Absalom

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The Death of Absalom by Gustave Dore

According to the Bible, Absalom or Avshalom (Hebrew: אַבְשָלוֹם, Modern Avshalom Tiberian ʼAḇšālôm ; "Father of peace") was the third son of David, King of Israel with Maachah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur (1 Chronicles 3:2, 2 Samuel 3:3).

2 Samuel 14:25 describes him as the most handsome man in the kingdom. Absalom eventually rebelled against his father and was killed during the Battle of Ephraim Wood.[1]

Background[edit]

Absalom was David's third son born at Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2), and moved at an early age, with the transfer of the capital, to Jerusalem, where he spent most of his life. He was a great favorite of his father and of the people as well. His charming manners, his personal beauty, his insinuating ways, together with his love of pomp and royal pretensions, captivated the hearts of the people from the beginning. He lived in great style, drove in a magnificent chariot and had fifty men run before him. Such magnificence produced the desired effect upon the hearts of the young aristocrats of the royal city (2 Samuel 15:1).

Little is known of Absalom's family life, but we read in 2 Samuel 14:27 that he had three sons and one daughter, whose name was also Tamar. From the language of 2 Samuel 18:18, it is inferred that the sons died at an early age.[2][3]

Murder of Amnon[edit]

The Banquet of Absalom attributed to Niccolò de Simone around 1650

After his full sister Tamar was raped by Amnon, their half-brother and David's eldest son, Absalom waited two years and avenged her by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast after he was drunk, to which he had invited all the king's sons (2 Samuel 13).

After this deed he fled to Talmai, the king of Geshur (2 Samuel 13:37; see also Joshua 12:5 or 13:2), his maternal grandfather, and it was not until three years later that he was fully reinstated in his father's favour and finally returned to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 13-14) (see Joab).

The revolt at Hebron[edit]

Valley of Jehoshaphat and Hinnom Jerusalem. Stairway in Absalom's Pillar; Another view inside Absalom's Pillar

While at Jerusalem, Absalom built support for himself among the populace by promising justice for all "if only I were appointed judge in the land", and by showing humility by kissing those who approached him rather than accepting supplication.[4]

After four years he decided to declare himself king, raping his father's concubines,[5] then raised a revolt at Hebron, the former capital. All Israel and Judah flocked to his side, and David, attended only by the Cherethites and Pelethites and his former bodyguard that had followed him from Gath, found it expedient to flee. The priests Zadok and Abiathar remained behind in Jerusalem, and their sons Jonathan and Ahimaaz served as David's spies. Absalom reached the capital and took counsel with the renowned Ahithophel (sometimes spelled Achitophel).

David took refuge from Absalom's forces beyond the Jordan River. However, he took the precaution of instructing a servant, Hushai, to infiltrate Absalom's court and subvert it. Hushai convinced Absalom to ignore Ahithophel's advice to attack his father while he was on the run, and instead prepare his forces for a major attack. This gave David critical time to prepare his own troops for the coming battle.

The Battle of Ephraim's Wood[edit]

A fateful battle was fought in the Wood of Ephraim (the name suggests a locality west of the Jordan) and Absalom's army was completely routed.[6] Absalom himself was caught by his head in the boughs of an oak-tree as the mule he was riding ran beneath it—an irony given that he was previously renowned for his abundant hair and handsome head. He was discovered hanging there still alive by one of David's men, who reported the matter to Joab, the king's commander. Joab avenged David by fatally striking and killing Absalom, by the use of three spears, followed by a group of swordsmen, an act that caused David great sorrow.

Memorial to Absalom[edit]

Absalom erected a monument near Jerusalem to perpetuate his name (2 Samuel 18:18):

Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a monument, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's monument.

This is not the Tomb of Absalom, which is dated to the first century AD.

Absalom in art[edit]

Poetry[edit]

Fiction[edit]

Music[edit]

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2 Samuel 14:25
  2. ^ "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Tamar". 2012-10-21. 
  3. ^ "www.Bibler.org - Dictionary - Absalom". 2012-10-21. 
  4. ^ Bible Gateway
  5. ^ Kirk-Duggan, Cheryl A. (2004). Pregnant Passion. BRILL. p. 59. ISBN 9789004127319. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  6. ^ 2 Samuel 16-18
  7. ^ Rilke, Rainer Maria. "The Fall of Absalom". Neue Gedichte. Trans. Stephen Cohn. 
  8. ^ http://www.myspace.com/davidsdoldrums
  9. ^ http://karmametalcolombian.blogspot.com/2008/04/absalom-absalom-colombian-2003.html
  10. ^ http://www.rylandangel.com/
  11. ^ http://residents.com/historical/page0/page20/page20.html
  12. ^ Brand New Shadows
  13. ^ "Gimme a Stone"

External links[edit]