Who Is Absalom In The Bible?
BIBLE TEXT: 2 SAMUEL 3:3, 13:1
Absalom was the third son of King David, he was born of royal blood in Hebron by Maacah the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
He had a sister named Tamar, who was later raped by his half brother Amnon, who happened to be David’s firstborn son. He avenged the wrong done to Tamar, his sister by killing Amnon.
Thereafter, he went to seek refuge with his maternal relatives in the land of Geshur; he was there for three years.
After three years, he came back to Jerusalem, but he was not allowed to see King His father.
Two years after his return, he conspired against his father in order to depose him.
ABSALOM CHARACTER AND PERSON
We will study the story of Absalom under the following outlines:
- Absalom introduced
- Absalom kills Amnon his brother
- Absalom returns to Jerusalem
- Absalom conspires against David his father
- The counsel of Ahithophel
- The death of Absalom
Absalom Introduced (2 Samuel 3:3, 13:20-22)
Absalom was introduced in 2 Samuel 3:3 as the third son of King David. He was mentioned alongside his other brothers from other mothers. He was the only son of David who was born of royal blood. His mother was Maacah, daughter of the king of Geshur.
His sister, Tamar, was raped by their step brother Amnon, and then despised afterwards. This didn’t go down well with Absalom who kept looking for opportunities to avenge his sister. He had to wait for two years before the opportunity he sought came. He invited all the king’s sons (including Amnon) to his sheep-shearing celebration. While the feast was going on, Absalom ordered his servants to kill his brother Amnon to avenge his sister’s rape. Immediately he did that, he filed to Geshur to stay with his maternal relatives. He was there for three good years.
Absalom Kills Amnon His Brother (2 Samuel 12:23-33)
Amnon, the first born of David, raped Tamar, Absalom’s sister. After the rape, he despised her and had her chased out of his house. This was even more hurtful to Tamar than the rape.
Absalom wanted to avenge his sister’s rape, but there was no opportunity to do so until two years later. He invited his father, the king and his other brothers to a sheep-shearing ceremony. Although David and his father declined attending the ceremony, he allowed his other sons to attend, including the target (Amnon). During the celebration, Absalom gave a command to his servants to kill Amnon to avenge his sister’s rape.
David was misinformed about the incident, that all his sons were killed. However, Jonadab, his cousin, informed him that it was only Amnon that was killed by Absalom.
Absalom fled to Geshur and stayed there with his mother’s relatives. This is probably out of fear of what his father could do to him for killing Amnon, his brother.
Absalom Returns To Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14)
After three years, David was comforted concerning Amnon. His soul longed to see Absalom. Joab, commander of David’s army, thought it was time for Absalom to return to Jerusalem. He therefore arranged with a wise woman from Tekoah to pretend as a mourner and tell David a tale, which was in all points, the tale of Absalom. The king was convinced to forgive his son Absalom, and he sent Joab to Geshur and brought him back home. Absalom returned to Jerusalem, but he was not allowed to come into the king’s presence. So, he dwelt in his own house in Jerusalem.
Absalom Conspires Against David His Father (2 Samuel 15)
Two years after Absalom returned from Geshur, he decided it was time to see his father. He sent for Joab to help him speak to his father. On two different occasions, Joab turned down Absalom’s invitation. So he ordered his servants to burn down Joab’s field.
This drastic action made Joab to immediately meet with Absalom and demanded to know why his fields were burned. So Absalom told him to arrange with the king to see him. He was able to convince David to receive his son. Absalom came to the palace, met the king and bowed down to the ground in front of him. When David saw Absalom, he welcomed him warmly and kissed him.
He started the conspiracy against David, his father. Firstly, he dedicated himself to win the hearts and love of the people by standing at the city gates and intercepting the people bringing disputes for judgement. He became very popular, loved and famous for his beauty and long hair which he only cut once every year.
Then he went to Hebron with two hundred men, and proclaimed himself king. David’s most respected counselor, Ahithophel joined Absalom in his revolt against the king.
Consequently, David abandoned Jerusalem and retreated with his servants, but left in Jerusalem ten of his concubines to take care of the palace while he was gone. David asked Hushai, his loyal friend and adviser, to act as a spy at the rebel’s camp. He was to report whatever is planned by Absalom to David and his men, through Ahimaaz and Jonathan, son of Abiathar the Priest.
The Counsel Of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16: 15-17:23)
Absalom entered Jerusalem together with all his army, and he took over the palace. Then came Hushai, his father’s loyal friend to him and greeted him saying, “Long live the king.” He pledged his loyal service to him, just like he served King David, his father.
Progressively, Absalom asked Ahithophel for his advice. Ahithophel told him to sleep with his father’s concubines to prove the point that he was then in charge of the palace. Absalom heeded his advice and slept with his father’s concubines on top of the roof, in the sight of all Israelites. (This was the beginning of his undoing)!
Moreover, Ahithophel asked Absalom to allow him to pick twelve thousand men and set out in pursuit of King David, to come upon him when he is weak and depressed, so that he might kill him alone when his men flee. But when Hushai came and he was told of the counsel that Ahithophel gave, he countered it. He therefore gave contrary advice, luring Absalom into the battle. Absalom and his council accepted Hushai’s advice as better than that of Ahithophel.
Hushai then sent a message to King David, updating him with the latest plan. Consequent upon Hushai’s advice, Ahithophel went to his house, set it in order and hanged himself.
The Death Of Absalom (2 Samuel 18)
David divided his army into three sets: one set was under the command of Joab, the second set under Abishai, and the third under Ittai. He then gave orders to his commanders to deal gently with his son Absalom.
In the battle in the woods of Ephraim, Absalom’s army was defeated. He then fled, riding on a mule, however, his long hair was caught in the branches of a tree, and he Joab ordered that he should be killed. This was against King David’s order that Absalom should be spared alive. David mourned extremely for his son, he even wished he had died in Absalom’s stead, and that almost cost him the support of his army.
Absalom’s name was remembered by a pillar he erected in Jerusalem. He called the pillar Absalom’s monument.
Absalom had three sons and two daughters in his lifetime.