognize him, as some of my advisors suggest, as my heir, a man of privilege whose crime deserves nothing more than a symbolic slap on the wrist?
I am faced not only with a political problem but also a deeply personal one. By now I am consoled concerning Amnon, yet I am afraid of my own reaction at that critical moment, when I first lay eyes on the man responsible for his death.
Will I be overwhelmed by rage—or else, love? Will I hug my son, who has been long lost to me—or else, will I fly madly at him? Either way I doubt I will be able to control myself, and hide from Absalom how dearly I have longed for him.
I am a father. This role has changed me: when he was a child I may have looked strong in his eyes—but now I am vulnerable.
No one but me knows how these doubts gnaw at me. I carry on with matters of the state, and to all appearances I am a happy man. I attend plays, sheep shearing feasts, sword fights, hunting trips. I laugh at official parties. I make love to my wives. I send gifts to my daughter, Tamar, who keeps returning them back to me.
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